Overnight a small rain storm blew through camp dropping the temperature to a chilly 41 degrees. By the 8:30 AM start, temps had climbed into the 50’s. Fortunately the good folks at Mango’s opened their doors early and allowed the athletes a place to stay warm. The Runners took leave from Red Cliff and began a long 8 mile climb to Checkpoint 1.
Once again, Rob Krar and Michael Smith of Team Run Flagstaff went straight to the front of the field. Whether by design or not, their pace did not seem as quick as previous stages. Regardless, by Checkpoint 1 they built a lead of 2 minutes over Justin Ricks and Jim Rebenack of Team Colorado. Moving through to Checkpoint 2, the double track forested trail would open up to 360 degree views as they traversed Vail Mountain from the back bowls, across the China Wall and down to Checkpoint 3 before descending into the finish. Krar and Smith gained an additional 6 minutes over the balance of the route and crossed the line in 3:02:25 lengthening their overall lead in the Open Men’s division to 1:13:50.
The theme of the week has, without a doubt, been consistency. Nowhere has that been more evident than in the Open Women’s and 80+ Mixed divisions. Teams Ooh la La Sportiva and Awesomely La Sportiva have finished 1-2 over stages 1 through 4. Why would Stage 5 be any different? Jenny Capel and Pam Smith took first again, by a whopping 25 minutes, extending their overall lead to 1:56:24 in the Open Women’s. Jeff and Katie Caba ticked off 5 wins in 5 stages with Team I did it all for the Cookie (Erin Baker’s) finishing second every time. Only one stage remains for Kerrie Wlad and Glenn Mengering to run down the Caba-nators and end their streak!
As he runners continued to reach the finish line at the base of Vail Mountain, the expression on their faces painted a clear picture of the difficulty of the day. Yesterdays short stage left plenty of energy for finish line sprints and ear-to-ear smiles. Today the runners were the picture of exhaustion. The La Sportiva Trail Masters, Andy Ames and Bernie Boettcher hid their fatigue well as they racked up their 5th Men’s 80+ division stage victory of the week in 3:24:34.
Congratulations goes out to the uber consistent Zach Violet and Stephanie Howe of The North Face Bendites. They’ve owned the Open Mixed division and finished today nearly 12 minutes ahead of Team Innov-8, in a time of 3:30:29, increasing their overall lead to over an hour. The 80+ Women’s division featured some strong competition over the first 4 days. Team Resilience, Valerie Lacarriere and Marielle Chabaud, and Team Titanium, Missy Berkel and Sue Lee, came into Stage 5 separated by only 2 minutes and 48 seconds. Team Resilience regained the leaders jerseys today with a victory of over 13 minutes in this week’s closest race for the leader’s jersey.
Tonight the runners can rest easy, but not too easy, knowing that their journey has almost come to an end. One stage remains as they look to make their way from Vail to the final finish line in Beaver Creek. 95.7 Miles complete, 19.6 to go!