TransRockies Run: Summer Run Camp for Adults and at Least 10 Reasons You Should Consider it

August 22nd, 2016 by Erin Young

All 500+ runners pumped up and ready to start the 120 mile journey from Buena Vista tomorrow.

I don’t even know how to start explaining the TransRockies Run. How do you sum up 120 miles over six days, with 20,000 feet of elevation gain? My objective here is for you, my reader friend, to believe that you can do such a thing. Because it’s true. And for you to understand why you would want do such a thing.


Team OAM NOW athlete with the King… Max King. If you don’t know who he is, just pick up any Trail Runner magazine and you’ll find him 5 times.

TransRockies is a unique experience. Starting at Buena Vista, CO already at 7,965 ft elevation, the event kicks off the night prior to the start with a race briefing. Run by Canadians, the tone is set, and from here to the infamous “Stage 7”, everyone here, came to have fun. Team OAM NOW / Athletic Mentors athlete and TRR finisher, Tammy Shuler advises, “Talk to everyone and don’t take the event too seriously.” You’ll be disappointed if you do. For the next 6 days you are camping under the Colorado stars. Some nights have music, a campfire, s’mores, and even a beer mile for you elites, but every night has showers, dinner, and a slideshow of pictures of the day. There is a shady hangout, post run, where you rub elbows with the elite (Max King and Nikki Kimball are two of my favorites!), and meet people from around the world. This year, there were over 20 countries represented! The people you meet here are people who are good to the core. People who remind you that the world is kind and happy. People who share their chapstick and Body Glide.


The crew from Kalamazoo at the start of Stage 3 in Leadville. Stage 3 is 24.5 miles with 2, 700 ft of climbing.

Each day the TRR Canadian crew gets you pumped at a new starting point. All you have to do is pack up your human sized duffle that is provided by the event and pass it to a friendly crew member where they transport it to your next camp for the night. Where do you sleep? Tent city is awaiting you. You don’t even have to set up your own tent. Just use what remaining oxygen you have left in your lungs to blow up your sleep mat and call it home for the evening. Breakfast and coffee(really good coffee) is hot and waiting for you each morning.  There is even running water with sinks to brush your teeth. Not as posh as home but you will likely make a new friend while flossing.



Stage 1 is relatively “flat” with only 2,500 ft of climbing, but very hot and dry. It finishes 20.8 miles later at the ice cold Arkansas River, perfect for soaking tired legs.

Runner’s average 20 miles a day, for six days.  The last three days are spectacular! There is a 3 day run option, but you are really shorting yourself and you’ll be sad when you have to go home and camp moves on. I did that my first year thinking I couldn’t possibly do the six. But then I had to come back the following year because I knew I was missing something too great to pass up. Then I had to come a third year because I was in love with the people and it was what made summer feel like a true summer. Every runner has to carry emergency gear after day one. Because of the possibility of violent fast approaching weather, it is required to carry a hat, gloves, jacket and an emergency blanket, as well as adequate hydration. Tammy also suggests, “walk the climbs and run the downhills.” Wise advice, since running these Colorado Rocky Mountain grades is often, just as slow as walking and a lot more work to run.


Hope’s Pass is a long, steep climb to 12,536 ft, but runner’s are rewarded with an exhilarating downhill back to 9,211 ft.



Training for this event is a whole topic on its own. But I promise it is attainable for any working person as long as you enjoy trail running. Are you a backpacker? This is totally up your alley. Cyclist? You have the aerobic capacity and strong legs. Coming from Michigan, the altitude alone will make running more challenging for even well trained athletes. You can’t worry about that. Relentlessly work on improving your aerobic fitness and get strong. This means being okay with slow and easy. Runs are more like an adventure and time on your feet. Miles mean very little. A few weekends running/hiking back to back long runs at MAF or your aerobic base and you have what it takes. The downhills are far more abusive than the climbing. Find a nice long down grade and repeat. If you are from Michigan, repeat a lot. And plan on doing this in the shoes you will actually wear. Shoes treat your feet well on flats could be shoes that eat your toes on downhills. When I say get strong, I mean hit the gym in the winter. Focus on core and quad strength as well as agility. I had more than one fall where a winter of push ups saved me from broken teeth.


Camp Hale is where runners spend the night at the end of day 3 and 4.

Camp Hale is where runners spend the night at the end of day 3 and 4.

If I haven’t convinced you that 6 days of all inclusive “luxury” camping with inspiring people is reason enough to add TransRockies Run to your bucket list, the scenery is spectacular! You climb mountains guys! And when you finally reach the top where the sky opens up to endless rows of rugged Rocky Mountains, your heart is beating so hard that you can feel it in your ears! The feeling that you made it there on your own, in the heart of the Rockies, is unmatched. And every day is completely unique. The scenery never gets old (though you may have to look through some dark patches in your soul from time to time, but I promise, they go away).


And if you aren’t yet convinced that this event is something you should try, there is a better reason. My favorite reason, and the reason I’ve gone back four times… this experience changes YOU.  This event isn’t about racing the course from A to B as fast as you can for the majority of us. This event taught me to be smart, and run smart. TransRockies taught me about dealing with perceived hardships and continuing through dark moment when you think you can’t. It taught me to look closer at people to understand their intentions and read their needs. This event taught me to see the beauty of people. There is profound kindness and contageous happiness and courage in people who appreciate nature. TransRockies reminds me to appreciate the beauty and the power of our land. The mountains are breathtaking and humbling to say the least. I know to respect the mountains. There are no mountains on my run routes now, but I have a renewed vision of the sandhill cranes in the cornfields and the turquoise blue Gull Lake. Nothing looks the same after TransRockies.

Vail Pass on Stage 5

Vail Pass on Stage 5 consists of 24.1 miles, 4,100 ft of climbing and arguably the best scenery.


It’s hard to limit what I say about this event. I have so many happy memories. I finish each time, sore and physically and mentally exhausted. Everytime I think, “I don’t need to do that again”. The soreness, fatigue and sometimes swelling fade. But the memories of Trans Rockies tug at me all year long. It isn’t long before it sounds like a great idea to go back and see my dirtbag runner, summertime friends.08_11_16_TRRM_0466-ZF-2078-03556-1-001-015









If all of this sounds intriguing visit TransRockies Run and tell them Erin sent you!



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