There is nothing like the beauty of Zion National Park. If you’re human and you’re living in America, you should not leave without seeing one of the great parks that rests in the heart of our countryside. The rock formations, the slot canyons, the narrows, Angels Landing, all of it just incredible. Formations of land, rocks, streams, trees and Mother Nature at her finest.
Sounds like a beautiful trip, right? Well, I have a different story to tell. This one is muddy, literally. Team Adventure Yogis, that’s right, yogis can be adventurers and as it turns out, pretty fast runners too, were racing at the Ragnar Trail Relay in Zion. A Ragnar Trail Relay, for those of you who don’t know, is a trail running relay event with 3 different loops; green, yellow and red. There are 8 people on each team and you must run, hike or slog 24 loops as fast as you can, so 3 loops per person. By the time you finish all 24 loops every team member will have successfully completed each loop which averages out to about 14-15 miles per person over the course of 20-30 hours. Not so bad if that’s you’re thing and it is very much my thing.
We arrived early to set up camp as the clouds began to move in. The elevation at the start of the race is 6400ft above sea level. That means those of us from sea level will be sucking wind the entire race. Turns out, it didn’t matter much this time around, not only were we sucking wind, but we were also licking rain and eating mud. It must’ve rained 4-5 inches over the 24 hours we were there. And it was still raining as we trudged through the mud to pack our gear and head back home.
The race organization staggers start times for teams based on your quickness. We started later in the day on Friday and were planning on finishing midday on Saturday. There’s never any telling when your going to finish or how fast you’re going to be because there are so many elements from fitness level of teammates, to varied terrain, and every so often…rain, a lot of it.
I ran the green loop to start us off. Then Kathy sped through yellow, Steve crushed it on the red loop and Caitlin zipped through the green. That’s about the time the rain started to come down. At first we thought it might not be too bad, maybe some drizzle and the clouds would pass on by. Dale ran yellow and Ginny ran red. Ginny was the first to experience what would later become know as Ragnar Zion Mudfest. Ginny is very fast and what should’ve taken her 75-80 minutes to do took over 2 hours! She returned to camp, covered in mud, telling us how she would begin running up hill and her shoes would slip down. Most of the course was so muddy that you simply couldn’t run. You had to hike and grab on to branches to get yourself up the hill.
Ginny was given an update by the race directors saying that they were suspending the race for 3 loops. They would re-assess the situation at 1am. The bummer about this is that you can’t really go to sleep, because you might have to run, but then again you might not. Well, not, was the answer. They cancelled 8 loops of the 24. Teams who decided to finish the race would run 16 loops. They would continue where they left off at 11pm and run green, yellow, red, green, yellow, red, etc.
Thankfully our team got some rest, came up with a plan and finished the race! There was more mud than I’ve ever seen. I ran the yellow loop at 7am and hit the deck hard 3 times. Thankfully the ground was soft and I didn’t hurt myself. Other teammates returned from their loops fully covered in mud! It was hectic. It’s a different kind of fun.
There were 422 teams that started the race. While we were finishing our final loops, there were only 20-25 teams on the course. And it’s not because we were slow, it’s because most of the teams decided to pack it in and go home.
I understand, it’s cold, it’s wet and it’s the last thing you want to do. But there’s something to be said for finishing what you start. I’ve been guilty of starting many things I’ve left unfinished from projects in the backyard, to difficult conversations, to a multitude of business ideas. But when you do actually finish and you can close the doors on a project or a goal, it builds your self esteem. There’s nothing like feeling confident when you set out to do something and you do it. It’s simple and profound.
The next time you set out to do something whether a big project or a small phone call to someone you haven’t called in a while, give yourself a moment when you’ve finished. Give yourself that pat on the back. You’re the only one who’s going to recognize most of those little things, but I promise you, you’ll be much happier that you did.
Team Adventure Yogis stopped over at the Wynn in Vegas before heading home and proudly enjoyed one of the best brunches on this side of the Mississippi. Finishing makes all those treats much sweeter! Enjoy!
Photo Credit: teddymcdonald.com