Reaching the Beach: Our Decision to Ragnar
I’m not gonna lie: we have a bit of a thing for “extreme” sports here at NEMO, so when our resident supply chain whiz, Theresa, suggested we run 200 miles as a team, it was a matter of minutes before our team was formed and half of our small company was committed to bonding at a new level.
Deliberating about running through the night and spending 36 hours in a van filled with smelly coworkers seemed like a no-brainer. In fact, for the sake of archival accuracy, here are some actual responses in the first few minutes:
“YYYYAAAAAAAAAAA!” - Becca
“Count me in for everything ... (besides blisters, or Becca's weird toe)” - Sam
“I’ll run anything under 3 miles or drive the beer golf cart.” - Chris
That last one, Chris: for the record he ran 17 miles and took us home on the last leg down Hampton Beach State Park’s sandy shore, having not slept in two days and cheering his classic, “Yeeeeeewwww!” as we crossed the finish line. Then we got beer.
But let’s rewind to share six reasons running the Reach the Beach Ragnar was even more fun we thought it would be.
1. The First Night Campout
Setting up camp the night before Reach the Beach.
We know what you’re thinking: that we have to start with this one. We make tents, for Pete’s Sake! But really, hear us out. While lots of people crammed into hotels the night before the early morning start, our team set up eleven tents in a pristine field, cooked our carbs over a fire, and slept under the stars. We rolled out early the next morning feeling fresh and fantastic, ready to run all the way from our campsite at Franconia Notch to the ocean. No hotel pouch-coffee, bad room fresheners, or confusing duvets to deal with!
2. The Creative Expression
Kurt creates some van art the night before the race.
Graffiti artists, grab your markers. It’s time to decorate your vans. This is a thing, you know? We came into the task without premeditation, and therefore fell back on a few old favorites, including: “Watch Out: We’re In-Tents!” and “Honk for a Pro-Code,” and of course, already feeling the urgency: “Reach the Beach or DIE.”
3. The Inappropriate Things You Find Yourself Chanting
Van kills recorded on our van window.
Listen, we can’t speak for the science behind sleep deprivation, but we can say that van art gets less inhibited as the race goes on, and “race head” starts to take over after a while.
In Ragnar, the people you pass are called “kills,” and these are recorded on the side of the van beside each runner’s name. While some legs of the race are naturally ripe for passing throngs of runners, others have a leaner field of runners and even the swiftest runners struggle for a few “kills.” And at some point, high on adrenaline and low on the comforts of life, you might just find your entire van —pacifists included — chanting, “Kill, Kill, Kill!” We’re not proud, but at least we’re honest.
4. The Next-Level Intimacy
This one goes out to all you extreme athletes. How do we put this in the gentlest of ways? When you’ve got to go, you’ve got to go. We started the trip politely excusing ourselves to stand in line in the port-o-johns, but by the end of the trip we were amusing ourselves with third grade bathroom humor. Let’s just say we’ve had a breakthrough in intimacy, and it all started with a lot of together time in two vans.
5. The Places You Get to "Sleep"
Sleeping on the field.
For those of us for whom high school is a distant memory, it’s probably been awhile since we hopped a chain link fence and crashed overnight in a random patch of grass. At one rest stop, our team grabbed sleeping pads and bags from the van and kept walking past the groups of passed out runners ‘til we found an empty field. We caught an hour or two of sleep under the stars, feeling the dewy grass on our faces and blocking out the parking lot lights 400 meters back. This brought back all the excitement of the questionable choices of youth without any of the consequences.
6. Leaving It All on the Pavement (OR Sand)
Happy and exhausted, meters from the finish line!
There’s something good about running your battery down in your phone, emptying that last frozen pizza from your freezer, and leaving every ounce of what you’ve got on the pavement of Hampton, New Hampshire. Emptiness can be filled … and in our case, filled with exuberance, pride, and love for these crazy-as-hell people we get to work with every day.
Spent muscles, tired bodies, and disgusting vans are the perfect vehicle for the kind of triumph you only feel when you truly give the last drop of what you’ve got.