Buena Vista, CO
Beaver Creek, CO
8 years older and much less trained; we weren’t sure what was going to happen. We did this event in 2013 and 2014 when we were hot and heavy in triathlon training. Now, we are only a few months into restarting training after quite a bit of time off. The point was to treat this as a big training week in preparation for The Rut weekend coming up in September. It was also meant to be a fun week in the mountains doing some hard things!
We flew into Denver on Friday, July 29th. The TransRockies shuttle crew was there to meet us. Four shuttle vans packed with people and gear headed for Buena Vista, CO.
The TranRockies Run started in 2007 with a slightly different Route. In 2008 it was modified To very close to the existing 6-Day trail run. They call it Summer camp for Adults. Our early arrival allowed us to enjoy the little town of Buena Vista for a couple days before the festivities were to begin. The highlights – Buena Viking and Deerhammer Distilling.
Start and finish at the Surf Hotel next to the Arkansas River in Buena Vista. A new 20.6-mile loop. 2000 feet gained. The first few miles were on pavement to get through town and onto the trail. This allowed the 450 runners to separate into their respective paces. Once the trails started it was up and down on a mix of jeep road and singletrack. The morning was perfect for a run, but we knew it was going to heat up. Our plan for the day (and the week) was to jog the flats, walk the uphills, and run the downhills. Even though we felt good we still walked the uphills (mostly). Each checkpoint was stocked with GU products (gels, waffles, fruit, pb&j, among other things). We used the checkpoint aid stations to refill water and stop for a minute. The final checkpoint was at 12.5 miles. From there it was mostly downhill to the finish. Mostly fun. There were a few miles on a gravel road that had a pretty good suck factor – it was heating up and the long, flat, steady pounding adds up for me. I enjoyed about 14 of the 20.5 miles. Happy with the finish and the body felt good. A short shuttle ride to The Meadows where we snagged our bags and selected a tent. Eat, shower, chill, and get ready for Day 2.
Vicksburg to Leadville. 13.5 miles. 3000 feet gained. After our first night in the tent we didn’t wake up feeling all that refreshed. The morning routine from here on out would be to get dressed for running, put on an extra layer, go have breakfast, then come back and pack up the tent. Our gear had to fit in a 36″ duffle which we dropped off to a truck every morning. The crew dismantled the tents and the whole city moved to the next location.
Today’s stage is the iconic Hope Pass climb with a finish at twin lakes. The first 1.5 miles is on gravel road. Because the trail can be an immediate bottleneck, the pace from the start is generally fast. We took it pretty easy and worked our way up Hope Pass at a steady climb…chatting along the way. The top of the pass was windy and cold and beautiful. About 4 miles of downhill is steep and technical. Once the downhill ended it was rolling terrain for the final few miles. Another gorgeous day in the mountains.
Shuttle to downtown Leadville where the tents were assembled on the baseball field. A quick shower and change and we headed into town for a bit of food and stroll. (starting to hobble a bit at this point…)
Leadville to Camp Hale. 24.5 miles. 2200 feet gained. You are starting so high, you can’t go much higher. The run started with several miles of pavement. I was feeling rough to start the day. The pave didn’t help! Once we entered the trail and started climbing I was good. When things leveled out Lisette was waiting for me a lot. Somewhere around the half way point I started to rebound and ended up having a good feeling 2nd half. The finish into Camp Hale is still not fun – even on a good day – because you are on gravel road for several miles. Once finished my knees and quads were feeling trashed. I wasn’t sure how I was going to do 3 more days. I borrowed a theragun from my buddy and also got a 30 minute massage (there is a massage crew that moves with us – it costs extra for a massage but was worth it).
Camp Hale to Red Cliff. 14.4 miles. 2700 feet gained. Getting out of Camp Hale sucks – gravel again. But once you hit the trail, it’s awesome for about 8 miles (4 up and 4 down). I was feeling surprisingly strong. The knees were a little stiff and the quads actually felt better (still a bit sore). We settled into a comfortable pace and enjoyed the beautiful views. Once the descent ended, we had a kilometer through a creek (very cold) and then a few miles on gravel to finish in the town of Red Cliff at a restaurant called Mangoes.
Shuttle back to Camp Hale.
Red Cliff to Vail. 24 miles. 3900 feet. Another surprising morning with the body feeling better than the day before. However, the start to the day wasn’t fun: Horrible 8-mile gravel gradual climb to leave Red Cliff. I just wanted it to end. Once we hit the checkpoint it was on to singletrack on the back of Vail mountain. This area was awesome. Great smells, amazing views as we climbed and then ran along the crest of the mountain. And then it started to hurt…10k down Vail ski resort was fun but brutal. Quad crushing. After finishing, eating, and showering I noticed my knees and quads were pretty good, but my left shin was hurting (weird). We walked into Vail Village and had some much-needed pizza! There is a nice free bus system in Vail so we didn’t have to do that much walking (thankfully). A thunderstorm rolled through late in the afternoon that forced some people off the mountain. We were tucked “safely” in our tents.
Vail to Beaver Creek. 24 miles. 4300 feet. Leaving Vail on a mix of pave and jeep road was tough. Jogging was ok. Walking was iffy on the shin. Once we hit the trail we go through one of the most beautiful aspen forests you could ever see and smell. This couple mile section is the 2nd best part of the entire event – it’s mesmerizing. Once we climbed up above treeline the 360 views were stunning. I slow jogged on the flats and slight uphills because of the shin. After cresting the final peak we bombed down a jeep road a few miles and then hit a singletrack. This singletrack was very difficult – it was thin and surrounded by tall grass so you couldn’t see your footing very well. A lot of people fell through this several mile section. It was in this section that I hit a rock with my right foot, kicked it into the air and then felt it slam into my left shin…the one that was already aching from the shinsplint. That hurt a lot! We exit the singletrack onto a parking lot and then have the worst section of pavement of the entire event…through Avon and into Beaver Creek. And then a 3 mile climb in the heat to destroy our souls. The last ½ mile to finish downhill was fun-ish.
Upon finishing we walked (hobbled) across the street to the hotel and our room was ready early. You’ve never seen two more excited people to have a hotel room ready 3 hours earlier than expected!!!
Well, there you have it…the August Adventure recap. I hope you enjoyed following along.
If you are a gear junkie…
Hat – Give’r
Sunglasses – Goodr
Shirts – Lululemon and Kuhl
Shorts – Patagonia
Socks – Smartwool and Swiftwick
Shores – Speedland and Altra
Hydration – Nathan
Nutrition – GU