GORE-TEX™ TransRockies Run 2008
Stage 5: Red Cliff to Vail, CO
23.4 miles/4,407 feet climbing
Day 5 of this extraordinary adventure race started at the finish from yesterday in Red Cliff, CO. Red Cliff, a micro town with big dreams, sits on the opposite side of the mountain from Vail and boasts a post office, a small school, a brand new hotel with a small grocery market, and a kickin’ restaurant with live nightly music. Pair this with the euro-chic town of Vail and the earlier race touch-point of historic mining village, Leadville, and you’ll have a sense of the diversity of settings along this trek through the great Rockies. The runners, of course, have all of these sights plus their scenic panoramas playing like real-time movies throughout their daily trail runs.
Today will be one of the best in terms of breathtaking mountain vistas …but at quite a price. For starters, it’s cold (~42-degrees) and dark. They aren’t starting at 5am, the sun just won’t make it high enough to make it over the top of the mountain they’re about to climb before the race starts at 8am. Furthermore, the race today is only a mile shorter than Wednesday’s grueling race at 23.4 miles and requires nearly 1,500 more feet of climbing (4,407’ climbing total). But it will be worth it. Their magnificent views will continue well after they’ve finished in this gorgeous ski-resort town of Vail, bustling with summer visitors, babbling brooks, fountains, and fresh, fragrant flowers and trees at every turn.
Before you have a chance to drive from the start to the finish and determine which country inspired the café music streaming across the street, the first runners are already coming in. Gracefully at full speed, like charging gazelles, Team Nike/Rogue Valley Runners round the base of the mountains, past the running gondolas, and around to the finish line, looking fresh and ready for more. Saab Salomon, driven in their mission, almost reached them crossing a mere 24 seconds later. Incredible! Especially when considering they all held paces of about ~8 min/mile for over 23 miles at almost 12,000 feet. These four super-runners had a considerable lead over #3 to cross, new-to-the-podium Team AerobicPower, who was 23 minutes back.
Open Mixed duo, Team GORE-TEX® La Sportiva, came in strong less than 10 minutes later at 3:41:39, followed by local favorite Super Fly Beaver Creek of the Open Women’s division in another 10 minutes at 3:51:40. WINDSTOPPER® Typhoon stole the lead in 80+ Men’s dashing in a solid 4 minutes ahead of The Snowshoe Hares at 4:13:27. GORE-TEX® GMEAMTN (‘get me a mountain’) rounds out the 80+ Men’s division podium for today’s stage with a time of 4:22:16. And the Vasque Ladies, relentless in their pursuit, stay strong at number one for yet another day with an impressive time of 5:06:04 for the 80+ Women’s division, followed 14½ minutes later by Team Achilles Heels. (Note: 80+ refers to the combined ages of the runners, not individual runners ages as some have speculated.)
Some of the running pairs are new to the scene. GORE-TEX™ TransRockies™ Runners like Ryan Padilla and Drew Casselberry found new energy in teaming with each other when their original team dynamics weren’t working as they had anticipated. Something clicked with this pairing because they came in 3rd overall in today’s stage (3:25:00). The bad news is that, without their original partners, their new-found place at the top won’t put them on the podium at awards time. Where the original team ends is where the official qualification ends. Pre-set rules that the runners sign up for as part of this intense team-based challenge. The good news, however, is that they will both (in all likelihood) finish the race and still qualify as finishers…perhaps to pair again from the start next year to give the other front-runners a run for their money.
What happened to their partners? Well, they have a choice of either pairing with each other (or other GORE-TEX® TransRockies Runners), tacking on to an existing team (the original team would maintain their own standing), or simply taking a breather. If they take a break, they can run again the following day, but can only qualify as a finisher by completing every stage in its entirety.
Though not par for the course, it does happen that not all runners finish. But, making it 60 or 80 miles across the tough Rocky Mountain terrain at altitudes of 8,000 to 12,000 feet across 3-5 days while sleeping in tents is still impressive … no matter how you slice it.
For some real inspiration, read on about your not-so-typical-racer, Carl Perkins, who is a volunteer turned runner. He’s been a champion here this week for runners, volunteers, and onlookers, alike.
Stage 6 Preview
Vail to Beaver Creek
21.2 miles/4,623 feet climbing
One of the longest runs of this 6-day staged race, runners charged through full force today, loving the energy and serenity at the top of the beautiful Rocky Mountains reserved for the highly-ambitious on courses such as this great GORE-TEX™ TransRockies™ Run. Which is great because they have another 20+ mile run to go tomorrow to get to the end of this epic endeavor. They have a heck of a 10-mile climb followed by another 4 mile climb once they reach the bottom of the first. They’re sure to appreciate the slightly lower in elevation of this run (7,420 at a low to 10,512 at its height).
Stage 5 Report by Bonnie Hockin