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Smack From The Back: Gore-Tex Transrockies Run Day Six

Beginning of the second to last climb of the race. Photo: Courtesy of Thomas Miller
Beginning of the second to last climb of the race. Photo: Courtesy of Thomas Miller

The final day of the 2009 Gore-rex Transrockies Run took Thomas and Monica from Vail to the finish line in Beaver Creek, Colo. The last day totaled 21.4 miles and an amazing 4,607 feet of climbing.

92 miles 16,000 feet of climbing, five days of mountain running under our belts we dug deep to summon the strength and conviction to make it to the start line one more day.  At the front of the race some teams continued to run strong and stretch their lead while others fought to hang on to their position with one more day to go.
For the last time we will direct you to for stage 6 and final race results.

To all the general classification leaders we salute your heroic athleticism and unwavering commitment and the show you put on for all the rest of us.

As for Moe and me…Day six is pretty much exactly as I described it would be throughout our training.  Our legs are sore, our bodies tired, our minds trail weary from the effort already put forth.  We find that last shred of enthusiasm to psych ourselves up for the final push.  We begin the final day’s journey where we completed stage five at the base of Vail Mountain.  With 21.4 miles and 4607 feet of climbing ahead of us we head out of Vail village running on a paved path that traverses I-70 for approximately two miles as we approach the start to our second to final climb.  Due to the fact that when we hit the dirt we are on very tight single track coupled with our conservative pace puts us behind a group of about 50 runners slowly making their way up the 3500 foot climb.

After about an hour of a combination of hiking and slow running the single track gave way to a dirt road  that allowed the field to finally spread out and settle into their own pace.
With very little left in the tank and Monica on the tow we once again began to march past our fellow competitors.  Although both of us were exhausted and managing our own minor aches and pains we still had enough in us to hold our position as we worked toward the first check point at mile seven.  From check point one to checkpoint two we stayed on the dirt road that continued to undulate and roll and we continued to work our way through the course at a consistent pace.

We arrived at control station two at roughly 14 miles, refueled, reloaded our Nathan Hydration packs and began the steep, narrow and overgrown single track for four miles into the town of Avon.  The descent was slow going as there were many parts that were so overgrown you could not see what was beneath your feet…all the while wondering how quickly the elite moved through this same section.  After what seemed like hours of descending we finally emerged into civilization into the town of Avon with another couple miles of pavement running to take us to check point three.  We began our final 700 feet ascent from checkpoint three that would eventually take us to the final decent into the base of Beaver Creek at the finish line.

We saw our good friend Kelly at Checkpoint three and her infectious enthusiasm inspired us to go after the final climb with the same energy we had all week.  Having raced the same course last year I knew how steep and demanding it was and what was required to get it done.  I had prepared Monica for this moment for many months and hoped that she had heeded my advice and left a little in the tank for this final short but incredibly steep climb. As it turned out as with every great challenge that presented itself this week Monica was more than up for the task.  I knew very well at this point how far she had to reach into her pain cave to summon the sheer will to climb up this final beast.

We huffed and puffed, we dug in deep, and we used our hands to push on our quads to pick up any additional strength that we could.  When we got to the point that we felt like we had nothing left to give we finally saw the top.  With two miles left to go and our heart rates red lining we walked for about three minutes and then broke into our final run to the finish.

Thomas and Monica Miller at the finish. Photo: Courtesy of Thomas Miller
Thomas and Monica Miller at the finish. Photo: Courtesy of Thomas Miller

We gingerly descended the final single track that eventually dumped us at the base of Beaver Creek Mountain with the finish line in sight and the always welcoming voice of Drew Bragg the event MC.  At the finish line Monica’s sister B and her husband Peter where there to cheer us on and the emotion was high.  For Monica….this helped give her the final push needed to get across the line.  Once over the line we were greeted by the first place team in our division Gary Robbins and Tamsin Anstey to cheer us on and welcome us over the line.  Sitting at the Beaver Creek Chophouse with Monica’s family, B and Pete Nigg we soaked in the experience and enjoyed a big hearty meal which was exactly what we needed.

In closing this blog would not be complete without some very sincere acknowledgements and thank you.  There are several key elements and groups of individuals that pull together to make this the epic adventure and life altering experience that it is.  First and foremost we want to give our appreciation and kudos to the athletes.  The discipline that you bring to the preparation, the commitment necessary to see you through the months and miles of training are a victory in its own right.  The authentic nature and positive attitude that you bring to race week at Transrockies and exhibit day after day is truly amazing.  Monica and I wish you all congratulations and our deepest gratitude to those of you who showed so much interest in our race experience.  Team Nike/Rogue Valley Runners – Hal Koerner and Andy Martin, Team MONTRAIL/NSA – Gary Robbins and Tamsin Anstey, Team Nike/Goretex – Julie Lesure and Peter Courogen.  Your ability to demonstrate so much concern for us and our race in the middle of your own performance continues to define your character both on and off the field.

To the Transrockies organization your unwavering commitment to the athletes overall race experience is second to none in the event industry.
Your ability to execute on logistics that are overwhelming even to the participants continues to exhibit your commitment for the integrity of the race.

Last but not least to the incredible event sponsors and partners;

WL Gore and Associates
Beaver Creek Resort
Colorado Headwaters of Adventure – Buena Vista & Salida
Continental Divide Trail Alliance
Nathan Sports
GU Sports
Erin Bakers Wholesome Baked Goods
Michelob Ultra
Oregon’s Choice Gourmet Albacore
Clif Bar and Company
Choose Outdoors
Peet Dryer
Kinesys Performance Sunscreen
Play Green Events

This event was made with your support.   You not only invested your financial resources but the investment of your heart and sole continues to make this event all that it can be.

To all those of you that have tuned into our blog this past week we hope you found it entertaining and inspirational.  Thank you for sharing in our experience.  We look forward to once again sharing our adventure with you in the 2010 GoreTex Transockies Run.  Until then…Happy Trails.