Two Vernon ladies had a goal in mind: run 120 miles in 30 hours over six days through the Rocky Mountains in Colorado.
Their friend simply wanted to finish the event known as the 2014 PepsiCo TransRockies Run.
Roz Beaulieu, 56, co-owner of The Starting Block running store in downtown Vernon, completed her goal.
For Trish Marshall, 51, a nursing unit assistant at Vernon Jubilee Hospital, and Dawna Jodoin, 45, a stylist, their ambition quickly changed.
“Once we started the race we were like, ‘Oh please, God, let us finish, let us make it out alive,’” laughed Jodoin.
The Vernon ladies were among 420 from all over the globe that started the PepsiCo TransRockies Run in Buena Vista, Colo. on Aug. 12.
The event is run on a multi-day, point-to-point format which allows athletes to access and traverse wild and fantastic scenery while building camaraderie, overcoming adversity and sharing a singular adventure.
The course runs from Buena Vista to Beaver Creek, through the heart of the White River and San Isabel National Forests.
Participating in the race was the brainchild of Jodoin, looking to cross a race off her bucket list. She convinced Marshall on Marshall’s 50th birthday to take part with her.
“I made her do a handshake in front of all of her friends to say she would run the race, then took a picture of her and posted it to Facebook to make sure she’d do it,” said Jodoin.
Beaulieu deadpanned: “She decided it should be on all our bucket lists.”
Initially, it was Jodoin and Marshall who were going to compete in Colorado. When Beaulieu began training with them, she decided to enter the race.
The trio began what they called “10 months of taking the path of most resistance.” Intense training, five to six days a week for the first six months, doing their best to try and simulate the elevation change they would face in the U.S.
They were running up and down Silver Star Mountain, and running through the trails at Kal Lake Provincial Park.
The TransRockies course includes a mix of single-track trails and forest road with nearly 20,000 feet of elevation gain, reaching altitudes of more than 12,500 ft. (to compare, Silver Star’s summit is 6,280 feet above sea level).
In Colorado, Jodoin and Marshall ran separately for the first two days, then together for the final four, each overcoming adversity and, at times, each other.
“Day five was the hardest day mentally for me,” said Marshall. “My foot was sore. I had a big, freaking blister on one of my toes and I felt every single rock, every single bump in the road.”
Said Jodoin: “I had to have a moment and told Trish I needed to be alone. Someone was being way too encouraging.”
“Nobody told me what to do,” chuckled Beaulieu, who competed by herself.
Marshall, who suffered from insomnia during the race because of the altitude, praised Jodoin for helping her out, nominating her for the daily Trail Hero award.
“She came second,” smiled Marshall.
Beaulieu had to overcome illness during the race.
“I got up the next day and said ‘If I make it, I make it, if I have to pull myself out, well…,’” said Beaulieu, who persevered and started feeling better.
“Mentally and physically, it was very challenging but the beauty of Colorado outweighed the pain. I thought more about that and got into the run again. I was there to enjoy it. I stopped, took lots of pictures. I just wanted to finish.”
Averaged out over the six days, the women ran essentially a half-marathon each day (there is also a three-day run). Beaulieu finished in about 40 hours, Jodoin and Marshall crossed the line together eight hours earlier in 32 hours.
“I still can’t believe what we accomplished,” said Marshall, who lost a toenail and figures she might lose another as a result of the race. “We met people from all over the world, we have new Facebook friends and I’m getting pictures sent to me from all over the world. It’s very cool. It’s a super, neat community of people that were there.”
Said Jodoin: “It was absolutely amazing. My husband and I are thinking of doing the race next year.”
The ladies wish to thank Mel Spooner of Endurance Health and Fitness for her coaching expertise.