As a photographer for Sportograf I photographed numerous obstacle runs in recent years.
These races are incredibly popular. Thousands of participates who like to be challenged during such an event. In my opinion, besides the physical challenge, they are eager to do something exciting, something adventurous. Something not entirely without danger. Not being an office employee for a day, but a warrior… To escape daily reality and boost the adrenaline.
However, these events always take place in a controlled environment and although they are fun and physically very challenging I think of it as “artificial adventure”
Last summer I experienced that, luckily, real adventure also still exists!
Imagine this: A beautiful day starts.. sun has just come up behind one of the peaks of the Rocky Mountain national park, sending light beams through the forest threes. A beaver is having his morning swim in a beautiful small forest lake bird sounds are everywhere. Squirrels shoot into the threes when they hear branches crack beneath the feet of the trail runner. Besides his heavy breathing that’s the only sound he produces. As he starts to climb the “Sheep Gulch Trailhead” to „Hope Pass“, his heart shifts to highest gear, trying to compensate the 40% less oxygen level at this height. The higher he gets, the more splendid the 360 degrees view on the Rocky Mountain peaks becomes. He conquers Hope Pass at 3800 meters and starts his descend on a steep and technical downhill.
Slowly the bare rock landscape transforms into dense forest again, and the technical trail becomes a beautiful rolling single-track. Suddenly, In a split second, at a distance of only 15 meters they see each other…. The runner and the natural inhabitant of this area: Usus Americanus, better known as Black Bear. The runner keeps his pace, and slowly his brain starts to realize what just happened, adrenaline level rizes and it feels as if his feet no longer touch the ground as he rushes down the „Continental Divide Trail“. The Bear is equally surprised and for a moment he doesn’t seem to know which choice to make: continue his berry breakfast or disappear.. When a second runner appears he chooses to continue his breakfast elsewhere and disappears into the woods.
Just an ordinary day during 2e Stage of Trans Rockies Run 2018
This event describes itself as „a summer camp for adults“ and that sums it up pretty well. One of the main reasons participants ,as well as volunteers, come to this event is to have an unforgettable week Of course there is competition between teams, but participants at this race mainly run with each other instead of against each other. During the daytime there is the physical challenge, but after every stage it’s time to share stories about today’s stage ,enjoy diner together and just chill.
The Scenery of this event is magnificent and although chances are slim you will ever see them… the fact that you are running in black bear and mountain lion territory makes this a unique experience.
An extra challenge during the Trans Rockies is the height. You are never below 2250 meters above sea level and the ‚ roof ‚ of the event literally takes your breath away at 3828 meters above sea level.
Sports and sleeping at this high altitude also has an advantage… Actually it is like a week-long altitude training, with production of hemoglobin in overdrive.
That might as well have contributed to the fact that Swedish women’s team winners, twin sisters Lina & Sanna El Kott Helander, crushed the competition at the Trans Alpine Run only 2 weeks later. Running an incredible 10 hours faster! as the number two women’s team. Who knows… 😉
Selling out every year with capacity of 350 runners the event has a very high ‘return rate’ and I can totally understand why. Great atmosphere! superb staff!, and magnificent landscapes! See you next year was heard more than once at the final prizegiving party.
Before being a Sportograf photographer I was a mountain bike fanatic, riding major events in Europe like Grand Raid Cristalp and stage races like Bike-Transalp. My sports activities nowadays are a bit less than they should be, due to lack of time and motivation..
This summer ,for the first time in years, I felt the urge to come back to this event someday as a participant and start training again.
might be continued…
text by Marco Kolleppel