Sunday, June 24, 2012

Ragnar vs. Marathons

Last week I ran the Wasatch Back Ragnar Relay with some friends and family. It was fun and I gained some good insights after completing it. The Ragnar is a 12 person relay that covers 197 miles. Our team only had one elite runner on it and the rest were just "normal" people so it took us 31 hours to complete the course and we ended up in 227th place out of 1,092 teams. The winning team was from B.Y.U. and they crushed the course in 19 hours!

Both running a relay and running marathons have many things in common, but there are several distinct differences. Here are the pros and cons to each event.

Marathon Running is an individual sport. It's up to you to finish. Marathoners don't have a van of crazy friends cheering them on the entire race and there is plenty of time to be alone with your thoughts as you plug along. It is obviously much longer and requires more endurance since all 26.2 miles are run at the same time by the same person.

The Ragnar lets you split up the 197 miles over 36 legs so you may run between 4-10 miles each turn depending on the leg. As a result, there is time to rest, stretch, eat and sleep between each run. Some of these legs are much more difficult due to the extreme increase in elevation. The last few legs were so steep that the participants looked more like they were climbing stair steppers than running.

Even though less individual distance is required for the relay, I was surprised how mentally draining it can be since it is drawn out over a day and a half as opposed to several hours. Your body will get more physically exhausted running a marathon, but relays can also be mentally debilitating as the race runs on and you are sleep deprived, experiencing GI problems, stressed, and tired.

In Summary:

Ragnar- This team event is more fun since it's more of a social event. It's a real party for most participants. It's easier than a marathon, yet still very uncomfortable and draining since it's spread out for so long. If you haven't trained much and your buddies are trying to get you to run with them, you can probably still pull it off.

Marathon- The longer distances require better conditioning and preparation, but at least you can get it over with quicker. Marathons requires more training and mental toughness and are more taxing on your body. You can probably BS your way through a relay race, but there is no fooling a marathon if you haven't trained sufficiently.


Kelly said...

My husband runs marathons, my friends run Ragnars. I choose yoga/walking & cage fitness. I hate running but I wish it weren't true. Every time I've tried I feel my body screaming at me to stop. My hat's off to you!

Jen said...

Thanks for this article! I love running distance races, especially a half marathon. My friends are trying to talk me into a Ragnar and I've been debating.... this helps, thanks!