In February of 2016, Ragnar announced its first Northwoods Trail Relay. This is Wild’s 3rd straight year of sending a team (sometimes two) up to run in the woods for 24ish hours.

Unlike the standard Ragnar relays, where a team of 12 runs upwards of 200 miles while his or her teammates follow in a couple of vans (been there, done that! Check out the Ragnar Race Recap HERE)… This time teams of 8 camped out at Nine Mile Forest in Wausau and each teammate ran the same distance (approx 16 miles each).

8 very enthusiastic runners and 1 extremely helpful volunteer signed up almost immediately after the race was announced, and the “Trails Gone Wild” team was formed. There were some unfortunate injuries and obligations for some team members along the way, but luckily we were never short enthusiastic runners to take their places.

Training began in earnest in August, when the we tackled 2 double days – 3 miles in the morning and 6 in the evening. In early September, there was a nighttime dress rehearsal at Lapham Peak during which we got to practice on trails in the dark, broke in their headlamps, and got extra excited for the big event.

Through many texts, Facebook posts, and in-person meetings, all the logistics came together and soon the team was on their way up North. Jon and I kicked things off on Thursday night by setting up our base camp. The rest of us followed with full cars – everyone brought camping supplies, food, and plenty of coffee… it’s safe to say that the “Wild Village” was one of the best equipped of the weekend! I mean, check out our breakfast!

After attending a safety training and getting the lay of the land, the teams were off. Each member ran a 3 mile leg, a 4.6 mile leg, and a 7.6 mile leg. (Each leg was about .5 miles longer than advertised, but that just meant that the runners were lucky enough to spend more time on the beautiful trails! Ha!) The trails were tough, though. The 3 mile leg was very technical with lots of roots, rocks, twists, and turns. 4.6 was less technical but still had quite a few obstacles to overcome. The 7.6 mile was by far the most difficult both in terms of terrain and elevation. Every runner was thrilled to have that one out of the way!

The race was incredibly well-run and organized. Each runner was mostly alone out on the trails, which is amazing considering that over 200 teams (of 8 people, you do the math!) were part of the event! The solitude of the trails was a great part of the experience, but coming back to the exchange tent and passing the team bib on to the next (smiling, cheering) runner was even better! Though most runners agreed: the best part of the weekend was hearing teammates arrive back at camp after their legs. Without a doubt – the support and camaraderie of the team was unbeatable.

Did I mention that this team rose to “hard-core” level by braving the 35 degree nighttime temps? Last year’s weather brought 90 degree temps and 90 degree humidity. This year’s brought rain and near freezing temperatures…let’s just say some of us own the Ragnar brand joggers and blankets that were being sold at the base camp store to give us an added layer while tent camping. HCB! <– inside joke ;).

This is where our Type 2 Fun comes into play.

In case you weren’t familiar with the “Fun” Scale. Fun can be categorized into three types. Type 1 fun is obvious, blatant fun. The kind that happens when a plan comes together. Its just plain fun, every step of the way.

Type 2 fun is a stranger phenomenon. Type 2 fun may not actually be fun at all… in the moment. It might actually be sufferable. You might be questioning why you are doing this and swear to never do it again. It isn’t until afterwards, in reflection, you can look past the less enjoyable moments and recount the overall adventure of pushing beyond your comfort zone. Any Ragnar Relay is usually going to fall into the Type 2 level of fun. This fun level usually ends with a much needed beer!

Type 3 Fun is… well, no fun at all. Let’s just leave it at that.

It’s safe to say that each runner had a goal of just finishing the race, and that we did. It’s also safe to say that we would have been lost without our volunteer and race sherpa, Joe! *Note* Joe did NOT in fact get lost himself, which has also been know to happen.

Congratulations to Trails Gone Wild for a great race!!

2018 Trails Gone Wild team: Jon Howard, Julie Elliott, Laura Englebrecht, Marisa Lange, Peggy Hauski, Crystal Johnson-Manz, Cat Zyniecki, Kate Smith