Overall Rating
Overall Rating (8 Reviews)
3.5
(8 Ratings)(8 Reviews)
DIFFICULTY
3.3
SCENERY
3.6
PRODUCTION
2.5
SWAG
2.6
Whether you’re in it to Zin it, or just need a Riesling to run, Reebok Ragnar Napa Valley is the ultimate California weekend running adventure. Starting in the heart of San Francisco, teams of 12 (or 6), will run relay-style while experiencing the best parts of Northern California. The 200-ish … MORE
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    Profile photo of Erik
    Erik FIRST-TIMER '15

    I really enjoy the Ragnar Relay races, this was my second one, first time doing Napa specifically. Such a neat concept to get a group of friends together, throw them … MORE

    I really enjoy the Ragnar Relay races, this was my second one, first time doing Napa specifically. Such a neat concept to get a group of friends together, throw them in a van or two, and race for over 24 hours non-stop from point to point. I loved running in the middle of the night, where you can just see the next person in front of you. This series is my all time favorite so far.

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    3
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    4

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    Mike Sohaskey FIRST-TIMER '16

    BOTTOM LINE: Let’s start with the positives. As a Ragnar rookie, it’s now clear to me the Ragnar experience hinges on one thing: camaraderie. Ragnar is a mobile adult slumber … MORE

    BOTTOM LINE: Let’s start with the positives. As a Ragnar rookie, it’s now clear to me the Ragnar experience hinges on one thing: camaraderie. Ragnar is a mobile adult slumber party, and if you’re a social runner who leaps at the chance to spend lots of quality time with 11 friends (hopefully friends!), you’re likely to come away with positive memories that—like the official beverage of Napa Valley—get better with age. On top of that, this particular relay features plenty of amazing scenery, from the majesty of the Golden Gate Bridge to the early morning fog swaddling the Napa vineyards. Throw in picture-perfect weather like we had this year, and it’s a great way to see a gorgeous stretch of the Bay Area on foot. As a bonus, our Ragnarmobile was the envy of everyone thanks to @cperrydds, who outfitted his truck with a rollaway food/equipment storage bin, a converted sleep station for two and a mobile ice bath attached to the front of the truck (see photo).

    All that said, the organizers of this event were clearly asleep at the wheel, as though they were the ones who’d been awake for 24+ hours. Our team was stopped not once but *twice* late in the event—after legs 24 and 30—for roughly 90 minutes each time after outrunning our own expectations. In fact, by the time they released us and many other teams from our holding pattern after leg 30, the start line of leg 31 boasted more runners than had the actual race start on Friday morning. Despite that speed bump, we still finished as runners-up in our division. I’ve never organized a race myself, but I’m pretty sure the one thing you don’t ask your runners to do is STOP RUNNING during the event. All because the course permits apparently weren’t secured ahead of time. Who green lights a race without securing the permits ahead of time?? This reminded me of the Wile E. Coyote cartoon where he’s frantically laying down the track ahead of the speeding train. The situation was bewildering, and again were it not for the camaraderie of some awesome teammates, the combination of frustration and sleep deprivation could easily have led to a serious meltdown in the wee hours of the morning.

    So as much as we all agree we’d love to get the band back together for another relay adventure, this won’t be the one. Maybe the Golden Gate Relay in May, since I ran that nonstop back in 2010…

    PRODUCTION: Ouch, see above. Not only was the production severely lacking, but I was disappointed—though not surprised—to discover that Ragnar, the big glossy corporate machine that sends me twice-weekly emails urging me to buy their gear or sign up for another event, dispatched untrained high school-age volunteers to man key exchange points. Apparently the unfortunate volunteers were there simply to sit out in the cold and record bib numbers, with no working knowledge of the event or (in the two most important cases) why we were being detained.

    I also encountered a couple of confusing junctures—including one in the pitch black of leg 31 in Spring Lake Park—where directional signage was absent. If not for a fellow runner familiar with the course, I likely would have wasted valuable time (and all time is valuable when you’re running on no sleep at 6:00am) playing “choose your own adventure,” which is beyond frustrating and easily avoided by throwing down a few more signs. And I know that at least a couple of my teammates weren’t so lucky and ended up taking wrong turns of their own.

    Post-race food consisted of two free mediocre made-to-order pizzas per team, though honestly the last thing you’ll want to do after running and driving for 24+ hours is hang around the finish line area. So instead, once hugs are exchanged and team photos taken, I’d recommend regrouping at the nearby Gott’s Roadside adjacent to the Oxbow Public Market in Napa for a satisfying post-race meal and debriefing.

    SWAG: Nicely done on both the Reebok shirt and medals (see photos), though admittedly I’m biased since I received an extra medal for running the “Ragnar Leg”—the longest of the 36 legs—early on the second morning. Curiously, the backs of the 12 medals fit together to recreate the Ragnar logo and a motivational message of some kind, though the purpose of this design detail aside from further branding is unclear since it’s neither conspicuous nor delightful.

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    1
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    4
    My Media

    2 members marked this review helpful. Agree?

    Kieran Wong Dec 12, 2016 at 10:03am

    Thanks for the in-depth insight!

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    Lorelei Nov 29, 2016 at 6:04am

    I'm sorry the production was less than stellar for you. I ran two Ragnars this year: Chicago and Michigan. I had great experiences at both. At Chicago, one of our runners went down at the first one and the medical staff was quick to respond. She ended up out of the race so the rest of the staff made sure the rest of the team could keep going.

    Between the two, I would pick Michigan to do again. It follows the Shoreline Trail so the views were incredible. Production was good, the course was easy to follow. It's hilly as heck so it's perfect if you want a bit of a challenge. Forget Napa and head east! If I get a chance to do this again, I'll invite you in.

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    cathnam REPEAT RUNNER '16

    This was my 4th time participating in the Napa Valley Ragnar. I've done it as both an ultra team and a 12 person team. The first 12 - 15 legs … MORE

    This was my 4th time participating in the Napa Valley Ragnar. I’ve done it as both an ultra team and a 12 person team. The first 12 – 15 legs of the race are extremely scenic and you have wonderful views of the bay as you run across the Golden Gate Bridge, through Marin County, and up the backroads getting into Petaluma. This year the course through Santa Rosa changed significantly, and it was disheartening to run your 5-7 mile leg, but end up a quarter mile from where you started. It was like we were hamsters in a spinning wheel.

    The biggest disappointment was being held back at different sections of the race because the course was not set up. At the end of leg 30 there was such a backup of teams that when they allowed us to start again there were more runners lined up waiting to start at 6:30 than there were at the start of the race in San Francisco. Basically, the race directors timed the race poorly – at the last minute, they needed to hold runners back because they could not get a permit to allow them on leg 31 before 6:30 am. This was frustrating for many teams and interfered with the flow of running a continual race.

    This used to be one of my favorite team running races, but it has really gone downhill and I won’t be doing it again. (Not a big deal – but in the past we’ve always received tech t-shirts in the goody bag, but this year it was just a cotton one.) I wonder if the Ragnar franchise is just trying to cut corners? It’s not the well run race I remembered from years past.

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    1
    SCENERY
    3
    SWAG
    1

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    42kCookie FIRST-TIMER '15

    195.9 miles, 30+ hours, 6 people crammed onto one van and very little sleep. We must be freaking crazy! Yeah, I'm pretty darn excited! Sign up for our team was … MORE

    195.9 miles, 30+ hours, 6 people crammed onto one van and very little sleep. We must be freaking crazy! Yeah, I’m pretty darn excited!

    Sign up for our team was easy (Mountain House Running Club) and we got regular emails. A few changes to the legs were made last minute but we were kept well informed. I can’t wait to run along the beach, over Golden Gate Bridge again and through Napa Valley to finish in Calistoga sometime Saturday (not loving getting up at 3:30am to be in San Francisco to start at 7:30am though. lol)

    Pray I don’t get lost while Running solo in the dark please! 🙂 Updates later and throughout the course on my IG (42Kcookie)

    OMG, so much freaking fun! Who would have thought? We had a couple of issues with being misinformed in regards to the legs of the race but other than that it ran pretty smoothly.
    We were all given information on each of our legs before starting and found most of the distances listed to be incorrect, some were longer, some were shorter and they definitely got the difficulty messed up.
    Example: my first leg was supposed to be 5.5 miles (actually 6) and listed as ”hard”, it was the second leg of the race and the one that goes over Golden Gate Bridge. The course was up and down sand covered steps (very slippery!), through a wooded area where you had to physically climb over fallen tree’s and giant rocks then down onto the beach to run on the sand and then back up and across the bridge. I LOVED this! Even ran in the ocean for a bit (by accident mind) but had me thinking ”wtf? if that is listed as ”hard” then what on earth is my final leg listed as”very hard” going to be like?”. Turned out that it was actually EASIER as it was all just road running up and down hill. Maybe they rated it as harder due to the fact that it was 50% longer and dark for part of it (don’t worry, I had a headlamp and NoxGear).

    Volunteers were good, exchanges went faurly smoothly and everyone was in high spirits. You would never actually think that 34hrs spent running or in a van with no flushing toilets, running water or even sleep would be so much fun.
    The big exchanges (every 6) had massage, first aid and a couple had snacks and vendors selling Running merchandise. The Finish Line was much the same with the addition of the Beer tent, it would have been nice to have a few more vendors though. One thing I would also like to see in future years is the Ragnar gear they sell at the event to be customized. All of the gear was just standard and I would have loved to have got one of the zip jackets with ”Ragnar Napa 2015” instead of the standard ”Ragnar”.

    Personal:

    Running with part of my Running Club was a great experience, very supportive! My 1st leg went without any hicups but a big downhill on my 2nd leg had me injure my Knee somehow, I got a stabbing pain just under my Kneecap which shot up my thigh every so often when my foot hit the ground so I was KT taped up ti the nines (by a lovely team mate) for my last leg and those first 20-25 minutes hurt like hell but with a slower pace and once warmed up all was fine. I actually woke up the following morning not hurting at all! The importance of Stretching and Foam Rolling y’all!

    TIPS:

    – Get a good team together.It helps if you all know each other.
    – Plan who is the strongest Runners and give then the longer / harder legs
    – Train
    – You WILL need water changes of clothes, wet wipes, light up vests, tail lights and some basic first aid kit.
    – Plan your refuel (scope out restaurants along the way before you leave) and take snacks.
    – Don’t take it too seriously.
    – Have fun.

    DIFFICULTY
    4
    PRODUCTION
    4
    SCENERY
    4
    SWAG
    4

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    jimmynam REPEAT RUNNER '14

    I've participated in this Napa event every year it has been held, so there must be some reason for coming back. Running is an individual event, but relays make it … MORE

    I’ve participated in this Napa event every year it has been held, so there must be some reason for coming back. Running is an individual event, but relays make it a team activity. Part of being on a team is not wanting to let your fellow mates down, so some of our fastest individual splits are achieved during the relay.
    The relay is more about participation and looks more like a parade than a race. Teams dress up in costume, and I would say that most participants are not that competitive about the race. At one exchange, the runners had a 30 second conversation before the next runner jogged off. The average team will finish the race in a 10min/mile+ average pace.
    As far as race support and logistics, I would say that participants should prepare to support themselves for the entire race. While there are water stations at the exchange points and in the middle of long legs, there are no guarantees on the level of support. My only comment and complaint about the race is that the race organizers should allow for runner escorts during the nighttime legs – some of the legs go through some dark areas. And it would be great to have a car or cyclist nearby. I understand that congestion might be an issue, but safety should be the number one priority. One of our runners stumbled through a little homeless camp.
    The course has never been exactly the same in the four years it has been held – adaptations are made based on road conditions and improvements to the exchange locations. There is a lot of variance in terms of the difficulty of each of the 36 legs, so you can set your team lineup accordingly. This allows you to include novice runners with advanced runners on the same team. But again, this is not a real competitive race.

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    3
    SCENERY
    3
    SWAG
    2

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    wonderjess FIRST-TIMER '14

    Relays have gotten really popular, and Ragnar is a huge name in the field. I have run a relay before - a smaller, more community focused relay. This was my … MORE

    Relays have gotten really popular, and Ragnar is a huge name in the field. I have run a relay before – a smaller, more community focused relay. This was my first Ragnar, probably my last Ragnar, but definitely not my last relay. I suppose it depends on what you are looking for in a race.

    The good: There are some things that Ragnar does really well – like a well-oiled machine. And I was glad that these were a part of the relay. (1) I thought all the courses were really well marked! seriously, I could see the Ragnar signs, and they were there at a good frequency. (2) The port-o-potties were clean, there were plenty of them, did I mention they were clean? (3) I appreciated the magazine they gave us with all the legs mapped out. Sure, we printed materials to bring with us, but the magazine was nice, and the directions were good.

    The not so good: (1) Ragnar is not good at building camaraderie across teams. We didn’t really interact with the other teams so much, and I think this is because we didn’t know the paces of the teams around us. In my previous relay you were running with similar paced groups, and you saw the same people throughout the race. Ragnar lets those that register early start early, and the paces don’t matter as much. (2) The course ran some un-friendly roads, we had runners that didn’t have a shoulder to run with. I ran WITH traffic (and fast traffic at that) for a good portion of my last leg. I would have preferred to run AGAINST traffic in that situation. (3) Honestly, I think Ragnar can do a better job of coordinating around Napa – we had some sticky situations with not being able to pull over to pick up our runner on the Silverado trail, with short legs and traffic, things just didn’t go so smoothly for Van 2 in Napa.

    All in all, I had a good time, there were some scenic runs, I wish there had been more. I’ve run in Van 2 twice (which is the tougher end), and I enjoy the challenge. Ragnar makes it easy for you to do a relay, but it just feels a little too corporate for me overall. (Honestly, I’m not a fan of the Rock and Roll series for the same reason).

    DIFFICULTY
    4
    PRODUCTION
    2
    My Report
    SCENERY
    3
    SWAG
    2

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    UKCathryn FIRST-TIMER '14

    As the team captain, I have very mixed views on this race. I was in Van 1 and I believe Van 1 had a much better experience than Van 2. … MORE

    As the team captain, I have very mixed views on this race. I was in Van 1 and I believe Van 1 had a much better experience than Van 2. Our roads were generally decent and the whole experience was pretty great. The portapotties throughout the race deserve a mention because they were plentiful, always decent and always with paper!! However Van 2’s legs were hot and on very busy (often unsafe) roads. Ragnar organization did a poor job of supporting runners in the hot temperatures particularly in the long stretches with no van support. Also, medals failed to arrive for the finish line. This didn’t bother me personally but shows distinct lack of organization when the race date has been set for months. Also the finish line party was great and had free beer…but not free wine (this was ‘Ragnar Wine Country) and wine-drinkers had to pay $6 for tiny glasses of bad pink fizz. I would do another Ragnar but wouldn’t recommend this one.

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    3
    My Report
    SCENERY
    3
    SWAG
    1
    My Media

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    Jen_L FIRST-TIMER '14

    Given the potential and cost of this race, I felt disappointed by the course, general vibe, and lack of aid stations. Some of the legs were quite dangerous -- there … MORE

    Given the potential and cost of this race, I felt disappointed by the course, general vibe, and lack of aid stations. Some of the legs were quite dangerous — there was little to no shoulder on 2 lane highways. Several of the hottest, longest legs ran low or out of water, which I found inexcusable. The major exchanges could have been improved as well with more sleeping areas and food vendors. On the plus side, signage was plentiful and porta potties remained immaculate throughout the race. The post-race party seemed fun, but we were too tired to enjoy it.

    If you don’t do well on little to no sleep like me, definitely go for a spot in Van 1. I was in Van 2, which had the warmest legs and also had to run from 2-8 am.

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    3
    My Report
    SCENERY
    3
    SWAG
    3

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