Get ready world... (and podium), these women are comin' for ya!
First off, let it be known that the competitive fire burns BRIGHT. With our call out, and invitation - to storm the podiums at six Ragnar Relays - the only thing faster than the response rate was the mile splits on these applications. We received hundreds of initial replies, and more than 80 finalist captains who had assembled seriously fast and badass teams. We were floored, and honestly wanted to sponsor each and every one.
The experience level? Deep. Many had captained three or more Ragnars. The runner locations? All over the US, from the heartland to the coasts to our own PNW to the sourthern climes of Florida. The lives? Diverse and interesting and ambitious: engineers, professors, mothers, doctors, Olympic Trial Qualifiers, and ultra-runners. Their commonality: a hardcore love of the sport, each other, and the memorable, life-affirming insanity of smashing yourself into a 12 person van in pursuit of a podium with all glory and no prize money.
So how to begin the selection? To help ourselves be more objective, we started by removing all names, simply reading the captain statements, and slowly narrowing it down - taking into account location, experience, excitement, preparedness, and of course… speed. After all, this is The Podium Project and we came to win.
Although there were difficult calls to make, we're thrilled with how the process went and the end result. It naturally resulted in half of the teams being made up primarliy of our Volée tammates, and the other half being made up of fast women from their own established running communities. We're happy to support all run friends, existing and new!
A big HUGE thank you to all who applied. We can’t fully express how impressive all applicants were, and regardless of our team selection, we secretly hope that all of these teams (and more) decide to storm the podium along with us. We'll be cheering for you. We'll be cheering for the women we run with, the other teams we run against, and in support of the vibrant community known as Ragnar.
Without further ado, here are your Podium Project winners!
Reebok Ragnar Cape Cod: 11-12 May, 2018:
#BirdMachineCC - Captained by Nicole Freeman
Not only is this one fast team that was beyond pumped to take on Cape Cod, they are a team made up of professors, PHD holders, mothers, engineers, professionals and artists who still dedicate time to their training. Teammate Megan Foster spends half of her time in Rhode Island teaching at RISD and the other half in NYC, even earning an OTQ this year. A true team of She-Roes!
Reebok Ragnar Chicago: 18-19 May, 2018:
#BirdMachineChi - Captained by Courtney Hansen
An experienced team of winners who took the podium as overall female winner in the 2016 Michigan Ragnar and are ready to grab another overall female title at Chicago. Already training, strategizing, and dedicated to bringing their A game come race day.
Reebok Ragnar Wasatch Back: 1-2 June, 2018:
#BirdMachineUT- Captained by Karie Underwood
Training partners, friends, and now Ragnar teammates coming from Salt Lake City Utah. Other than their similar cruising paces, this team is made up of a variety of different woman in their 20's to 40's, from college runners, Olympic Trials qualifiers, and woman who didn't start running until their mid-30's. Different ages, different stages - all fast and competitive.
Reebok Ragnar Northwest Passage: 13-14 July, 2018: Yes, we chose two teams to race in our own backyard... because we can. :)
#BirdMachineNWP - Captained by Alyson Carlyon
Bellingham is known for road and trail speedsters, and this team is no exception. Half of the team being members of the Bellingham Distance Project, a no joke post-collegiate training group, and the other half, committed runners from the Bellingham area. We can't wait to see how fast they end up rolling on race day.
#BirdMachineGRRLS - Captained by Julia Reade
This team has already claimed the podium in previous years - and will be tough to beat! Fasties, Volée teammates, TNFC'ers, run-community builders who understand that while they run to win, they also run to unite womxn - and show the world that there is no single standard of fast and fierce.
Ragnar Trail Snowmass, CO: 8-9 June, 2018:
#BirdMachineCO - Captained by Lisa Mansfield
12 years of racing experience together, 12 YEARS! All trail badasses over the age of 50 and looking to win. A well seasoned team that isn't backing down to the elevation at Snowmass. These women know - and are out to show - that the correlation between age and pace is more relative than you think.
Ragnar Trail Tahoe, CA: 20-21 July, 2018:
#BirdMachineTahoe - Captained by Jen Mathe
Lovers of outright competition and goal chasing. This team is made up of woman who came to running later in life, but don't lack any love for the sport, as clearly stated in their application "We are fierce AND feminine. We are powerful AND graceful. We savor the rush of accomplishing new goals and we are all striving to see just how far we can go. We are unapologetically fast and competitive. We don't just want to run... we want to win!"
Just like Bird Machine Tahoe said, "we want to win!" and let's just say we are confident that all of these teams are fully capable of getting on that podium.
Follow along with our teams as they officially start taking on The Podium Project!