On August 12th I was flying into Denver and still feeling the effects of the four-day Transrockies Challenge. I had got pretty beaten up, riding my mountain bike, navigating trail sections between Blairmore and Canmore. It had been just over a week since it was completed and the cuts and bruises were starting to heal.
Landing in the Mile-High City I was looking forward to doing an event on my feet, even if it was the 192 km, six- day TransRockies Run. This was event number six out of the nine I had scheduled in TransRockies Quest 888 and it was important I complete the full distance to help me towards my 888 race km Quest goal.
A three-hour shuttle ride took me to Buena Vista and registration at the Avery Parsons Elementary School. After receiving our race packages, the 400 plus runners, headed off to an information session. Aaron McConnell, TransRockies President, welcomed us and asked those representing the 17 countries present to stand and be recognized. He warned us about some of the challenges ahead; searing heat and running on trails at elevations of between 8,000 and 12,000 feet.
This event is a huge logistical challenge. It's like having six races in a row and the entire infrastructure must be moved every time. This includes the start and finish chute, breakfast tent, medical and massage tent, shower truck with 12 shower stalls, and 300 individual two person tents. I must admit I didn't sleep well the first night. A lot to think about.
At 8.25 a.m. on Tuesday August 13th we were all in the start chute and, with two minutes to go, they played AC/DC's "Highway to Hell", a song we would become very familiar with over the next six days. Stage 1 was 34 kms from Buena Vista to Railroad Bridge. The highlight of the day was waiting for me at checkpoint 2. At breakfast I had met Vince, a volunteer with TransRockies and told him my love of bacon. At the checkpoint Vince had a plate of crispy strips waiting for me. Bacon power.
The first day went well but I still had a tough time sleeping. Each day followed a similar routine; breakfast in the main tent, head to the start line, "Highway to Hell" and off. My run times ranged from 4hrs to 7hrs. Then the best part of the day, a shower. After supper we had the day's awards, preview of the next day's route and a slide show.
One evening I was asked to make a presentation on "Quests for Kids" and my work with Right To Play. I had a great response from the group and I was thrilled to call up sisters Kirsten and Karyn Dibblee. They set up a donation page on TransRockies Quest 888 and raised over $1,000.
Highlights of the event included Stage 2, crossing Hope Pass at 12,000 feet, Stage 3, hanging out in Leadville; Stage 4, running a creek for 2kms, arriving in Red Cliff and enjoying fish tacos at Mango's; Stage 5, running the meadow trails around the back of Vail ski hill and Stage 6 finishing in Beaver Creek.
Flying back to Calgary I was pleased that I had completed the 192 km and was now 621 kms towards my target. However looking forward I knew I had to change gears so to speak. My next event is the TransRockies Tour of Alberta, a 125km road bike race on Sunday September 8th.
There's no rest for the wicked.