The M.O.M’s had a crazy weekend competing in our 4th annual Ragnar. This time we opted for something a little different. An 8 person team running trails around Zion National Park.
After driving and yapping all day long, we arrived late Wednesday night to our amazing cabin at Zion Mountain Lodge. Nat and I got to share a big king bed, and stayed up talking till 2 am. Beautiful views awaited us when we looked out our giant picture window on Thurs morning. The weather was perfect, so we decided to hike Angel’s Landing. It was such a fun adventure. The last mile or so of the hike is over a ridge with steep cliffs on either side. Holding onto the chain embedded in the mountain is the only way to safely cross to the other side. I’m so glad we decided to do it. The views from the top were so gorgeous and worth all the effort it took to get there.
We all came off the mountain with a little sunburn. Little did we know, this was the last sun we’d see for the entire weekend.
We ate dinner at Blondie’s diner (Joanna had never had Utah “Scones” before, so we inducted her into the club)
That night we all crashed pretty early in anticipation of not sleeping Friday night during the race. Our start time wasn’t until 1:30, so we took our time getting ready in the morning and heading over to Zion Ponderosa Ranch where the race was being held. We were greeting by 100’s of tents set up in Ragnar Village. We picked a prime location and set up our camp. Soon it was time for Joanna to start! Rain clouds were looming, and it was pretty cold but we were holding out hope that the storm would blow over, or be short lived. We all tried to rush through our first legs in anticipation of the rain. Everyone had a great first run, but none of us were really prepared for the rigors of trail running. We are most definitely road runners and we all wished we had trained on some more technical trails. Our ankles, calves, and pace took a beating. About 2:30 in the morning, just after Amy had started the 4.6 mile loop, it started to POUR. The temperature plummeted and the trails immediately became a slick, muddy mess. It took Amy about 1 1/2 hrs to get through her leg. By this time the rain had turned to snow. Runners were limping into the exchange area tired, wet, and nervous about the deteriorating conditions. It was near 4:30 am. Pitch Black and snowing hard. Natalie was our next runner and her leg was 8.2 miles. She was hearing runners coming in saying the run was taking 3+ hours. Luckily she had the sense to call it quits. She came back to the tent and we all decided we’d get a few hours of shut eye and resume running in the morning when it was light again.
We awoke at 6:30 am to the sound of screams from the other tent which was collapsing under the weight of snow. We poked our heads out and could not believe our eyes. The entire camp was covered in snow, and it was still coming down. Even more unbelievable was the fact that runners were still out there slogging through the mess. No one was running. Everyone was covered head to toe in mud. Most were limping. Some were crying. Everyone was half frozen. One look at them and we all called it quits. We want to be tough, but it seemed a little silly to compromise our health in such a way. We heard stories of torn ACLs, blown achillies, volunteers abandoning their posts, lost runners, and runners being taken to the hospital with hypothermia. Something finally knocked some sense into Ragnar and they called the race around 7:30 in the morning. The shuttles back to our cars were not scheduled to start until 9 am. There was no way I was going to wait that long. I headed out into the storm with the express purpose of finding someone who would take me to my car. As luck would have it, there was someone backing out of one of the little on-site cabins. I flagged them down and they graciously agreed to take me to my car. On my way back up to the Ranch I saw two men running the 5 miles from the Ranch to the parking lot in shorts and ponchos. I decided to pay the good deed forward and turned around and gave them a ride down to the parking lot. (These are the trail markers about 30 min after it began to snow)
We packed up as quickly as we could and headed back to our toasty warm cabin. We really felt like we were watched over during this trip. We had just seen a big Hummer get stuck in the exact same place we had to cross to get out of the Village. We said a quick prayer, and buzzed right through the mud like it was no big deal. And that was only one of the countless times we felt watched over and protected. Thanks, God! As luck would have it, we had asked for an early check in, anticipating we’d be back to the cabins around 1pm after the race was over. They were a little surprised when we showed up just before 9 am, but they gave us the keys anyway. 8 hot showers and 8 mugs of hot cocoa later we were all feeling much better.
We spent the rest of the day relaxing, crafting, and watching the snow fall. In our effort to get out of Ragnar Village ASAP, we had collapsed our tents and left them behind. Later in the afternoon, after the snow stopped, we went back to pick them up. And wouldn’t you know it, as soon as we got there it started snowing again. We all felt like pretty tough chicks as we dismantled the tents in the snow.
That evening we ventured out to Mt. Carmel for some Ho-made pie. The sign alone was worth the drive. And the pie did not disappoint. Ho’s make really great pie! (The story really goes that the original owners opened up shop during WWII and make their sign from a scrap of wood they found. “Homemade” was too long to fit, so it was shortened to Ho-made. In the years since, the diner has embraced the term and all the funny souvenirs that inevitably followed)
We had a great night playing games and talking. Even after 4 days together we still had plenty to say. I am so grateful for these amazing women. They challenge me, encourage me, inspire me, uplift me, and embrace me for me. I feel lucky to call them my friends. Our drive home on Sunday was met with…..can you guess? SNOW. Vail Pass was closed, and we were all a little discouraged to be so close to home, but so far. I called Rusty and he found us an alternate route home through Leadville as long as Eisenhower Tunnel stayed open. Again, many prayers were offered that we could get through the tunnel. We made it, and all breathed a sigh of relief when we pulled into my driveway safe and sound.
This was an adventure that will never be forgotten. Friendships were deepened and solidified, obstacles overcome and we had more fun that can be imagined.