The hours after the completion of Stage 3 are always enjoyable. The RUN3 runners have finished their journey and gather around the camp fire for some well deserved rest, relaxation and hydration (thank you, Michelob Ultra!). With three days to go, the RUN6 athletes generally crawl into their tents and crash for the night.
On tap this morning was a climb up to the summit of Hornsilver Mountain. The RUN6 field departed at 8am sharp to the traditional TransRockies Run send off : AC/DC’s Highway to Hell. While this stage would only cover 13.1 miles it would involve what many Trail Striders would describe as the toughest climb of the week. Rocky and steep would best describe this winding trail through dense forest. Five miles and twenty three hundred feet of elevation gain above the camp, the trees gave way to what had to be the summit. Not quite…TWO MILES TO GO.
Out in the open, the views at 10,000 plus feet are, to say the least, incredible. There was no shortage of smiles and hugs along with plenty of poses for photos. Checkpoint 1 was just up the trail and the summit, at 7.1 miles, was visible in the distance. The previous evening, the course crew briefed the field that the descent to Red Cliff would involve a ‘mandatory shoe wash’ (aka creek crossing). For most, this conjures up images of one gingerly stepping across stones or wading through ankle deep water. Not at the TransRockies Run. On this stage the trail merges with the creek and the run becomes a combination of trail running and shallow water wading. F-U-N.
At the end of the creek, Checkpoint 2 awaited and it was a 2 mile cruise down to Red Cliff for a stop at Mango’s Mountain Grill. Generally regarded as the best stage finish during the week, Mango’s serves up some high quality margaritas and fish tacos. With the finish line directly adjacent to the entrance, it’s hard not to stop in for a drink or two.
With the RUN3 contingent bound for home, the RUN6 crew continued their march to Beaver Creek. As usual, Men’s Open duo Michael Smith and Rob Krar, of team Run Flagstaff, posted the leading time of the day in 1:56:24. Melanie Bos and Stacey Cleveland, of team The North Face Ladies, claimed their 4th stage win 2:21:26. Steve and Rachel Ramirez continued to dominate the Open Mixed class in 2:47:13, extending their overall lead to 2:34:28. 80+ Men’s team Stefan Fromme and Marcus Biehl (Gore Running) and 80+ Team Will Race for Cookies, Cameron Widoff and Kerrie Wlad, won their categories in 2:23:48 and 2:23:01, respectively. Finally, team Two InknBurn Badass Mommas, Skye Colclough and Ann Ongena, claimed their 3rd win in a time of 3:02:10.
The RUN6 Solo Women’s division continues to please. Sara Wagner showed some serious determination claiming her 3rd win of the week in 2:09:48, nine seconds ahead of overall leader Nadyia Fry. However, Fry remains in the overall lead by 10:26. Lastly, Ian Perriman took his third win in a row among the Open Men clocking 2:23:57.
Next up, Stage 5 from Red Cliff to Vail. At 22.5 miles, this stage will be the second longest of the week and add another 4100 feet of elevation gain to the running total.