Today was the day-the final stretch of the 2014 PepsiCo TransRockies journey! Runners ended with a bang as they covered 20.9 miles and 4,900 feet of elevation gain on their final push from Vail to Beaver Creek. It’s a bittersweet day as the runners cross through the TransRockies Run arch for the last time, but a day filled with memories to last a lifetime.
After yesterday’s 24 mile run, our Trail Striders made sure to get enough sleep to help them through today’s long run. Just like the last few days, the starting gun went off at 8am sharp as all the runners shouted with excitement. The feeling of accomplishment overwhelmed the starting line knowing that later today they could call themselves TransRockies Run finishers! It was time to push through those achy quads one last time.
|Race Director ‘Houda’ getting the party started!|
At the sound of the gun, runners said goodbye to Mountain Plaza in Vail and made their way up the south side of Vail Mountain before crossing over I-70 to and climbing up Buffer Creek Trail. The course today featured many ups and down, but unlike the rest of the stages, today they faced a 1,000 foot climb right before the finish. Adding to the challenge, today’s heat was strong-probably one of the hottest this week. Runners knew to pace themselves and take it easy in the beginning so they could end on a high note.
|The best volunteers
in the business!
The climb to Checkpoint 1 was a tough seven miles but runners continued to push through their mental and physical pain. After grabbing their fuel, they continued four more miles to Checkpoint 2 at mile 11. “I was in a hurt locker before reaching Checkpoint 2,” RUN6 Solo runner Aaron Maas commented. “But the people at Checkpoint 2 were cheering so strong it revved up all the runners, including myself.” The TransRockies Run seems to attract the best group of volunteers around. Thank you all for your high spirits and energy you give to these dedicated runners.
After passing through Checkpoint 2, the runners finally hit some downhill. Not the casual recovery downhill one would like at this moment. Instead runners showed their skills as they descended a technical and rocky Buck Creek trail opening up to some road running leading into the town of Avon and Checkpoint 3. What stood between Avon and the finish was yet another mountain to climb. Exhausted and achy the runners pushed on.
|A refreshing dip in Buck Creek!|
The final climb up Elkhorn trail popped runners out above the finish. They could see the village of Beaver Creek and small little specs of people. The end was near! With 1.6 miles to go runners zigzagged the switchbacks coming down Lost Buck trail and into the Beaver Creek Resort home stretch. Crossing the finish with hands high and smiles wide, overwhelming feelings of accomplishment, joy and fatigue rushed to all the participants. Not only was it an emotional moment for the runners, but for the spectators and crew who traveled each day with them. Seeing family members and friends cheering, hugging, kissing and dancing was the perfect end to the TransRockies Run experience-a mixture of exhaustion and pure bliss.
|You earned it…you are a TRAIL STRIDER!|
The Solo Open leading men for the week continued to show their strength today. Jonathan Toker came back to win his 4th stage with a time of 3:12:41, ranking him the overall Open Men winner. For the women, Becky Kirschenmann won her 6th stage with a time of 3:43:46, winning the Solo Open Women division.
|TransRockies Run Finisher bling!|
In the team event four duos went wire-to-wire capturing wins in all six stages. Congrats to Magdalena Boulet and Caitlin Smith (Open Women), Emily Harrison and Ian Torrence (Open Mixed), Hozumi Nakai and Jeremy Peters (80+ Men), Katie Mazzia and Sarah McMahan (80+ Women) for their overall titles!
The results weren’t so straight forward in the remaining team categories. Among the Open Men, Chris Brenes and Scott Jensen captured the overall on the strength of four 2nd place stage finishes. The story was the same for Andrew White and Shari White in the 80+ Mixed where they too finished 2nd four times with two stage victories. Not to be left out, Laura Stephen and Dan Burrier won four of the six stages taking home the 100+ Open title.
What a final stage! Thank you to all the runners for being part of the 2014 PepsiCo TransRockies Run. The RUN3 and RUN6 Trail Striders showed remarkable effort and were inspiring to watch. We hope to see you back next year. Congratulations to all and thank you to all the volunteers and crew who helped make this race so special.
“I feel stronger, not destroyed,” commented runner Aaron Maas. “This was definitely a life changing race.”