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TransRockies Run Report Part 3: The Race

On September 7, 2008, in Uncategorized, by Meghan
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Here is my actual TransRockies Race Report. Grab a cup of coffee, sit back, scroll along, and enjoy!

Stage 1: Buena Vista to The Numbers

Stats: 13 miles, 1100 feet of climbing, very, very, very gradual uphill along a rolling doubletrack

Deets: Stage 1 was flat and fast, pretty much a dirt road half marathon.

There was enough nervous and excited energy at the starting line for the TransRockies Run to power the little village of Buena Vista! From the get-go moments, Leslie’s silliness infected its way through the masses, creating equal parts calmness and goofiness. Here, Leslie suggests that, instead of running today’s very flat course, perhaps we should swim it. With much ado, the race finally began and, yes, we decided to run the course after all.

The dirt road upon which we traveled was an old railroad bed, and the road passed through some original train tunnels. Here’s a photo of Leslie and I emerging from one of those tunnels. I’m about to photograph the photographer, Leslie’s husband, Keith, who was out on course cheering us on.

The route was beautiful, tracing its way next to the Arkansas River and through some beautiful rock formations that reminded me a lot of the Alabama Hills in California and the Grapevine Hills of Texas. Before you could blink, though, it was over, and the masses of runners were eating, drinking, and soaking in the Arkansas River.

Stage 2: Vicksburg to Twin Lakes

Stats: 10 miles, 3100 feet of climbing, a little doubletrack, then up, up, and down, down sweet singletrack

Deets: From our overnight campground, we had an early morning, filling-jarring, bumpy shuttle ride to Stage 2’s start in historic Vicksburg

Men and women alike continued to be impressed with the size of Leslie’s quad muscles, and so there were a few “quad offs” at the Stage 2 starting line. Here, Adam Chase (left) and Bryon Powell (right) compare their muscles to Leslie’s. I’ll let you be the judge. For those of you who don’t care much about who won, please enjoy the view anyway!

The stage began with about 2 miles uphill on a doubletrack before we hit the sweet spot, gobs of singletrack climbing to the 12,600 foot tall Hope Pass.

First we climbed through groves of aspens, their leaves already quaking in the soft early morning breeze.

Somewhere along the way, we formed a chick train. At its longest, we had about 8 women grunting up the amazing Hope Pass switchbacks. In this photo, Leslie leads myself, Colleen Cooke, and Erin Delude up the final switchback below the pass.

At Hope Pass, we were happily greeted by Keith, who had made an early morning hike to the pass just to cheer on runners. Thanks, Keith! Keith captured us on Hope Pass just before we began the screaming descent to Twin Lakes.

This photo shows Leslie just beginning the descent from Hope Pass to Twin Lakes. It’s blurry and here’s why: I was chasing her down the hill!

If you ever have the great fortune of running with Leslie, you will learn that this lady is a downhilling champ. It’s the quads, I tell you! On the descent from Hope Pass, I experienced her downhilling for the first time. It was loads of fun and it instilled in me some downhilling confidence (As you know, I was previously the champ of falling down hills. Scars on my knees, elbows, and hands prove it!), as well as the fear of God for not getting dropped by her on the downhills.

After arriving at the bottom of the descent, it was an easy few miles through a few streams and a lot of grass to the Twin Lake finish line. From there, we were shuttled to Leadville, the night’s camp.

Stage 3: Leadville to Camp Hale

Stats: 24 miles, 2900 feet of climbing, rolling along some pavement, a bunch of doubletrack jeep roads, and some gorgeous Continental Divide trail singletrack

Deets: Stage 3 was the quintessential rolling terrain day. There were a few climbs and a few descents here and there, but everything mostly rolled along.

It was a frigid morning in Leadville, in the shade of the downtown buildings, as you can see in the above photo. We did a fair bit of dancing to the music in order to stay warm! When the race started, we headed through town on a few miles of pavement before turning off onto some doubletrack.

Leslie and I had hours and hours to contemplate the meaning of the universe on this day, but we didn’t, really. We ambled along, saying things like, “Oh, look at the pretty flower!” and “Wow, what a view.” Simple thoughts and simple running at its finest. Yeah, we know we’re simple girls.

After a while, the route dumped onto the Continental Divide Trail for some miles of brilliant singletrack. Oh wow, was it ever phenomenal! I’ve been on bits and pieces of the CDT before, but this section really made me want to thru hike its distance someday.

Oh yeah, the race. The CDT singletrack dead ended at a hot, white, flat dirt road. You could see the finish line for almost 3 miles before finally reaching it. Leslie and I just put our heads down and ran. Before we knew it, we joyously rolled into the Stage 3 finish at Camp Hale.

Stage 4: Camp Hale to Red Cliff

Stats: 14 miles, 3000 feet of climbing, all doubletrack jeep roads

Deets:

Look familiar? Yesterday’s finish line morphed into the Stage 4 starting line. This morning was chilly again, with a hard frost coating our tents. As soon as the sun rose over the hill, the air warmed and felt wonderful. High altitude mornings are the best!

Stage 4 began with a climb that was at first runnable, but later became progressively steeper. The route was headed to over 11,500 feet, so there was nothing to do but go up!

Everything’s perfect on top of the world. To be honest with you, I have no idea where we are in this photo, but it was a 360 degree view of Colorado. There was no place I would have rather been in that moment of time.

After rolling along the top of the world for a while, we began an, at times, gnarly, fast descent to stage’s finish line. Part of the time, Leslie led the downhill and I screamed along behind her. Other times, I led and I ran for dear life, hoping that I wouldn’t be run over by the woman with the downhilling prowess. Again, dear Keith was out on the course spectating, and he snapped this photo.

Stage 5: Red Cliff to Vail

Stats: 23 miles, 4400 feet of climbing, first doubletrack, then singletrack, then doubletrack again

Deets: I should preface this description by mentioning that, prior to this stage, Leslie told me she wanted to race the stage. I was all ready to go out there with my game face on and git’ ‘er ‘dun, except Leslie would have nothing of that. Despite the fact that she pushed herself all day, she didn’t put the game face on until the last 5 miles. There was nothing I could do but to also smile along with her!

Leslie is all giggles as she eats gel on the initial 9 mile doubletrack climb from the Stage 5 starting line. Does this girl look like she’s racing? We made good time on the climb with a mix of running and powerhiking, depending on the grade.

Whatever you do, put the high country of Colorado on your someday to-do list if you haven’t already, or you will miss out on a million views like this one. This is a view from some sweet singletrack that switchbacked up one of Vail Ski Resort’s high bowls.

Somewhere on this switchbacking climb, Leslie ate a banana. Bananas are apparently rocket fuel to the girl because she took off running uphill strong at over 11,000 feet!

Racing Leslie continues to take photos, even though she’s racing. Look that this place!

When we reached the beginning of the long, doubletrack descent to the finish line, something like 8.5 miles and 3000 feet elevation loss, I thought that it was about time to put on our big girl pants and call upon Leslie’s strong downhilling ability. We began running the downhill at a solid, steady pace. With about 6.5 miles to go, Keith visited us on his bike and told us that not only was there a girl’s team just in front of us, but there was also one just behind us. Keith said about both teams, “they’re just a few minutes out there in both directions.”

We put the pedal to the metal, to see what would pan out among these hovering girls’ teams. In the 5.2 miles from the last aid station to the finish line, we ran sub 7:00 minute miles, using the advantage of the gorgeous, smooth, gentle, downhill double track. We even stopped to take the above photograph, which we found hilarious, and maintained our sub-7:00 minute mile pace!

Just after we stopped for this photo, we caught our first glimpse of the team in front of us. We gained on them very quickly, ran stride for stride with them for a bit, got a little entangled with them during a short singletrack bit, and then permanently overtook them in the last half mile of the stage. It was a sweet, tiny, little victory (Well, specifcally, second place in the Women’s Division for the day.), our little piece of podium.

Stage 6: Vail to Beaver Creek

Stats: 21 miles, 4600 feet climbing, lots of doubletrack, some sweet singletrack, and a few miles of pavement

Deets: Stage 6, the last day!

I began Stage 6 with a fair bit of melancholy because it meant that our week of play was coming to a close. While standing at the starting line for Stage 6 in Vail (shown above), we took loads of pictures and socialized wildly amongst our growing group of friends. The atmosphere was animated, as there were a few battles to be fought amongst teams out on the course for final places.

The first part of the stage rolled through the streets of Vail, then began climbing beautiful singletrack that yielded high elevation and gorgeous views quickly. The trail also passed through an amazing forest of aspen.

When there was no more aspen, then we headed up into the pine trees. The morning was warm even up at 10,000 feet elevation.

It’s hard to tangibly describe how I felt the moment we took this photo. We were moving along in the woods, inching ourselves closer to the last finish line. I simultaneously wanted to keep moving, but I also didn’t want the race to end. For me, true happiness is found out there in the woods. Out there, life is pared down to its most simplistic form. To share that with a teammate with whom you’ve run with for a week makes it even better.

Alas, time did not stop. We kept moving forward along one final uphill grunt, then one downhill glide. We arrived at Stage 6’s finish line, the end of the TransRockies Run at Beaver Creek Ski Resort!

 

8 Responses to “TransRockies Run Report Part 3: The Race”

  1. Trail Goat says:

    Great report, Meghan, and congrats again to you and Leslie on a great run! 🙂

  2. Sunshine Girl says:

    Damn, you have already done your 3 part report??? I need to get my slothfull ass from the couch to the computer and then maybe I can hunker down and post a Race Report. I’m still on the fat and sassy program – optimal recovery from an optimal week of running and (gasp) racing!!

    Great report – I like how you broke it down into the 3 parts. If only I had been that smart I wouldn’t be so overwhelmed with putting together a report!

  3. Beth says:

    What an awesome, awesome experience! You just make it sound so easy to run THAT far for a full week, every day in a row!! Amazing! I love the pictures. Thanks for your great report!

    PS Snow? You need to move fast…

  4. Trail Goat says:

    We’re all waiting patiently for Part 4 – the Par-Tay!

  5. saschasdad says:

    Fantabulous report, Meghan. The way you told it made it seem like I was there…

    You and Leslie are a great team. It was cool to see the 2 of you always smiling together.

    Great runnin’!

  6. Danni says:

    Excellent report!!! You guys are fast!

  7. Meghan says:

    Wow, I’m surprised anyone made it this far in such a looooong report! Thanks for commenting!

    Bryon- Oh it was so fabulous out there I wish I were there right now! Then again, I bet you do, too.

    Res-Rie!- Damn, girl, you are, like, light years behind! Time to stop eating the cream puffs and get crackin’! Your bloggy friends are getting restless!

    Beth- You’re right about the snow and moving! Oh it was far, and it wasn’t always easy, but it was always fun! Thanks for reading!

    Bryon- Patience, young one, patience. 😉

    Sean- You said fantabulous. Heh. And where is your race report, mister, speaking of belated reporting?!

    Danni- Thanks! Naw, not really, it was definitely downhill aided. 🙂

    Have a nice day, all!
    Meghan

  8. JeffO says:

    The photos say it all. I’m inclined to beleive that what made the race so perfect had nothing to do with the race, but the company you kept.

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