Stage 1: (Strava Link) Buena Vista to Railroad Bridge, 20.8 miles, 2500ft of gain.
We had very little idea what it would be like to run a race every day for 6 days. On the initial rolling climbs I was out of breath, working way too hard to keep up with the group. It was disconcerting to be three miles in feeling this bad. Shouldn’t the first day be easy? When you are only racing 20 miles a day, it turns out every day has to be hard. I could not let David down. Racing as a team meant I had to put it all out there. Over the final miles we were leading the team race. We were running hard and my breathing resembled a dying man more than a runner with 5 more days to race. Icing in the Arkansas River with a 4 minute lead felt pretty good.
Stage 2 (Strava Link) Vicksburg to Twin Lakes, 13.3. miles 3200ft of gain
Getting out of the tent each morning almost unable to walk became the norm for the week. Long story short, I have extreme plantar problems compounded by bone spur deformities that are anything but superficial. By the time we were power hiking up Hope Pass all that was forgotten. This stage is amazingly beautiful and steep. It’s the kind of place you want to go back to in a less hypoxic state.
Stage 3 (Strava Link) Leadville to Camp Hale, 24.5 miles, 2700ft of gain
The event that sticks out on this long and rolling stage is when the Gu Yeti popped out of the bushes and chased David down the road.
Nightfall at camp in Leadville
Stage 4 (Strava Link) Camp Hale to Red Cliff, 14.5 miles 2800ft of gain
So far we had won the stage each day. We had a 19 minute lead over Martin and Yohann, not enough to be comfortable. At mile 10 a river had consumed the old trail the course ran down. For a mile frigid water and frozen ankles slowed our pace to a crawl. As the river trail ended David looked back, saw that the European team was 15 seconds behind and charging. Lucky for us the last two miles was on a slight downhill smooth dirt road where we had an advantage. The finish in the tiny town of Red Cliff is quite amazing. David may be moving there soon.
Stage 5 (Strava Link) Red Cliff to Vail, 24.1 miles, 4100ft of gain
If you are going to do one stage at Transrockies this is probably the one to do. It’s a long shallow grind up, but once you reach the 11,700ft ridge it’s all view for miles. Starting this stage feeling fully fatigued, we figured we’d have some clingers on the climb up, but we steadily pulled away from the other teams. Chasing down Rivers Puzey was the main challenge. My feet were bleeding, legs were crushed, and I was sucking wind hard core. Hammering down the last half mile road stretch, we came up 20 seconds short.
Stage 6 (Strava Link) Vail to Beaver Creek, 22.4 miles, 4,200ft of gain
5 miles to go: it had been a relatively casual affair up to this point. Everyone seemed content to keep the pace mild. The team and individual competition was all but locked up and only a careless mistake could cost us or Puzey the win. The racing mentality ingrained in each of us kicked in and David, Rivers and I started to thrown down on the streets of Avon. The high altitude sub 6 miles were not easy, especially for me. Brian Tinder, clad in his signature thread, greeted us with 1.5 miles to go. If anything will make a person run fast, that is it.
Thank you to Transrockies Run and GU Energy Labs for making this all possible for us. The race crew made this event for 550 people unbelievably smooth and memorable. I don’t think we could recommend it more.