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 for advice, but I’d rather get it from you.)

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

There are 18 comments

  1. Sat Sandhu

    Excellent – welcome to the insanity club!My wife and I are also doing the TRR. In case you're interested – we've got a training blog site:http://transrockiesrun.blogspot.comRegarding the altitude – being flatlanders too we've invested in a hypoxic trainers (from Will let you know how we get on.Our previous experience only takes in marathons hence we're just hoping to complete the TRR, i.e. we wont be "racing" ;)Take care and good luck with your training.Sat

  2. CharlieM

    Great runnin' into you this morning on the Metro. I left you an email but wasn't sure if it went through (got a strange error message). Anyway, best of luck pacing at WS, running the TRR, and all your other summer thrills. My advice is to not worry about the altitude, cause you can train for it here on the W&OD trail in Arlington…

  3. Hart

    i am stoked you are going to be there byron! that is sweet. me and meissner are running too. good don't mention who you are running with?

  4. Trail Goat

    Sat,I look forward to following you and your wife's training, as well as meeting you out in the Rockies. Good luck with the hypoxic trainers. I rented a hypoxic tent once for the month leading up to the Wasatch 100 in 2005. (I was living at elevation in the Wasatch prior to that month.) Charlie,The pleasure was mine. I'm glad I accosted a "stranger" to ask them/you about the Vibram Five Fingers. It was great getting to chat running on the Metro ride into DC. You're right about not needing to worry about the altitude… because what is worrying gonna get me? Basically, I just need to become a cardiovascular beast in 4 months!Matt,Good catch. I purposefully left me teammate unnamed, as I first wanted to make sure all Is were dotted and all the Ts were crossed. Now that things are settled, I can reveal that my teammate will be Frenchman Martin Gaffuri. He's a youngin' who ran on the third place team at last year's TRR. I'm glad your life changes aren't going to keep you from racing TRR with Mr. Meissner. I anticipate some ridiculous amounts of fun.

  5. aharmer

    Can't wait to hear about it…I caught on to this last year after the inaugural race. Sounds like a blast, wish I could get my training partner excited about it. After reading about last year's event I've considered taking the lead on organizing a similar event on the Superior Trail here in MN. Something like a 4 day event covering the 100 miles of the Superior Sawtooth 100…plan it for several weeks before so the SS100 milers could do it as a training event.

  6. WynnMan

    What a great adventure it will be. The nice thing is that unlike 100milers or other long "all day" affairs where it's easy to get absorbed in just the running, surviving, and sleeping at the end that it can be easy to miss the natural beauty of a course. This Trans race will extend days so you to see lots of beauty and although long runs, nothing that would drain you to the point of collapsing in a heap at the finish and ignoring the surroundings.

  7. Meredith

    Great news!!! I am very excited for you, even though that means you probably won't be at the Grand Teton races this year. I will get over it. hehe.

  8. Trail Goat

    Harmer, You should try to set something like TRR up on the Sawtooth course. Why not try it with friends or a small group one year and then go for it the next. There seem to be more and more of these stage races popping up around the world. They sorta seem like well supported running camps for adults. I can't imagine a vacation I would enjoy more than a week pounding out a reasonable number of miles everyday in some beautiful locale where I didn't have to worry about my gear, lodging, or meals!Wynn,I look forward to finishing each days stage, going to soak my legs in a snow melt stream with a beautiful view, and then going to chill with awesome folks in a beautiful setting th rest of the day. I'm sure I'll find myself wandering the mountain sides later in the day most days. Too much beautify and mystery for me not to go explore.Meredith, This does, unfortunately, mean no trip to the Grand Teton races.

  9. Trail Goat

    Just make sure Hart brings plenty of nuun. If I'm gonna be drinking Michelob Ultra that week, you'd best believe that I'll be nuun tanging my beer.

  10. saschasdad

    Oh yeah, I forgot…stage race training. Well, I've only run the wimpy little Tahoe Triple road race 5 times, and 4/6 of the Tuscarora Trail 252, but, consistent long runs on consecutive days. For the Triple, 3 weeks before the race, I would do 3 longish days in a row, like 18-23/day. For the TT, I used that purely as a training run, so no training specificity there.However, for the TRR, I think just a mix of hard, long days, and shorter, faster, but still hard days, will be key. And do they on consecutive days – like 3-4 days in a row.The real key to stage races, though, is recovery between each day. Eat lots, drink lots, sleep lots. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Then party it up after day 6 (Hart can provide the nuun for our concoctions!).

  11. Trail Goat

    Meissner,Thanks for the training thoughts. It looks like my training will be "lumpy" by default. Here's a rough schedule"Monday – easyTuesday – moderate effort/length trail runWednesday – 8-12 miles decent pace Thursday or Friday – One day tempo, one day easySaturday – long trail runSunday – long trail or road runOn either Saturday or Sunday, I'll either throw in some hill repeats or a sustained effort.What do you think? I think the biggest change for me will be the inclusion of faster pace in normal training runs as well as some tempo work. I haven't done any consistent fast training in years. Steve,I'll try to post updates during TRR. If I can't I'll contemporaneously record my adventure.I'm all over the eat/drink/sleep routine at TRR.

  12. Sunshine Girl

    How exciting for you! My TransRockies experience was awesome. The TransRockies group has it dialed – it was the most well organised event I've ever been to! My daily routine went like this: early to rise, eat, run, find icy creek, shower, nap, socialize, eat, socialize, sleep (hopefully), repeat.I was amazed at the runners who were very unclear on the concept of running as a team. I saw "teammates" who were 15 minutes ahead of their partners who were left to suffer on their own, teams argueing, teams trash talking each other. Talk about unclear on the subject. Just remember no team is ever a perfect match and don't get frustrated with the highs and lows that you both will go through. Just figure it out as a team! Now get out there, build yourself up to some fantastic multi-day long runs and you and speedy Martin will be good to go!!

  13. Trail Goat

    Sunshine Girl,Thanks so much for your advice! Sounds like a totally awesome experience. I'm looking forward to the hanging out even more than I am the race to which I am greatly looking forward.I've also heard the tales of dropped runners. While I've never been on a team of this sort (I'm no adventure racer), I have paced and been paced and realize the value of running with another. Hopefully, Martin will not leave me too far behind in the dust! ;-)

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