A Long Day on the Roof of the Rockies
Leadville – Camp Hale
24.3 miles/2930 feet climbing
With a morning mountain chill in the air and fresh memories of spending the previous night huddled up to beat Leadville’s 10,200 feet above sea level cold, it was no surprise that the runners in the 2010 GORE-TEX™ TransRockies Run and RUN3 did everything they could to delay their arrival at the start line until just seconds before the early 8am start. Whether it was hanging out in the breakfast hall a little longer or spending a few more minutes sipping coffee at Provin’ Grounds, home of the best Joe in Leadville, runners found many reasons to avoid standing around for too long.
Stage 3 from Leadville to Camp Hale would cover the longest distance (24.3 miles) at the highest average elevation (10,124 feet) of any stage in 2010. The 8am start gave runners extra time to complete the day’s challenge, even if it meant a few more shivers before the start. A cold front had blown through the area the previous afternoon and the enormous peaks of Mt Elbert and Mt. Massive which dominate Leadville’s Western skyline were covered with clouds. Luckily for all the runners, the clouds burned off the in morning leaving all to bask under the clear skies of a perfect late-summer mountain day.
Stage 2 had taken its toll and several runners were unable to take the start line on Day 3 with a variety of ailments, Caitlin Smith, half of the lead Open Mixed team, was suffering from hip problems and decided that rest was the right answer so the following teams had everything to run for with the leaders’ jerseys up for grabs.
Former TransRockies Bike winner Stefan Widmer has been volunteering at the 2010 GORE-TEX TransRockies Run and he was given the honour of firing the starter’s pistol which sent nearly 300 runners off down Leadville’s historic Main Street and out toward Ski Cooper and the Colorado Trail where runners would enjoy beautiful singletrack, alpine meadows and gentle climbs through tree-shaded doubletrack.
The runners of the inaugural RUN3 left knowing that this would be their last day on the trails while TransRockies Run competitors knew that the end of stage 3 would mark the halfway point of their 2010 journey. As they had through the first two stages, Anna Frost and Justin Ricks ran to solid wins in their respective categories to wrap up the overall wins. Behind Ricks, trail running newcomer Scott Surface grabbed second place for the third straight stage to confirm his second place. Jonathan Toker held off a determined challenge from Phil Villeneuve to hold onto the last podium place. Katie Mazzia and Karen Barlow had fought back and forth over the first two day for second place and Karen ran a strong Stage 3 to grab second on the day and second overall. Katie held on for third and the last podium place.
The outcome of Stage 3 wouldn’t be nearly so final for the TransRockies Runners but 24.3 miles at high elevation had the potential to shake up the standings. Care Wakely and Mark Nelson (Frontrunners/Westshore) grabbed their second straight stage win in the Open Mixed category and have pulled themselves up to 4th overall after a tough stage 1 which saw them lose 45 minutes. They now sit 5 ½ minutes out of third place. With the retirement of the previous first-placed team, Krissy Moehl and Bryan Dayton (Vasque) hold the leaders jerseys and an 11-minute overall lead.
Over the first three stages, Ted Russell and Ross McMahan have quietly dominated the 80+ Men’s Division with three straight stage wins and a 25 minutes lead in the overall standings. Mark Thurston and Andres Santiago are holding a solid second place Dan and Tom Moline who are testing their brotherly ties with six days on the trail and so far, so good with a third place overall.
Andy Martin and Max King (Montrail/Hammer Nutrition) grabbed their third straight stage win and though Jason Wolfe and Eric Bohn have chased them closely each day, their overall lead has grown to 15 minutes after 3 days. Behind them three teams are set for battle royale with the last podium spot as the prize. Nicholas Selbo and Josh Wheeler (Rock/Creek Race Team) currently hold the advantage over Matt Cavanaugh and Paul Terranova (Team Wounded Warrior Project).
As has been the pattern so far in the 2010 GORE-TEX™ TransRockies Run, a long and rolling stage is followed by a short and steep one. Stage 4 might be shorter day distance-wise, but runners will again climb high above the tree line to the peak of Hornsilver Mountain at 11,462 feet. The top is exposed and offers 360-degree vistas of the surrounding peaks before the runners plunge back down to the finish line in the hamlet of Red Cliff. Of the 3009 feet of climbing, over 2,500 are packed into the 4 mile climb to the top of Hornsilver Mountain—a tough enough grind when fresh but bound to be even harder when runners have already put three big days in on the trails.