Monthly Archives: August 2008

Race Report: Leadville Trail 100

…or in my case, the Leadville Trail 77.

Cold and wet start

Cold and wet 4:00am start

I’ve put off this report for a long time.  I guess I’ve been struggling with what to write about it.  I quit at mile 77 and am not happy about that.  There is a long list of reasons, and some of them are actually pretty good.  In the end, I didn’t finish and that’s that.  I don’t feel like going into all the details.

The good news is that I’m back in the groove and have completed a very good block of training in preparation for my next race.  Last week I ran 21 miles on Monday, biked 20 on Tues, ran a fast 8 on Wed, pushed super hard on a group trail run Thursday (HR averaged 170 for 1:10!!), rode another 20 on Friday, ran 30 on Saturday, and 6 more on Sunday.  It was a tough week, but I’ve missed doing those longer training runs and it felt good to go long again.  I seem to fare better when I can condition myself to run in the 20-30 range.

Back to Leadville – what a cold and rainy weekend.  I drove up on Thursday, and had a hard time sleeping (in my tent) that night and the next due to all of the thunder and rain.  The early start was tough.  I got up at 2:30 after several hours of tossing and turning.  I was anxious to get running.

The first 13 miles to aid station #1 were pretty uneventful.  I was running conservatively, but wasn’t happy to see 2:28 on my watch.  I wanted to run easily and hit 2:20 or so.  Oh, well.  I went through a small slump on the next climb, but then started running more strongly and cruised up and over the top.  On the descent I got my first indication of trouble as my quads pretty much bailed on me, along with hurting badly all the time.  It felt like I was getting punched in the thigh with every step.  Not sure what happened there, usually my quads are my strongest asset.  I got a little adrenaline rush as lightning hit the power lines above my head (which were already crackling super loud in the rain) and a huge blue flash lit everything up.  Yikes!

I ran a lot on some roads.  I ran a lot on some trails.  I crossed a river in a thunderstorm, got hailed on climbing a mountain.  Then, things finally clicked on the descent off Hope Pass and I felt amazingly good for an hour or so.

The view helped my mood - wow!!!  (Photo by Patrick McCartney)

The view helped my mood - wow!!! (Photo by Patrick McCartney)

I hit the 50 mile turnaround in Winfield in 11:45.  My son and I volunteered there last year.  It was a strange feeling to come running through there as a participant one year later.

I climbed like a glacier going uphill coming back over Hope Pass and was glad to get to Twin Lakes with plenty of time to spare before dark.  I almost left my flashlight in my bag there because one of the volunteers was asking me questions and I wasn’t paying as much attention as I should have been to what I was doing.  So glad that I called time out and went through my bag one last time before leaving.

I made it to mile 77 at the Fish Hatchery aid station, and still had 9 hours to do the last 23 miles.  Plenty of time, but my legs were gone.  In the Bear 100 last year I limped the last 15 miles with a rolled ankle, taking 7 hours to do it in the rain and snow.  I had no interest in repeating that kind of struggle.  I let a good finish become more important than getting a finish.  I’m not overly thrilled with that decision in hindsight, but also can’t argue with how I’ve bounced back and have been able to continue training without requiring an extended rehab period.

Live and learn.


Non-existent quads, a grouchy stomach, and some biblical weather had me pulling the plug at mile 80. Long way to go to end up with a DNF, especially with 9 hours in hand over the cutoff. I had been struggling since mile 15 (knew I was in for a long day at that point), but still moving pretty well. On the flat paved stretch leading into Fish Hatchery AS I could no longer move fast enough to stay warm in the frigid weather. For the previous 20 miles the only way I could run was to engage my calf muscles to pull my heels up and then lean forward. I knew it would just be foolish for me to even attempt Sugarloaf Pass in that state, and didn’t want to put responsibility for my safety on that remote section of the course into someone else’s hands. Especially if it would impact another racer or pacer. I exhibited a rare bit of common-sense and withdrew from the race.

I may write up more of a detailed report later.  For now, I saw some beautiful sights and had a good experience. The people were great and I enjoyed meeting friends on the trail. Time for some rest!

2,000 to go

Karl is off to a rough start on the AT. Very, very wet conditions. Take a look at day 4 – wow!! That is some unbelievably tough terrain. So cool to be able to follow along, I just watched video clips of the running from this morning – only a few hours after it happened. His top-notch crew (or is it Krew??) is taking great care of him and doing a stellar job of keeping the rest of us in the loop. Go, Karl!

174 down, 2000 to go

174 down, 2000 to go

Averaging 40+ miles a day of that stuff is nuts!

I did 13 miles today, outfitted with everything I will be using a week from now at Leadville. I ran comfortably with my heart rate at 145 to mimic the pace I would like to settle in to for the first couple of hours. Time to rest up and pack some drop bags!