10 Things I Wish I Knew Before My First Reach the Beach

Running your first Ragnar is AMAZING, but it can also be kind of intimidating, too. 36 hours in a van? Running in the middle of the night? Who signed me up for this, anyway?

Add in the mystique of Reach the Beach, and the nerves can really start to kick in as you’re driving up to Bretton Woods on Thursday night or Friday morning. Reach the Beach is the oldest team relay event in the country, and takes you through the beautiful countryside of New Hampshire right as the leaves are starting to turn. It is truly amazing.

So what are the 10 things we wish we knew before we took on RTB for the first time?

  1. GET COMFORTABLE WITH BEING GROSS – you’re going to be sweaty, unshowered, and stuck in a van for a while. You’re also going to be using port-o-potties. So put your vanity aside and just roll with it.
  2. MAKE SURE YOU GET A BIG ENOUGH VAN – try and reserve your van WAY ahead of time so you have the pick of the litter. Your standard soccer mom minivan leaves much to be desired as far as space is concerned.
  3. GET TO THE STARTING AREA WITH PLENTY OF TIME TO SPARE – we cannot stress this enough. Don’t lollygag on the way up to Bretton Woods. Because when you get there, you have to check in, watch a safety video, use the bathroom, get organized, use the bathroom again, and get to the starting line.
  4. DON’T OVERDO IT ON THE SNACKS – you’re not a bear going into hibernation. It’s a day and a half. So just because that bag of trail mix is there, doesn’t mean you have to eat the whole thing. Trust us, your stomach (and teammates!) will thank you.
  5. BRING BABY WIPES AND TOILET PAPER – not gonna elaborate on this one.
  6. GET SOME GALLON-SIZED ZIPLOC BAGS – one of the best tips we’ve ever received was to bring a box of big Ziploc bags for your sweaty clothing. After each leg, put your sweaty gear into a Ziploc so it doesn’t stink up the rest of your bag (and the rest of the van, for that matter!)
  7. PLAN YOUR SLEEPING ARRANGEMENTS – pack some sleeping items like a pillow and warm sleeping bag. Depending on where your van is in the rotation, you may be able to camp out, so bring a tent! If you are sleeping outside, pack warm clothing to sleep in. And try to sleep when you can! Bring earplugs because if you’re sleeping at Bear Brook State Park or one of the other major checkpoints, all you’ll hear all night is the slamming doors of port-o-potties.
  8. EAT SOMETHING BEFORE YOUR CELEBRATORY BEER – when you finish, it’s very tempting to grab a beer and start chugging. Bad idea. Eat something first.
  9. NEVER ENOUGH PHONE CHARGERS – bring many many phone chargers, you’ll need them. You battery drains quickly when you’re in the middle of the woods.
  10. PLAN AHEAD! – make sure the person driving your van knows what they’re doing and where they’re going. You do NOT want to be the team that leaves their teammate waiting at a transition area because you took your time getting there or took a wrong turn.

So in summary, your first post-RTB shower is magical, what happens in the van stays in the van, and you will no doubt finish and wonder how soon you can do it again!