I had a rough start which included working later than expected on Thursday night and getting a flat tire on the way to the venue on Friday morning. I was finally in Conyers, Georgia at the Georgia International Horse Park just after 11:00 a.m.
|A small portion of the sea of tents as I arrived at the Gear Drop early on Friday|
I was the second of the eight runners on the Worst Place Scenario team (Bib # 83), not to be confused with Worst Pace Scenario (Bib # 117), to arrive at the venue camp site. The Running with Caesars team I mentioned in a previous post was from last year's team so we decided to change it. The new team consisted of five Air Traffic Controller coworkers and two guys, Jared and Nate, that joined us from Knoxville, Tennessee. Nate was the youngest and fastest of our group at 28 years old and I was the senior statesman by a thin margin just beating Thom by a few months. I helped Chuck setup a few things before he was scheduled to volunteer at the transition tent. The race started for some at 10:00 a.m. on Friday morning. The last group to start was six hours later at 4:00 p.m. The first runner from our team was scheduled to start with the 3:30 p.m. group. Start times were based upon the estimated overall pace of the team as compared to the other teams. Each runner entered a 10K mile minutes/mile pace during registration to allow the Ragnar race director to calculate the team's pace. Most of us estimated about an 8:00 minute/mile pace, except for Nate who estimated a 7:00 minute/mile pace. He must have been sandbagging because he's way faster than that. We thought well of ourselves, as a group, to post some fast times which put us in the next to last group to start.
Our runners, in starting order, 1) Juan Mendez, 2) Neil Farmer, 3) Chuck Phillips (Capt), 4) Louis Angotti, 5) Chris Kojali, 6) Thom Mercer, 7) Nathan England, and 8) Jared Lawrence. The race starts with the first runner completing the green course, the second runner completing the yellow course and the third runner completing the red course. Like a stoplight - green, yellow, and red. The fourth runner completes the green course again, and so on until twenty-four course runs have been completed. When it's all said and done each of our eight runners should have run each course once. Only one runner is out on the course at a time so there are breaks of about 5-6 hours between legs.
|Juan, Jared, Nate, and Louie setting up another tent|
|Juan, Louie, and Jared killing time in the tent|
|Jared, Nate, and Louie watch as ominous clouds approach|
All three courses were well marked albeit wet and slippery after the rain.
The yellow course was my first leg. I just needed to estimate Juan's finish time and be at the transition tent ready to take over. Chuck would do the same for me. My first run started before dark. As Juan ran into the transition tent he handed over the race belt and I was off. The 4.6 mile yellow course was full of twists and turns. The occasional small tree stump or rock in the trail meant that I had to keep my eyes on the narrow path. Most of the trails were dry with only the occasional wet spot. My Inov-8 Roclite 268 trail shoes proved their worth though and I decided right then and there that I'd wear them for all three courses no matter how dirty they were. They would prove their worth on a steep section of the red course where two other runners were slipping and sliding, and clinging to trees as I powered past them. I slipped a few times but never completely lost my footing.
|Rain outside the food tent|
I started and finished the easy green course in complete darkness but for my headlamp and flashlight just before midnight and after the rain had stopped. I found myself starting the course fiddling with my headlamp, forgetting to start my Garmin watch right away, tripping over a poorly placed tent rope twice, and briefly getting off course in the maze of tents. I would learn from my mistakes.
|Ragnar Village of Souvenirs, Transition, and Food tents (l-r)|
|Chris branding his Multi-tool award pouch|
Ultimately the event turned out well. The weather on Saturday was beautiful. The ground started to dry up and I even got a little sun on my face.
|This snapshot of the team standings after the 20th segment was complete shows WPS at 19:08:47|
What would I do differently? I'd pack my gear days in advance. I would buy and use a raised cot. I would bring a big clock to post in the tent. At 3 a.m. it's difficult to remember who is out on the course, when they started, and when the next runner can expect to start. A chart with those times and the runners finish time for that course would be perfect. I'd take more pictures and use my video camera. Bring a portable battery pack for my cellphone. Most importantly, I will buy a spare tire for my truck.
What I did right. I became less timid and more vocal when comparing my first transition to my last. Consider that each runner is involved in six race belt and bib exchanges. As they say, a race probably won't be won in transition but it could be lost there. Part of my initial apprehension may have been because I was new to the team and unfamiliar with the process. By the start of my second transition though, I realized that I needed to be heard to get the attention of my teammate. At the end of my final leg I yelled my team number twice and the name of my replacement, 83... 83... CHUCK, as I entered the chute to the transition tent. He was startled but was there to take over in seconds.
|Multi-tool Finishers Medal|
|Multi-tool Finishers Medal|
|Worst Place Scenario - Neil Farmer. Juan Mendez, Jared Lawrence, Thom Mercer, Nathan England, Chris Kojali, Chuck Phillips, and Louis Angotti (l-r)|
See the preliminary race results edited by me here.
Our team competed in the Regular, Men's Open category. We did very well. I'm still waiting on the final results. I'm pretty confident that we placed in our category.
Big thanks to Chuck for hauling me and my flat tire to the Conyers Tires Plus shop to get my tire patched early Saturday morning. We left the venue just after Chuck and I had finished our final run of the race and well before our last runner, Jared was expected to finish. My luck had changed as the estimated 90 minutes repair time was slashed in half as the customer in front of me decided to go to Firestone instead. Winning!
Thanks for reading.
Update (4/26/15): The final results have been posted. Click here to download.