by Scott Surface
Tim Surface is a novice trail runner. But that didn’t mean he was going to approach the Run3 of the GoreTex Trans-Rockies Run, his second ever trail race, with any reservation. At the end of Stage Two Tim, age 31, held second place in the Men’s Run3, situated comfortably behind leader Justin Hicks, an impressive feat regardless of one’s experience.
Growing up in Missouri, Tim competed in cross country and track and played lacrosse while attending college in Tulsa, Oklahoma. It wasn’t until he moved to Raleigh, NC in 2005 that he found his passion for endurance competition. His breakout came at his first marathon with a formidable 2:24:39 performance at the Chicago Marathon.
Shortly thereafter Tim began a full-fledged affair with triathlon, grabbing second place in his age group at the 2009 Half Ironman World Championships, an achievement made all the more startling coming as it did just weeks after heart surgery for supraventricular tachycardia (SVT), a condition that caused his heart rate to spike dangerously during intense activity. This year, Tim was welcomed as a member of the elite Timex Multisport Team.
Tim has never competed at altitude before the Run3 and this is his first ever stage race. What might be looked at by some as a huge disadvantage, didn’t seem to faze the laid back, friendly, and unassuming character. His approach to the Run3 seemed staggeringly simple; stick with some of the more experienced two-man teams and stay healthy.
Just two miles into Stage One Tim noted “my legs began to feel stiff, but I stuck with a couple of the leading two-man teams and soon my body loosened up”. He finished the day just 4:32 behind winner Justin Ricks, with a time of 2:27:54.
Stage Two offered a completely different challenge — a 13.5 miles mountain ascent and descent over scenic Hope Pass. Within the first mile Tim recognized a significant gap developing between himself and the lead, but again he stuck with two-man teams and was reassured to see the entire field walking the steepest terrain.
With no time to enjoy the view from the top, Tim began the sketchy descent, accompanied by the ever-present burn in his hamstrings and quads. Finishing third but remaining in second overall in Stage Two, Tim took away two main points of learning: find a consistent rhythm from start to finish and work on being carefully aggressive on the testy descents.
Stage Three, the final leg for Run3 competitors, promised to be no less challenging. Runners approached a 24-mile course that included an ascent of Mt. Zion, a trek along the No Name Road to Ski Cooper, across Highway 24 to a stretch of wetlands, up a meandering single track, and a long, flat meadow travers, finally arriving at Camp Hale, home of the legendary 10th Mountain Division.
Tim gave the final stage of the Run3 all he had, finishing second on the day with a time of 3:07:05 and second overall with a cumulative time of 7:46:23. Regardless of his success, it seems as though he is taking the lessons he gained from this year’s Run3 to be used as an important tool for the future. He is currently taking a break from triathlon and focusing on running in an attempt to qualify for the 2012 Olympic Marathon Trials.
Once this goal is accomplished, he hopes to again turn his sights toward the GORE-TEX™ Trans-Rockies Run. Next year he plans on returning with a partner for the full event. Heads up two-man field, with a little more experience and training, this surface may prove tough to beat!