Short, sharp and spectacular
Camp Hale-Red Cliff/ 23.4 miles/ 4407ft climbing/ 4868 feet descending
It’s no secret that individual sports like ultrarunning attract personalities who are not only drawn to the solitary nature of the activity but also the ability to set goals and train individually. The team format of the TransRockies Run is nearly unique because it forces distance runners out of their comfort zone, adding teamwork to this most individual of pursuits. Runners who have different strengths must learn to co-operate and compensate different strengths and weaknesses or even how to work around one teammate’s bad day.
Each year, a new group of TransRockies Run first-timers quickly comes to enjoy the camaraderie that builds over the course of six days—not only between teammates but also between the teams who find themselves battling over and over as the stages unfold. The 2009 GORE-TEX® TransRockies Run has not only seen the extra level of intensity that can build between evenly matched teams who find themselves fighting for place day after day, but also the true spirit of competition which is part of this same dynamic.
Stage 4 of the 2009 TransRockies Run was on the short and sharp end of the spectrum with a steep and brutal 2500 ft climb up from Camp Hale to Hornsilver Summit followed by a steep descent straight back down ending in the small town of Red Cliff. Though the climb was tough, the views from the top of the ridge are among the best in the Colorado Rockies and many runners no doubt will fill their scrapbooks with photos of the 360 degree vista that included views of famous 14ers like Mount of the Holy Cross, Mount Elbert and Mount Massive.
Up front, there hasn’t been much time for gathering scrapbook material as both the Open Men and Open Women divisions has had fierce and tight racing. Stage 4 epitomized both the force and the spirit of this competition. The Open Men’s race came down to a three-team battle along the last section of downhill fire road into Red Cliff and the pure foot speed of Team RunFlagstaff came out on top again in 1:52:10 finishing just 28 seconds behind and only 15 seconds ahead of Team Nike/Rogue River Runners. Even though this was one of the shorter stages in the race, the winning teams were completely spent as they hugged and offered each other sincere congratulations.
The flipside of the same spirit was shown in the Open Women’s Division as the first-placed team Salomon/La Sportiva and their closest rivals the North Face Girls came to the finale together but ran across the line together, determined to share the glory for once. Devon Crosby-Helms explained: “we were running together for a while and the finish line was coming closer, so I asked if they wanted to sprint for it or finish together and both teams decided that we wanted to cross the line at the same time.” The accuracy of chip timing makes this kind of finish difficult but the timing crew and race director made sure that the results showed two teams tied for first on Stage 4.
In both divisions, though, the competition will be renewed tomorrow on a truly epic 23.5 mile run across two passes and a high traverse and down into Vail Village where runners can reconnect with family and friends after three straight days with no cell phone reception or internet.
The Open Mixed division is now up for grabs as the leading team was forced to pull out because of a family emergency. The Canadian team Montrail/North Shore Athletics of Gary Robbins and Tasmin Antsey grabbed control of the leader’s jerseys with a stage win in a time of 2:21:28, less than a minute ahead of the second-placed finishers, Team Nike/GORE-TEX® (Julie Leasure/Peter Courogen). The TransRockies Run Masters divisions held steady on stage 4 with the leading Beaver Creek Fly Girls (Women) and Salomon (Men) Teams delivering convincing stage wins again to further solidify their overall leads.
After a short, sharp Stage 4, the 5th day odf the 2009 GORE-TEX® TransRockies Run is another long day out on the trails. Covering 23.5 miles with nearly 4500 feet of climbing, the runners face possibly their longest day or running of the race. They cross two passes above 11,500 feet and traverse the spectacular China Wall on the backside of Vail Mountain before desending steeply to finish in the village. In 2007, runners were snowed on during this stage but the forecast is far more benign in 2009.