Ragnar Trail

Ragnar Trail
8.4

Communication

7/10

    Venue & Festival

    9/10

      Course & Obstacles

      9/10

        Swag & Awards

        9/10

          Pros

          Cons

          9 Responses to Ragnar Trail

          1. Chris Bordenca says:

            Communication

            9.5

            Venue & Festival

            9.5

            Course & Obstacles

            9.5

            Swag & Awards

            9.5

            The most fun two days of racing I’ve had all year. Steven’s review says it all. I’ll just add that the move back to June from August was the best change since last year. Communication was solid, changes were relayed in a timely manner. The course is beautiful, challenging, and fun. The swag is top notch. The (tasty) food situation was handled much better than last year. The teams and volunteers are great people. Huge thumbs up for the frequently cleaned expanse of port-o-potties.

            • Race or Product: Ragnar Trail New England
          2. Steven says:

            Communication

            9

            Venue & Festival

            9.5

            Course & Obstacles

            9

            Swag & Awards

            8.5

            Run, Camp, Sleep(?), Repeat!

            Using those tents, Ragnar Trail New England was exactly as billed. Upon arrival, the race was afoot to get all of your gear up to the best possible place you could find, because let’s face it, no one likes to camp on a hill.

            The Spahtens of the world were fortunate enough to have been given a great area – close enough to the transition point and vendor village without having to camp on top of the porta-potties (more on that later).

            Registration was smooth, with just the team captains needing to approach the table to get us all signed in (compared to Ragnar Cape Cod, where we were all herded together through the line from station to station). The tee shirt process, however, was a bit different. Ragnar Cape Cod gave the captains all of the shirts right off the bat, whereas here, each person was responsible for getting their own. I got my shirt early, so I’m not sure if there was any issue with sizes running out.

            Immediately past registration was the vendor village – Salomon and Suunto had both shoes and watches for you to “test out.” I put on a pair of Salomon S-Labs, and ran my first loop in them, and fell in love. Which was unfortunate, because it was the one pair of shoes they did not have for sale at the Merchandise Tent, where shoes were 20% off for the weekend.

            Ragnar’s Charity Partner, Hole in the Wall Gang, had multiple booths on site, and as usual, knocked it out of the park with slap bracelets, head buffs, tattoos (the kids LOVED THOSE), and air fresheners. They also had an unending supply of Newman’s Own Organic Lemonade. God, I love lemonade.

            REI had not only a large tent, but many fun features to go along with it. From amazing single drip coffee, to fun and games, they were a truly amazing race partner. Kleen Kanteen provided all the water refills you needed, and Nuun kept our electrolytes up high. There was also a very talented young artist who painted race scenes from Ragnar, and was selling hand painted Boston Marathon paintings – I hope to see her at other events.

            Food was provided by B. Good – and it was clear they weren’t entirely prepared for the volume of food they’d be selling. At one point, they began serving half portions of chicken to accommodate lunch rushes, and their lines were long. Looooooooong. But the free meal voucher was pleasant, even if it did take 45 mins to get a burger.

            Onto the race! Heat played a factor for sure. While it was hot in the camping and transition areas, the course itself was fairly well shaded, which at times made the air a bit thick with humidity. Mother Nature has been great about that this summer. The 3 mile loop started with a nice uphill, and then finished very very fast. Super fast. Amazingly fast.

            I had the opportunity to run the 7.3 mile loop in the dark, and it was one of my favorite life experiences. The stars were unlike anything I’d ever gotten a chance to see. At times, I found myself staring up in wonder at them, and I couldn’t help but smile because it was just so incredibly peaceful. The course itself had some great climbs, and single tracks, and after the halfway point, became a great downhill run as well.

            My 4.9 miler was the following morning – and again the heat came back. It was again a challenging uphill, followed by some fun, technical trails that really rewarded efficient trail running. Since I’m not the brightest, I fell off the trail a bit, then had to circle back. It pays to pay attention. Some day, I’ll learn that lesson.

            Ragnar Trail is very socially conscious. No cups were given out. This was intentional so as to reduce waste. And that was awesome. Trash was never strewn about, and as a result, the venue was exceptionally clean. Just like the porta-potties, which were emptied MULTIPLE TIMES over the weekend. I’ve never once seen a large-name OCR send trucks in during a race to clean out the mess that the toilet cities can become. Kudos to Ragnar for being so concerned about sanitation.

            Onto the race itself. Ragnar is a relay, where one participant per team is out on the course at a time, and when they return in, the next participant hits the trail. We were informed of our teammate’s progress only when he or she had 1/4 mile remaining in their run. This made it a bit difficult to gauge a person’s time, and when the next participant should be ready. Especially challenging during the overnights, when off-shift teammates were trying to catch a nap. A halfway trail marker would’ve been helpful to mitigate those issues.

            At its heart, Ragnar Race is a team building event. Trail events have teams of 4 (Ultra) or 8 team members, and it’s during the non-running times where bonds are built among the teams. This is the best intangible asset these events provide. When you leave, there’s a feeling of missing your teammates. While you don’t have the same forced closeness a Van provides, Ragnar Trail helps to develop friendships in ways that your standard OCR, road, or trail race cannot. You rely on your teammates, you support your teammates, you grow to love your teammates as if they were family. And while medals and tee shirts are great, that sense of family is the best prize you can get from this type of event.

            • Race or Product: Ragnar Trail New England
          3. kcadran says:

            Communication

            6

            Venue & Festival

            8.5

            Course & Obstacles

            9

            Swag & Awards

            9.5

            I went into this not really expecting anything, I honestly wasn’t really sure what to think. I did have trouble finding information regarding what would be available for food (or not) up until right before. It felt like there might have been a few last minute changes (course mileage, food menu) or just not communicated clearly enough or earlier.

            FOOD:
            I was happy to find out that there would be food available for purchase as it made it easier to not have to pack and plan meals. I went to get dinner around 5:30, and did not have to wait long (15-20 min), but when we reached the register people were waiting for veggie burgers, and it sounded like they had been waiting for some time. I got the beef burger (which was excellent!), but even those were very few in the pan, and I imagine very shortly after there wasn’t any of those and that caused the backup that continued through the evening. The meal ticket we received at check-in was for dinner, but I believe others were able to use them at other meals. Potentially if the meal ticket is “good for one meal” instead of specifically dinner, that may have alleviated everyone going for dinner? It was also self-serve for the sides, I’m sure this is the reason why the end of the night ended with them running out. The girl who was taking tickets and cash was also running around helping to get food to the servers. I got to breakfast late which meant that I got egg and cheese on a burger bun instead of the ham and English muffin as advertised. Still good though. I opted not to get the lunch as I heard it was “ok” but probably not worth the $8. The check-in area gave us snacks at the beginning, and had more available throughout the event which was really nice!

            ACCOMIDATIONS:
            The VIP area was great! Next year we know to bring a wagon or something to lug our stuff up to that area from the drop off. Porto potties were plenty, it was nice to never have to wait, and they were cleaned out often enough. I’m curious to know how many people adhered to the 2 car limit. We found it a struggle to fit all of our stuff and people in 2 cars. Ultimately ending up with 3, but it didn’t seem to be strict. I can understand not letting it be a free-for-all and wanting to conserve space, but it would have been nice to know “3 is ok too.”

            VILLAGE:
            The village was full of things to do at all hours, the hammocks were nice, it was a bit squished together, but you could navigate it enough. Once the fire was started it made it a little more tight since people were huddled around the fire pits (which were spaced out) especially it being dark, but it was all manageable. The two checkpoint boards (displays) by the transition tent were constantly clustered, and hard to stand near to wait for your transition. It was nice when they turned the one on at the beer tent. It would have been helpful to have that updated and tied to the ap so that the rest of the team could check in on where/when each of their teammates made it in/out without having to stand by the board and create more clustering. I also would have appreciated if the beer tent had stayed open till midnight (with the whiskey sampling).

            COURSE:
            I found it to be very well marked. I did not feel lost at any point. Even in the dark! It was challenging, but survivable! I really appreciated the “One Mile Left!” sign at the end of the yellow loop. That would have been nice for the red/green as well. The motivational signs were great! I found myself laughing and smiling as I passed them. I wished there was an explanation for the wooden nickels. I first noticed the western point ones, but I had no clue what they were for. I only picked up one at the water station after my teammate was told they were for whiskey. Later learning that if we turned them in they were good for donations (I would have had 3, but only picked up 1).

            OVERALL:
            Amazing. I am really excited to do this next year. Now having done one, I have a better idea of what to plan for.

            • Race or Product: Ragnar Trail
          4. Raman says:

            Communication

            6

            Venue & Festival

            7

            Course & Obstacles

            9

            Swag & Awards

            9

            Has a great time at Ragnar Trail MA, 2016!!

            It was an awesome experience, running with friends, running in the woods, running at night, and camping. The medals were excellent. The Festival was great, as was merchandise.

            It’s a large event that requires an awful lot of planning and execution, and Ragnar did an excellent job, for the most part.

            The one thing that irked me (hence the low score on Venue/Festival) at the event was the really long wait time in the food line – over an hour!! The lines were that long for several hours, and for all meals. This could have been easily rectified by adding 2-3 more people. And some food items were finished if one didn’t get there early enough. For this reason I skipped eating 2 meals there.

            On the plus side, the food, once obtained, was great! As a vegetarian, I often have trouble finding anything appealing at the races, this was an exception.

            The trail lengths changed last minute but was not well communicated. The Ragnar App was never updated.

            All in all though a great running experience, made even better by my team, and other NES teams around us.

            • Race or Product: Ragnar Trail MA, 2016
          5. dphilli1 says:

            Communication

            6.7

            Venue & Festival

            10

            Course & Obstacles

            10

            Swag & Awards

            10

            Great event. Course got a little scrambled with the construction work — water stop was at 4.3 miles rather than 3 as the base camp map said. Food was ok, dinner service was better than breakfast as breakfast only had 2 people who had to both serve and do money.
            Didn’t notice them running out of water.

            Would have been nice to have the course on a real (i.e. USGS) topo map so that we could see what we’d be crossing — there were lots of road crossings that don’t show up on the little map.

            Would be nice if they could publish the racer start times via the app — we had to estimate when to show up at transition tent; if they said what time the last runner for any given team was, we could then figure out what time to show up.

            Extra timing point would be really nice, maybe 1mi out?

            • Race or Product: Ragnar Trail
          6. Chris says:

            Communication

            6.9

            Venue & Festival

            9.4

            Course & Obstacles

            9.8

            Swag & Awards

            9.5

            I haven’t had this feeling of excitement after a race since my first year of OCR’s. I think Ragnar Trail is my new favorite race. The trails were gorgeous and challenging. The village was hopping at all hours with plenty to do, places to chill out, and things to buy. The charging station was a big plus.

            Trails were pretty well marked, especially at night. The transition tent was well organized and placed. With televisions outside indicating when a runner is getting close to the transition point.

            Great swag. Nice t-shirts, cool window stickers, temp tattoos, Kind bars and more. The bad ass finisher medals are sharpened, so not great for wearing, but they have something inspirational etched in the back that can be read when all the medals are together.

            NES Bonus: Spahten campsites were located at the top of a hill just outside the village. It was super convenient getting to and from the village. Not having to hike up and down the hill between race legs was a huge benefit, so a big thank you to whoever arranged that perk!

            The only cons would the food situation at dinner and getting the start times right so people weren’t so teams weren’t so pressed to finish on time.

            I finished my 7 mile leg, got in line almost immediately and stood for an hour and a half in line for a hamburger and nothing else because there wasn’t anything left. Multiple food vendors would have been ideal.

            Overall it was a complete blast and having such a great team, all Spahtens except one, some of us meeting for the first time in real life, was awesome. I can’t wait to do it again!

            • Race or Product: Ragnar Trail
          7. jesse says:

            Communication

            5.9

            Venue & Festival

            7.4

            Course & Obstacles

            7.1

            Swag & Awards

            9.3

            My first but not last rangar. Festival area was nice always had something going on. I liked the no cups kept the area clean. Swag is great. Food could have been better. I know how hard it is to cook for that many people. Biggest issue for me was bringing all our equipment in and out of tent area. Next time bring a cart.

            • Race or Product: Ragnar
          8. Beth Jones says:

            Communication

            4.6

            Venue & Festival

            8.5

            Course & Obstacles

            8.5

            Swag & Awards

            9.5

            This year we were in a different location for Tent City and the Festival. The festival seemed more “packed together” but I also think it made for a more intimate event. I miss the smoothie guy though! The water they brought in from Kleen Kanteen was MUCH better than last year, however, they did have issues with running out of water due to the heat. The port-o-potty situation was also infinitely better this year as they were cleaned periodically throughout the event. On a slightly down note, while I loved that b good’s was the food vendor, with tasty and healthy food, they were slow to get the food out, causing long lines. Perhaps next time Ragnar should partner with more than one food vendor so folks have a choice, or that b good’s had some pre-prepped stuff like their salad bowls or quinoa bowls.

            The trails were killer this time as usual, but with the heat, they tried to address the water situation, though with limited success. It seems they ran out. They also ran out of ice to treat people for heat-related illnesses and rolled ankles/knees. While I understand they had no way to predict that, they needed to remedy that situation by getting more ice in from somewhere.

            I love the swag – the medals were bigger than last year’s and also had the “puzzle pieces” on the back, which is more in line with their road series. Also, as usual the shirts were nice, and this year you got a ticket to claim your shirt, rather than them trying to pack all the team’s shirts into the bin bags they give you. I still have a soft spot for the window decals, as it’s great to keep adding them to the back windshield.

            There were a lot of teams having issues with the start times and many were in danger of not finishing. I know they tell you to use your road time and they will adjust, but it doesn’t appear that they did that. If they want road times, then they need to make really certain they make the appropriate time adjustments. Too many teams had to double and even triple up to have a hope of completion.

            And second the call to put NE Trail back in June!!

            • Race or Product: Ragnar Trail
          9. josh.chace@gmail.com says:

            Communication

            4.7

            Venue & Festival

            8.5

            Course & Obstacles

            8.5

            Swag & Awards

            9.6

            Great event. Logistical troubles like improper scheduling of start times made the end a little hurried but Ragnar always has awesome awards, shirts and tons of gear. They had Solomon on site and they were letting you demo pre broken in shoes on a trail lap of your choice.

            Next year this should definitely be in June again when it’s cooler.

            • Race or Product: Ragnar Trail Western MA

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