Ragnar Relay Your Way to Team Success
Looking for a way to bring your colleagues together and take your teamwork to a whole new level? Then you should suggest signing up for a Ragnar Relay, the ultimate teamwork test and collaboration-building sports event.
I joined a Reebok Ragnar as a networking opportunity. What I got out of it instead is an incredible group of friends and three learnings from the relentless pace.
In April of this year, I was one of 12 ‘Reebok Ragnarians’ heading to sunny California to run Reebok Ragnar SoCal.
The 185-mile course ran from Huntington Beach to San Diego, following the ocean briefly before heading inland through parks, busy streets and forested land – complete with enough hills for even the hill-running fanatic to say, “ok, that’s enough.” The final few legs directed runners back out alongside the coast with sweeping views of the ocean before ending in Embarcadero.
The race was relentless and non-stop: it went through the night, hot weather and tough terrain. But it was also packed with thrilling moments, personal accomplishments and silly, bordering-on-delirious moments full of laughs and high fives.
How does Ragnar work?
Twelve team members run relay-style from start to end, with each member running three sections – 36 legs in total. Team ‘Reebok Ragnarians’ was comprised of Reebok employees who spanned different business groups and work levels – from our GM of Running to product development, communications, finance and more! It was really a mash-up of employees from every corner of the business, which provided a great opportunity to get to know people outside my regular scope of work.
Before the race began, I was nervous. As a newcomer, there was really no way for me to understand what was to come, and since I was running with my colleagues, I placed pressure on myself to do well and to not let them down.
Team spirit thrives in tough terrain
At the start of the race, the sun was shining and energy levels were high. The entire team was buzzing with excitement and the prospect of what was to come. Yet, it didn’t take long for the course to humble us all. We expected to be running flat roads along the sea; instead, we wound through neighborhoods and parks and up steep, rolling hills.
Team members planted themselves along the route to cheer on runners, handing out snacks and water and playing runners’ ‘pump up’ songs to keep them going.
The relay rally pulls us through
One moment in particular that stood out to me was towards the end of the race: one of our runners, who had already run over a dozen miles, had a 9-mile final leg that promised lots of elevation gain and the glare of the hot sun. She wasn’t sure she could run the entire distance. Without explicitly asking for help, four runners offered to each take a mile from her. The handoff from one team member to the next became this great orchestration – it was almost like choreography as runners transitioned on and off the course for a series of quick exchanges.
That, to me, was the ultimate test of our teamwork. The whole race, we had time to catch our breath and move methodically, but this was different: it was game time, and we needed to work quickly and efficiently. We moved together seamlessly – a testament to how close we had grown in just a day and a half.
We finished in beautiful San Diego along the water, nearly 30 hours after we started. As the last runner finished his final leg, we all joined together and ran through the finish line as one team.
What did I learn?
1. It’s more than a running race
Being able to run is important but being a team player is even more important. As one runner put it, “it’s about embracing the challenge, giving moral support at 3 a.m. even when you’re tired, and supporting your team on the legs when they most need it.”
2. It’s a great way to meet new people
What I expected to be a networking opportunity instead gave me an incredible group of friends. The race brought out the best of us, and by bonding over a challenging experience, we’ve forged connections that will last a long time.
3. You’ll be glad you did it
I was hesitant to run the race because it meant I would be doing two things I was uncomfortable with: running longer than I normally do and running faster than I normally do (it is a race, after all!).