I left off with Van 2 trying to get some much-needed sleep. With sleep mostly escaping us, Jess needed to get up and get ready to run when Laura from Van 1 came charging into the creamery. Most of the team walked over to wish her well even though it was around 1 AM. While waiting for the exchange, we got to see some of our Van 1 teammates once again and ask about their previous legs.
The hills of western Maryland seemed to be leveling out a bit; however, we still had some decent rolling hills leading into Germantown…
- Leg 19 – Jess – 4.9 miles (Ragnar rated moderate)
- Leg 20 – Daniel – 6.9 miles (Ragnar rated hard)
- Leg 21 – Melinda – 6.7 miles (Ragnar rated moderate)
- Leg 22 – Chuck – 6.2 miles (Ragnar rated hard)
- Leg 23 – Deb – 9.2 miles (Ragnar rated very hard)
- Leg 24 – Katie – 9.7 miles (Ragnar rated very hard)
Jess took off and the rest of of us in Van 2 found our way back to the van and headed out in search of our first nighttime runner who looked like nothing more than a bobbing light at a distance – just like every other runner along the side of the road. Without remembering what our runners were wearing, it was nearly impossible to pick out our runners as we approached them.
With temperatures dropping into the 60’s we pulled out our warm gear. Bringing along my VT Snuggie (affiliate link) ended up being a very good decision. In addition to using it as a warm wrap, we used it as a blanket when trying to sleep, and as a privacy shield when changing clothes. Here Melinda is enjoying its warmth as Katie is trying to stay warm in her hoodie.
Jess had another great run and her handoff to Daniel was less eventful than my handoff to Meagan in the same location two years ago and there were no flying watches as a result.
After a very hilly run, Daniel handed off to Melinda, moving us closer to daylight and DC.
Back in the van and happy to have their overnight runs behind them, Daniel and Jess snap-chatted this picture at 3:21 AM.
After Melinda came in and handed off to Chuck (no pictures), it was my time to start getting ready to run. As we pulled into my exchange, Bill stopped the van so I could hop out and get in the long line at the porta potties – there seemed to be longer lines this year than the previous years at all locations and I wonder if fewer porta potties were on hand…
Once back at the van and with my gear ready, Daniel walked me up to the exchange to wait for Chuck. While waiting, we saw the brightest and most annoying taillight on the planet, and I immediately named it “seizure light.” I don’t think it would have been possible to follow this light for very long without:
- A. Sprinting past the guy
- B. Sitting down on the side of the road and waiting to start running again after he was well out of sight
- C. Throwing a rock at the back of his head with the hopes of breaking the light or knocking him out so I could run past
Just as we were expecting Chuck to run into the exchange at any moment, my stomach started complaining and I had to take off for the porta potties – again. With only four people in line this time, I asked if they were getting ready to run, and if not, could I jump ahead of them. Three people were just hanging out and graciously allowed me to cut the line and before I knew it, I was back at the exchange just as we saw Chuck come flying down the hill yelling my name. #perfecttiming
Once on the road, I had about a quarter of a mile downhill, a really steep uphill, another half mile downhill and then what seemed like another twenty miles uphill (my total leg was only 9.2 miles). One of the highlights of my run was having my van-mates drive by and cheer.
I kept a pretty steady pace refusing to stop and walk because I knew once I took that first walk break, many more would follow. I did; however, stop twice to take big swigs of water and slow down just enough to snap this picture of a cornfield after passing several miles of endless cornfields and remembering Meagan and her dad talking about The Children of the Corn. Not familiar with that 1984 horror movie, I had to look it up after their discussion two years ago.
Shortly after the corn picture we made a left turn onto what I named Raccoon Road. Even though I had a headlamp on, I borrowed Bill’s bike flashlight (affiliate link) that he’d unsnapped from his bike to bring along. With it’s 1000 lumen LED light, it was brighter than any light I’ve ever used when running and I plan to carry in on all my future nighttime runs.
With my headlamp I was able to see what was directly ahead of me, but with Bill’s flashlight I could see so much better, and when necessary, flash it over to the side of the road to see what was lurking in the brush. When two eyes peered at me from the ditch, I flashed my trusty flashlight in that direction and saw a rather large raccoon looking back at me. I chose to skip taking a picture and kept running.
About a half mile out from my exchange and just as the slightest hint of daylight teased us, I started meeting the next wave of runners heading out for their leg. The additional runners created more traffic on the road with vans following their runners. Suddenly we had runners going in two directions on the shoulder of the road with vans coming and going. It created a short and stressful stretch of road that I was happy to exit from as I ran up into my exchange chute.
While watching for me to finish my run, Bill took a picture of the exchange, and was there to cheer me in.
I finished my 9.2-mile run with an average pace of 10:23. My total elevation gain was 814 feet even though it seemed like much more, and my total elevation loss was 587 feet with a net elevation change of 226 feet.
Once at our next exchange, Bill pushed his seat back and finally got some sleep. It was good for our driver to get some rest so we tried to be very quiet and not bother him. I tried to sleep, but was too wired so I just walked around the exchange area. There were restrooms with running water which was a delightful find. Not surprising, the lines for the restrooms weren’t as long as the line for hot coffee!
While waiting for Katie, those of us from both vans who were awake and moving around got to hang out together. It was really nice to finally hang out a little longer with our other teammates.
The two Katie’s had another clean handoff, and with that, Van 2 was free for another five to six hours.
After giving our Katie a chance to cool down from her run, we walked back to the van, woke our driver, and headed to Dunkin’ Donuts – the same place my two previous teams have eaten breakfast. I think I was in a foggy cloud because I didn’t think to take any pictures other than of the two Katie’s during our time at the major exchange or at breakfast.
Once Van 1 took over running duties in Gaithersburg, they continued through the northwestern suburbs into Chevy Chase, Maryland…
- Leg 25 – Katie – 4.2 miles (Ragnar rated moderate)
- Leg 26 – Nicole – 2.8 miles (Ragnar rated easy)
- Leg 27 – Tammie – 3.2 miles (Ragnar rated moderate)
- Leg 28 – Ellie – 4.5 miles (Ragnar rated moderate)
- Leg 29 – Stacy – 3.7 miles (Ragnar rated easy)
- Leg 30 – Laura – 8.6 miles (Ragnar rated very hard)
On Thursday I’ll take you on Van 2’s final set of runs through suburban Maryland, Virginia, and DC, so be sure to come back to join us as we complete our epic adventure. See you then!
Editor’s note: Click here for Part 4
- Do you mind running at night?
- Have you ever visited DC?
- Have you ever run Ragnar DC, another Ragnar, or similar relay?
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