JacksonVelo Elite Racer Guthrie repeats RAGNAR

With triathlon season being over in our neck of the woods, it is always great to focus on run come the cooler fall weather.  One of the most fun ways to do this is the 197 mile Tennessee Ragnar Relay that is advertised with the catchy slogan of:  “Hills, stills, and thrills!”  It meanders through the scenic by-ways of East and Middle Tennessee starting in Chattanooga, crossing the high point of Monteagle, and finishing in downtown Nashville.
After two years of being on a middle of the road team, I decided to try and put a group that could run it fast and hopefully place in the top twenty overall. I actively began recruiting in July keeping some runners from the previous teams and recruiting some new ones. I had hoped to get six men and six women so we could challenge for a top three spot in the mixed category, but we wound up with 7 men and 5 women. They all, however, had the speed we needed to crack the top 20 from the 2011 race. Could we do it in 2012 when the race had grown by 40 teams to 246? 
I was on van 2 and we met up with van 1 at the first major exchange in Jasper, TN right before the Monteagle climb. They had left Chattanooga at noon at were about 15 minutes behind the planned pace due to the monster hills coming out of Chattanooga. No way to train for those in West Tennessee!  We took over and our ringer took off up Monteagle.  As we switched out runners and night began to fall, I took off on my first leg eager to make up time. I left from the top of Monteagle on a 6.6 mile section into Tracy City. I left the exchange a little too eager to get some “road kills” (runners that you pass that are tallied on the side of your van) as my first mile was at a 6:38 pace. A little too fast for me, especially as some rolling hills were on the horizon. I backed it down a bit and pulled into the exchange with an overall pace of 7:30 and several road kills.  We still had around 20hours of the race to go. Gotta keep some gas in the tank.
My next leg started at 2:20am after a five hour break. We were in Shelbyville now and I was up to get us to the metropolis of Elbethel, TN. It was time to speed it up as our team was closing on the teams that had left earlier on Friday and the road kills were now being racked up. I hammered the 4.1 miles in 7:14 and picked up several more.
We made it through the rotation again and I took over in the outskirts of Nashville at 11am.  I had to run 6.4 miles through Hillsboro, Harpeth Hills, BelleMeade and into Green Hills. Needless to say, it was hilly and the poor nutrition, one hour of sleep, unusually hot November weather and soreness was starting to set in.  I gathered more road kills, but the pace slowed to 7:54 on some serious Middle Tennessee rollers.
We gathered at the finish line to meet our final runner so we could cross together. We were about 45 minutes behind our planned pace, but had racked up over 180 kills. We donned our superhero outfits and redneck apparel to go along with our team name and theme of “The Redneck Superfriend” and ran toward the finish line. On the way, we wondered if we had met our goal of a top twenty finish. The weather was perfect.  The course was scenic. Everyone ran their hearts out and everyone had a blast in this unique race series. We were all energetic and already planning next year’s race as the results were tabulated. We finished in 26h46m18s for 20th place overall and 7th place in our men’s regular division.  We were pumped and already thinking about more road kills!