The stage one course was 20.8 miles of sun-exposed, sandy trail, feeling a bit more like northern Arizona than Colorado. The sand was almost beach-like through some long stretches, which reduced Paul to an agonizing walk. It was a tough day for Paul physically, and for both of us mentally. He was focused on 'mind over matter', just tying to make it through the remaining twelve miles, and I was feeling terrible about causing his injury.
Which brings me to the essence of the GORE-TEX TransRockies: regardless of how well-prepared you are for racing, any number of things can go wrong. Unless you are vying for podium, your goal is essentially to make it through healthy. In a 6-day race, the focus becomes conservation (not pushing so hard that you can't recover overnight) and self-preservation (doing everything in your power to avoid an accident). Unfortunately, it is not uncommon to pass people on the trail who have 'assumed the position', which is spread feet, hands on the knees, bent over barfing. The altitude can hit someone out of nowhere, one minute they are cruising along and the next they are so dizzy they pass out on the ground, partner waving for a medic. Sometimes it's a poor foot placement on a downhill that sends your ankle left and your body right. Or maybe it's a clumsy partner that takes a dive right in front of you.
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