Adam Campbell Trans Rockies Race Report
On the Seventh Day They Rested
"There is an advantage in wisdom won from pain." Aeschylus, 5th C. B.C.
The loneliness of the long distance runner is a long, overdrawn analogy. I say this because many of my most memorable running experiences include other people. I proposed to my fiancée on a run, I have heard of expected pregnancies, I have shared experiences and views…these runs and shared moments are rehashed over pints and coffees. The truth is, if I want to hang with most of my friends, we usually do it over a ride or run.
However the Trans Rockies Run was a new experience in many ways. It is a 6-day, 113-mile stage race through the Colorado Rockies and you run it with a teammate. The race brought together some of the top trail and mountain runners from North America for a fully supported, fantastically run event in beautiful scenery. It also includes many recreational athletes looking to enjoy common experiences and to test their bodies in stunning surroundings.
The production behind the event is world class. The over 300 participants all stayed together in a moving tent city. The point-to-point races would leave the "village" every morning to tackle the single-track and mountain roads between Buena Vista & Beaver Creek, through the heart of the White River and San Isabel National Forests, with nearly 25,000 feet of elevation gain, reaching altitudes of over 12,500 ft.
While the athletes were out tackling the trails, the event team cleared camp and rebuilt the village from the night before at the finishing location. With gear bags, tents, showers and food waiting, the racers could spend the rest of the afternoon and evening trading stories, healing wounds and recovering in preparation for the next day's run.
There is something a little strange about camping with 300 other athletes. Other than the lack of personal space and connection with nature, the cacophony of tent zippers as well hydrated athletes tried to PCPO "pee clear, pee often" became almost comical at nights. It just adds to the unique nature of the event.
With the team aspect of the event, choosing a teammate whose temperament and skill set is similar to yours is critical. As the race unfolded and fatigue levels mounted, it was interested to watch some teams begin to implode. With minor issues quickly escalating into fully blown trail tantrums. Teammates who started the week laughing and being seemingly joined at the hip would move further and further apart, trying to put as much space as possible between themselves in the meal tent every night. This whole racing together concept is quite novel to almost all of us runners.
My partner, Aaron Heidt of Vernon and I really lucked out. We only really knew each other by reputation prior to the race. We agreed to race together following the Vancouver marathon in May and kept in weekly email correspondence over the next 3 months. We kept each other accountable by sending our weekly mileage and training volumes to each other. I think we both developed a bit of a silent competition, trying to one up each other in weekly totals. We became virtual training partners, but we were still a bit blind as to how our running styles and personalities would mesh.
As August 23rd approached, I moved down to Colorado to begin acclimating and Aaron moved up to Silverstar Mountain. We both knew that we were fit and ready to roll. When we finally met up in Buena Vista Colorado, I knew almost instantly that we would be fine personality wise. We share very similar running goals, both wanting to explore our personal limits and seemed to share similar life views and outside interests as well.