GORE-TEX™ TransRockies Run 2008
Stage 4: Camp Hale to Red Cliff
14.2 miles/3,009 feet climbing
A chilly morning met the runners today as they rolled out of their tents for Stage 4 of the GORE-TEX™ TransRockies™ Run. Steam rose from the ponds surrounding the finish-turned-start line for dramatic effect and the sun peaked over the mountains for a first touch of warmth. It was a toss-up for several of the runners on whether to stay slightly bundled at the cold outset of the race or to remove their extra layers, opting instead for a downright shivering start with a lighter race load. And, before you could even speculate on which you would choose for yourself in a similar situation, they were off.
Fortunately for our runners today’s course is 10 miles shorter than yesterday’s. Short, like Tuesday’s run, however, doesn’t necessarily mean easy. After a relatively flat first 2 miles, the route takes our dear runners up another 2 miles at about a 45-degree incline meeting with a third, seemingly never-ending 2-mile stretch even further up at about a 60-degree incline. And, once they reach the top of this increasingly difficult climb to the impressive 11,668’ peak, they start the steep, rocky 6-mile descent back down the other side. And, just for kicks, there’s about a quarter mile of ankle-to-shin-deep icy river to slosh through to reach the finish.
Already 3 days and 46 miles into this epic endeavor through the great Rocky Mountains, these are the days of the course that really test a runner’s will and spirit. Not only do the they have to have the conditioning to make it through this intense course, the will-power to fight through muscle cramps, pain, blisters, and more, and the caution to make it to the finish injury-free, in the GORE-TEX™ TransRockies™ Run a runner can never be farther than 2 minutes apart from her/his partner at any point the race. A substantial difference from what is normally a very solitary activity. Each pair competes as a team, giving and receiving support and encouragement, and feeling the emotional and physical effects of this trial together. A real test in determination, character, and strength …with a touch of compassion and ‘go-get-‘em’ … to get each other to the next day’s brutal run and to just keep truckin’.
Two of the best at duo-racing are Erik Skaggs and Max King, the Nike/Rogue Valley Runners. They wrangled this day’s race to the ground, coming in 9 minutes shy of 2 hours. Team Saab Salomon nipped at their heels crossing a minute and a half later.
Erin Hutchinson and Keri Nelson of GORE-TEX® La Sportiva came in hard at 2:16:56 with contending Open Mixed teams following 14 and 34 minutes later.
Team Super Fly Beaver Creek (2:30:47) of Open Women’s crushed the competition again today to maintain their 1st place title over Team Jeta and Team Goodcap, who came across 13 and 18 minutes later, respectively.
The Snowshoe Hares held strong in 1st with a time of 2:30:23 in the 80+ Men’s division, followed by Team WINDSTOPPER® Typhoon less than 3 minutes later, who maintain a firm grip on their 2nd place position. Third up in this division today was Team Under the Radar, coming in at 2:39:46.
Team Vasque Ladies of 80+ Women’s division didn’t let up today with their time of 3:04:01, trekking up and down this mountain at about 13 minutes per mile to hold onto their first place title. They will be rewarded again, along with 2nd place Achilles Heals (3:11:06) and 3rd place Baker’s Breakfast Cookies (3:18:06), tonight on the awards podium.
With a shorter (albeit fierce) course today, the runners still have a bit more time to relax and enjoy the sunny 67-degree weather here in Red Cliff, Colorado. And to give their partners a pat on the back for making it this far …and for facing the challenging final two days that lie ahead.
Stage 5 Preview
Red Cliff to Vail, CO
23.4 miles/4,407 feet climbing
From start to finish, tomorrow’s course tracks up and down an entire mountain. Starting under 9,000’ ascending 10 miles up to the top at 11,787’ followed by some violent dips across the top and 8.3 miles down the other side to 8,191’ above sea level. Challenging …to say the least.
Stage 4 Report by Bonnie Hockin