Camp Hale-Red Cliff
13.4 miles/ 3309ft climbing
Stage 4 in the GORE-TEX™ TransRockies Run has become a favourite with runners and staff alike, and not just for the short, spectacular run to the top of Hornsilver Mountain and the panoramic views of the nearby peaks like Mt. Elbert, Mt. Massive and Mt. Holy Cross.
No, it’s much simpler than that: stage 4 is play day. For staff, it’s the one day with no camp to move, reduced set-up and tear down duties and the promise of Colorado’s best fish tacos and endless margaritas on the patio of Mango’s Mountain Grill in Red Cliff overlooking the finish line. And we do mean endless margaritas. And though there’s still serious work to be done, every year a group of staff takes the opportunity to jump in and run a stage of the race, knowing it’s a short one with some of the most amazing views in the Rockies. Sometimes it’s just for fun, sometimes there’s a bet on the line, but always it’s a great opportunity for staff and participants to spend some time on the trails instead of around camp.
While the presence of staff on the trails is a novelty for the participants, their celebratory approach to Day 4 is built upon a much more practical foundation: they know that they’re more than half-done and can start counting the miles down to the finish.
Everyone who ran this morning was thankful for the shelter at Nova Guides Lodge as the mercury was down in the mid-30s as breakfast was served at 6am. The crystal clear skies produced a cold night, but they also meant that the temperatures would soar once the sun came up over the mountains. No doubt, many pictures would be taken from the top of the mountain before runners headed down to Shrine Pass and into Red Cliff.
While the standings in some race divisions have settled into a sort of status quo, the competition remains wide open in some of the key races. In particular, the outcome of the racing in the Open Mixed and Open Women’s Divisions remains wide open. In the Open Women’s Division, two teams have traded wins since stage one and remain locked in a very tight battle for the overall win. While the Quebecoise duo of Danielle De Duite and Amelie Fournier have held the overall lead since day 1, Ellen Parker and Melody Fairchild have nipped at their heels taking two stage wins including Stage 4. They now sit just six minutes behind with two stages and nearly 45 miles still to be run.
The Open Mixed Division is shaping up for a great finish as well as Care Wakely and Mark Nelson continue to climb up the standings with their third straight stage win. The duo, from the Pacific Northwest, were laid flat by the heat and altitude of Stage 1, losing 40 minutes in the process but they have climbed back into third place overall and less than 20 minutes separate them from leaders Bryan Dayton and Krissy Moehl and they’re just 3 ½ minutes down on second place overall currently held by Chad Denning and Aliza Lapierre.
Just behind these teams in 5th place overall is the team who is giving new meaning to the word “tough”. Team Timex Multisport’s Will Kelsay and Amber Monforte are getting the star for bravery for different reasons: Kelsay is attempting to become the first male to complete the TransRockies Bike and TransRockies Run in the same year. In fact, in the same month since the TransRockies bike event finished just a week before the Run. (Magi Scallion running the Open Women’s division is attempting the same feat.) But he’s only the second-toughest person on his team as his partner Amber Monforte injured her hand and gashed her knee during a fall on Stage 2 and is running every day wrapped in bandages. (Click HERE for a feature on Amber.)
Bravery in the face of falls and discomfort is the norm at the TransRockies Run and the medical and massage teams work hard every day to heal the nicks, knots and knocks accumulated over the course of four days of running in the mountains. The rewards of finishing with friends always seems to win the battle over the discomfort of running through the tough moments
Tomorrow, after one more night of campfires and wilderness, it’s back to civilization and back to business for all the teams in the GORE-TEX™ TransRockies Run. A daunting, but spectacular stage up and across Vail Mountain awaits and the miles are click down toward Friday’s finish in Beaver Creek.