It has sometimes been my M.O. to try something twice before checking the box and moving on, or deciding that, perhaps, the endeavor wasn't such a great idea in the first place. Ironman seems to have fallen into the first category; swimming across the Chesapeake Bay the latter. But the Ragnar Trail Relay, which invites runners to "Find Your Inner Wild," is emerging as an event that may endure.

Last year, I was a late addition to a team that had lost a runner to injury. I had never participated in a running relay before, but I'd always wanted to. And I was specifically intrigued by Ragnar Trail's unique model where all runners camp in a central village and each of three separate trails start and finish in the same place.


Admittedly, the camping part made me a bit nervous. I like camping well enough, but I am not a confident camper. I have sub-par gear and sub-par skills when it comes to setting up a tent — especially if fancy rain flies and tarps are required — and most of my recent camping experiences have involved rain or frigid temperatures. Or both.

But I agreed to join the team and partnered up with a more experienced camper who'd offered me a spot in her tent. With that problem solved, what could go wrong?

A lot, actually.

The members of our team who'd arrived a day early to set up camp were met with a ferocious storm that leveled canopies and destroyed tents. The tent I was to sleep in survived the wind but welcomed us with an inch of standing water inside, so my Ragnar adventure began by using the bath towel I'd brought to soak up the water in the tent. But the fun — and the rain — was just beginning.

The constant deluge turned the entire campground into a muddy swamp and rendered the trails nearly unrunnable mudslides. In places, the mud was knee deep, and many a shoe was sacrificed to the thick slop. Shoes that made it back to camp were placed around the fire pit to dry, though many melted from the heat instead.

It was running insanity at its best. And I loved it. There was no doubt in my mind I'd be back. But, of course, it wouldn't be Ragnar without a little extreme weather.

This year the skies opened and the rain poured down just before the race began. Though the trails remained in decent condition, it was enough to leave ponds of standing water around the campground.

In the storm's wake, however, temperatures soared, blanketing the village in oppressive heat and humidity that left runners as saturated in sweat as if they'd run in the rain anyway. The only relief from the heat was a rare spot of shade or a trip to the rinsing station to hose yourself down.

So after experiencing Ragnar in both mud pit and tropical rainforest conditions, one might think I'd be ready to check the Ragnar box and move on. But the only box I'll be checking when it comes to the Ragnar Trail Relay is the one that reads, "sign me up."

Bring it on Ragnar.

You've unleashed my "inner wild" and I am ready for more.