Stage 2 Report from the 2009 GORE-TEX® TransRockies Run

Runners go Straight up and Down on Stage 2

Vicksburg-Twin Lakes/10.1 miles/3098 feet climbing

The North Face Girls climb Hope PassThere’s a well-polished chestnut of wisdom which goes “different courses for different horses”; meaning what suits one person won’t necessarily be right for the next one. Stage 2 of the 2009 GORE-TEX® TransRockies Run proved that it still holds true with shake-ups at the top of the podium in three of the categories and winning gaps of less than 35 seconds in three divisions.

Stage 2 was a short sharp climb up over 3000 feet from Vicksburg to the peak of Hope Pass at nearly 12,600 feet above sea level before a steep and sometimes technical plunge into the hamlet of Twin Lakes. Though only 10 miles in length, the course would test runners with elevation, altitude, a cold river crossing and the possibility of severe weather above the tree line.

The briefing the night before the stage from medical staff was very clear in explaining the possibility of sudden weather changes and the need to carry full mandatory gear like jackets, hats and an emergency blanket. Through the clouds rolled in during the stage and rain came down heavily at times throughout the afternoon, runners were safely back at camp by the time the worst of the weather hit.

Instead, runners got nearly ideal running conditions in which to take on Hope Pass; overcast, cool and dry. With a different style of course and different weather, it wasn’t a surprise when different teams surged to the front, and in the Open Men’s division two Canadian Teams found the course to their liking and went on the attack. Two Joes (Adam Campbell and Aaron Heidt) ran strongly throughout to finish in a blazing time of 1:35:44, followed just 18 seconds later by Phil Villeneuve and Gavin Hamilon of Team Salomon Canada.

As if jumping from sixth the day to first in Stage 2 wasn’t remarkable enough, The Two Joes made it even harder on themselves when Aaron Heidt took a hard fall on the descent breaking a tooth and opening up a gash on his lip. Despite the shock and blood, he dusted himself off and made it to the finish line for the win. After spending $200 at a Leadville dentist for a quick root canal and two stitches in his lip, he declared himself ready to giv’er again tomorrow.

While all the teams who make it through the TransRockies Run deserve a shout-out, one team which deserves special mention is Team Wounded Warrior Project who put in another excellent performance today finishing 5th in the Open Men’s division. Along with his full-time military service as a Captain in the US Army with two tours of duty in Iraq, team captain Matt Cavanaugh somehow balances enough training to compete at a high level. Their participation in the TransRockies Run has raised $35,000 so far to benefit the Wounded Warrior Project that offers support and rehabilitation services while advocating for wounded servicemen and women.

The Open Women’s division also got a shake-up on day 2 as the North Face Girls, Kami Semick and Nikki Kimball, shook off a third-place finish on Stage 1, tearing up Stage 2 to for the win in 1:55:03. In the process, they beat Stage 1 Winners Caitlin Smith and Devon Crosby-Helms(Team Salomon/GORE-TEX®) by 33 seconds. A third team was in the mix today for top women’s team honours as Anita Ortiz and Prudence L’Heureux (Beaver Creek Fly Girls) easily won the 80+ women’s category and finished just 90 seconds adrift of the top two Open Women’s Teams. With the nerves gone and the first two days in the books, expect fierce battles between these three teams for the rest of the week.

In the 80+ Men’s division, the two Salomon teams traded spots in Stage 2 with the Salomon PC duo Ted Russell and Greg Kotzbauer nipping Team Salomon (Adam Chase and Ross McMahan) by a mere 14 seconds for the win. It might be a friendly battle, but it’s being fought fiercely as the gap between the teams is less than two minutes after two stages.

After the straight up and down profile of Stage 2, TransRockies runners will need to change gears again tomorrow for a high-altitude 24-plus mile run from Leadville to historic Camp Hale, former home of the 10th Mountain Division. Though this route includes 3000 feet of climbing it is dished out in much more incremental fashion as runners cross the Continental Divide at Tennessee Pass before running over the shoulder of Ski Cooper resort and through rolling meadows to the finish line. With some flat sections of the course, it won’t be a surprise to see road running specialists surge to the front again . . . different courses for different horses, indeed.

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