Saturday, October 15, 2011

Volunteering for Ragnar Relay

It's almost Friturday (Friday running into Saturday) which means another Ragnar Relay!  I put together this page to pass on information to my volunteers for the next Ragnar.  Thanks so much for volunteering!   If you have questions, contact the manager who originally emailed you or feel free to comment or send me an email at cheinle at cox dot net.

What is Ragnar Relay?
Ragnar Relay is where 12 people run about 200 miles in about 24 hours.  Runner one starts on Friday morning and runs about six miles and hands off at the exchange to runner two.  Runner two runs about six miles and hands off to runner three.  Rinse and repeat.  When runner 12 finishes, he hands off to runner one again and it starts again.  Each runner runs three times anywhere from 12-24 total miles finishing sometime on Saturday ;ate morning or afternoon.
Florida Central 2010 Team Horny Toads
There are two vans, each holding 6 runners.  When van one is running, van two is resting. When van two is running, van one is resting. You got the picture.

The exception to the above is an ultra team.  An ultra team has six runners (or less) and runs two legs before handing off to the next runner.  All six runners may be in one vehicle or there may be two vehicles with three runners in each van.

The Exchange
We are working the exchange where the runners hand off to each other.  Some of the exchanges are on the side of the road with lots of dirt, no shade (during the day) and no light (at night). Some are in a parking lot at a church or shopping center. And some, the major exchanges, are at a school.  Our role at the exchange is to record each runner as they come in and their next runner goes out.  For each exchanges someone will be sitting in a chair about 200 feet ahead of the exchange and using a walkie talkie to call out the team number of the runner coming.  At the actual exchange is a clip board with all the team numbers and you mark off that the teams as they come in.

What's a Minor Exchange vs a Major Exchange?
The major exchanges are where both vans show up. These are bigger areas with bigger parking lots to handle all the vans and runners.  There is a medical tent at each of the major exchanges. Major exchanges are start, 6, 12, 18, 24, 30 and the finish line.

A minor exchange has only one van of runners and is often on the side of the road.  The parking area may be a local church, or school or in a dirt field.  Each exchange is different.  Minor exchanges are 2-5;7-11;13-17;19-23;25-29;31-35. 
Minor exchange at Del Sol
What happens if the next runner isn't at the exchange?
Sometimes a runner comes in and his team isn’t there.  The runner has to wait in the exchange area until his team shows up and then the next runner takes off.  Record the time when the runner takes off, not when he first came in. 

What will I be doing while volunteering?
Here’s a summary of the jobs you could do while volunteering.  Each exchange is a little different.
All exchanges
-calling out runners numbers as they come in about 200 yards before the exchange.  You’ll have a walkie talkie so you don’t have to lose your voice.
- you could be marking runner as they come in to the exchange
- directing traffic in/out of the parking area.  Watch out for runners and traffic.  Don’t stop regular oncoming traffic
- directing runners which way to go.  Sometimes runners come in from one direction and the outgoing runner needs to go another direction.  Your excellent flag wave abilities will come in handy.
-Why did the runner cross the road? To get to the other side where the exchange is,of course.  Sometimes the exchange is across the road and a volunteers job it to cross the runners back and forth.
-Keeping area clean of garbage and port-a-potties stocked with TP.  There are extra garbage bags and zip ties in the bin to help keep your area tidy. At the end of the shift set all the garbage bags together and someone will pick up the bags.
Major Exchanges
-If your shift one you will help set up the entire exchange. This includes setting up first aid stations, water stations, making hooking up the generator for the coffee and hot chocolate station. If you're shift one, you probably won't see runners coming through until the very end of your shift.
-If you're working the start line you may be assigned to check in area which could be checking safety gear, handing out flags, or handing out goody packets and shirts.
-Manage a peanut butter and jelly station or a smore's station
- Managing a sleeping area
-If you're working the finish line you could help with medals, food, exchanging t-shirts along with any of the other duties listed above.
-Pretty much whatever the exchange needs help with, you could be doing.
-If you're shift three you get to help take down the exchange.  
Three of my awesome volunteers at Del Sol
What to bring-
You'll be provided a reflective vest to wear during your shift. You'll also be given an orange Race Crew t-shirt to wear under your vest (it screams authority!) and the t-shirt is yours to keep.  There is a bin full of stuff you may need during your shift (flashlights, batteries, pens, clip board, etc)

Chair – if you’re at a minor exchange on shift  #1 you may be sitting for a while before the first runner comes in.  You may wait a little while before the second runner comes in and then the flood gate of runners open and you’ll wonder if you’ll ever see the chair again.   For the second shift people, it’s opposite.  You’ll look at the chair with envy but won’t get to sit until the end of the shift when the runners come in less frequently.

Rain Gear/umbrella - if you look outside and say "Tut Tut looks like rain", you are either related to Christopher Robin or you need to bring rain gear.  Mother nature wins out regardless if there is a race going on or not.  We run through all weather.

Clothing - Bring comfy closed toe shoes and dress in layers.  Many shifts go from evening to day or visa versa.  It may be warm one minute and cold the next.  If you think it'll be really cold (especially if your shift is at night) bring gloves and a hat too.

Food - Ragnar provides water for the volunteers (the runners have their own). There is also a granola bar but that’s not really considered food.  In Napa I had volunteers bring a fold up table, chairs and a whole picnic lunch assortment of food for themselves (and offered me some too J 

Friends and family - If you have a friend that wants to join in the fun bring them.  We'd love to have their help and if we have extra shirts we'll give them a shirt too.  If you want to bring children check first with your manager.   With a 5-6 hour shift, a child may get bored and you will be too busy to watch him/her.

Decorations- Bring decorations! Costumes! Noise Makers!  Have fun!!!!  Each volunteer at the most spirited/decorated exchange shift will receive a $25 credit for Ragnar Merchandise.

Other - There are port-a-potties at the exchange and they usually have hand sanitizer in them but if I were you, I’d be ultra prepared and bring hand sanitizer, baby wipes if you have them (there’s no running water) and toilet paper (just in case). There's nothing worse than being stranded on the bowl without a roll.  Your manager has extra rolls with them in their vehicle; call and let them know you're out).  

Day shift  – Bring shade if you have it.  Unless you’re lucky and there is a tree nearby, there most likely won’t be shade.  Also bring sunscreen, bug spray and a hat.

Night shift – if you have a headlamp please bring it.  Ragnar provides flashlights but I love the hands free freedom of using a headlamp.  It’s a good idea to bring bug spray.  

What happens if you can't make it?
You are an important part of the team and if you don't show up, your team can be disqualified.  If you can't make it, let your team captain know and they need to find a replacement for you. 

Can I bring my cute, adorable dog?
FiFi (or Brutus) may be great with people but it's best to leave him/her home with the bone. 

Night Running
Your manager will tell you what the night-time hours are. During night time hours the runners must wear a reflective vest, headlamp and butt light.  All other participants (running or not) must wear a reflective vest.  During night time hours you'll need to remind people to wear their safety gear and send them back to their vehicle to get it.
typical night runner attire
What's up with the costumes?
It's not a requirement but is a lot of fun to dress up in a costume and you can win the most spirited exchange.  The Wine-O volunteers have come out for the Del Sol (Arizona) race for years and leave hoarse but get the most spirited exchange prize. 

What do I look like?
If you were sent here to the site by Christina(me) you are one of my volunteers and are probably wondering how will you know who I am?  Here's what I'll be wearing (minus the tutu)  during the day.  If it's dark out then I have a Medusa light up hair thingy. 
Del Sol Ragnar

Napa Ragnar

Thanks again for volunteering. Without you the race couldn't be successful. 

1 comment:

Black Knight said...

The Ragnar Relay sounds like a beautiful race. We don't have similar events.
Please post a lot of pics and let us see the costume you wore!!!
Have a good sunday.