Volunteering at Ragnar Trail Massachusetts

Read my first experience SWATing in Atlanta here.

At the end of August, I volunteered for my second Ragnar of the year and I took on the Red loop manager position again. Since the race was up in the woods of Massachusetts, I flew into Hartford and drove 1.5 hours north to Northfield Mountain. I got in earlier than most of the other SWAT crew, so I had my own car rental and picked up some extra supplies before heading to the venue to help with setup. 

After a catered dinner at the venue, the loop managers all headed out on their loops. All three loops stuck together for awhile before Green headed off and Yellow and Red continued to climb. There were major climbs on both Red and Yellow and it was definitely a tough night run, but there were also some good sections of downhill on the back-end of the leg, so you could pick up some speed if you wanted to.

Thursday was spent finishing village setup, making sure our loops had enough signs and putting out some extra motivational signs. Near the water stop on the Red loop, there was a short detour that runners could take to a scenic overlook of the reservoir. I put a sign at the top to let people know about the detour (though after all that climbing, an extra 300 feet isn’t on everyone’s to-do list). I’m glad I took a few minutes to check out the reservoir, but I’ll admit that I only made the detour once! 

This venue was different than Atlanta as our hotel was about 30 minutes away, so when we left the hotel Friday morning, most of us weren’t going back until Saturday night after dinner. This meant I had to pack all my running gear, extra layers for my late night transition tent duties and my sleeping bag and anything else I would need for the next two days. Despite the trails being dusty, they were beautiful.


We did have a little bit of excitement on Thursday – as the Yellow loop manager was running her course, she saw a bear in the woods, so the loop managers carried bear spray for the rest of the event and we were happy to report that we didn’t see any more bears for the remainder of the event! Friday night, the loop managers got together and got our lights ready to keep the runners on course throughout the night.
Saturday was a pretty easy morning as we supported the other SWAT and Ragnar staff with whatever they needed help with and I even caught a nap in the REI hammock village while it was quiet Saturday morning. Saturday is always the fun time because more people are hanging out in the village, Steve hosts a bunch of contests, including the partner squat challenge (these guys were the winners), and teams are excited to finish their race. It’s definitely a party vibe in the village on Saturday!
After the last runner starts on the course at 4:00, all the loop managers head out to clean up all the course signage. Even though this Red loop was longer than the Red loop I did in Atlanta, I was more prepared for the workload this time. It took me until around 8:00 or so to finish cleaning up my loop, but I had learned how to separate all the pieces of gear while I was hiking and we didn’t have as many signs on the course as Atlanta did, so it was easier this time around. I even felt pretty good after we finished, even though I had covered almost 66 miles over the course of the 5 days of volunteering.
As I was finishing up my loop Saturday night, I got a great view of the sunset over the mountains – a great way to finish up my time in Massachusetts!

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