This weekend I had the opportunity to crew my friend Tony Cesario at the Leadville Trail 100 . For those of you that don't know, "crewing" is basically standing in the dark or cold for hours with supplies, waiting for your runner to reach a checkpoint and caring to his every need. We do it to give back, because it is very hard to run 100 miles all alone.
|Waiting for runners at the first aid station|
|Kylia carrying in the gear|
The Leadville 100 starts in Leadville Colorado which sits at altitude (10,152 feet). It is one of the highest cities in the U.S. Many people struggle with altitude and some even get altitude sickness. It was very important for me to spend some time here running and crewing so that I could figure out how I do with altitude. Obviously if I couldn't handle altitude I would have no hope of participating in the Hardrock 100.
I am happy to report that I did not struggle with the altitude at all.
The race itself, sometimes called the Race Across the Sky or the LT100 is a tough one. It is one of only a few races that can qualify you to run the Hardrock 100, so I wanted to learn about it first hand, by being there. The race is huge - 1200 runners. In my opinion too big and crowded for this place and this type of event. The runners start in Leadville and run around 50 miles on roads, gravel roads and trails through Hope Pass at 12,600 feet.
Then they have to turn around and run another 50 miles back. It is an extremely tough race at altitude, over mountains. More than half of the people don't finish. The entire 100 miles must be run in under 30 hours and there are strict cutoffs along the way. Tony unfortunately was a victim of one of those cutoffs at mile 50.
I was very proud in all of my friends that participated, finish or not, and all of the people that helped crew or pace (run with a 100 miler after 50 miles to keep them safe and company). I was lucky enough to see the winner Ian Sharman finish (16:30) as well as my friend Cory Feign. I also saw a gentleman by the name of Hans-Dieter Weisshar finish his 116th 100 mile race at the age of 73.
|Scott Jurek getting a drink|
|Jimmy Dean Freeman - Second Hundred in 3 Weeks|
|My runner - Tony Cesario with pacer Dave Hill|
|Shelly Cook and Alec Bath|
When 30 hours is up you are no longer an official finisher. You don't get the belt buckle. It is strict. As such, when a man crested the last hill with 5 minutes remaining the crowd went wild screaming for him to get to the finish line on time. He made it with 2 minutes to spare and the help of hundreds of screaming people. It was extremely emotional. I can honestly say his finish was as epic as the winner's. That's what makes 100 mile races Epic. Check one out some day if you can!
|Cory Feign finishing his first Leadville!|
After the race I ran up and down the tallest mountain in the Rockies. Well, almost. I got to 13,300 feet and had to haul ass back to the bottom due to a hail and lightning storm. I feel good about my ability to run at altitude and I now have a good idea of where I can train if I ever get into Hardrock.
|My views from Mount Elbert (before the storm)|