Transrockies Run Monday 12th August 2019
The Transrockies Run is a 120 mile, six day stage race run on trails and mountain tracks across the Colorado Rockies. An American I had met running the Mustang Race in 2018 had committed to run it again this year so I decided to give it a try.
Not unlike the race in Nepal, the Transrockies involves big daily climbs averaging 1,000m each day and most of the race is at high altitude; between 3,000m and 4,000m. It is a high profile race which sells out within days and has a maximum of 350 runners.
The race logistics are based around Denver which has direct flights to Heathrow. Once in Denver you join up with other runners to board shuttle buses that ferry you out into the heart of the Rockies. Waiting for the bus I met six other Brits who had been on my flight, one lady went on to finish the six days in 3rd place. She was a top GB athlete with an impressive running CV.
The race starts in Buena Vista, a pretty little town which sits on a high plateau at 2,400m. With a day to kill before the start I used the time to recce the first day’s route and climb up to 3,000m to help acclimatisation. In the evening I met the other runners at registration.
Day 1. Buena Vista to Railroad Bridge. 36km plus 900m total ascent.
This was rightly billed as the hardest day as it was long and very hot with little shade. Like a lot of other people I spoke to my pace climbing up to the first aid station was fine and this was the high point of the day. However, shortly afterwards the sun was out with a vengeance and the trail became harder with some stretches of deep sand and gravel. The last 5km was a real struggle in the heat but I was lucky to team up with another Brit and we kept each other going. The prize for finishing was a dip in a freezing mountain river!
Day 2. Vicksburg to Twin Lakes. 21.4km plus 975m total ascent.
Stage 2 was the shortest day with the biggest single climb, up and over Hope Pass at an altitude of 3,800m. This was my favourite day. Even though the climb was brutal the views were amazing and there were big patches of snow on the top of the pass. The drop down to twin lakes was lovely and I finished alongside one of the other UK runners.
Day 3. Leadville to Nova Guides. 39.4km plus 823m total ascent.
Another good day. We started by running out of the centre of Leadville with a police escort and ran for about 5km on road before heading into wooded trails. Deep in the woods we were sheltered from the sun and I really enjoyed this stage. Part of the route was through the lower slopes of the Ski Cooper area. I had a bad fall about half way on this stage but didn’t think too much of it. When I arrived at the finish I was sent to the first aid station to be patched up as there was a fair bit of blood on my left arm and leg and my shirt was badly ripped.
Day 4. Nova Guides to Red Cliff. 23.4km plus 854m total ascent.
The route for this day was so badly eroded by winter rains there was no access for ATV’s to provide support and aid stations. We were on our own and had to carry all our water and food. The day started with an extremely steep climb up to a high ridge at 3,600m followed by a ridge run with amazing panoramic views. We then dropped back down into the forest with a long section of trail in a fast flowing, ice cold rocky river.