This post is mainly for those who want to know every detail of what running TRR is all about. Whether you’re interested in running the race in the future or are just curious to know more about the event, this post should answer any questions you may have.
Long back-to-backs and lots of hiking experience are key. You can see what I did for training –> here. I think I was well prepared for the long climbs and consecutive long days, but I would do more next time to be prepared for many miles of steep, downhill running. For those of us in NH, where mountain trails are extremely technical and usually not very runable, I think the best way to train would be to pick a mountain with a long access road and do repeats hiking up a trail and running down the road.
On another note, train daily with a full hydration pack so that you get used to carrying it and don’t end up sore and chafed halfway through the race!
Don’t worry if you live and train at sea level, so do most of the other runners that run TransRockies. There’s no way to know ahead of time how the altitude will affect you because even if you’ve responded well in the past, that’s not a guarantee that you will again. If you can get there early and do some hiking on the higher peaks, it will probably help, but it can take weeks for your body to fully acclimate. If showing up early isn’t an option, there are a few supplements you can take that should help decrease the effects of altitude. Hammer Nutrition has several great options: Race Caps Supreme (increases the body’s cellular ability to use oxygen), Super Antioxidant (helps with oxygen transport) and Xobaline (helps with the development of red blood cells). All three of these are also highly beneficial recovery aids. My husband and I took these supplements during our training and the race, and I think they made a huge difference.
In general, the weather is hot during the day and cool at night. You will want a lightweight down jacket, sweatpants, a sweatshirt and a warm sleeping bag for the nights at Leadville and Nova Guides, as the lows will be in the high 30’s-low 40’s. Buena Vista and Vail are not as cold, but definitely still chilly at night. It warms up super fast as soon as the sun comes up, so don’t worry about lots of layers for running. Plan on your typical summer running clothes, and if it’s still a little chilly at the start, you’ll have your mandatory jacket, hat and gloves in your pack anyways. The day temps are typically high 70’s, but the areas where you run during stage 1 and 6 tend to be hotter.
Also, the sun is intense out there at the higher elevations, so if you are at all likely to sunburn, bring sunscreen and apply it every morning before the start. There will be sunscreen at all the aid stations, and you’ll probably want to reapply at least once during your run (maybe more during stage 1, where the trail is exposed for the entire stage). I also recommend bringing sunscreen lip balm, a hat/visor and sunglasses!
It’s usually hot and sunny in camp during the afternoon, so shorts and a tank top after showering are the norm. That said, there is typically the chance for rain/thunderstorms every afternoon, so a waterproof jacket is good to have on hand.
I can’t recommend ziploc bags highly enough. Pack each day’s running outfit, plus any other gear/supplies you will need for that day (hat, sports drink powders, electrolytes, gels, ect.) in a 1 gallon ziploc bag and label it with the stage number. This makes it easy to keep your stuff organized and makes getting ready in the morning super simple. Plus, at the end of the day you can throw your dirty clothes back in the bag and seal in the stench.
For non-running clothes, think like a minimalist. You are going to have to carry your duffle bag to and fro every day, and it’s going to be heavy, so pack as little as possible. I brought one set of camp clothes (shorts, tank top, long-sleeve shirt, sweatshirt, sweatpants), and never wished I had more. Pack all of this in a 2 gallon ziploc bag to keep it contained and organized.
One more ziploc for a shower/toiletries bag, and that’s all you really need!
A couple things that made a big difference for saving space and weight for us were travel pillows and camping towels. We loved these –> travel pillows because they weigh nothing, roll up super small and are actually comfortable! We also were really glad we had these –> camping towels because they save a ton of space, and they dry almost instantly!
You’re going to be sleeping in a small (7’x7′), two-person tent every night, and where your tent ends, your neighbor’s tent begins. Your tent will be cramped, and you will be able to hear the people snoring in the tents around you. There’s not a good way to solve the issue of the tiny tent, except to pack as little as possible and be super organized. I have a few suggestions for getting a good night’s sleep though. 1) Bring an air mattress. It’s way cheaper than a good camping pad and way more comfortable than a cheap camping pad. 2) Use ear plugs or a white noise app. Peter and I like to use a rain app on our Ipad–it’s calming and it blocks out other noises. Our neighbors probably thought it rained all night though! 3) Lots of people resorted to sleep aids to help them fall asleep, and if you think this might be a necessity for you, I can recommend a good one. I use REM caps by Hammer Nutrition, and they work really well. In addition to helping you sleep, they also enhance growth hormone release, support immune system function and help relieve tension and anxiety.
Every day you will have the option of a drop bag, which you will bring to the start and pick up at the finish (it will not be available to you during the race). I recommend taking advantage of this service because almost every day you will have to take a shuttle either to the start or from the finish, and it’s nice to be able to have your necessities on hand when you need them.
For example, we preferred to pack up our duffle bags and drop them off before heading to breakfast, so having a drop bag meant I could wear my down jacket to breakfast, brush my teeth after breakfast, apply my sunscreen, and then throw all my stuff in the drop bag and leave it at the start. I also liked to pack my phone, my comfy sandals, and my Recoverite and Hammer supplements so that I’d have them as soon as I was done running.
The terrain is mostly sandy ATV trails, smooth singletrack or dirt roads. There are some short sections with rocks and roots, but nothing prolonged or extremely technical. On at least one day your shoes will get wet, so bring a second pair to wear the next day in case they don’t dry.
There are two or three aid stations during every stage, spaced about 7 or 8 miles apart. This year the aid stations had the typical fare: bananas, watermelon, PB+J, chips, pretzels, candy, Gatorade, Pepsi, water and Saltstick electrolytes, but no gels. Always study the race guidebook to find out where the aid stations are ahead of time and plan accordingly because there are some sections where you need to be prepared to go without aid for 10+ miles.
Lots of people used trekking poles and swore by them. We didn’t, but I believe they would help. In my opinion the ones that are adjustable would be the best for this so that you could use them going either up or down.
You’ll probably get blisters, but there will be athletic trainers at camp, and they will work miracles for you. If you can, get your feet taken care of before going to bed at night because there will be lines in the morning and not much time to wait in them.
Breakfast is not provided on the morning of Stage 1, so when you book your accommodations for the night before, keep this in mind. We stayed at Arrowhead Point Campground, and they offer a buffet breakfast for about $7 per person.
Lunch is not provided during any of the stages, though there are snacks (PB+J, chips, pretzels, candy and rice cakes) available at camp anytime. You can also get water, Gatorade, soda and beer anytime at camp. There is always the opportunity to buy lunch either at camp (cash only) or in the town where the stage ends, if you prefer.
If you tend to get hungry during the night, bring some snacks with you to keep in your tent. I didn’t do this, and one night I woke up starving and had to eat one of my gels!
You will have the opportunity to schedule a massage at camp after any of the stages. The cost is $40 for half an hour, and you’ll need to pay in cash. You can book an appointment during the pre-race check-in times or any afternoon at camp.
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That’s everything I can think of, but if there’s anything I missed just leave me a comment!