Darn Tough Runners Take on the Gore-Tex Transrockies Run: Stage 4

Stage 4: Camp Hale to Red Cliff

Stats: 13.4 Miles/3,009 ft climbing


Having three days under our belts, the energy on the morning of day three had decreased.  We awoke in the morning to find ice on our tent and temperatures in the low 30s. We both struggled to find the motivation to put on our running shorts and short-sleeve tops, although we knew the game must continue. The night before we studied the map while listening to returning runners relive the agony of the short but steep stage.

The early morning start of Stage 4.

Today’s climb was going to be steep, and without switchbacks. To help assist with our climb, Chad gladly traded one of his stage prizes for the usage of a pair of poles. In the starting chute I was nervous and chilled to the bone. I didn’t want to layer up knowing that after the two-mile gravel road we would go directly into the climb up “Resolution Hill.”

We started to run up the climb, but it quickly became too steep to run efficiently. I clipped the towline to my pack and the fun began. Chad made good use of the poles, but the climb still hurt. Again on this stage we hoped to keep a consistent but modest pace on the uphill so not to overextend ourselves, and then try to make up time on the downhill.  We emerged out of the trees on top of Hornsilver Mountain and were treated to views of Mt. Elbert, Mt. Massive and Mt. Holy Cross. We worked our way across the ridge and down the single track. Eventually we came to several creek crossings, which we had planned to plow right through. The first crossings were brief enough that I was fine. But eventually we came to a section where we had to run a half a mile in the stream and the cold water settled in my shoes. As I slowed, Chad passed me and I felt like I was going to be sick. When we hit dry ground again I sounded like a Clydesdale and Chad asked me what was wrong. What was wrong was the fact that I couldn’t feel my feet, which obviously made running a little difficult. Thankfully my socks wicked the water away quickly and I was back in business in no time!

As we ran down the road with just over a mile of downhill left I felt confident that we would produce a third-place finish. We increased our pace and were running under six-minute miles as we crossed the finish line. As I congratulated Chad I looked up and noticed three teams in our division in the finish area. I was disappointed in myself. We had finished in a solid time, but I had felt like I had let myself and Chad down. But, tomorrow would be another day.

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