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

The “race across the top” continued through the Rocky Mountains for stage four of the race. The run took the athletes from Nova Guides to Red Cliff, a total of 14 miles and 3,009 feet of total climbing.

Written By: Thomas Miller

Monica Thomas and race director Aaron McConnell. Photo: Courtesy of Thomas Miller

If you consider that stage three was 3000 feet of climbing over 24 miles and today’s was over 14 miles then you get a quick understanding that today was STEEP!!. Actually the climb was from mile two to mile six 6. So if you do the math you see what I mean. It’s about 750 feet per mile. It hurt us all.

While yesterdays saving grace was the lack of steep climbing today’s was that it was short. Short in relation to stages three, five and six. Any benefit potentially gained from the shorter day was erased by the grade. Today was a suffer fest for all I’m sure. Even the best of the best and the strongest of the strong had to pay their respects to the mountain.

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For the four miles that we slogged our way up the grade there was little talking heard in the field as we approached the peak of today’s climb at 11,668. There was little air for us all to compete for and you could see the pained looks on the faces of the athletes and you knew people had gone deep into their pain caves to make it up to the summit. It was no different for Monica and I.

As we have each day we took it in cruise mode and had the pleasure of running the early part of the climb with Aaron McConnell, TransRockies owner and event director for the Gore-Tex TransRockies Run. After some brief conversation as we approached the base of the monster we all settled into work mode. Monica and I with the aid of her tow rope dug deep and once again moved consistently through the middle of the field and I can honestly say had our strongest day so far. We began the day in 19th place in our division and I’m somewhat confident that we are now in the top 15. We shall see.

Waiting for us at the peak of the climb were the most dramatic views we have seen so far. In one direction was the Gore range and Vail Mountain where we will be tomorrow and in the other direction was Mount Holly Cross. Please see today’s photos as I ran again as I did n stage two with my Digital SLR. Well worth carrying the extra weight to get the shots. I hope you agree.

After summiting 11,668 we had about four miles along a saddle atop the climb before we began the long technical descent into Red Cliff. Monica and I had worked extremely hard to get to the top and I was unsure about what if anything she had saved for the long run down the mountain. Well, she once again shocked us all as she blazed her way down a very steep and rocky drop.

Almost to the days summit. Photo: Courtesy of Thomas Miller

Waiting for all the runners at the base of the descent were four knee deep bitter cold river crossings with a ¼ mile stretch of ankle deep flowing water that we were told the night before was “our trail”. By the time we were back on dry ground we could not feel our feet. The bad news was we had 2.7 miles to the finish. As the feeling returned to our feet the pain was like pins and needles of the worst kind. It was easier to run on the numb feet then on them as they thawed out. Either way it did not matter as we knew we had only 2.7 to go and there was no way I was giving anything back that we had worked so hard for on the climb.

So with Moe (Monica’s nickname) in tow we once again cranked it up and charged our way to the finish. We ran as hard as our weary legs could take us and in about 20 minutes we were in Red Cliff and the finish line in sight.

We are once again looking forward to tomorrows stage and can truly say we are both getting a little sad to see our race week coming to a close. Stage five is Red Cliff to Vail.

Bring it on!!!

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