Stage 5 – 2014 PepsiCo TransRockies Run

After two nights at the relaxing Nova Guides Campsite, the crew and runners moved on to Vail. Today marked the 5th stage of the PepsicCo TransRockies Run where runners traveled from Red Cliff to Vail covering 23.6 miles and 4,200 feet of elevation gain.

On the fifth of six day, mental and physical challenges begin to compound. Yet the wonderful aspect about the TransRockies Run is the teamwork and support that all participants get to experience. Everyone is out there trekking along through highs and lows, sharing in this one-of-a-kind experience together.

Fueling up before climbing up!

The morning of Stage 5 started early! With shuttles heading to Red Cliff at 6:45am runners were up at the break of dawn ready for breakfast and caffeine. Once at Red Cliff, runners could warm up in Mango’s, who kindly opened their doors at 7am. But this time no fish tacos or margaritas were on the menu. Around 7:45am Highway to Hell starting blaring as the runners took off their puffies and sweatpants to head to the start. At 8am, they were off!

The first few miles were familiar to runners in that they were the last few miles of yesterday’s course-except yesterday they were running down. Today, they made their way up a gradual climb for roughly 8 miles, covering 2,500 feet of vertical gain. Not much chatter during the morning on the trail today, which continued, for the rest of the run as the course kept going up…and up…and up, wrapping around wide switchbacks. At last, Checkpoint 1 was in site giving the runners something to smile and laugh about with its Tiki inspired theme.

My feet hurt…can you rub them?

From Checkpoint 1, runners entered the wooded single-track, which, not surprisingly continued up. The tightly enclosed forest and trail weaved in-between trees with steep, yet short hills. This section lasted just a few miles and then popped the runners out at 11,700 feet at Top of the World. The wide-open space was covered in green grass and blooming wildflowers, looking out to rocky and snow capped peaks. Runners descended on single-track trail before climbing up switchbacks on the backside of Vail Mountain. At the top, a steep and rocky descent lead down to Checkpoint 2 (mile 14) where the TransRockies Run Crew awaited with water, and snacks thanks to PepsiCo and Gatorade Endurance.

On top of Vail Mountain.

Two Checkpoints down and 8.5 miles to go!  The long descent weaved in and out of trees, chairlifts, mountain bikers and hikers. With each twist and turn, quads and feet were aching yet the view of Vail Village was in sight… but another “so close, so far” type of feeling. On the downhill, runners passed through Checkpoint 3, but with their momentum and eagerness to finish they flew by grabbing what they needed and kept running. Continuing down, they could see their fellow Trail Striders below them bobbing down the singletrack. This descent carried runners to the base of Vail Mountain and through the TransRockies Run finishing arch.

Giddy up! Time to go down!

For the second day in a row Ian MacNairn claimed first place male with a finishing time of 3:23:29, ranking him third place for the RUN6 Open Men. Following Ian was Timo Meyer with a time of 3:28:27, and Jonathan Toker in third with a time of 3:35:33. Jonathan continues to lead the RUN6 Open Men, yet Timo and Ian are quickly catching up.

For the women, superstars Magdalena Boulet and Caitlin Smith continue their winning streak with a finishing time today of 3:41:50, placing them in first place for the RUN6 Open Women Team by almost two hours. Following these ladies was Becky Kirschenmann in second with a time of 3:52:39 and Samantha Creath not too far behind with a time of 3:52:05.

Stage 5 complete and just 20.9 miles to go until runners can sport their 2014 PepsiCo TransRockies Run finisher belt buckle. See you tomorrow, Beaver Creek!

Full results HERE.  More images HERE.  Images courtesy of Raven Eye Photography.

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