Amelie Fournier and Danielle de Guire, French speakers from Quebec, are out front in the open women’s race. French runner Martin Gaffuri and American partner Caitlin Smith are the top runners in the open mixed category. Only the leading open male team, Max King and Andy Martin of Bend, brings no French fluency to the trail.
For the Quebec ladies, who are sponsored by Salomon, the early lead came as a bit of a surprise. They ran strong through high desert heat, little shade, and altitude reaching 9,000 feet to command a significant lead in the first stage.
Fournier, age 32, and de Guire, age 33, came into TransRockies with no expectations. The two have never raced together, and both tend to enter shorter distance races, such as 10Ks and 20Ks. But when they heard about TransRockies from fellow runners in Quebec, they decided to go for it.
“We wanted to see the mountains and the West,” de Guire said.
After taking the lead the first day, Fournier and de Guire wondered if they’d gone out too hard. They worried about the altitude going over 12,500-foot Hope Pass on Day Two.
Indeed, the Quebecois duo felt the thin air, and couldn’t hold off American team Ellen Parker and Melody Fairchild on the tough climb. Fournier and de Guire built up a big enough lead on the first day, however, that they still are winning the overall open women’s race by 3:42.
The rest of the women’s battle will likely by hard fought. Parker and Fairchild, who’d never met before TransRockies began, decided to run at 70 percent the first day to avoid blowing up right off the bat. The next day, they charged Hope Pass.
“I’ve climbed a lot of mountains, and I usually do really well at altitude,” Parker said. “We both felt strong.”
Like Fournier and de Guire, Parker doesn’t know how she and her partner will fare in the latter days of the race, as they are both new to the stage race format. She hopes diligent post-race care, such as re-fueling, icing, and wearing compression tights, will keep her body working throughout the week.
“Neither Melody or I have done anything like this,” Parker said. “We want to push it but have fun.”
On the mixed and men’s side of the race, both teams have won each of the first two stages, with Max King and Andy Martin now holding a commanding overall lead of 9:27. Both say the race has actually gone better than expected, and they felt strong throughout the high altitude Hope Pass climb.
“We’re ahead of where we wanted to be,” Martin said.
Jason Wolfe and Eric Bohn of Flagstaff are the second place team behind Martin and King. Bohn said tomorrow’s long and relatively flat leg, which stretches 24 miles, could represent a shot for them to make up some minutes.
“Four days are left,” Bohn said. “Anything can happen.”
Smith and Gaffuri lead the mixed race by 1:26, with Bryan Dayton and Krissy Moehl just behind.
Back of the Pack Report
by Allison Pattillo
Day 2 of the GTTR concluded with cold beverages at the Salomon Relaxation tent and catching up with new friends. What an amazing experience!
I know a lot of you who read iRunFar.com are serious competitors, but I also know some of you read the reports and wonder if you will ever take the ultra running/stage racing plunge. If you’re curious, the GORE-TEX TransRockies Run is a great place to start. Incredible courses, blue ribbon support, sweet swag, lots of good food and a “summer camp for runners” attitude make the GTTR fun and challenging for both the elite athletes and those looking to push their comfort level. The standard race is 6 days and over 120 miles, but the new T3 version follows the same course, in an abbreviated three day format.
“I decided to do the GTTR as a great way to explore Colorado–I want to move here now,” says Roxanne Zobava, Atlanta, GA, a stage racing newbie, running with Team Rock/Creek. “I want to see the world running, and this is a great way for a single girl to have the perfect vacation.”
For full disclosure, this is my first stage race as well. Day One was over 20.6 miles long with 3,029 feet of elevation gain, through a stunning high alpine desert, but the wicked heat sapped my strength and Salt Stick capsules saved the day. Last night included awards ceremonies, photos from the day, a video and a bonfire and s’mores.
Today was a blissfully brief 13.5 miles with 3,617 total elevation gain—2,800 of it happened in 2.5 miles. The views from the top of Hope Pass were so beautiful; I would go do it again tomorrow. My ITB acted up on the descent, so we’ll see what tomorrow brings. Ice, a massage, stretching and some pain killers are on the agenda for this evening.
I have to feel better in the morning; I don’t want to miss a day of camp! GTTR sign up for 2011 opens in October….you know you want to!