The Ragnar Experience: A battle between mind and body.

Esteban Gonzalez, T4A Dad.

I’ve always heard about Ragnar but was dismissive about it. Being in a van with 6 other runners for 30 hours? Not my cup of tea. Listening to Ragnarians share their stories I’d have to admit...I was growing curious. Especially because of how they all seemed to have bonded in this experience and grew not only as team but more like a family.

The day of Ragnar was finally here. We loaded the van and drove to our first exchange where we would start our adventure. Something totally cool was happening, I felt as is if I was a teenager going to summer camp. The mood was light and the joking and laughter had begun. All the stresses of day-to-day life dissipated…. I began to understand the draw of the Ragnar, the only thing I needed to concern myself with was running. No kids, no work, no bills, no drama…well perhaps, a little drama.

The first leg was a hot one. It was 85 degrees but felt more like 100. I just tried to survive this run and not push too hard because there were two more legs that followed. As I approached the end of my of my run I could see my team cheering for me. It was a great sight, I was overheating and thirsty and as I exchanged the bracelet with the next a runner I was instantly given an ice cold Zico and a cold wet eucalyptus infused towel (Thank you Shelly).

Laugh all you want but it was heaven on earth. All the misery of running through a furnace was washed away and I became eager to share my new experiences. The second leg was life changing. It was 2 am, pitch black and I was in unfamiliar surroundings. Anxiety was growing, one wrong turn and I would surely be lost.

My jog started off nice and easy but after a few steps in the cold night air it made me feel alive and my pace soon quickened. The only light was the small beam coming from my headlamp shining in front of me. All my other senses had become heightened and the rhythm of my footsteps crunching on the trail was all I could hear. The smell and feel of the coastal air grew stronger. I was flying on a cloud. Never have I shared this relationship with running. It was always a battle between my mind and body. One always trying to convince the other it knew what was best.

Getting close to the finish of my route my mind and body agreed, they didn’t want it to end. My last run was bittersweet. Only a few miles left with a few rolling hills. My legs were now cramping and my body was now speaking louder than my brain. As I ran I reflected on the time I shared with my teammates. I really enjoyed their company and knew it all would soon be over.

So I relished every step and understood fully the meaning of Ragnar. It’s not the medal at the finish line (although it is a nice piece of hardware) but the group of friends waiting for me there, all 24 of them. That’s right we had 2 teams last year and we all decided to cross the finish line together!

As a parent of an autistic child, life can become overwhelming. We dedicate so much time to making sure our child has the best nutrition, best education and best medical care but we sometimes can neglect ourselves.

Train 4 Autism has built this wonderful support group that helps to nurture parents and kids to get out and be healthy. Finding this group has been one of the best things I have done for myself and my child. Making me a stronger, healthier person has made me a better parent.

Train4Autism will have 5 teams this year at Ragnar! What an amazing testament to the group of people brought together by this disorder that now affects 1 in 68 births. Together as a team we can show our resolve and compassion for this mystery that is Autism.

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