In case you have been intrigued by the idea of participating in the GORE-TEX TransRockies Run, but are wondering about the basics of camp life, let me enlighten you. My expectations going in were far more rustic than reality; the well-planned infrastructure is geared toward making sure that you never feel like you are truly roughing it.
Without a doubt, the most frequently-asked question I got from friends and family was: "weren't you all tremendously smelly after running and camping for a week"? Enter Burt. He enjoys rock-star-like status at TRR because he's the Shower Truck Guy. His mobile setup is at camp every day, boasts about five private shower stalls each for men and women, and pumps virtually endless hot water. The truck also has a row of sinks and mirrors for shaving, teeth-brushing, etc. After a tough morning on the trail, and a therapeutic soak in a nearby icy river, I looked forward to that shower. People trickle back into camp at their own pace, so I never experienced a wait.
TransRockies takes hygiene seriously.
Aside from having to use 'nature's outhouse' while racing, we had ample port-a-potty availability at the camps, at the race starts, and at the race finishes. Each had a hand sanitizer dispenser, and the sinks were also available for hand-washing. In fact, hand sanitizer was everywhere at camp and at the race checkpoints where food was present, an appropriate precaution where 'communal living' is concerned.
TransRockies takes nutrition seriously.
I wish I could somehow calculate the collective number of calories burned by TransRockies participants, to help you understand the magnitude of the caterer's job. TransRockies serves up a massive breakfast and dinner every day, and ensures that race nutrition and snacks are always available at checkpoints and at camp in between meals. The beloved Gourmet Cowboy Catering cooks up something for everyone in a buffet style, so whether you are a carnivore or a strict vegan, you will be satisfied.
TransRockies takes your comfort and well-being seriously.
Kevin, aka "Houda", is an absolute master of race operations. He has the logistics dialed in, which means you are free to just focus on racing, replenishing, and recovering. For example, each racer is issued a large duffel bag at registration with his/her race number on it, which serves to both control the amount of 'stuff' each person brings, and to make the baggage transportation process more streamlined. Each morning, the TransRockies staff collects all of the duffel bags, tears down the tents, and transports them to the next campsite. After your run, when you arrive at the new campsite, the bags are laid out in numerical order, and the tents are already set up.
I likely would not have been able to get up and run again each day had it not been for the (insert grateful sigh) massage tent. Approximately ten very well-trained massage therapists were available from early afternoon until late evening. Appointment strongly recommended! A 30-minute massage was part of my daily pre-dinner ritual.
There was also a medical tent at each finish line and each camp. The medical staff spent tireless hours icing bodyparts, treating blisters, removing toenails, wrapping ankles, cleaning crash wounds, and diagnosing illness symptoms. Medics were also on the mountain at each checkpoint, and were equipped with ATVs to quickly reach and assist racers in need.
Participant safety is a priority of the TRR crew, and perhaps one of the most time-consuming and critical efforts is the trail marking. I am 'directionally challenged' and consider myself the lowest common denominator a trail marker needs to cater to. While I may not have always stayed upright, I never got lost, because the yellow GORE-TEX tape was prominant on trees and rocks along the designated route. In addition to podium awards and a fun slideshow, the post-dinner gathering each night included a high-tech topo flyover of the next day's course, led by course-marking experts Ryan and Bo, who described all the intricacies, obstacles, and tricky spots of the following stage.
From margaritas mixed in the back of a Ryder truck, to the campfire, beers, and lounge chairs in the Relaxation Station, to a slip-n-slide at the finish, TransRockies makes sure you don't go away without a lot of new friends. From my experience, the social aspect of the race was as enjoyable as the running itself, and it is something that distinguishes TransRockies from other race experiences. It is apparent that Aaron, the Race Director, clearly understands the community and laughter at dinner is as important as the trail markings.
That sitting in an inflatable cold-tub having a beer with your new friends will ease any lingering discomfort from the last big climb. Because the reality is, when it's all over and you get back to your normal life, you will not only reflect upon the awe-inspiring landscape and the physical challenge you faced, but also, how well you were taken care of, how much social enjoyment you got out of what you thought was just going to be a suffer-fest, and how much you appreciated your fellow runners and TRR crew for the lifelong experience. This is ultimately why the TransRockies Run continues to grow, and has so many 'repeat customers'. What I thought would be a one-time experience has actually now become a recurring event on my Outlook calendar.
Photojournalist Paul Shippey is a former elite triathlete and endurance sports competitor. He is also the gear editor for EverymanTri. Shippey’s racing accomplishments are varied and include; Ironman SA, Comrades Ultra Marathon, Boston Marathon, ITU Worlds, Bar One Adventure Racing Series and the Nissan Xterra Series.