Note: Over the next few days, I’m going to post the updates Kelly sent to family and friends during Leadville. I’m sure I’ll get to my own race thoughts at some point, but for now I think she covered everything really well. This first post is a bit of a prologue, as on Thursday Kelly climbed Hope Pass solo so she could get a preview of the perhaps the most challenging part of the course…
Good evening everyone!
We have had a couple full days since I last wrote from Twin Lakes, CO. Sean got his race packet yesterday and had his medical check in downtown Leadville. (He will be weighed and checked at certain checkpoints during the race, too.)
Overview of the race:
The race goes 50 miles from Leadville to Winfield (passing through Twin Lakes), then directly retraces the course back to Leadville for a total of 100 miles. The total elevation gain is approximately 18,000′. Sean can have a pacer (runner/encourager) from Winfield to Leadville, i.e. after the first 50. Race start = 4:00 AM Saturday, Race cut-off = 10:00 AM Sunday. (30 hour cut-off!) There are approximately 1,000 competitors from 40+ states and several countries around the world. I’m not sure how many have officially checked in. The average finishing rate is in the 50% range – so this is indeed a character building event! Being that this is a former mining town, the motto around here for this race is “dig deep – don’t quit!” We are hoping that Sean finishes, stays healthy, and enjoys it the whole way!
Sean’s crew members (and pacers) consist of Gordon (“Gordo” – who Sean met online via ultra-runners), Paul (Sean’s Dad), and myself. He also has a coach, Tim (“Lucho”) who has a total of 7 runners trained for this event. And then he has the additional team cheerleaders of Riley and Reece. 🙂
A few updates:
Today (Friday), we attended a pre-race meeting in the morning. It was rather unique and even emotional – quite a special tradition going on each year in Leadville. We saw the array of highly coveted finisher belt buckles of various sizes for the <30 hour finishers, <25 hours, and then for multiple Leadville finishers who have completed X number of Leadville 100s for 1,000 miles, 2,000 miles, etc. This year, the race founder handed the leadership baton over to his son. It was also very informative with a doctor speaking (with a touch of humor) about important health considerations for an event like this. I learned a few things!
After this meeting, Gordo and I attended the crew info session to get the latest updates on checkpoints and parking rules. Then after lunch in the mining town, with the help of our good friend Ben (who has paced for 5 years and is racing the full 100 this year), we all drove out to a few of the checkpoints so we were acquainted with the exact location of some of these places.
Our plan, thus far:
We will get Sean to the race start around 3:30 AM. We will then have crew members at each checkpoint ahead of Sean’s arrival – ready and waiting with food, hydration, sunscreen, etc. from start to finish. This will require some juggling of 3 cars, going back and forth from our house with and without the kids (so they rest, eat, etc.), and lots of estimating, waiting, and probably some worrying too! At Winfield, estimating 3:00 PM Saturday, Gordon will begin pacing the hardest section of the “inbound” with Sean (for approx. 11 miles) and then he’ll cover another stretch in the 10 mile range sometime early Sunday morning. Paul, Sean’s Dad, is aiming to take a 6-7 mile road stretch in the wee hours of Sunday morning. And I’m scheduled to take 7 miles with him to the finish from Turquoise Lake up to the start/finish in downtown Leadville. Riley and Reece will hopefully get to jump in the last mile to help with a strong finish!
And just for fun:
As I bring this to a close, I wanted to share a few sneak peak photos of the course that Sean will cover. Yesterday (Thursday), I got the nerve to do my first solo hike and into high altitude – to the top of Hope Pass. Hope Pass is the highest peak that Sean will cross twice – once outbound and then again inbound. It is the last hurrah before he’ll hit the 50-mile turnaround in Winfield (about 5 miles down from Hope Pass) and the big a-ha as he crosses back up and over to see this inspirational view as he heads back toward Leadville.
This was a 10-mile hike for me, round trip with 3,300′ elevation gain. The photos of me were done with a self-timer! The standing shot is along the trail, a few hundred feet below Hope Pass. And then the crouched shot is at the top. Between the significant climb and the altitude (above treeline), this peak earns some respect! I have a couple shots of the rugged trail so you can see how steep it gets! I averaged 2 miles per hour going up (granted, some photos and a few breathers were taken along the way) and then 3+ miles on the way down (I ran what I could). It is a lovely hike – Aspen, meadows with wildflowers, a stream with waterfalls, fragrant evergreens, and cool, but thin mountain air (it’s actually very chilly at the top – my hands were very cold!).
The trail (a “pass” between 2 mountains, both Hope and Quail are in the 13,000′ peak range) sits at 12,600′ above sea level with a view of the 3 lakes (our rental house is near the Twin Lakes). The lake/pond that is in closest view behind me is where they will have a race aid station (crew members not permitted). Sean will pass by the trail marker and ribbons at the top of Hope Pass (pictured, too – facing toward Winfield). Also pictured, I had the pleasure of bumping into 3 of the llama teams coming up the trail yesterday. They were hauling supplies, including 700 gallons of water for the racers. The herd of 34 llamas will stay there for a couple of days, eating off the land and drinking from the pond. Then they’ll haul everything back down the mountain after the race!
I’ll be in touch more soon… on race day!