24.3 miles/2700 feet climbing
For many participants, including a number of elite runners, the GORE-TEX™ TransRockies Run is their first exposure to stage racing. Basic arithmetic teaches us that getting twenty cents six times leaves us with a buck twenty but all that math has to be unlearnt in stage racing because doing six hard 20 miles races on consecutive days is nothing like one sustained 120 mile effort.
By the time runners filled the main drag of Leadville in anticipation of Stage 3’s 24 high altitude miles, the initial race adrenaline rush has worn off, the scrapes and bruises from days 1 and 2 are beginning to tell, and the reality that over 85 tough mountain miles remain to be run has set in. For those who’re ready for stage racing, though, this is when strategy and patience on the first two days begin to pay off.
For the third straight stage, participants in the 2011 GORE-TEX™ TransRockies Run and RUN3 were set to see another facet of Colorado’s natural beauty as the 24 mile route from Leadville to Nova Guides Camp would see them pass through postcard-perfect Aspen forests, over Tennessee Pass and through historic Camp Hale. The rolling profile meant that there were few places where runners could just lean back and let gravity do its thing—the miles would have to be run.
If there’s an athlete in the TransRockies field who’s got stage race pacing dialled, it’s defending TransRockies champion Max King. Today, he and partner Ryan Bak gave it a full effort and were able to put time into the rest of their competition finishing the Stage in a scorching 2:47:03, twenty minutes faster than last year’s winning time. In the process, they wrestled the overall lead from Jason Wolfe and Mike Smith who finished nearly seven minutes behind in second place. Team Colorado Runner/INOV-8 (Alex Nichols/Peter Maskimow) jumped onto the podium for the first time finishing third, though they were unable to move the British Salomon pair of Ricky Lightfoot and Tom Owens out of third place overall.
Over the years, the TransRockies has seen some fierce competition in women’s divisions that disproves the cliché that women play together better than boys, but on Stage 3, some leading women’s racers decided that the 24.3 miles would be more enjoyably run with company. The two fastest women’s teams in the race are the leaders in the Open Women’s and 80+ Women’s divisions, and team Trail Runner and the North Face Betties ran the course stride for stride finishing in identical times of 3:44:41, again taking the honours in their race categories.
The final stage of the RUN3 Women’s division saw the same approach 1st and 2nd placed runner Deborah Davies and Susie Howery also ran through to identical finish times of 4:01:10 with Davies taking the overall race win. While his first two stages had been impressively dominant, Men’s RUN3 leader Justin Ricks nearly paid for the efforts on Stage 3 when he started to feel sick and ended up walking sections of the final part of the course, finishing in 3:07:35. He was followed in by second-place overall finisher and Phil Villeneuve and Brian Rusiecki who, between them, dominated the podium all three days.
Ross McMahon and Tim Menoher of Salmoon has put their stamp of authority on the first two days of racing in the 80+ Men’s Division but the race was thrown wide-open on Stage 3 as Menoher was unable to finish the stage. This handed the stage win and leaders jerseys to Andres Santiago and Mark Thurston who lead by a scant 3:47 from Joel St. Louis and Christian Vachon.
The field will be a little smaller on Day 4 with the departure of the RUN3 participants, but the energy on the start line will the same as before with the promise of great views on top of Hornsilver Mountain and, more importantly, fish tacos and margaritas at the legendary Mango’s Pub in Red Cliff.
Stage 4 Preview
Nova Guides – Red Cliff
14.2 miles/ 2,800 feet climbing
If 14.2 miles and nearly 3,000 feet of climbing can be considered a “break” then Stage 4 offers participants a chance for a shorter day on the trails between three stages which average 24 miles and nearly 4000 feet of climbing per day. From the start line at Nova Guides Camp, runners head warm up with a couple of miles of rolling fire road befor heading straight up a steep three mile climb to 12,000 feet and the shoulder of Red Mountain before a traverse across the exposed top of Hornsilver Mountain where they enjoy spectacular views North to the bowls of Vail Mountain and West to famous Mount of the Holy Cross. From there, it’s a steady descent off the peak to the Wearyman Creek before joining up with the Shrine Pass Road for a gradual last couple of miles downhill to the finish line in the hamlet of Red Cliff.