Russell gets third place in gruelling six day Trans Rockies
The six day men's solo catagory started Buena Vista and finished at Beaver Creek and was run at the high altitudes that make this a very demanding ask for sea level runners. 10,000 ft to 12,500 ft had a major effect on the field, as did the steep rough climbs and descents in this well organised race. Denise Maylin ran well to get tenth in the ladies six day solo race.
Racing goes over six days in the following order.
D1-Buena Vista to Railroad Bridge 20.8 miles. Hot and dry course which has climbing in desert like rocky surrounds before eventually dropping to a finish on a dirt road which feels very long! High altitude all week is a major issue but at least this day is the lower of the days. Finished third today and transported by van to camp at Arrowhead Point Camp. Excellent food and shower truck and everyone settles into the two person tent life.
D-2 is the big climb day but shorter. 13.4 miles Vicksburg to Twin Lakes Damn. Very rough road in to the start which I am very familiar with as its the turnaround for the Leadville 100 run and runs steeply up to Hope Pass before the huge drop to the Twin Lakes area and a beautiful bush run arround the lake to the finish. This was a fabulous long climb and probably one of my favourites as it was trail not jeep road. I raced down to a good second place having enjoyed the whole day. The descent starts as open on the tops, zig zagging down to the bush line and then into the thick trees. Its long and in places quite technical but very runnable. At the bottom it was a hot dry area but again very good track to the finish. Vans took us to camp at Leadville. Today was a high one, up to 12,600 ft.
D-3 24.3 miles. Leadville town centre to Camp Hale. This was another good day apart from the longish start on a road. Long sections of great single track on the Colorado trail. We eventually came out at the old war camp complete with bunkers etc. its greatly reclaimed now by trees and we ran the last few kms on another dry road. No drive to camp...next two nights here. Frosty at night! Third place again and still cannot shake my German friends, we crossed together.
D-4. Hale to Red Cliff 14.2 miles. Not much fun in sections with the horrible jeep roads which are wide and often tough surface but most of all its not trail running really to me. Very tough climbs in hot conditions today then a huge long drop where I got a big heel blister. Running through a river for quite a while was good then a fast sprint to try and minimise a loss today of one place. Got that blister ( over the whole heel) drained and injected with zinc. Painful of course but its pretty normal in these races to have a bit of pain. Determined to ignore it.
D. -5 23.6 miles, Red Cliff to Vail. Long run today. Started beautiful and up on the tops looking down to Vail is great. Unfortunately it was a bit ruined by the horrid drop in to this rather plastic, sterile, wealthy place. The course seemed to zig zag all over the mountain away from conventional tracks over hard rough terrain in an attempt to just an mileage. I lost patience with it and still do not understand why in such a beautiful area we run over such terrain. Anyway, eventually we stumbled into town and bussed to our Camp. Maybe they had no choice but tents next to the motorway ensured little sleep. Back to third now with Denise at tenth. The organisation is unbelievably helpful in almost every way, food excellent, beer flows after each days work and the athletes are positive and very enjoyable people to relax with.
D-6 is another long day of 20.9 miles and ends up In anther ski town of Beaver Creek. This is a tough day and also had a beautiful long drop in superb scenery which I really enjoyed. Challenging terrain and isolated but through very beautiful wild flowers etc. then we popped out into town and ran through town in the blazing heat until going back uphill again on trail towards our final descent. I was pleased to eventually escape the heat and long day to drop down right into town and amongst the ski lifts to the final finish line. Everyone very happy to be done and also some very shattered people arround.
Denise came in a little later after a stop in medical but happy to hold her tenth place while I have to be pretty happy at my age to still be able to get a third place. The awards that night were good fun and tightly run with everyone very tired. The Hyatt was a good place to stay after all the tenting but mostly its convenient. Note to Manager. Maybe allow runners to check in early rather than wait a couple of hours.
Race is almost the opposite to the German one. They really do put themselves out for athletes and foreigners can feel totally at home and welcome here. The food is ... well excellent and nothing like the German race. Everyone is very helpful from van drivers to the shower truck man. The running is good but for me not as good as the German race. There is too much rough jeep trail as opposed to single track and it just does not carry the same feel of isolation and beauty as the European race. There may be permit reasons for this but its true. As well as this its diminished for me with continual transport to and from camps whilst the German race is non stop point to point everyday going from country to country. The challenge here is to improve the wilderness feel of the course and increase the single track %. Nevertheless I would say its an excellent week amongst great people and well worth doing. Remember its at high altitudes so do not turn up unprepared for that.
A special note to all the athletes we met. Once again, great friends made and a special time shared with you all. Thanks for making the race such good fun and we wish you the best of luck.