We should have realized that standstill traffic on I-70 and a police car towing a raft did not bode well for course conditions. After a white-knuckled ride to the Ragnar Trail Appalachians, there was a break in the rain that allowed us to set up our campsite on a beautiful patch of mud.
Friday morning dawned wet and cold. We rustled up coffee and PB&Js at the campsite and headed into "the village" to check in our teams. Pam and I did requisite volunteer shift as transition tent security. The free Ragnar beanie we earned became my constant companion for the remainder of the trip. It kept my head warm, and concealed my hair that would not see a shower for more than 48 hours.
Just in time for my first and shortest loop it was all sunshine and lollipops. The trail was still a bit sloppy from the previous day's rain, and the race director was forecasting an end of the bad weather by 5 p.m. I would have enjoyed feeling overheated and sweaty a bit more if I had know what was to come....We were all sitting around the camp, our third runner on the course when a volunteer drove by our campsite and said "a storm is coming." It came and it kicked our butts. We spent the better part of the next two hours shivering and holding onto our canopies and tents.
My second (and longest loop) went off at 10 p.m. I spent 97 terrifying minutes running 6.7 miles through the dark. The trail would have been technical in daylight and without all the mud. It took me almost 20 minutes to "run" the 2nd mile--and, no, I didn't spend 10 of those minutes in the fetal position rocking and moaning.
I was able to get a little shut eye (thank you Big Agnes down sleeping bag) before my last loop despite the fool who thought it would be a good idea to bring their baby camping. One of my teammates had to withdraw due to a fall that caused a stitches-requiring knee laceration, allowing our team to DNF gracefully. I completed my last loop in brilliant sunshine through knee-high ferns and pine-needle cushioned comfort. After our drive home I went to bed at 7:30 and slept all night. And just like child-birth I'm already remembering the good parts and forgetting the cold and misery.