(This note originally appeared at BibRave.com. Click here for the note)
The Ragnar Reach the Beach Relay is a race that stretches 200 miles across New Hampshire – from Bretton Woods to Hampton Beach. Teams can be as small as 6 (Ultra) to as large as 12 (everyone else basically). It takes place around the 17th of each year in September and is comprised by about 500 teams or 6500 runners. It started at 6am on the Friday start with teams going 24-35 hours later into Saturday. White Vans are generally what you see everywhere along the route but the local people also root everyone on as well. Every runner is a member of a team but at the same time, they are also a member of an community of runners. I have run this race twice now and seen all 36 legs from either running them or supporting people on the route.
The Legs of the Race
There are 36 legs in this race, all of different shapes and sizes. Some are very small while others can almost be half marathon length (10.9 miles is the longest one of the race). The elevation moves in this race can be breathtaking at times and there are no flat roads. That is what makes this course so great – lots to see and lots of challenge.
At the beginning, the views are of the Mount Washington Valley and by the end, the views are of the Beach (as you “reach the beach”). In between, you run through areas you cannot see (as you are running in the dark) and beautiful sunrises as the dawn approaches. You will find yourself sleeping either in a van or under a tree and wake after a few hours to run again. Each of these legs will challenge you physically and mentally as the stop and go of running over 24 hours takes a toll. As the race goes on, even the shortest of runs can be hard and if you are caught running during the day in the heat, the marginally hilly road can be very difficult. These legs as a result are tough and the challenge is very high
In years past, the communication for this race from Ragnar has been horrible. You send an email and get a response far past the time you needed it by. If you called, you ended up in a voicemail and very rarely got a call back. This year, that changed though as we get closer to the race date, the communication tends to have trouble (never email) at this point.
Ragnar had a deal with Enterprise snd that was a mistake this year for us because by screwed up my reservation giving us trucks versus Vans which I ordered (and charging me for the vans). In years past we have not used corporate accts of Ragnar and going forward, we will not use it again! It just stinks.
As for expo, it was organized well but the setup for race day remains a problem each time we get up there. We arrived at Bretton Woods around a hour before but their instructional video seems to run every 20 minutes (so if you miss the start, you need to wait). All members of the team also have to see this video which they could easily just post to their website ahead of time. This means all teams members have to go to the starting line even though six of them won’t be running for upwards of 8 hours!
The swag for this race is pretty good. Each team member gets a good shirt (they have always done this well). Also each finisher gets a medal and the runner who completes the 10.9 mile run (leg 6) also gets a medal for completing the leg. KIND bars are in the race bag for both teams and one bracelet which is handed off between runners at each exchange. There are some others smaller things in the bag as well. Overall, not bad stuff.
There are photographers on the route but you do not ever notice them. The pics they get are petty good and they are free if you don’t mind the RTB logo on the bottom of them.