For both races, it's pretty much bring your own and buy meals along the way. The trail race had food trucks on the night before the race and the night the race started they gave runners dinner tickets so you could pick a meal at a food truck. They also provided some kind bars for snacks.
The road race, you were basically on your own. The only food that was provided was a kind bar and at the end a piece of pizza per runner. Part of the fun of road Ragnars is getting to visit Mom and Pop restaurants along the way. However with PA Ragnar there really wasn't much around the exchanges. There was a deli by one of the major exchanges, and a few restaurants at the finish but other than that...nothing. We went out of the way to get to a Red Robin for burgers, and we totally lucked out with the timing.
For trail Ragnars, it's pretty obvious--you have a camp and that's your home base. If you plan out your team well, somebody on your team has a tent available for everybody to use so no money spent there. Then you just have to figure out how everybody will get there and who is bringing what supplies. Most trail Ragnars happen at state or national parks and the bathroom accommodations can be dicey. For the race in Richmond, you had real bathrooms with running water and everything. They didn't even need to provide portajohns (although with so much use of the bathrooms there was some uh "technical difficulties"? Occasionally toilets would randomly go out of commission and needed emergency repairs.)
For road Ragnars, you're living in a van for those 36ish hours. Technically part of that time during PA Ragnar we were by a river. But mostly in the mountains.
This is also typically more expensive due to the van rental since the majority of runners prefer to rent the biggest passenger van they can maneuver. This can get pretty expensive, pretty quick and you can expect to spend at least $65 plus gas money. (Around $20 a person should work if you're in the mid-Atlantic.) Then there's also the logistics of figuring out who's going to get the van, when everybody's going to load up the van and where everyone will park while you're away running.
For bathrooms, it's basically portajohns and indoor bathrooms when you can find them. For PA Ragnar not all the exchange points had them. (In fact, I lucked out that there was one at the exchange where my last leg began.)
For road Ragnars, you don't really have a chance to really stretch out unless you find open space along the way. For trail Ragnars though, you get enough space to lay flat. We had enough space to have 2 tents to sleep in, a canopy to have food underneath and hang out under, and a small tent to change in between legs.
For both races, you're obviously going to be running out in the elements. But as I learned, at least with the road Ragnar you get a break from the heat, cold, rain, etc. With trail Ragnars...not so much. When I did Richmond we had a freak heat wave where it was in the upper 80s, lower 90s in late April. There was also a thunderstorm that first night. And there was basically nowhere to go to get relief, even if you were in the shade.
Basically the same for both races. You get a shirt, finisher's medal (more than just one if you've done more than one race and a connector piece for every 2 road Ragnars), a car decal and a snack from Kind bars.
Road decal on the left, trail decal on the right.
To be honest, I kinda think the trail medal is way cooler than the road medal. Case in point:
Trail medal and shirt
A spork with all kinds of tools like a can opener, bottle opener, a flathead screwdriver and some hexagonal holes to put an allen wrench through for more torque.
And the road medal and shirt.
A bottle opener. (It's up by the strap.)
See my point? Although I will say the design on each of the road Ragnars changes according to the location...the one for the trail not so much. The etching on that one changes slightly with the name of the event but otherwise it's the same.
This year both of the shirts have the race's tagline on the back.
Legs (or the race courses)
For trail Ragnar, everybody ran the same exact amount, the same routes, just different orders. You could discuss what to expect on an upcoming leg or what you just experienced. "Careful on that one, there's a water crossing about halfway through." "You'll like that loop--it's lots of fun downhills!" "Watch out for all the roots!" You get the idea.
Race organizers also put more effort into decorating for trail Ragnars. Case in point: Fun signs!
And they even went as far as creating totem poles marking out the different colored trail loops!
And of course the lights that they projected onto the trees for the night run. (Still my favorite part.)
For road Ragnar, not so much. Everybody ends up running a different distance and I feel like there isn't a similar shared sense of struggle. You can talk about what you experienced, but nobody else in the van gets to do what you just did. You just run it and move on. The signs are also more for function than fun and point you where to go and let you know when you have one mile left.
Ragnar has a new version of their app out that is amazing. For road races, it shows you exactly where you are on the map so you know if you've gone off course. For trail races...not so much. But to be honest, in the trail races they can put more signs out without the fear of them being moved by a disgruntled homeowner. And the path is worn enough that it's kind of hard to go the wrong way. (Don't worry, they put signs out for that possibility too.)
For both races it tells you everything you need to know about your upcoming leg and in the case of the trail race, it also tells you a general schedule of events. (They showed movies at the Richmond race and had s'mores and coffee available during certain hours.)
Both races require volunteers to be recruited by the team. For trail Ragnars, you need to only recruit one (and it can actually be a team member if you time it right.)
For road Ragnars, you need three if you live within 200 miles of the start. This can either be really easy or super difficult. For the PA Ragnar, we lived just close enough that we needed volunteers. And since naturally nobody wanted to travel almost 200 miles for a volunteer job (and nobody knew anyone local), we paid $120 per volunteer. Split 12 ways, it was an extra $30 per person. For my DC race, we're a little less than two months out and we already have two of our three volunteers secured.
Those of you who have run both--did I leave anything out? Which Ragnar is your favorite??