Ragnar Relay Madison Chicago Race Report

The Green Girl and fellow Sole Runner, Sarah, participated in their first out-of-state relay, Ragnar Relay Chicago.

The 195.4 mile Ragnar Chicago course started in Madison, WI, and ended at Montrose Beach in Lincoln Park.

The route was divided into 36 legs of varying difficulty and distances between 3-11 miles, with designed exchange points. The teams consisted of 6-12 individuals split evenly into two vans.

For teams of 12, Van 1 contains runners 1-6 and Van 2 contains runners 7-12. Van 1 Runner #1 begins at the starting line. Once the race starts, Van 1 goes to the first exchange point where runner #2 will prepare to run. Runners from Van 1 continue to run in order up to exchange point 6; this is the first major exchange in the race.
At exchange 6, Van 2 should be waiting. At this point, runner #6 from Van 1 will hand the slap bracelet off to runner #7 from Van 2. Then, Van 2 continues along the race course rotating runners until the next major exchange point, exchange 12, where they will hand off to Van 1 again. This pattern continues until the Finish.

Ragnar Relay Chicago Course Map
Team R.U.N.sane? comprised:
  1. Sarah O. - Legs: 1, 13, 25
  2. Ken - Legs: 2, 14, 26
  3. Emily - Legs: 3, 15, 27
  4. Boyana - Legs: 4, 16, 28
  5. Craig - Legs: 5, 17, 29
  6. Caroline - Legs: 6, 18, 30
  7. Krishna (Team Captain aka 'The General') - Legs: 7, 19, 31
  8. Mary - Legs: 8, 20, 32
  9. Todd - Legs: 9, 21, 33
  10. Sarah B. -Legs: 10, 22, 34
  11. Jay - Legs: 11, 23, 35
  12. Jim - Legs: 12, 24, 36
Team R.U.N.sane? sans Captain Krishna
Prior to the relay, each team plugged their respective 10k paces into a Ragnar calculator and the results determined the start and estimated finish time.

R.U.N.sane?'s official pace was a 9:37 minute mile (all teams must average an 11:00 minute mile or less). We were assigned an 8:00 am race start and our estimated finish was 3:58 pm the following afternoon.

Team R.U.N.sane?
Van 1 started at Olin/Turville Park in Madison, WI, at 8:00 am.

Van 2 went directly to Exchange 6 at Lake Mills High School in Lake Mills, WI, for the requisite safety check with our respective headlamps, reflective vests, and flashing lights.

The Green Girl and Sarah at Ragnar Relay Chicago Exchange 6
After the team safety inspection and briefing, we received our bibs, van magnet, copy of the official Ragmag which contained runner and van route information, and a pair of reflective flags for street crossing.

Jay either volunteered or was nominated to be the official R.U.N.sane? Van 2 Safety Officier*.

Team R.U.N.sane? Team Captain Krishna at Exchange 30
Van 1 arrived at the exchange and the first Van 2 runner, Team Captain Krishna, headed out.

Despite the heat, my first leg was an easy 2.9 miles and on an uphill, I managed to get a roadkill. Tallying up roadkills on the side of the team van are a Ragnar tradition and each hash indicates a runner you passed.

Team R.U.N.sane? Van 2
My leg ended at Vetro Winery where I received a special Ragnar Vetro Winery bottle opener.

After our first hand off back to Van 1, we stopped for dinner at Jose's Blue Sombrero in Racine, WI.

Then, we parked the van at Exchange 18 at Martin Luther High School in Greendale, WI, and tried to get some sleep.

Ragnar Relay Chicago Ragnarians sleeping and resting Martin Luther High School hallways
Some Ragnarians camped out in the high school corridors but we stayed in our van.

It was soon time for Team Captain Krishna to head back out for Leg 19.

The night leg is always the highlight for me because I love running in the dark.

Team R.U.N.sane? Captain Krishna at Exchange 18
Jimmy generously offered to accompany Sarah and me on our night legs.

Exchange 24 was at John Pershing Park in Racine, WI. The Racine YMCA offered shower facilities for $2.

We parked the van along the Lake Michigan waterfront.

Sun rising over Lake Michigan
I sat out on the rocks watching the sun rise as the rest of the van napped and waited for Jimmy to complete Leg 24.

The final hand off from Van 1 to 2 was at Exchange 30 at North Chicago High School.

A local non-profit organization, Bernie's Book Bank, held a pancake and sausage fundraiser. A plate of 3 pancakes and 3 sausages was $3.

Ragnar Relay Chicago Ragnarians sleeping on the North Chicago High School lawn
Exchange 30 is always exciting for Van 1 because this marks the end of their legs while Van 2 still has their final ones to complete.

Leg 3 seems to always be the most challenging because by this time, the exhaustion has set in, and you are anxious to cross the finish line because you're dreaming of a hot shower, a comfortable bed, and real food - and not necessarily in that order.

Ragnar Relay Chicago Team R.U.N.sane? Van 2 Roadkills
Our final runner, Jimmy, brought us in at the Montrose Beach Finish Line in Lincoln Park.

We enthusiastically cheered as we ran through the finish arch in the sand.

Our captain, Krishna, ceremoniously slipped the Ragnar finishing medals over our heads and we proudly gathered for our final R.U.N.sane? group photo.

Ragnar Relay Chicago Team R.U.N.sane? Van 2 Roadkills
I want to thank the R.U.N.sane? runners - especially Emily - for accommodating Sarah and me with the last minute van changes.

Thank you Jay, Jimmy, Krishna, and Todd, for being awesome van-mates.

I also need to thank the Weather Gods for the perfect temperatures and low humidity.

Team R.U.N.sane? Captain Krishna
And last, but not least, I want to thank Captain Krishna aka The General for organizing the R.U.N.sane? team.

*Van 2 wouldn't let me forget that I misspelled 'officer' when I was decorating the van.


  1. Sounds like a fun relay! Beautiful sunrise you captured.

    1. Unless you're at a higher elevation, it's rare to see good, unobstructed sun rises on the West Coast so I was very grateful to be able to witness that sun rise.

  2. I always love your reports, and this one was great! My wife and I have thought about a relay like this (she's actually ran a shorter one). They always look like so much fun. Your report makes me want to run one even more - great job!

    1. Thank you, Jim! I wasn't initially interested in running relays but once I did one, I was hooked!

  3. Looks like Chicago was a fun course! I just finished Niagara! They are just such FUN races!

    1. That's so cool that you did the inaugural Niagara! It's definitely on my 'to do' list.

  4. Sounds like you had a blast. The nighttime leg is also my favorite run.

  5. hellokitty/pinkgirlJune 18, 2013 at 2:17 PM

    GREEN GIRL! We had such a good time representing all the pint size cali-girls! Can't wait to do it again:0


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