Race Summary: TransRockies Run 6 - Highway to Hell!

12:28 AM

The year was 1979. It was summer when the classic AC-DC track Highway to Hell was released to the public. 

Living easy, living free
Season ticket on a one-way ride
Asking nothing, leave me be
Taking everything in my stride
Don't need reason, don't need rhyme
Ain't nothing I would rather do

A song about the stress of living a life doing what you like and all the craziness in doing so (in their case living life constantly on tour as rock stars).

Tuesday morning, we're living our lives as runners. For 3 or 6 days, covering 60 - 120 miles respectfully, we will wake up, prep, eat, pack up tent / camp, and run.  Every day.  Doing what we love and all the craziness that goes with it.  Slowly descending into our own heavenly hell; daily.  

And it is in that tradition of doing what we love at an extreme, we listen to AC-DC's famous tune every morning in the starting chute on our daily running Highway to Hell.

See TransRockies is like graduate school running camp.  Everyday you'll wake at altitudes ranging from over 7,800' to well over 10,000' above sea level.  Translated, you're struggling to breathe just to live.  This before adding physical activity to the mix. Yeah, hellish.

Day 1-3 is Masters work. You will be exposed to a hard day exposed to the elements, specifically the sun, a day of climbing at altitude (over 12,000' across Hope Pass), and a longer distance day of technical nightmares across the Tennessee pass!

For those sticking around for days 4-6, it's doctoral thesis time as the prior three days were just preparation for the craziness of the two longest days (22 ish and 24 ish miles), two most elevation gain (4,000+) , and a day of the steepest climb they could find climbing out of Red Cliff.

Kevin Houda Race Director and creator of the "Houda-miles"
When it's all over, you'll gain over 20,000' in elevation climbing a mountain every day, journeyed farther than 120 miles (you never really know how far "Houda-miles“ are but you can bet they are slightly longer than the posted daily mile target), pushed your body, mind, and spirit farther than you planned, and witnessed some of the most iconic landscape scenery you will ever see while facing enormous physical and mental challenges brought on by mother nature, the environment, and serendipity.

Stage 1-6 Route Map
Elevation Chart; stages 1-6

What makes this obvious insanity to on lookers, sane to the participants is the daily ride on the Highway to Hell is filled with other like minded runners of varying ages, abilities, skills, and stories from all over the world!

This is TransRockies! 

I wish there was a grading level to convey the level of support races have. There are races where a water jug is considered support.  And then there are "fully supported" events like TransRockies!  Where fully supported, means fully supported! 

These folks took horses and loaded them down with water and supplies to reach some of the most remote places ever just to make sure runners had water in the back country of the Rockies!  That's support!

The staff and volunteers are what takes a little heat off of the daily hell ride. These folks are phenomenal!  Tent cities are moved daily along with all your luggage. All you need is to carry your running rations and prep a daily drop bag.  Everything else is tended to.  Much love and respect to all the volunteers and staff!  Much love! 

I'm not going to give you a long day by day route review. I'll save that for someone who has the time and the memory to provide an accurate account.

What I'm going to do is ask a simple question.  Are you looking for an experience where you will find some of the best folks in the world to hang out with in the midst of breathtaking views (literally and figuratively) while daily pushing your limits, which is akin to being on the literal Highway to Hell?   If yes, then TransRockies is the trip for you.

You just have to decide how long you want your highway to Hell trip to last. 3 days?  Or 6 days?  Either way, you'll enjoy your hellish trip while making life long contacts and friends that will see you through hell.

Most iconic moment for me:  Continental Divide at Hope Pass on part of the Leadville 100 course at over 12,500' above sea level! 

Hope Pass (12,800'):  They say altitude can cause you to hallucinate

Darkest moments:  Mile 5 - 14 on day 3 when GI issues crept up on me and had me in pain.  Oh that moment by the stream. 

Endearing moments:  Sharing 13+ miles with Helen from Michigan. She was in a dark place and so was I.  She needed someone to listen. I needed someone to listen to. She talked us to the finish. Along with the aid workers at checkpoint 2 who tended to me.

Scariest moments:  Coming upon injured runners, specifically on day 2.  Glad you're OK Bay area. And Jason, I see you!  Running at altitude took it's toll on many.  All kinds of symptoms from altitude sickness reared its. head.  The Rockies also busted plenty of knees, twisted ankles, and took it's share of running taxes in the form of blood.  There were numerous moments, the mountains called for my own blood, but fortunately I was able to deploy my face planting suppression poles (thankful those carbon Black Diamond poles held up).

Inspiring moment:  The Mirnavator crushed each stage with the determination and grit of a true warrior.   You go Mirna and thanks for the invite!

Coolest moment:  Seeing and meeting other minority ultra trail runners was definitely a treat and a highlight that can't be expressed.  We doing things, going places, and crushing stereotypes!  Put this on the nightly news!

 Craziest moment:  Crazy clown at the top of extreme climb in the woods!  Damned clowns.

Steve is that you?  Stop playing.  Ish ain't funny no more.
Quietest Moments:  In the tent, away from the noise of the internet and connectivity!  It has been waaay tooo long since I totally unplugged.  And those earplugs just shut the entire world out!

Wildest Gadget Moment:  Us gadget freaks had to keep the electronics charged up!  No way this was up to code!  ....wait, you have a portable pump for your sleeping pad!?!?!  Me want!

But these are just a few moments, plucked from a sea of memories from hell week. 

There are so many names and moments this blog wouldn't do them justice. Hell the photos don't do the vistas justice (see my Facebook). 

So I'm going to stop while I'm ahead and just be thankful for 6 days in the Rockies.  Where I, along with others, were able, if just for a few days, to live easy and free.  Asking nothing of the world, just leave us be.  Taking the moments in stride, nothing we were rather be doing than taking that daily journey on our personal TransRockies Run 6 Highway to Hell in the summer of 2018!  

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