TransRockies Run: Training for a Stage Race

With one email this morning my tentative 2008 running plans solidified – I’m running the Gore-Tex TransRockies Run. From August 25-30, this six stage race will cover 115+ miles from Buena Vista to Beaver Creek, Colorado by way of Leadville. TRR is run in two-person teams with both team members needing to finish each stage together. Read on for more on the TransRockies Run and questions regarding racing stage races.

While I was intrigued when I learned of the TransRockies Run shortly before last year’s event, the concept has been a dream of mine for even longer. I remember hearing of the TransRockies Challenge a few years back and scheming of ways to do it. For me, the problem with the TransRockies Challenge is that it’s a bike race … I don’t do bikes. I pondered… would carrying a bike the whole way would work? Would officials accept me carrying a precompacted mountain bike in a pack while I ran? Fortunately, with the creation of the TransRockies Run I can now run an equivalent event without carrying 25 pounds of metal and rubber!

While theh TransRockies run is still seeking Forest Service approval for the race and will not publish the final route until just before the race, here’s a summary of the proposed stages that TransRockies Run has published:

  • Stage 1: Buena Vista to Clear Creek (18.5 miles gradually climbing from 8-9,000′)
  • Stage 2: Clear Creek to Twin Lakes (16 miles from 9,000′ the hard way over Hope Pass’s 12,500′ and back down to 9,000′)
  • Stage 3: Leadville to Camp Hale (26 miles from 10,000′ to 11,000′ before dropping down to 9,200′)
  • Stage 4: Camp Hale to Red Cliff (14 miles from 9,000′ up to 11,700′ and down to 8,500′)
  • Stage 5: Red Cliff to Vail (24 miles from 8,500′ to 11,700′ on down to 8,200′)
  • Stage 6: Vail to Beaver Creek (20 miles from 8,000′ to 10,500′ down to 7,500′ with another 1,000′ “hill” in the last 5 miles)

Ok, so it’s easy enough to see that this will be a challenge with is almost 120 miles of trail racing in six days. However, the race’s “bonus feature” becomes apparent when TRR breaks down the percentage of trail miles spent at different elevations.

  • 7,000′ to 8,000′ – 3%
  • 8,000′ to 9,000′ – 31%
  • 9,000′ to 10,000′ – 28%
  • 10,000′ to 11,000′ – 27%
  • 11,000′ to 12,000′ – 10%
  • 12,000′ to 13,000′ – 1%

Oxygen – STAT! While a lowlander like myself can suck up running between 7,000′ and 8,000′ and push through the lack of oxygen up to 9,000’…. things get dicey over 9,000′. Just ask most anyone who’s gone from sea level out to run the Leadville 100!

For those of you who have run a stage race – be it TRR, Marathon de Sables, Le Transmongolie or something else entirely – how did you train differently for the stage race than you would for a single effort race? How would you train for the stage race if you were to do it again? (Perharps I should read multidays.com for advice, but I’d rather get it from you.)

TransRockies Run veterans, any hints or pointers on training for TRR itself?