Nova Guides-Red Cliff
14.2 miles/2800 feet climbing
Bracketed as it is by three gruelling days, for most participants, Stage 4 of the GORE-TEX™ TransRockies Run is a last chance for a shorter run and extra recovery time before the big efforts that are demanded during the 48 miles and 9000 feet of climbing in the last two days.
With no campsite to move, Stage 4 is also the best chance staff and sponsors get all week to jump in and participate in a Stage. Many of them do, from race office staff, to start line crew to even one of the recycling team who work with the event throughout the week to reduce our waste footprint. Many a friendly wager is settled at Mango’s Pub once the runners cross the line.
For the elite runners battling for podium positions, Stage 4 is just another day at the Office of Pain, shorter in distance but just as hard and competitive. The 2011 GORE-TEX™ TransRockies Run is seeing some of the closest competition ever for the overall win and the Leaders’ jerseys changed hands for a second straight day after the Run Flagstaff pair of Jason Wolfe and Mike Smith rebounded from losing seven minutes on Stage 3 to win Stage 4 by three minutes. More importantly, they put over five minutes into overnight leaders Max King and Ryan Bak who struggled to a fourth-placed finish on the day. After finishing third the day before, the Colorado Runner/INOV-8 team of Alex Nichols and Peter Maksimow moved up another place to finish second on the day pushing Ricky Lightfoot and Tom Owens down to third, beating them by less than 5 seconds. When the overall standings were calculated Run Flagstaff have a 1 minute and 25 second lead over Team Bend with two stages to go.
The race is even tighter in the 80+ Men’s division where the gap between first and second overall is less than a minute following Stage 4. The Canadian Le Coureur-Merrell team of Christian Vachon and Joel St. Louis won the day in a time of 2:14:40, over four minutes ahead of the Trail Loving B*stards (Andres Santiago/Mark Thurston) to take the leaders jerseys heading into Stage 5. That means that three different teams have held the overall lead in the last three days. The GECKO/Trail Runner Mag team of David Wilcox and Morgan Murri are lurking just behind with a solid grip on the last overall podium position.
The North Face Betties (Nikki Kimball/Tracy Garneau) won their fourth straight stage and continue to lead the 80+ Women’s Division from Holly Anderton and Michelle Barton (Run or Die/Wicked Fast) while Jeff and Katie Caba did the same in the 80+ Mixed Division. First place looks quite safe in both the Open Women’s Division (Ashley and Cynthia Arnold) and the Open Mixed Division (Rickey Gates/Anna Frost) cruised to stage wins on Stage 4.
After three perfect days in the Rockies, the fifth anniversary GORE-TEX™ TransRockies Run got a taste of the changeability of Rocky Mountain weather. Around noon the darkening sky let loose with a few violent thunderclaps and boiling clouds scudded around the valley but the worst of the weather stayed to the South hitting the field in the USA Pro Cycling Challenge.
Thunderstorms remain a possibility for Stage 5 and with runners spending significant time high on Vail Mountain mandatory gear checks will be done with extra care on the start line in Red Cliff.
Stage 5 Preview
24.2 Miles/4100 feet climbing
Stage 5 of the TransRockies Run is a spectacular trip up and through the famous back bowls of Vail Mountain and through pristine singletrack to the new finish line at Golden Peak Village. Starting with a long steady climb up Shrine Pass, the course traverses two passes over 11,000 feet before a 3,000 foot descent to Vail Village where runners will spend their last camp night of 2011.