21 Aug 2011

Leadville 100

Saturday I drove 2+ hours west to Leadville - a historic mining town at 10,000' - to "pace" my buddy Chuck who was running the legendary Leadville 100

The drive from I-70 to Leadville:

I was going to meet up with Chuck at mile 50 - which was an hour away from Leadville - at about 4pm (the race began at 4am). I arrived in Leadville before noon to look around the "The National Mining Hall of Fame and Museum " as well as a few antique and book shops

After an excellent lunch I drove out to the ghost town of Winfield (including 11-miles on this horrible road):


Winfield is the half-way point in the race when racers are allowed to have a "pacer" run with them. Here is the aid station where "crews" (family & friends) took care of their runners (change of clothes, water, food) and where runners checked in with medical staff

This is how I envisioned pacing (the bearded guy has won Leadville twice - the other guy is his pacer):


This is how it actually was:


The longest I had ever run was 14 miles. The longest Chuck had ever run was something less than 30 miles. He looked great when he came in but told me after we left the aid station that he was hurting. We ended up walking the 2-miles up this relatively flat road to a trailhead

The next 3-4 miles was up - 2,700' up - to Hope Pass. Here are some shots of the trail

Views were spectacular at the top of the pass

Shortly after crossing over there was an aid station - being remote and at just under 12,000' they had used llamas to trek in all the supplies

The next few miles were pleasant and gradually downhill before a river crossing. The river (or whatever - much more than a seasonal stream) was about 40' wide but no more than 2' deep. In a way it was refreshing as it was cool - but wet shoes & socks are not good for blisters. Chuck mocked this concern and felt the river crossing added to the challenge, although he later conceded the point (given his dozen blisters)

The final picture I took was at the Twin Lakes aid & crewing station, since it was now dark. The aid & crewing stations were pretty festive (at least the ones I went through - even when I finished pacing at 12:30am)

My next 11.5-miles with Chuck included a 1,300' climb followed by several pleasant miles through the woods and then several more along a forest service road before hitting an aid station. Then it was a few final miserable miles to the crewing area as my right leg and a toe were hurting. I was pretty happy to be passing the pacing torch to Melissa (his wife)

I got home at 3am and was asleep at 4am. I woke up at 7:30am and decided to check out how Chuck was doing - it was close. He had 4 hours left to do the final 13.5-miles (if you do not finish in 30 hours you are disqualified) - after 26 hours & 86.5-miles it felt like a 17.8-minute/mile pace was iffy

We went to breakfast (my meals from noon yesterday on were Gu gels, protein bars and string cheese) and came back to see if he would make it. He did - 29h41m. Melissa took this pic during his final mile:

My day/night was 22-miles with 4,050' elevation gain (topping out at 12,600') in 8h03m. We ran/shuffled maybe 1.5-miles at most. I ended up sleeping about 14 hours over a 24-hour span, with the rest of the day spent either eating or watching "Man versus Food Nation" on the couch (with that sore leg and toe)

Chuck did 100-miles with 10,000' gain in 29h41m. He's dead (kidding)


Here is a map of the course (the section I ran is from Winfield to Treeline)


Here is a cool aerial video of the course (the section I ran is from 7:00 - 10:00)


Will I ever run an ultra? No

Was it fun? Not really (except before and after were awesome - plus meeting some cool people on the course)

Was I glad I did it? Absolutely! I will buy Chuck a few celebratory beers for asking me to pace - I was able to experience an ultra without running one...

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