The 2014 Ragnar Relay Recap…according to Jay Wisnosky, Tim Shelton, and Pat Sullivan
So there’s this event where 12 people team together, split up runners into two separate vans and then run a 200 mile relay. It’s called the Ragnar Relay. Yes, that’s how it first gets explained to you…
Then you get more information like, “you’ll have to run about 15-18 miles tops. It’s tough and there’s a lot of hills, but it’s a lot of fun.” Fun?
“12 friends, 2 vans, 2 days, 1 night, 200 mile relay…unforgettable stories.” This is Ragnar. Pat Sullivan’s blog about Ragnar began with this quote last year, and I think it summarizes the event for the rest of us still.
But to get a true picture of Ragnar, you really have to put yourself in a white, 15 person passenger van with 5 other people. It’s close quarters in there. It goes from clean one minute to trashed the next and never smells good or is quiet enough to sleep. Some people are your co-workers, some are friends, and some are complete strangers. You then have to imagine you are about run anywhere from 4 to 8 miles – it’s now YOUR turn. Whatever routine you had to get ready to run at home is gone…replace that with stretching in a van surrounded by running shoes and gym bags. This is when you start to get nervous because you’re in unfamiliar territory, you’re excited, but also tired, and there’s a good chance you have to go to the bathroom from all that water you’ve been drinking. This is when you hope you trained enough. This is when you tell yourself that after this leg, you still have two more to go…and you probably won’t be sleeping between them. This is when you say, “what did I get myself….” and then one of your teammates asks, “what do you need? Some water? Something to eat.” And you relax, knowing that the collection of people in that van are with you -they have your back and will help you through it, even if you are wishing you trained for this a lot harder than you actually did.
Another year, another ProModel Ragnar team built on commitment, dedicated teamwork and a great mixture of veteran leadership and new, eager faces. From October 24-26, Team ProModel meshed as a team in one of America’s most grueling endurance races. The Chattanooga to Nashville Ragnar Relay undoubtedly demanded an often extraordinary level of dedication and sacrifice. The twelve person 2014 team consisted of team captain Tim Shelton, (ProModel Sr Army Program Manager), Pat Sullivan (ProModel VP for Army Programs), Dan Hickman (ProModel CTO), Clay Gifford (ProModel Developer for DST), Jay Wisnosky (ProModel Technical Writer for DST) Brian Brown, Susan Whitehead, Sheri Shamwell, Mickelle Penn, Kelly Parker, Lisa Reyes and Jason Mcormick. And of course, with a great deal of support and commitment from Keith Vadas and Carl Napoletano…and the incredible effort of Christine Bunker (ProModel marketing) and our awesome driver (Chief Reyes).
Lisa Reyes kicked off Race day at 07:30 Friday morning at a beautiful waterfront setting on the Tennessee River in Chattanooga. Each runner was scheduled to follow for three legs during the estimated 34 hours to complete the race. We planned for each of our 12 runners to complete 16-19 miles each. The two vans of Team ProModel met briefly through the race, with 5 intersection points where the baton was handed over from one van to the next.
Miles and miles passed with each runner facing his or her own set of obstacles. Some ran steep hills (Brian Brown climbed 1300 feet in elevation over 8+ miles with his first leg), or through the wee hours of the night with the sounds of dogs barking (and growling sound machines coming from another van) as Mike Penn would come to experience. Others came down the other side of those steep hills and endured the bright autumn mid afternoon sun – which Pat Sullivan can now vouch that 9 miles of beautiful Tennessee countryside is sometimes blurred by surprising heat. However, Team ProModel banded together to support each other, as well as other runners from other teams.
There were plenty of laughs in between – often times over snack choices, foot odor, getting passed on the course by 12 year olds, bathroom strategies, sore muscles that make you walk funny, and delusions caused by lack of sleep. We spotted the little known Ragnasaurus, our vans were “branded” with magnets and paint from other teams, some people gained nicknames, and we all learned the value of fast restaurant service and having a bed instead of a gym floor to rest.
Team ProModel made it 198 miles through the mountains, into the rolling hills of Tennessee and eventually to the Music City that is, Nashville. This group grew to become teammates and friends, after starting out with one common goal in mind – just run and have fun! Thanks again for the great support and allowing us to represent ProModel…know you would have been proud.