Ragnar the Fire Dragon has been slain


It’s 3am (now 6am) and I should be passed out cold. My body is wracked from exhaustion of the mental & physical kind. I’ve pushed pretty much every part of my being harder than I have in months and my reward is the thrill of having slain the fire dragon Ragnar.

Our team, the “Beer Gardeners”, kicked so much behind that I’m almost at a loss for words. We were a mix of veteran runners and newbs, every one of which exceeded their own performance expectations. Down the (wo)man we brought our A+++ game and it really showed.


For the uninitiated, Ragnar can be summed up as the following:

  • Run.
  • Eat.
  • Sleep?
  • Repeat.

Ragnar Northwest Passage is a 180+ mile 12-person relay which takes over 24 hours to finish. Two (highly decorated) vans of 6 people take turns running the 36 legs of the race. Each runner takes 3 of those legs, which can total anywhere from 11 to 20 miles per person.

Oh, and you really don’t get to sleep for the 24 hours or so of the race.

Since the vans take turns (runners 1-6 go first, followed by #’s 6-12) there’s about 4 hours off between the time you have to be in your van following your runners or running yourself. But that’s just barely enough time to eat, maybe shower, and close your eyes for one or two seconds. I only got 2 hours of sleep in the 40+ hours between getting up Friday morning and going to bed last night. The best part was that those 2 hours sleeping were out under the night sky.

The Legs

I didn’t think I had this in me; I ran three of the fastest & most rewarding runs of my life at personal-best paces in a period of 24 hours with less than 3 hours of sleep.

My legs (#12, 24, and 36) were awesome. My first leg was horrendously boring and hard: it was a flat, flat, flat 7mi and moderately hot so by the end I was just tired of running the same damn pace. But that was more than made up for by how fast I ran it in! I turned in a personal best time of any run I’ve ever done in my life by averaging a 9:20min/mile. I am still thrilled.

Leg 24 - Deception Pass, Google Earth

Leg 24 was in the middle of the night (3am) through the winding, dark, twisty, turny, free-wheeling downhill roads which go through Deception Pass. I’ve never run so fast (8:18min/mile for 3.61 miles) nor have I felt so alive on a run.  It was one of those perfect-playlist moments where every song (AC/DC “You Shook Me All Night Long”, Smashing Pumpkins “Tonight, Tonight”, etc…) just fit and it was right. I was singing and smiling the whole way, almost bounding down the hills.

But the best best best part was that I got to bring the race home. My final leg (#36) was also the final leg of the course: 4.76 miles of up-and-down hilly goodness. It was a hot one since it was a midday run, but big chunks were nice and shady. The biggest challenge was being exhausted and having quads that were just not happy to be running for a third time in the past 15 hours.

But I’ll tell you, there’s nothing like climbing up that last staggering hill, feeling like you just can’t go on, only to turn the corner and see your entire team cheering you on.  I didn’t expect or know it, but you finish the race as a team… it was awesome!

By the Numbers

The geeky numbers make me really happy:

  • I ran for 2 hours and 18 minutes total
  • Overall average pace of 9:02 min/mile. 
  • I climbed a total of 995 feet and descended a total of 1202 feet.
  • I spent 54.1% of my time (53.6% of the distance) on flat surfaces…
  • 21.0% of my time (19.9% of my distance) climbing hills…
  • The remaining 24.9% of my time (26.5% of the distance) hauling ass downhill.


Not too shabby for a guy who couldn’t run 4 miles a year ago. :)

4 thoughts on “Ragnar the Fire Dragon has been slain”

    1. Thanks, dude! That's kinda scary… the laws of physics dictate that you should be at least as fast as me. :)

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