This past weekend, Wild Workouts & Wellness had two teams (24 people) running in the Ragnar Relay race from Chicago to Madison. In case you aren’t familiar with what a Ragnar Relay is, Ragnar is the overnight running relay race that makes testing your limits a team sport. You and 11 other crazy teammates pile into two vans and tag-team running 200(ish) miles, day and night, relay-style. Only one runner hits the road at a time. Each person runs three legs of varying distances and degrees of difficulty. It takes most teams somewhere in the neighborhood of 25-35 consecutive hours to complete this challenge. Two Wild teams started at 9:30am on Friday in Chicagoland and finished at Olin Park in Madison on Saturday afternoon.

We were tuned into the weather report all week and initially there was some rain in the forecast but going into Friday we looked pretty clear. There were smiles and nervous laughter as we checked-in, completed our safety briefing and picked up our bib numbers and RagSwag. 9:30am came quick and our first runners, Anne & Holly, were lined up ready to go as the MC announced all the teams starting in this wave, including Ragnar Gone Wild and Ragnar Gone Wild Too! And they were off!

After our first runner takes off, the remaining five need to high-tail it back to the van and come up with a plan of action. We’ve got a lot of running to do, so a big part of the spirit of Ragnar is teamwork and supporting your vanmates. That means we check out each runner’s leg maps and determine a location to meet up with them, offer up water, ring a cowbell, give a high five and put a smile on their face. Sometimes a runner has 4, 6 even 8 miles and needs a little encouragement along the way, it’s our job to make that happen however necessary! After you check-in with your runner you need to hustle to the next exchange where your runner finishes and hands the baton (aka cool slap bracelet) to the next runner…and repeat, and repeat and repeat!

Exchange 6 in Waukegan is where our team vans meet. Van 1 has been running legs 1-6 and now we are going to meet up with the other six members of our team in van 2 who will run legs 7-12, essentially leapfrogging our way to Madison like this. It was great to meet up with EVERYONE – Van 1 runners were still on the endorphin high from their first legs and van 2 was excited to get started! The first van had encountered some chilly windy weather on their runs and the second van was just about to experience some rain on their runs.

While one van runs, the other van rests. We are super lucky that this race pretty much rolls right though our backyard, so it afforded many of us the opportunity to go to a vanmates’ house and eat some real food, shower, and rest. Afterward we head to the next exchange and do it all over again. It only makes sense that Ragnar’s tagline is “Run. Drive. Sleep? Repeat!”

Soon the night legs came. Like I said, this is nonstop, that means we run through the night too! So strap on your reflective safety vests, head lamps, tail lights and whatever fun glow lights you want because this is also about the time your vanmates start getting a little wacky.

If your vanmates exhibit an overexhuberant amount of enthusiasm towards each and every runner and find the need to constantly honk and ring a cowbell out the window while yelling ‘WOOOHOOO’, don’t worry, they just have a case of Ragnaritis. It usually only lasts a few hours before they pass out in exhaustion and look like this:

We made it through the night and with morning came a few more showers, but we were well into the race and no one was going to let a little rain stop them! Spirits were up despite the sleep that was lacking. We ran into other runners we had known from Wild and other walks of life and shouted out our encouragement and support for them as well. This was truly a team effort! Everyone worked hard to get each other to the finish.

Both teams came into the finish at Olin Park in Madison on Saturday afternoon with sore legs, heavy eyelids and smiles nonetheless. I think I can speak for everyone when I say each van has at least 5 new friends for life and probably knows more about each other’s digestive tracks than necessary. That’s all I’m going to say about that because, well…what happens in a Ragnar van, stays in a Ragnar van!

Team Ragnar Gone Wild (and RGW Too!) rocked this bucket list race! I am so proud of each and every one of them. From the training to the finish line they showed dedication, commitment and most importantly TEAMWORK! I am so honored to be the coach, captain and van mom of these two teams, they were the epitome of hard work, teamwork and support. They encouraged and motivated each other, other teams, volunteers and me with an impressive amount of discipline, determination and every single positive attitude.

I was a little anxious bringing 23 people on this journey, I wanted them to enjoy this fun adventure as much as I have in the past and I was feeling the pressure in the days beforehand. Many of our Wild teammates have already tossed their hat in for next year’s Ragnar and some have even suggested a Wild Destination Ragnar race should be in the future… so I’ll call it a success!

Congratulations to all our Wild Ragnarians: Anne Bonds, Jen Kveton, Jen McNabb, Greg Borowski, Anna Nagle, Mike Lepow, Cat Zyniecki, Joe Senner, Liz Hawkins, Laura Englebrecht, Anna Eckmann, Holly Estill, Cindy Lanman, Andrea Daugherty, Brian Estill, Peggy Hauski, Cortney Ullrich, Melissa Rickey, Jenny Wittemann, Joel Guinane, Nate Keller, Suzan Hamdan and Liz Keller.


Some memorable moments & quotes include include:

Nate Keller’s barefoot banana-eating rescue of their own litter that garnished him an award from a volunteer.

When Joel left his shoes on top of the van to dry. We took off completely forgetting about the shoes. We were driving for a good 10-15 minutes and as soon as we got up to 40-45 mph, shoes started to fly off the car one by one. We were able to recover both of them.

“The Exchange” as caught on video and posted to the Client Facebook page… what you didn’t see was Exchange 2 when Mike completely ran past Cat AGAIN! Don’t worry, he got the hint when we all chanted “This is Cat! This is Cat!” and pointed to her at Exchange 3!

The friendly dynamic between the “National Honor Society” van and their counterparts the “Rolling Detention Hall” van!

That time we learned how to react when encountering a coyote in the wild…

“If you want to really get to know a group of people that you dont know well, do this!” Nate Keller

“There are not a lot of opportunities in life to go out and prove to yourself what you’re capable of…There are not a lot of opportunities in life to sleep in the parking lot if Perkins and feel like you came out ahead.” Joel Guinane

“No matter how hard the run, it’s always better (and probably warmer and drier and less windy and hilly) on the other side.” Greg Borowski

“I forgo my nap to watch the royal wedding, priorities!” Liz Keller

“Just when I thought I couldn’t run another inch I saw my vanmates sweet faces with those cowbell cheering me on. I love you forever!” Cat Zyniecki

When Peggy’s son rode his bike alongside his mom on her night run (it was near their home!)

Joe Senner. Enough said. #losinghisshoes #losinghisclothes #droppingtheforks #spillinghiswater #beingjoe