Google's team blog for the Ragnar Relay Northwest Passage

July 20-21st 2012 Google's 6th year at the Ragnar Relay Northwest Passage! This is a two day, 190 mile relay race from the northern tip of Washington in Blaine, through farm country and along the coast, across Deception Pass and finishing at the southern end of Whidbey Island at Langley. This isn't your average team offsite!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Ragnar 2011 Post-mortem

Please comment with any ideas, suggestions, or thoughts for next year!


Amanda said...

As a runner:
- Pack two nights before the race. I packed the night before, and only got about 3 hours of sleep.
- Pack a small travel pillow in a stuff sack, but don't bring a sleeping pad. I was too tired to even bother using it, and the ground felt luxuriously soft.
- Shower the night before. Turns out it's easy to fall asleep in the shower at 2am.
- Find someone to volunteer to drive me home from Kirkland. I have done this the last few years, and am super grateful for it.
- Look into making super cool reflective custom shirts like the Navy team had!

As a coordinator:
- Consider designating van leads to handle registration/packet logistics, and coordination in each van. Leads would also be responsible for making sure new runners know what to do, and making sure their van has the required supplies.
- Make it extremely clear that the deposit is non-refundable, and that each runner must find their own sub if they drop out.
- Confirm one person to bring a cooler for each van. We ended up having only 3 coolers, despite 12 people reporting they could bring one.
- Make sure we have volunteers designated to return the vans, and to shuttle the van returners back to Kirkland. Make sure I write down who they are so I'm not scrambling to figure this out at the last minute.

Argent said...

What went well:
- Coordinating on twitter
- minivans for the ultra teams (tons of space!)
- Someone (dave?) had frozen water in 64-oz containers for the coolers.
- Lots of sunscreen, etc.
- Multi-outlet USB chargers meant everyone could charge their phones at once.
- I brought a towel and could use that as a pillow.
- Bringing extra changes of shirt in particular.
- Jordan brought "The Stick", which was a great idea.

From the ultra team (van 2):
- Bring a bunch of bananas; I was definitely feeling a lack of potassium by the end
- I tried running without nutrition (gels, blocks, etc); I think a refuel around mile 5-8 would have helped my performance.
- It was definitely hard to find the other teams at the exchanges... I missed you guys!

Moishe said...

- "Quiz" to make sure everyone knew what was up was great. Whoever had that idea: thank you!
- Three people/van on ultra team led to crisp definitions of roles; we were a well-oiled machine (well, except for that time I forgot I was supposed to start running when David Levin came in)
- I thought we had a great overall esprit de corps, across all the teams. This is by far the best "get to know your co-workers" event I've ever participated in, at Google or not. While we lacked some of the giddy 3am humor of the van I was in 2 years ago, we made up for it with plenty of other great conversation about everything from CrossFit to software engineering practices.

Ideas for next year:
- I wish there was a way to try to get our finishing times to line up better (this might be an impossible problem to solve). Seeing almost everyone at the finish was awesome but I wish LRBJ V2 had been there too.
- T-Mobile coverage was extremely poor over the whole course so there were a few times I couldn't tweet our location for V2. Maybe ensure at least one person per van has Verizon (or whatever the preferred mobile network is for the area we travel through).
- Bring a foam roller, make time to use it

I can't say "thank you" enough to Amanda, Matthew & Brie, but I'll say it again now: thank you, thank you, thank you. And thanks to Dave & David for being such great van-mates, and Justin & Evan & Ken for being such good team-mates. I'm glad I was able to spend half of Seattle's summer running with you all!

SK said...

Some post-mortem thoughts:

* Everyone bringing their own water/drinks/food, with extras bought on-the-fly, worked reasonably well.
* Multiple USB car chargers (with multiple USB ports each) meant that everyone could recharge.
* Having a Verizon phone meant a good connection throughout the entire race, with only a few non-3G areas.

Things to Improve on:
* Make sure to have multiple extra runners just in case, and make sure everyone who signs up knows beforehand that they are responsible for helping find a runner to substitute.
* Tmobile sucks for the race. Spotty reception at best. Ok, maybe that's not improve-able :)
* Major exchanges need a little bit more handoff work. Maybe a protocol where we call at the start of the last lap, and then again 15 min. before?
* More easy-to-detect clothing during the night. Alternatively, maybe we should make the vans easier to detect? For example, having a big dinosaur strapped to the top of the minivan would make it easy to detect if you're the runner. Or fluorescent washable markers?

Oh, and echoing everyone else, many thanks to Amanda, Brie, and Matthew for organizing this year! You folks are the best!

David Levin said...

* The binder that Amanda made up with the race bible info was great!

* All ultra runner stayed signed up and didn't get sidelined/injured during the race. Finding a sub would likely have been very hard and filling in legs may have been possible but also pretty difficult.

* Quiz worked well to help ensure ultra runners saw the message about the differences in their schedule. (We had one runner that was going to arrive at 3am before the quiz.)

* We had glow bracelet things but ended up using 2 of these (which we rotated among runners):
It was really bright so when runners worn it around their ankle it made them a lot easier from a distance at night -- of course, other runners sometimes had similar items which got confusing.

* Taking misc pictures was a nice way to remember things after the race and share stories about what happened.


* (Perhaps personal but) I brought too many changes of clothes. Two sets of running clothes would have been sufficient and one after running. (Just something to change into while I attempted to sleep but between my first two runs -- changing didn't matter much.)

* It would have been nice to decorate LR1 a bit. We ended up complete undecorated.

* Sleep was nearly impossible at the Deception Pass State Park but the little bit of rest that was attained was useful (maybe 1.5 hours) -- not something that could be improved, just to be aware of.

* We weren't that great at recording starting/ending times for runners. With only two support folks -- one of which was about to run -- things were a bit tight.

)Rob said...

+1 on super cool reflective custom shirts. Or maybe glowy 'Google' vests; a little el wire might let us make something pretty neat.

Definitely +1 on the van leads: I was the only person in my van who'd done this before; it would've been interesting if no one had done it.

Coordinating on Twitter could've worked better -- I had a hard time keeping track of what SV2 was up to. It might've been interesting to get everyone on Latitude.

kenmoore said...

Thanks Amanda, Matthew & Brie -- I had a wonderful time!

Just a few notes to add to the list:

- glow bracelets really didn't help identify night runners as much as we thought, maybe we needs a Firesword version :)

- parking complications at leg 18 exchange meant my team wasn't there to meet me and we had no contingency plan for where to meet -- recommend this simple rule: if you get separated meet at the porta potties

- there was only one exchange with showers. I was under the impression there might be 2 or 3, would've been good to know ahead of time

- as David said, Deception Pass park wasn't very good for sleeping... choice between the cold ground exposed to outside noise or sitting in the van. The van was warmer at least, but not very restful for a light sleeper like me.

- I really wish I had taken more photos, but there's so much else going on it's easy to neglect taking pictures