With five days gone on the GORE-TEX TransRockies Run, runners have climbed over 12,600-foot Hope Pass, splashed through creek beds, traversed mountain ridges, and scampered down the ski slopes of Vail.
At this stage in the race, they’re massaging sore quads, tending to blisters, soaking in ice-cold mountain streams, and dreaming of the hotel bed that waits in Beaver Creek.
For some of the race leaders, little has changed in the standings since Day One, while other teams are playing leapfrog. The open men’s category remains dominated by Max King and Andy Martin of Bend. Each day, they’ve opened up a greater gap on the second place team, Eric Bohn and Jason Wolfe of Flagstaff, and now lead by 24 minutes.
King said he’s been surprised that they’ve dominated as much as they have.
“I didn’t think we’d have a lead this big by this point,” King said.
The race is somewhat similar to any intense training week, King said, and he and Martin are accustomed to the mileage. They have faced occasional altitude headaches, however. King doesn’t expect any big surprises in the last stage tomorrow.
“We have so much of a lead that I’m not worried about getting caught,” King said.
The open mixed and women’s races have proven more interesting. Caitlin Smith and Martin Gaffuri dropped out of the race after two days because Smith developed a hip injury.
Krissy Moehl and Bryan Dayton of Team Vasque currently lead the pack, but Canadian runners Mark Nelson and Care Wakely are inching closer to them each day. The British Columbia couple fared poorly the first day because of severe cramping, but they’ve managed strong runs ever since. Moehl and Dayton currently lead by 12 minutes.
“They’re chipping away at it,” Moehl said.
Moehl said she’s found TransRockies surprisingly difficult. She’d rather run the entire distance all at once rather than stop each day and start racing again the next morning. It takes Moehl about 10 miles each day to feel really good.
“I’m not recovering as well as I thought,” Moehl said.
On the open women’s side, Melody Fairchild and Ellen Parker just seized overall first place from Quebec team Danielle de Guire and Amelie Fournier, who led the race for the first four days. De Guire and Fournier said they suffered from the altitude today, while Fairchild and Parker proved adept at the high climbs. The final day should prove interesting in the women’s race, as the American ladies now hold a 9:48 lead on the Canadians.
Fournier and de Guire said they don’t feel disappointed about surrendering the lead, as they never expected to hold the top spot. They plan on pushing hard but enjoying the last mountain stage into the Beaver Creek finish on Friday.