Vail – Beaver Creek
For a sixth straight day, the competitors in the 4th Annual GORE-TEX™ TransRockies Run were treated to perfect late summer Rocky Mountain weather with clear blue skies and only the merest hint of a breeze blowing down the Eagle River Valley from Vail to Beaver Creek.
The route for Stage 6 of this year’s event was a gruelling 21.4 miles long and included over 4600 feet of climbing including a final grunt of nearly 1000 feet up to the finish line in the gorgeous surroundings of Beaver Creek Resort. Even in the confines of this developed valley—home to three world-class ski resorts—the TransRockies Run organizers mapped a challenging route that headed up Buffehr Creek Trail and then down the technical and steep Buck Creek Trail. Runners made short run through downtown Avon—no doubt surprising many drivers in the process—before the climb up to Beaver Creek Resort and the finish line.
While the time gaps in the overall standings were large enough that there would likely be no changes atop the standings during this last stage, there was still one more chance for stage glory, plus nearly 250 type-A personalities for whom coasting to the finish was unthinkable. Like horses catching the smell of the hay in the barn, they charged full bore from the start line at Mountain Plaza in Vail out onto the racecourse.
Leading the charge as they have all week were Andy Martin and Max King (Montrail/Hammer Nutrition) who were only able to resist the temptation to hammer for a couple of miles before they kicked it into high gear and charged to a scintillating finish in 2:54:34 a full 15 minutes ahead of their closest competition. As they have all week, Jason Wolfe and Eric Bohn (GORE-TEX/ Salomon/ Run Flagstaff) crossed the line in second place, leading Nick Selbo and Josh Wheeler (Rock/Creek Sports) who recovered from a tough stage 5 to finish third and hold the final overall podium position as well.
Having grabbed the leaders jerseys for the first time after stage 5, Ellen Parker and Melody Fairchild, the Lasportiva Dirt Divas knew they just needed to stay close to the second-placed team of Danielle De Guire and Amelie Fournier (Salomon) and they did so, coming across the line less than a minute behind the Canadian Duo to clinch the overall win. Though each team won three stages, the Lasportiva duo had a lower total time. In third were Jaclyn Greenhill and Roxanne Zobava (Rock/Creek Racing) who ran solidly all week behind the leading duo.
Though they made a valiant effort to recover from a disastrous first stage, the Northwestern Duo of Care Wakely and Mark Nelson (Frontrunners/ Westshore) had to settle for second place in 2010 behind Bryan Dayton and Krissy Moehl (Vasque). The teams came across the line with hands raised together, the sort of mutual respect and camaraderie which typifies the bonds that runners develop after six tough days spent together in the Rockies. Aliza Lapierre and Chad Denning (Outdoor Research) confirmed their third place overall on another hot day in the Rockies.
While the Masters who race the TransRockies might have a few more miles on their running clocks, the 80+ combined age divisions regularly mix it up with the Open Division teams throughout the TransRockies. In the 80+ Men’s Division, the Salomon Duo of Ted Russell and Ross McMahon had been a machine all week and they won again on the final day to confirm their overall win. Behind them Mark Thurston and Andres Santiago grabbed second place ahead of Dan and Tom Moline who completed the overall podium.
Over the first 4 stages Julie Leasure and Peter Courogen (Nike/GORE-TEX) had established a nearly unbeatable lead in the 80+ Mixed divison but the other podium teams made big efforts in the last two stages to grab a win each. After the second-placed overall team of Adam Chase and Sara Wagner (Salomon) grabbed Stage 5, it was the third-placed Mere Mortals team of Ken Sinclair and Denise Bourassa who ran to the win in the Stage 6 highlighting their third overall position.
After a strong second place in the Open Women’s division in 2009, Niki Kimball came back in 2010 to race the 80+ Women Division with new partner Monica Ochs and, racing as the North Face Betties, they crushed all comers with a final Overall win of over 3 hours! Behind them, Team Erin Babes Jeannie Debari and Kelly Hambelton used all that delicious sport cookie power to finish second, ahead of Canucks Carolyn Hawes and Liz Vanderkruk (Team CANA-MAMA-RUN) who finished third.
Normally runners come across a finish line and stay only long enough to check placing and time and start their recovery process. The finish line of the GORE-TEX TransRockies Run is a very different—winners and podium finishers hang around for hours cheering new and old friends across the line as they celebrate the achievements and struggle of the previous week.
Those celebrations are just a preview of the party which follows at Friday night’s awards banquet when all gather together one last time to mark the successful conclusion of another edition of North America’s most unique and rewarding running race. The theme song of the GORE-TEX™ TransRockies Run exhorts competitors to “Keep On Running” but for one night, the shoes and shorts, the water bottles and jackets, can all be left behind as 250 runners celebrate this most special adventure.