Stage 3 – 2014 PepsiCo TransRockies Run

Runners filled the streets in downtown Leadville this morning, the highest town in the United States with an elevation of 10,200 feet. Rain fell throughout the night but thankfully cleared up this morning for the start, greeting the runners with a beautiful sunrise over Leadville’s 14ers. For those running the RUN6, today marks their halfway point. For RUN3 runners, today is the final day of their three-day journey.

Leaving Leadville for higher ground!

After yesterday’s climb up Hope Pass followed by a steep descent, legs, hips and feet were feeling their hard work. Yet all runners continue to show toughness both mentally and physically as they prepare for today’s Stage 3 run to Nova Guides- 24.4 miles away with 2,700 feet of elevation gain. At 8am sharp, the starting gun went off as the streets filled with spectators to cheer on the dedicated athletes.

 

Runners took off with a 2.5-mile warm up run out of Leadville before starting their first, and largest, climb of the day-a three-mile continuous uphill with 900 feet of elevation gain. With every uphill comes a downhill and that’s exactly what was next for the runners. They descended down a double track trail leading to Checkpoint 1. After fueling up on Lays, Gatorade and SaltStick, the runners headed towards another gradual climb but thankfully not as steep as the first. Runners continued through Ski Cooper making their way to Checkpoint 2, which was a great spot for spectators to camp out and cheer, giving added support and high-fives to the runner’s on course.

Feed me!

After passing Checkpoint 2, the course featured multiple creek crossings-great for cooling off but not for blisters. With a little over halfway through the course, running in wet feet is an added challenge for some. There were four big stream crossings and staying dry was not an option.

The course to Checkpoint 3 was a scenic route on the Colorado Trail. Runners made their way down the single track, weaving between trees and eventually opening up to fields of fragrant wildflowers and rolling hills. Reaching mile 21 was the final checkpoint and from here the TransRockies Run finish arch was in sight.

Yummy, chocolate milk!

The finish for today at Camp Hale/Nova Guides is a beautiful campsite on the water, tucked in between Colorado’s mountainous landscape. The wind starting pushing strongly but thankfully the dark clouds looming over took a turn for the better allowing the sun to pop through.

 

While RUN6 stage wins were notched again by Jonathan Toker (SaltStick) and the team of Magdalena Boulet (HOKA/Balega) and Caitlin Smith (Salomon/Balega), the spotlight was on the Trail Striders wrapping up their RUN3 experience. Congratulations go out to Matt Hart and Katie Arnold who secured the Open Male and Open Female RUN3 titles by scoring hat tricks with their 3rd consecutive stage wins.

RUN3? Challenge accepted and completed!

As the afternoon continued, finishers streamed through the arch with displays of high power jumps, kisses, kicks and smiles as they crossed the line. The rest of the afternoon was spent on relaxation and recovery as runners showered and hung out by the water sharing their race day experience. The Nova Guides finish line is also where the camp and dinner is set up so a favorite for runners who don’t have to pack up for a few days-there is no shuttle bus today for these runners. Although light rain picked up in the afternoon it didn’t get the runners down. A warm shower and the runners are already talking about tomorrows challenge.

Tomorrow RUN6 racers will continue their 6-day trek with Stage 4. With an 8am start from Nova Guides/Camp Hale, runners will travel to Red Cliff covering 14.2 miles and 2,800 feet of elevation gain. Like Stage 2, tomorrow’s run is another short and steep route, topping out at 11,700 feet above sea level.

The end of day 3 means we say congratulations and goodbye to all RUN3 athletes. They will continue to camp and hang out tonight with their fellow runners before taking off tomorrow morning.

Thank you all RUN3 runners for a great 2014 TransRockies Run and we hope to see you all next year!

Results?  Well, our timers have them.  At Camp Hale.  Where there’s no internet.  We’ll post them tomorrow!

More images HERE.

Images courtesy of Raven Eye Photography and Hunter Imagery.

Leave us in peace…we’re carbo loading in here.

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