Monday, August 31, 2009

What a week! Chrissy and Martin share their tale of adventure from the Transrockies Run

Chrissy and Martin have been kind enough to provide us with a detailed report about their once in a lifetime experience in finishing the Transrockies Run last week. So go grab a Fat Tire ale and kick back and enjoy:

So we flew into Denver, got picked up by a gore rep, Vicky, who was also picking up two other guys from Michigan - Marshall and Kyle - from Gazelle sports in Michigan. They were really cool and we had a good time driving out to Buena Vista, this cool mountain town that I would have never thought to go to in a million years. But there were mountain bikes everywhere and we were surrounded by desert mountains. We checked into our rooms and then into the event. They hooked us up with gear - we each got a large duffle that would hold all of our belongings for the next 6 days, a gore windstopper jacket, race shirt, aluminmum water bottle, timex titanium watch, nathan running waterbottle, lots of food bars and gels and salt pills, socks. We got our chip and number also.

We dumped all of that at our hotel and got dinner. Dinner was really good and they gave a presentation about the event and how it would go and how the last ones were. The event had 240+ teams of two from 6 countries. They gave us a briefing for the next day then went back to the hotel to get ready and go to sleep.

Day 1: We woke up, left our duffles for the race people to pick up and went to breakfast(I will not comment on food anymore. It was very good and plentiful - there were no complaints). Then we milled around waiting for the start at 10. 30 minutes prior to the race we beeped into the starting gate - every morning, you file into the start box 1 at a time. They check that you have all of the necessary race gear - jacket, hat that covers your ears, gloves, emergency blanket, first aid kit - then you arm your chip so that it starts a new split when you cross the starting line which makes a beep sound. We ran out of the town - less than a mile and then hit our first ascent into the mountain desert. This was big rock, not a ridiculous climb but 21 miles. Steep sections and steep rolling hills. Dirt and large rocks. Very daunting introduction to the race.

Every night, we had hot showers after the race. We would get our bag from the race crew and would find an empty tent. We had a clip on number tag that we would clip to the tent to show that it was claimed and to help us find it. We would unpack a bit, then go shower. After, there was a tent with free food and beer and a bunch of marketing things from Salomon and Gore - you could try to win jackets and packs and shoes every night. Dinner was at 5 pm. At 7 was the daily race presentation. First they would give out the category awards 3 deep then the overall stage winner for each category. Next, the sponsors would give a marketing promo, give out prizes. Then they would go over the next day's race - first the race director talked about the course, then the medical team would give a weather report, and highlight any medical items - hydration, blisters. Finally they would do a google earth flythrough of the course and hightlight anything necessary. Finally there were two slideshows for the day and a movie created from footage captured during the day. They would then let you know when the race would start - usually 8am, when breakfast started - usually 6-7:30.

Day 2: We started with 2.5 miles slight uphill on gravel road. Then hit mountain and very vertical - 1/2 was up through steep lush forest. It was very cold that day. About halfway way up, we passed above treeline on our ascent to 12,500 feet. We were going for a pass between 14,500ft peaks with snow in them. Then we started a descent to the finish - lower than the start for the day. It was very fast - first through the barren treeless section and then into steep twisty woods. Chrissy and I were flying and passing people. This leveled out and popped out into a beautiful, expansive valley meadow with a stream winding through the middle. We made a stream crossing almost waist deep and then had another 3 miles or so to the finish of the 10 mile leg.

That night we went to Leadville - where it rained. No fun. Day 3: We started from the town center just up the street from camp and walked to the start. It was a very cold morning. This was a 24-25 mile day with several big climbs. I remember endless pine forest. We both abandoned our trail shoes today. They were terrible. We both rocked the road racers from here out - Nike Lunar Racers for me and a pair of Asics racers and the Lunars for Chrissy - our feet thanked us profusely. The day warmed up and we did not go above treeline. We even crossed the continental divide. It was a very long day and was hard to stay fueled. We came out at Nova Guides where the 10th mountain division trained for WWII, way out in the middle of nowhere. I soaked in a very cold mountain stream after the race. It rained that night and then got extremely cold. The tent had ice on it.

Day 4: This leg went from Nova Guides to Red Cliff. We started from Nova Guides and ran into the mountains. It wsa the now familiar M.O. of 2.5ish miles then boom - a mountain. This was a crazy climb. Just short of the 10 miler on Tuesday but it was steeper. We hit this beautiful forest with steep switchbacks. Then maybe 1500M from the top it got ridiculously steep. I mean unrunnable steep. We popped above treeline and then had a top-of-the world lush grassy field run. This went on over a mile and then we started our descent. Very steep fast endless doubletrack switchbacks. This seemd to go on for miles before it leveled out a bit and we raced a stream, crossing it several times. It was deep in places and cold but refreshing. We finished with 2.5 miles of downhill dirt road in the town. Total distance was ~14 miles.

We camped in Nova Guides again because this town did not have a place for us to stay but we came back and started the next day exactly where we finished. That night it did not rain but was even colder.

Day 5: Redcliff to Vail. This was another 24-25 mile leg. We climed for 10 miles and it was relentless. Through doubletrack flanked with forest and stream and expansive sunny meadows. On the way up we went through beautiful forest singletrack. It was cool and damp and somewhat rooty with few rocks. There were steep uphill and downhill stretches and some flat undulating sections. We came out into a huge meadow where we crossed into the Vail back bowls area on our way to the second climb of the day for another 1000M. From here it was an endless descent. It was about 5.5 miles to the first checkpoint of switchbacks through pine forests. Then another 4.7 miles down into the Vail ski area before dropping into this amazing tight steep downhill singletrack trail into the finsish in the Vail resort. Dean Karnazes was out that day because he cracked 3 ribs in a fall several days before. Owwwwch. Check out his blog about it and the times that he ran injured - amazing. Nonetheless, his team was out. I had a fall but nothing major. Very tight with toe-grabbing roots. We had a steak dinner. Oh, did I mention that the food was really good?

Day 6: Vail to Beaver Creek. 21-23 miles. We climed immediately into these beautiful aspens that were so dense that they blocked out the sun overhead. Switchbacks into the cool forest with waist high underbrush then into a slow undulating climb to the first peak of the day. We started a slow descent from the peak to the first checkpoint then down steeply into what Chrissy and I refer to as the dream run. We were in a very close singletrack trail of tall grasses and flowers - the path seemed to be only inches wide. It was very steep and fast. We ran next to a shallow ravine with rocks and trees and a brook. The mountain went up steeply on both sides. We were flying down the mountain with butterflys flapping around us. There were a few hurdle style jumps across small streams. We popped out into a town called Avon after 4 miles or so of this. There was a brief run through the town and then up a mountain into the Beaver Creek resort for the last climb of 1000M followed by several hundred meters of descent into the finish. The finish climb was tough after so many miles. We then started the final descent which went across a wide ski slope then would dive into the woods, make a switchback turn then pop bac out onto the slope. This continued several times.

Chrissy and I were making our last switchback on the slope before the finish and were about to pop back into the woods for the last time. I was leading Chrissy by about 20-30 feet and was maybe 50 feet from the woods. Just then I saw a black bear popped out of the woods on the trail in front of me. I froze and yelled to Chrissy to freeze and to the people on a switchback on the road to the finish. Just as we were about to make it, we saw maybe 100 feet ahead of us two more black bears right in the turn eating. We stopped and they looked at us. As soon as they looked back to their food and we backed away and cut the course again and finished with a gaggle of the other runners near us all yelling "BEARS!". Thankfully, we did not get DQed. But in truth, the distance we cut was less than the time we spent frozen.

We've also got a couple videos to share below. The first is from a day with a section of stream crossings. We did this on day 4. 14 Miles. We started out and then hit this stupidly-vertical climb(almost hands and knees steep). We found out later that even the pros were walking this part. They would watch each other and the second a flattish stretch occurred, they would start sprinting again. Must have been crazy.

However, after the peak, it was this 2 part descent. The first was on a steep section of dirt rocky double track for maybe 4 miles. Then it leveled out a bit and we kept crossing over this stream which finished with a 2.5 mile section of road and then the finish.

So in closing, we can definitely say this race was intense. It was like 3 weeks of intensity packed into 6 days. I realized at one point during the run that I had absolutely not a single thought in my head at times, hours into the runs I could barely remember where we had even started from. It had everything you'd want in this kind of event: interesting friendly people, good food, amazing running, excitement and danger. Totally. Awesome. Thanks for reading.


Anonymous said...

Congratulations Martin and Chrissy!! It was nice meeting you guys at TRR.

Kelly Roe said...

Woo hoo Martin and Chrissy! Thanks for writing a great report. Such an amazing accomplishment! :-) It was awesome meeting and hanging out with you at TRR!

Trail Pixie said...

Love your report! This sounds like it was an amazing experience and to be able to accomplish it together what a treat! The black bear is scary but sort of cute, too. Cheers to you both!

Ulrich said...

Wow! You guys are seriously nuts (but I mean that in an entirely positive way :-) Congratulations on making it through there - I'm in awe.