After all of the training... talking.. driving... waiting.. it is finally time to get the 2011 TransRockies Race going. Stage 1 is a hot, dry stage with one "major climb" and technical terrain that leads you to the final 3mile stretch on a SUPER hot road that feels as though it will never end..
Starting a few rows from the front, we heard the gun go off. Mike and I sat on the heels of lead pack over the first 3 miles. The pace was pretty steady at 6:20/mile. As such, several teams dropped back as we made our way up the very gradual ascent.
Before we knew it, we were side by side with Team Bend (Ryan Bak & Max King). The other teams had fallen off a bit, but weren't too far behind. As we made our way to Mile 5, we were able to keep it fairly relaxed as we responded to several surges from Team Bend. When we hit the one major climb for the day, Mike and I quickly hopped around Ryan & Max and started pushing our way up the climb. Over the next 2.5miles, we were able to put about 90seconds on Team Bend.. and felt really good doing it.
As we started to make the descent, we started to relax into a nice 5:20/mile pace. This wasn't putting us out and we were confident that we wouldn't lose our lead. About 2miles later, we heard the stomping of feet.. and they were closing fast. I was in a bit of shock. Doing the math, these guys had to be running close to 4:40min/mile... As they completely close the gap, Max says, "Putting a surge on us uphill??.. that's not nice." Though it was a little disheartening, Mike and I responded by picking up the pace. We were on a flat section, but the sand was probably 6 to 8in deep on most of the trail. At this point according to the Garmin, we were dropping 5:10min/ miles. I am thinking, "How long can these guys keep this up??".. and ... "Is it going to be like this all week??"..
After 2miles of battling at this absurd pace, Max and Ryan take their foot off the gas. Mike and I keep it going for another mile or so and eventually regain our 90sec lead.
That is where it stood going into the final 3miles. 90seconds. Worried that these guys were going to roll us up on the flat, we started really cranking down the road. The miles were in the 5:40min/mile range and felt really hard as this road is super exposed, hot and just down right nasty.
We crossed the finish line in 2hrs 17min 42sec (9min faster than last year's winning time). This put us in the lead by 3min 55sec. We were really excited, but we knew there was still A LOT of race left to run.