Smack From The Back: Gore-Tex Transrockies Run Day Two

Thomas and his wife Monica have continued their trek through the Rocky Mountains. Stage two brought them from Vicksburg to Twin Lakes, a distance of 10 miles, but included 3,100 feet of climbing.

Written by: Thomas Miller

The start of stage two of the 2009 Gore-Tex Transrockies Run. Photo: Courtesy of Thomas Miller

As the field made their approach to the base of the 3,000-foot climb you could see some early signs of wear and tear on the athletes.  For many, yesterday was a great first stage with rolling terrain and warm sunny skies above.  For others who went out a little bit too aggressive, today was the beginning of a long five days ahead.

There was a definitive early separation between the front and the back of the pack and the race leaders were once again out of our sights by the time we made it through the starting pen.  Since Monica and I spent our day in a different zip code than the race leaders we are going to direct you once again to for full race results.

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Our day began with both of us feeling rather fresh after yesterday’s 20.87 mile stage.  We once again went out ultra conservatively and took a very comfortable pace to the beginning of the climb, which began at mile two.  A technique borrowed from adventure racing called “towing” became an integral part of our race day experience.

Two carabineers, a four foot section of shock cord (elastic rope) attached to the back of my Nathan Hydration pack and the front of Monica’s creates a very similar effect to that of drafting on a bicycle.  It reduces the effort level of the person being towed by roughly 30%.  This allowed Monica and I to move up the extremely steep climb at a relatively aggressive pace.  It was once again surprising to find ourselves in the position to be passing many of the teams in front of us.  Just so we are all clear here…we are not here to be competitive we are just encouraged to be doing as well as we are and feeling as good as we do.  We are smack dab in the middle of the field.  We are 70th overall out of roughly 140 teams and 26th in our age group out of 52.

At the top of Hope Pass, 12,538 feet. Photo: Courtesy of Thomas Miller

The climb topped out at Hope Pass with panoramic breathtaking views for as far as the eye could see. After essentially climbing for 5 miles we were gifted with a three mile steep technical rocky descent that ended with three river crossings in knee deep freezing cold water with a flat mile through a meadow to the finish with soaking wet heavy shoes.  About a half mile out we could hear the voice of Drew Bragg the event MC that gave us just the shot of adrenaline we needed to push it toward the finish line.  When we arrived at the finish line we were once again greeted by the amazing volunteers handling the finish line catering.  We were treated to GU Recovery Brew, Erin Bakers Breakfast Cookies, fresh fruit, Oregon’s Choice Gourmet Albacore and tremendous support by the athletes that arrived ahead of us.

Monica had another incredibly strong day and seem to be surprising many of the athletes and race officials.  Other than myself who knew how well trained and mentally tough Monica is I am not sure many people here believed we would perform as well as we have…remember, we came for a journey.  We understand it is only day two of six but we are having the time of our lives smiling through the toughest parts of each day and sincerely looking forward to the next.

I began both race days with my blood sugar level consistently at 122.  For those of you without diabetes that would be extremely high and for those of us with, not a bad place to start the day.  I continue to remain diligent and focused on my nutrition and hydration strategy resulting in consistent energy levels.  So far the diabetes has not been a factor.  Again…it is only day two of six.

We are camping tonight in the historic town of Leadville, the highest incorporated city in the United States at roughly 10,500 feet.  Stage three will take us from Leadville to Nova Guides. See you then.

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