Ragnar Trail Relay in the McDowell Mountains

This race was amazing on so many levels. As I think back on the running, team camaraderie, time alone with nature and just the sheer awesomeness of it all I can’t help but feel completely grateful and content with my life.

I truly haven’t felt this at peace in a long, long while. Maybe this has something to do with it. Below is an excerpt from the Rangar Trail Relay website:

“Nestled in the lower Verde River basin, just northeast of Scottsdale, sits the McDowell Mountain Range. The early Yavapai were known to receive guidance from “Mountain Spirits” that dwell in the McDowell Mountain.

We can’t guarantee that you will commune with spirits during the race. Then again, we can’t guarantee that you won’t. We can guarantee that you will leave this adventure with a clear head and a new outlook on life. Maybe it is the Spirits after all.”

My current struggles of working two jobs and spending countless hours in front of a computer screen, have all seemed to melt away. I feel that getting back to basics is essential for me… maybe that’s why this race report is so long overdue… 🙂

Running, experimenting with plant-based recipes, spending time with friends and family and just taking time to relax and enjoy life — these are the things I love and cherish. These are the things I need to do MORE often.

Now that I have that out of the way, I can let you know how the race went. 🙂

By now you all should have heard me talk about the amazing Missy, otherwise known as Sugar Coated Athlete. True to form that gal did NOT disappoint during this race weekend. By 11:00 a.m. she and her husband Todd had a PRIME spot staked out for the team, nestled right up along the edge of the desert. Not only was it a quiet campsite free of foot traffic, but it also had incredible views of the desert, mountains and the fountain in Fountain Hills! A big thank you to Todd and Missy for being awesome and at-the-ready!!


Here is the fountain up close!


When we showed up to the campsite, Holly the team captain had these waiting for us. HOW CUTE?!


She also had a board with all our loops and the lengths listed out. AWESOME. I love checking things off a list. This also saves me from having to explain how this relay went. 😉


Everything about this race was earth friendly – which I absolutely loved. Below are some of the highlights. Solar panels and bike warm-up station.IMG_6920



I’m gonna go ahead and let you read this on your own. 🙂



The last paragraph? TOTALLY TRUE. These were really quite nice, surprisingly.


Our view from camp. A-mazing.


Look out for these suckers if you are in the desert. They are not friendly!


Ok, enough exploring. Time for the race debrief.


First runner is in the starting tent! That means I’m up next!! AHHHH 🙂


We sent Chad off, hung out by the tent and after about 35 minutes we  all went back down to the transition area to wait for his arrival. There was a timing mat on the course at .4 miles out. Once your runner crossed the mat, your team name would display on the screen and the next runner was allowed in the transition tent. After a few minutes of waiting, there we were, team 178 Heavy Breathers! AHHHH Here I go! I get in the tent, I’m swaying back and forth, anxious to go, my heart is pounding in my chest with excitement and for some reason I suddenly remembered I did NOT USE MY INHALER. (I have exercise induced asthma!!) I wasn’t in my normal routine and had just completely forgot.

Without wasting a second, I bolted out of the transition tent to our tent a few hundred yards away, used my inhaler – could barely hold the medicine in because I was so out of breath – threw the inhaler back in my bag and sprinted back to the transition tent. I was standing there for about 5 seconds when Chad arrived to do the transition. I walked over to him to grab the timing belt and team number and asked how it was – he said, “It was hard.” LOL Great! Here I go!

The start to this leg was not ideal – it had my heart racing with adrenaline and therefore I felt overly exerted from the get-go. I was able to turn around and snag this sweet pic though. 😉 Turns out that this loop, the yellow loop, was the most technical of all the loops. In the end, I was glad I got it over with in the daylight and first. There were definitely a couple spots where I needed to walk. It did have a cool pass under a storm drain and at the top of the mountain, you had an awesome view of Ragnar Village. My phone memory was FULL and I couldn’t snag another shot. Dang it! When I finished this leg, I was very hot and out of breath. I wanted to finish quickly, to give the team a good start!!


There was plenty of time to relax until my next leg, which wouldn’t be until 12:30 a.m.


Looking back at camp.


A completely full moon lit the entire campsite and surrounding mountains beautifully.



Just before my second leg! I was pretty excited to run in cooler temps.


And I’m off! The moment I was away from camp, I realized JUST how bright the moonlight was and didn’t turn on my headlamp for the entire leg. It was cool, almost cold at points, quiet and so serene. I passed about 6-8 runners while out on that course. It was SO much easier than the yellow loop, probably because I had a relaxing start and cooler temps, and remembered to use my inhaler. haha I found myself not really in race mode on this leg, and just trying to soak up the beauty of the mountains, nature and the fact I was running alone in the wild. There was something very spiritual about it and I was really enjoying myself!

When I got back to camp after my run, I toasted a marshmallow for Mrs. Sugar Coated (I’m doing a 30 Day Sugar Detox plan right now… so I had to live vicariously through Missy) and they had the movie Unbreakable: The Western States 100, playing on a large movie screen! These guys thought of everything.


After about “four” hours of “sleep” in a recliner chair under a sleeping bag, the sun was up and it was getting close to the start time of my last leg. It was the longest of the 3 loops, but also the least technical, so I was really looking forward to it!



This is a shot of camp, close to the transition tent area and where food was served. Oh yeah! They served a pasta dinner the night before, coffee and hot chocolate were available the entire time (of which I never partook… not sure why) and the next morning they had breakfast burritos and sandwiches available for purchase. IMG_6965

Within 45 second of hitting the trail of the 3rd leg, I realized how tired I actually was. 🙂 The good news is, MENTALLY I was totally fresh so it didn’t matter how tired my legs were. They just sucked it up and did what I told them. It was a beautiful and gradual gain in elevation on the way out, then the last 2.5 miles were mostly downhill. Once I turned on this trail, I HAD to pull out my phone and try to snag a pic. I literally didn’t stop running, pulled my phone out and snapped 4 pictures randomly, hoping ONE would be good. I was pleasantly surprised to see this one when I got back to camp.


The last mile of this leg was rough. It was back to the technical stuff with rolling hills, dodging rocks and cracks and the like. I did pass 22 runners (or so, I lost count) on this leg, so I knew I was doing a little better than average. 🙂 I was happy to be done with my legs so early in the day when it was nice and cool still. The AZ sun is intense! By the time I got to the transition tent, I unclipped my spibelt, not the timing chip/race number belt. WHOOPS. Yeah, I was a little out of it. haha



But not so much I couldn’t pose for a gun show with Missy! I rocked that lap with the fastest pace of all loops, so I was pretty happy!



Missy was runner number 5 and she had the same leg order as I did, so this was her heading out on the longest leg, when it was much warmer!


The whole team at the end. We were ready for REAL showers, not baby wipe showers, and some real food! I was trying to get everyone excited for this pic, hence my goofy face 🙂      IMG_7051


I took my mini me runner home, but not before I made her pose in the desert.


I ordered take out from my favorite restaurant Pomegranate Cafe, and picked it up before even going home.  Isn’t that medal cool??IMG_7022

My trusty map. I carried this with me on every leg. I have a deep seeded fear of getting lost in the wilderness, so I wanted to be prepared. hahaha I knew the way pretty well! I will definitely be doing this race again next year! It was an amazing experience.


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8 Responses to Ragnar Trail Relay in the McDowell Mountains

  1. Dan says:

    Awesome job! I’m glad it was such a great experience for you!

  2. Kristin Horstman says:

    Love it!! You rock girl!! I totally want to be on your team next year!!

  3. I have to agree with you, RagnarTrailAZ was pretty darn rad. Sounds like you had an amazing time too. Can’t wait for next year!

  4. Tanya Caylor says:

    Too cool! Glad I got to spend one summer of my life in that amazingly beautiful part of the country. Sad I wasn’t a runner in those days. Very well done, both the race and the post.

  5. MaryKate says:

    I wanted to run this race SO badly! taking lace basically in my backyard where I grew up! Looks like such a blast! definitely on the bucket list now, great recap!!