Joe Mills Transrockies Run Recap, Climbing a 5.13D, and running another 100 miler (under 30hrs)

It’s been roughly 1 month since the end of the TransRockies Run and it’s about time for a recap of the race, how it affected me during my 100 miler, and how all this running non-sense works into my climbing life.

Let’s start with a brief recap of the TransRockies Race…

For those unfamiliar with the TransRockies Run (TRR), it is a stage race from Buena Vista to Beaver Creek, covering approximately 120 miles and 20,000 feet of vertical gain. Runners compete as a solo runner or a team in 5 categories: Open Men, Open Women, Open Team Men, Open Team Women, and Open Team Mixed. In the team categories, both runners must run together during each stage and the overall winner of the TRR is determined based on the cumulative time for the team to finish the entire 6 stage course. This adds an interesting dynamic to racing because if 1 runner blows up, you both blow up.

Stage 1: The Meltdown

21 Miles, 2500 Ft of gain

Psyched to start the race, we went out hard running with the front runners in the race. A surprising thing happened, Kara had a complete meltdown at the top of the 10 mile climb. Now this wouldn’t be so surprising except for the fact that she is by far the stronger runner, and I have never seen her so messed up, not even during either Leadville 100 mile finish. We walked in the last 10 miles for a dismal finish (#walkitin).

Stage 2: Taking it chill

13.3 miles, 3200 feet of gain

With our race over on day 1, we decided to take it easy and just enjoy running in the mountains, so that’s what we did.

Stage 3: Taking it chiller

24.2 miles, 2800 feet of gain

With our new attitude, we unofficially changed our team name to team alcoholic and enjoyed plenty of beers every night. Our new favorite activity was to find our friend Tom after each stage and watch his lifeless eyes grow dimmer with each day. (Sorry Tom, he did great at the TRR and stuck it out, but had some rough looks in camp). Today we hung back and ran with Tom and his partner Megan for a while, joking and making asses of ourselves.

Stage 4: Comeback Kara

14.1 miles, 2900 feet of gain

Kara woke up and decided to put the hurt on, I guess all the carbo-loading (read beer drinking) was finally paying off. We finished 3rd for the stage, and closed the gap to 3rd overall by half an hour, but still were an hour behind.

Stage 5: Game face

23.6, 4200 feet of gain

With our new-found legs, we kept pushing scoring another podium finish in 3rd and closing the gap another40 minutes. We were now only 15 minutes behind 3rd overall. It was fun to compete these last stages, but really it was just super fun to feel strong and be able to push it like we wanted in the beginning.

Stage 6: Go big or go home

24 miles, 4900 feet of gain

We continued our trend and added 30 minutes, finishing 3rd for the stage and making a comeback and landing 3rd place overall.

The next week we were both really tired physically, but our legs felt pretty good. So, why not run 100 miles again, except in a single day. I took the time after TRR to rest my legs and focus on climbing. I went to the Rifle Climber’s Festival and had a great time climbing with friends, and got a bonus by climbing a really classic stout Rifle 13d called Simply Read. That same week, just three weeks after finishing the TRR, I found myself standing at the start line of the Run Rabbit Run 100 in Steamboat. I never thought I would actually show up to this thing, which I foolishly registered for back in January. The course was rather difficult with a length of about 105 miles and a gain of 21,000 ft. Some people had said during the TRR that it was perhaps more difficult than doing a 100 miler. I am going to say right now that that is total bullshit! The Run Rabbit Run 100 was the hardest thing I have ever done physically and I experienced a new depth of busted that I didn’t know I could get to. It turns out getting to eat a huge catered meal, drink beer, and sleep in a kush tent after every 20 miles or so is a hell of a lot easier than grabbing some cola from an aid station and stumbling back to the trail after every 20 miles. I had so many low point during the race where I thought I was done for, but with the help of my positive pacers I just kept at it, and before I knew it I was heading down the home stretch to the finish line at 29 hours.

If I learned 1 thing from the TRR and the Run Rabbit Run, it is this: No matter how terrible things are, or how far you are behind, if you keep pushing, you will eventually succeed and everything can turn around. Or maybe it is that running really really far is a stupid thing to do, kind of a tossup really.