Friday, July 27, 2012

Ragnar vs. Hood to Coast

So, since this is the "Week of Ragnar" (see Part I, Part II, & Part III of my recaps), I figured I better end the week with one last post about it.  Then I promise to never talk about it ever again.  Believe me?!  :-)

As I've now done two Hood to Coasts and one Ragnar, I have some thoughts on the two different relays.  People have been asking me, "So which one's better?"  And I'm afraid there's no easy answer.  Like most things, there's good and bad with both.  But here are my thoughts on the pro's and con's of each:

Ragnar Northwest Passage:

Signage:  Ragnar does an AWESOME job of putting up signs EVERYWHERE.  I'm sure there were hundreds of them.  Although I still nearly got lost a few times, and I heard a few runners did get a bit lost, this signage is way better than at Hood to Coast (Hood to Coast really doesn't have any signage, though they have more volunteers at these intersections and turns). 

See - look at those lovely signs!

They also have Ragnar written on every trashcan and tattoos for you to enjoy!  Major plus for Ragnar.

Sleeping Arrangements:  Ragnar's sleeping arrangements are TOP NOTCH.  At Hood to Coast your choices involve sleeping in your van or sleeping outside in a field.  Ragnar had indoor sleeping at every major exchange in high school gyms with real bathrooms and often real showers (if you like group showering anyway).  I LOVED THIS.  It only could have been better if I'd had a mat to sleep on. 

The Bling:  Ragnar's medal is AWESOME.  I love it.  Not only is the medal hefty, heavy-duty, heavy, and AWESOME, but it also doubles as a bottle opener.  How cool is that?

Which we quickly put to good use.  

The Hood to Coast medals I've gotten, on the other hands, are awesome, but not AS awesome:

No Traffic:  We never encountered traffic at Ragnar.  With only 388 teams (versus 1,250 for Hood to Coast last year, 1,000 the year before), those numbers speak for themselves.  But last year the traffic at Hood to Coast was so horrible that it nearly overwhelmed all the good things about the race.  We did not get even 1 minute to try to sleep because we were in traffic that whole time.  Here is how we had to try and sleep at Hood to Coast:

Yeah, by the van while one of our runners was running.  Not very restful!

Hood to Coast

The Atmosphere:  While Ragnar DID have some awesome costumes and a few cool van decorations (the "Risky Business" team wearing just their tightie whities and a work shirt get my vote for being the bravest, while "The Runger Games" gets my vote for best team name), it's just not as ridiculous as at Hood to Coast.  And this is perhaps because Hood to Coast is the largest relay in the world, or because of it's long history, or perhaps because you have to go into a lottery to get in unless you win "best team name" or "best costume" or "best van decorations" contests, but Ragnar just can't compete with the atmosphere at Hood to Coast.  

The Course:  At Hood to Coast you're on a freaking MOUNTAIN.  Sorry Ragnar, Blaine just doesn't compete with Timberline.  Also, at Hood to Coast you seem to be making progress towards Seaside the entire time.  At Ragnar you seemed to be doing lots of out-and-backs or loops or nonsensical routes that seemed to just be to add miles to the route.  This was annoying. 

It really can't get much better than starting on Mt. Hood:

And ending on the beach:

The End Party:  Hood to Coast's end party has more booths, is on the BEACH, has better food options, a better beer garden, and is in general more exciting.  Basically you can't make me happy, because I like Ragnar because it has less people so we can have better sleeping arrangements and no traffic, but I love Hood to Coast because it has more people and therefore a better atmosphere and party.  I just can't be pleased. 

Final thoughts: I LOVED Ragnar, and yes I will definitely do it again.  My undying love remains for Hood to Coast though, and I CAN'T WAIT to run it with Team Nuun in a month.  Go Team Morning!

Have you done Ragnar and / or Hood to Coast?  What are your thoughts on the different races?