Ok, yes, I know "Just Do It" is a marketing slogan designed to manipulate me, but in this case it's apt.
I ran the Ultra Ragar Relay, and I feel confident in saying it was the hardest endurance event I've attempted. You know how it works, right? You show up at the starting line in Winona, MN.
In a regular relay, there are 12 peeps. Our team had 6, hence the "Ultra" designation. One of your members (me, in this case) lines up under that puffy orange starting line and runs away, following signs that eventually lead to Minneapolis, which is 203 miles down the road. Everyone else gets in the van and follows along. Later, when that first person has finished running about 8 miles, she hands off the baton (a bright orange slap bracelet) to another person on the team (in this case, Tom) and then gets in the van. You eat, drive, and doze as you're able. You keep doing this, running various distances ranging from 3.1 miles to 9.4 miles at a time, until you get to Minneapolis.
You do not stop. You (or, I guess I should say I) talk a lot about how much gas you have and whether you've accomplished any significant evacuations in any of the port-o-lets that populate the exchange zones. (The race specifies that defecating in public is completely forbidden, so the Biffs are the only option.) You take Aleve and Ibuprofen and worry about the heat. You try super hard and attempt to appear cheerful when your van stops to encourage you.
Eventually (in this case before Leg 5, when you've already run 25 miles), you start using swear words in 100% of your sentences and wonder (sometimes aloud) why you're spending time and money and emotional energy on this ridiculous endeavor. Your teammates start to say stuff like, "Ok, but you're going to go, right? Because I'm not running any of your legs." You laugh maniacally and agree to take the handoff (in this case, from Liz).
Later, after you've had a near-death experience on Leg 6, and your team says, "You looked like you needed a minute," you get back in the van and report that your quads are no longer functional. Later, you announce to the world that you've finished running this stupid race by checking off the last leg on the outside of the van. You stuff your face with cheetohs while you're accomplishing this task.
Finally, after everyone else runs in hotter weather toward Minneapolis, you finish. On the way, you talk about how this is so much harder than a marathon, and which would be harder: this or a straight-up ultra. You tentatively agree to do said ultra just for the sake of comparison. (HELLA WHAT?!)
After you finish, you get a free beer that you immediately regret drinking. You go home, take some ibuprofen and sleep for 15 hours.
I have to say, it was pretty cool.