2008 GORE-TEX™ TransRockies™ Run – Day 5 (Updated)

On Day 5 of the 2008 GORE-TEX™ TransRockies™ Run I was only able to published a short post on the […]

By on September 17, 2008 | Comments

GORE-TEX TransRockies RunOn Day 5 of the 2008 GORE-TEX™ TransRockies™ Run I was only able to published a short post on the day’s events as I was exhausted. Below I describe the days events. I also posted a Day 5 photo album if you care to take a look. I’ll start things off with my stub post and go from there.

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I am very tired. Yup. Very tired. I want to just may fall asleep on my laptop at 5 in the evening. Give me a cool bed and I could have fallen asleep at pretty much any point after Wings of Glory finished today. I am not alone. I was sitting under the Salomon tent a few hours ago and not a word was said for 5 minutes. I’m also brain dead – things that had been routine a few days ago, now take significant… or more often are overlooked. Now is when the GORE-TEX TransRockies Run becomes a real test.

Alas, I got a late start on things and need to get sleep tonight, so no photos in this or the previous two posts for now. I truly could not have imagined how exhausted I’d be right now. Really, I’m just staring blankly at my computer. Phew, staring is hard work.

I need head back to camp right now, but I wanted to let you know that I think we barely caught Team Montrail in the overall standings today (we’re talking a few seconds, if we did catch them) and are just a couple minutes behind Team Salk Stick. Things are coming down to the last day. I know I’m excited to see how things turn out after tomorrow’s tortuous 21 miles from Vail to Beaver Creek. I can’t say that I excited for the actual 21 miles of running. My legs feel great, but man am I exhausted.

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Day 5 of TransRockies began, as the coldest morning we’d see at this year’s TransRockies Run. As luck would have it, it was also probably my most efficient morning getting ready, so I took a shuttle up to the Red Cliff gymnasium for a bite of breakfast. Coldest. Gym. Ever! I was so ready for the stage to start so I could warm up. Despite the cold, I decided to start only in running shorts and a t-shirt and never regretted it.

Red Cliff Colorada frozen shortsI’m glad I wasn’t planning on wearing these frozen shorts!

Unlike other stages, we’ll start right off with the elevation profile. Heck, the organizers didn’t waste any time sending us up the hill.

2008 TransRockies Run Stage 5 elevation profile2008 TransRockies Run Stage 5 – elevation profile

To be fair, the first two miles of the climb were quite gradual. In fact, they were two final miles of Stage 4 that had been so much fun to run down – just run in reverse. As we had done in previous climbs, I set the pace and Martin followed. For the most part he hung tough, but I had to back off the pace for him a couple times. That would change.

Sean Meissner Team Montrail TransRockies RunMeissner of Team Montrail early in the climb

It being day 5 of 6, it was not longer just our position that was import. We knew who our competition was and now was the time to cut margins and build leads in the overall standings.
Although I can’t recall seeing Team Salt Stick was on the climb, we knew Montrail was right behind us. Regardless of the positions of our main competitors, we could see Keri Nelson and her teammate not far ahead throughout the climb. She’s such a strong climber that we knew we were running well.

TransRockies Run Stage 5 Keri NelsonOne of the members of Team GORE-TEX/La Sportiva on the first climb

Maybe 7 or 8 miles up the 11 mile, 3,000′ climb I had a moment of weakness. We’d be running a running a surprisingly large percent of the climb and had made better than 10 minute pace through 6 miles. However, coming around one sharp corner I slowed to a walk for no good reason. Sure, it was still uphill, but it was the same grade we’d just been running up for miles. I was just weak. After a few steps I started running again, but that moment foretold what was soon to come.

At almost exactly 8 miles we hit Control Station 1. After a quick refill, we started off to finish the final few miles of the day’s big climb. Oh, things would get tough. More and more I could tell Martin was getting impatient and he began to set the pace from behind. Eventually, he took the point and set the pace for most of the remainder of the climb to 11,700′.

TransRockies Run Martin Gaffuri Stage 5Martin near the top of the Day 5’s big climb

Martin took things over the top and we tried to hang on once we got over to the top where we were presented with a few miles of rolling trail. I struggled mightily… just as I had all race at such elevations. Ok, perhaps “struggled mightily” is a bit of an exaggeration, but I was far from fast and Martin easily pulled ahead. It was all I could do to keep him within on trail’s bend of me. I got a bit down on myself here, but kept working hard and never through in the towel. It was only during
some long, gradual switchbacks near the top of the second climb that I briefly set the pace again.

TransRockies Run Stage 5 Gore RangeThe view from just below the day’s second and final summit
– this may be the Gore Range

Finally, we started a ridiculously long descent into Vail. Unlike previous days, this downhill was on very well maintained dirt road. And did I mention it was long? Like never ending long? I started the descent smooth and Martin stayed up in front for a while. I was closely watching my heart rate and every so often I’d see it go up and stick at one beat per minute faster. As we continued to the straining descent and dropped to ever lower altitudes, I continually stepped up my effort as I felt better and better. After not to long, Martin and I were running even and at times I could set the pace.

2008 TransRockies Run Stage 5 heart rate data elevation profile2008 TransRockies Run Stage 5 – heart rate data and elevation profile

We were both flying and averaged 7:22 per mile on the first 3.8 miles from the peak. However, for the first four or five miles off the top, we were sure to not let it all out. We knew we had a long way to the finish … and didn’t want to limp on in given the tough Stage 6 that we had still in front of us. The descent was surprisingly lonely – we saw only one other team the entire 9 and a half miles and hour plus of bombing downhill.

The one team we did see was far off ahead on a long switch back about halfway down. Despite downhills being Wings of Glory’s greatest strength, the road was to even and without technical terrain we never made up any ground. We pressed on regardless. We averaged 6:47 per mile for the final five and a half miles that day. Wow! Looking back, this was our fastest split the entire race.

Salomon Exo 3/4 tights compression recoveryWe ended in downtown Vail and after taking some me time at the finish, I headed to a stream to soak a few times. It felt good and was part of the recovery protocol. At this point I should note that after each of the first four stages, I’d slip into Salomon’s 3/4 length Exo Tights. No one would have known this as I’d always put them on under other pants, but they were usually on during the days and certainly every evening and all night long. I have to say that my quads, hamstrings, and gluts were never sore during the races. This is somewhat amazing considering the number of miles we ran, ran hard, and ran hard up and down the sides of mountains. Coming from flat land, there’s no way I should have gotten away without being sore. Simply amazing. Count me as a believer in using compression clothing for recovery and I can now vouch for Salomon’s Exo technology living up to its recovery claims.

For the next bit of the race report about me being really, really tired go back up to the top of this entry.

After my failed attempt to blog, I spent much of the rest of the evening trying to eat. As much as I knew I needed to eat..to fuel up for Day 6, I couldn’t bear the thought of eating. I stood in the food line staring….nothing looked good. I sat at the table with some food…. I couldn’t touch it. Eventually, I ate something at dinner and later Keith hooked me up with two Lara bars… they hit the spot. Then, in a miracle of miracles, I went to bed reasonably early!

Bonus Leader Photo!


Max King Erik Skaggs Team Nike/Rogue Valley Runners TransRockies RunErik Skaggs and Max King of Team Nike/Rogue Valley Runners before Stage 5
Bryon Powell

Bryon Powell is the Founding Editor of iRunFar. He’s been writing about trail running, ultrarunning, and running gear for more than 15 years. Aside from iRunFar, he’s authored the books Relentless Forward Progress: A Guide to Running Ultramarathons and Where the Road Ends: A Guide to Trail Running, been a contributing editor at Trail Runner magazine, written for publications including Outside, Sierra, and Running Times, and coached ultrarunners of all abilities. Based in Silverton, Colorado, Bryon is an avid trail runner and ultrarunner who competes in events from the Hardrock 100 Mile just out his front door to races long and short around the world, that is, when he’s not fly fishing or tending to his garden.