Editor's Note: This week Paul Shippey and Paul Mandel finished the epic TransRockies running adventure, which traverses the Rocky Mountains Below are Paul's refextions on completeing the race of a lifetime.
It’s all over folks. The 2010 GORE-TEX® TransRockies race ended in Beaver Creek Friday afternoon and what a finish it was as we dropped out of the aspens and into the finish at the ski village after 27 hours of trail running. I must admit I got a little choked up with a few miles to go as I contemplated finishing this running odyssey across the Rockies.
For Team EverymanTri .com the trials, tribulations and amazing adventure are over and what an event this has been. It’s hard to convey to a reader the true experience of running an event like this, but all I can say is that it has been one of the most incredible experiences of my athletic life. Looking at the event on paper is one thing, but when one actually gets on to the trail it begins to sink in. This is a truly amazing adventure, experience and run. Now that I have my rookie year under the belt , I’m thinking of racing this again in 2011.
No matter how you look at it, completing this race is quite an achievement. The thought of running four and half marathons in six days, with over 21,000ft of climbing, is ludicrous. Yet somehow, one’s body and mind adjust to the daily grind and grow stronger day by day. It’s like the body resigns itself to the daily hammering and says: 'OK, I give in, have your way with me, I’ll stop complaining!'
The most amazing aspect of this great race is… the people. Yes, the racers, organizers, volunteers and sponsors are what made it most memorable for me. The people that are attracted to this type of challenge are fascinating - from auto mechanics to pediatric surgeons.
Every day one makes new friends on the trail and at the end of each day you will hear the tales of woe and triumph around the campfire. There’s the girl who fell down the trail today and broke her hand, yet is still racing in a cast. Then there’s the Gore employee from Flagstaff who got so sick at 12,000ft on Hope Pass that he went to hospital after stumbling to the finish line.
From the 18-year old cross-country college star that blitzed the trail each day, to the 74 year-old German lady who hiked the entire route, there is a great story to be shared with everyone you meet. We ran with the Giorgio Armani buyer and her partner - a futures trader from Brooklyn, shared dinner jokes with the OBGYN from Sacramento and enjoyed cold beers with a crazy French duo in the evening.
As a South African I especially enjoyed teasing my fellow countrymen with Zulu and Afrikaans jargon (there were two husband and wife teams) on the long ascents and around the camp. You will never find this spirit in a one day event because there is little time to make friends. The Gore-Tex TransRockies race offers competitors six days to race together, suffer together and celebrate together. By the end of it all you will leave the event with new friendships, forged in the heart of some of the most scenic and dramatic landscapes on the planet.
This race is not about who wins and who loses. Every entrant that crosses that final finish -line is a winner. If you get that medal draped around your neck at the end of the week, in my eyes you are a rock star, whether you came first or last. The finisher’s medal means you posses; courage, compassion and true grit!
Click HERE for the complete series of stories that make up tream EverymanTri's 2010 TransRockies race.
Click HERE for complete stage 6 race results.