One of the greatest challenges of the GORE-TEX® TransRockies Run is the overall gain in elevation offered each stage. Stage 2, from Vicksburg to Twin Lakes, always provides one of the greatest tests of the week and often leads to a shake-up in the standings. Individual running strengths that shone on stage one may be negated above 12,000 feet and replaced with headaches and nausea. There’s nothing quite like the life of a Trail Strider!
The climb to the summit of Hope Pass is one of the most difficult and rewarding ascents of the week. The scene on the trail is always interesting as the leaders shuffle for position in slow motion. Yes, even the most fleet of foot are reduced to walking this climb. Upon arrival at the top, the field is typically spread out and the race to the bottom begins.
This year, the pattern set in previous years was broken as the majority of the Stage 1 winners held their ground and their position, atop the podium. Open Men’s Team Run Flagstaff duo of Michael Smith and Rob Krar brought their record for the week to 2-for-2 with an amazing 1:52:42 and an 11 minute win over Team Colorado runners Justin Ricks and Jim Rebenack. Team Flagstaff was a slim 8 seconds faster than the 2011 Stage 2 winning time. Pam Smith and Jenny Capel of Ooh la La Sportiva, too captured their second straight stage victory clocking a time of 2:39:56.
The theme of consecutive victories continued as the runners traversed the ghost town of Inter-laken and spilled off the Colorado Trail to the finish line chute. In the Open Mixed division The North Face Bendites, Zach Violett and Stephanie Howe, descended from the summit of Hope Pass in first over Team inov-8 runners Amy Lane and Dave James. 2011 80+ Mixed champs the ‘Caba-nators’, Jeff and Katie Caba, seemed to settle into their old ways coming in first at 2:25:39. The closest finish of the day came in the 80+ Men’s Division where Team Patagonia runners Jeff Browning and Rod Bien looked to improve on their 2nd place Stage 1 finish. Andy Ames and Bernie Boettcher of La Sportiva Trail Masters proved too strong and took a slim win by 1 minute and 2 seconds in a time of 2:10:55.
The only change in stage winners on the day came in the Women’s 80+. Team Resilience runners Valerie Lacarriere and Marielle Chabaud opened up a commanding 11 minute lead on day one. Today, Stage 1 second place finishers Sue Lee and Missy Berkel of Team Titanium turned the tables with a 5 minute and 28 second win in 3:16:40. Look for these teams to continue to ‘mix it up’ over the remaining 4 days.
The Open Women RUN3 at the GORE-TEX® TransRockies Run is quickly shaping up to be the Alicia Shay show. Two days, two wins = a 30 plus minute lead. In fact Shay’s 2:06:21 would have placed 3rd in the Men’s Open Division today. Impressive running. Max King followed up day one with a second victory in 1:59:56 over Josh Korn. Third place finisher Martin Gaffuri provided a little levity on the day covering the 13.3 miles dressed as Elvis. Yes, Jumpsuit and all!
Stage 3 of 2012 GORE-TEX® TransRockies Run and RUN3 delivers the athletes from Leadville over a rolling 24 miles to Nova Guides Camp. This stage is highlighted by peaceful Aspen forests, a crossing of the Continental Divide at Tennessee Pass and a run down the Colorado Trail. Sound fun? You bet! Especially if you love 24.2 miles at an average elevation of over 10,000 feet with 2,700 feet of climbing. Two days down, four to go!