|At the finish!|
“A lot of people decry competition as a negative thing. It’s not. You come to love your competitors because you’ve been through this hell together. You don’t want your competitors to quit, but you need them to quit. These things are going on in your head at the same time. That’s a little bit evil. A total mindfuck, runners say.”
-- Gary Cantrell aka Lazarus Lake
Forty-two. It is the "Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything", at least according to Douglas Adams in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. It was also the number of runners that arrived to run the inaugural Run Ragged on June 13th in Berlin, CT at the Ragged Mountain Trailhead. Maybe it’s a bit of a coincidence in a sense because I’ve found that longer distance ultras are an excellent means for me to believe I’ve found the "Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything", at least at the wee hours of the morning after exhaustion sets in and my fragile mind starts getting somewhat loopy.
The event was a slight twist on the last person standing race format made explosively popular recently by Courtney Dauwalter and Johan Steene’s amazing performances (279.168 and 283.335 miles respectively) at the 2018 Big Backyard Ultra hosted by the evil genius Gary Cantrell aka Lazarus Lake. The race format requires runners to complete a 4.166667 mile loop in under an hour. The beauty of the rather seemingly random distance is that in exactly 24 hours you’ll have run exactly 100 miles. Sounds pretty easy so far, but every hour the race restarts and all runners must do it again and again and again until all but one runner remains. The last runner to finish one lap more than any other runner becomes the sole winner; all other runners receive a big fat DNF (Did Not Finish). Is it fair? Maybe not. Could it be soul crushing? Maybe so, but that is how the race format works. In fact, there could be no winner at all if a final group of runners goes out and none of them make it back before the one hour cut off.
The RDs of Run Ragged added a few twists to the format making it a bit unique amongst the abundant crop of so many new races that have popped up recently which are nearly exact replicas of the Big Backyard Ultra format. Where the traditional format uses a daylight trail loop and a night road course, Run Ragged used a single trail loop for its entirety. Most last person standing races use a relatively easy 4.166667-mile-long course. Run Ragged opted for a more challenging 5k loop. It was a shorter distance, but from what I’ve heard of other last person standing events the terrain and elevation gain (≈ 500’ per lap) made it a tougher course. While a good portion of the Run Ragged course was runnable, it was not easy or mindless running. The more runnable sections were broken up by technical stretches, short and steep climbs, and some tricky descents.
|Map from the Run Ragged registration page.|
|Another finish to an early lap.|
|One of the earlier starts when it was done to just three.|
|The "Three Amigos", me with my bananas.|
|Heading out again.|
|The aid station at the start of the event.|
|Preparing to head out again.|
|Brushing my teeth has never felt better.|
|An early photo of the overlook at Lower Heart Pond.|
|This was the start of the first lap with only two left, just after Joe counted us down and sent us on our way.|
June 22, 2019