Race Report: 2013 Leadville Trail 100

Everyone that signs up for a 100 miler is essentially plunking down their hard-earned coin to get a kick in the ass.

And who wouldn’t want to get their money’s worth?

Many runners got a little more of that ass kicking than they bargained for in this year’s race.  And some of it was due to factors out of their control.  I know from first-hand experience how badly that can suck.  (Exhibit A)

Here’s the thing, though. Quit searching for the gentle kick in the ass.

It’s not like there’s a box you can check when you register for a race like this that indicates exactly how much ass kicking you are willing to deal with.  It’s going to come, one way or another, and there are an infinite variety of things to blame when you get kicked a little too hard.

Too hot
Too cold
Too wet
Too dry
Too flat
Too hilly
Too crowded
Too sparse
Too boring
Too rocky
Too smooth
Too long
Too short
Lack of qualifiers
Bitchy volunteers
Incompetent Race Directors
Didn’t have a mule
Saggy arm panties
My prescription-strength painkillers wore off
My 18 person crew and 5 pacers got stuck in traffic

I have been searching race calendars for the Goldilocks Just Right 100.  Guess what, it ain’t out there.  Even if it was, would anyone sign up?

Nah.  Screw ‘Just Right’.

Perfection is not what we’re after when we run these things.  We came looking for a challenge, right??

I recommend signing up for a 100 mile race and thinking, “Hmmm…  There aren’t any ass kicking amount checkboxes on this web page, but if there were I would click on the 100% ass kicking box.”


Or at the very least select the ass kicking checkbox that says, “Surprise Me”.

That way you will never be disappointed, and you will always get your money’s worth.

Yeah, getting kicked in the ass sucks.  A good friend once told me what to do about that.

Embrace the Suck

Besides, the drama makes for better stories anyway.  And make no mistake, it is all about the stories.

Here’s my story.


It’s hard to believe I’m writing a Leadville 100 race report for the sixth year in a row.

If racing the Leadville Trail 100 was my day job, I would now be at my one month employment anninversary.  I have spent the equivalent of an entire month’s worth of workdays on that course with a race number pinned to my shorts.

Holy crap.

I absolutely hate the 04:00 start time.  It’s totally worth it, though.  Just look at Robert Timko’s awesome pic.  That’s some good runner energy right there.


I came into this race fat and slow, but feeling strong.  I dug myself into a super deep hole during last winter and am still climbing out of it.

Life was good for the first 20 miles.  I rolled along, holding back but still beating my splits.  Going super easy on the fluids and staying right on the nutrition.


Running into Outward Bound was crazy.  The road was packed!  It was a pain to dodge the vehicles and such, but man – I got a charge out of running through that tunnel of people yelling their heads off.  It was like a climb in the Tour de France.

The next stretch always seems tougher than it should.  Exposed long roads rolling up into the thin air.  I hooked up with my brother-in-suffering Ben and we exchanged some sympathy to each other’s situation and kept working to make our way to Twin Lakes at mile 40.

I cruised into the aid station feeling appropriately worked, but nothing too bad.  A bit behind on fluids maybe.

Scott was a huge help here and stepped up big-time to pop out of the crowd and crew me at this important point in the race.  Thanks, man!  Time to get ready for the climb over Hope Pass.

I hit the base of Hope Pass in my fastest time ever, and proceeded to climb with vigor.

It worked for a while, but I think I overextended myself just a wee bit – completely imploding halfway up.  Slowing to a crawl and eventually needing to sit on a log while my calf muscles jumped all over the place under my skin.

So much for experience.  Such a rookie, sometimes.

I retied my shoes and started staggering up the trail again.  Feeling awful.  Frustrated.  Sorry for myself.

55 miles to go.

I moved a little better over the top of the pass, but still took forever to get to Winfield.

It was so cool to see so many friends in this section.

Once I got there, I fought my usual urge to get in and out as quickly as possible.  Instead, I sat in a chair and decided I would stay for as long as it took to feel better.  Ahhh, there’s the experience kicking in.

I badly wanted to puke but never did.  It took 40 minutes, but I was eventually able to get some fluids in me and started feeling tons better.

Rally time.

The return climb over Hope Pass has been my undoing for the last 3 races.  This year I had my best ever climb.  I’m sure the extra time and calories at Winfield played a huge part in that.  The pressure was off, my race was blown but I felt decent and knew it was just a matter of getting to the finish now.

Just one problem.  It was so hot!  I was dying and didn’t want to mess with removing my pack to take my shirt off.  I improvised by pulling my shirt up over the bottles on my pack.  It was so good to feel that cool mountain air on my torso.  I didn’t care that it looked like some sort of lumpy halter top.

Hat backwards, four days of scruff on the chin, and a hairy belly.  The first guy that came bombing down the trail in my direction took one glance and almost wiped out because his brain couldn’t compute my look!

I staged this one a couple of weeks later, just so you’d have a nice visual.


Hopeless aid station ran out of cups or some such disaster.  Hmmm, these bottles I’m carrying are used to hold liquid.  Ladle some coke into one, water in the other.  All set.

The final 40 miles of this race were the best out of all the years I’ve been running it.  I didn’t have to worry about the cutoffs and could just enjoy the run.  My lungs were working great.  I was actually talking to people, which rarely happens at this stage in the game.

I killed the Powerlines climb.  Lungs and legs were great on that one, passed people the whole way up.  Including the gal that shoulder-checked me descending from Hopeless while screaming ON YOUR LEFT!!  Who let all these people into this race?!?

I got to May Queen and a guy asked me if I wanted him to pace me.  I’d normally decline, being that I’m usually a miserable mess at this point, but took him up on the offer and looked forward to the company.

We had great conversation and I was in a good mood as I was still feeling decent enough to continually pass people the whole way around the lake.  Turns out Mike ran a 2:21 at Boston in 1983!  He had endless supply of cool running stories, and was also very encouraging and interested in what I had to say.

I ran the whole way up the Boulevard and finished strong in 27:28.


Photo Credit: David Manthey

Way off my target, but happy to come out of it feeling good.

So why keep coming back?

The LT100 is huge and magnificent.  Just standing on the start line you can see 90% of what you will be covering on foot, and it blows my mind.  Every. Damn. Time.

It’s also about potential.  I keep coming back because I haven’t reached mine,and despite being 31 years old now, the race hasn’t either.

Sure, some people want more remote conditions, more singletrack, less congestion, less hassle.  I like all of those things, too – but that’s not Leadville.  The LT100 is a different beast.  It is the New York City Marathon of hundred milers.  It is gritty and raw with a lot of history.  You get to take your own shot at a course that has broken more than half of the people that have ever tried it!  A course that legends have run on, both past and present.  A race and a town that welcomes you to step up and give it your best, to see what you can do.

When it comes to ass kicking, I definitely got my money’s worth.


Another Satisfied Customer

Posted on October 31, 2013, in race, run. Bookmark the permalink. 24 Comments.

  1. Love it. See you next time.

  2. Awesome intro and way to nail what this race is all about! Congrats on yet another impressive finish.

  3. Awesome report. Congrats on another strong finish.

  4. Only in the blogosphere does a guy who run a 100 miles think he is fat and out of shape.

    Nicely written.

  5. Scott Williams

    Finally! I can stop checking your blog every dang day for this report to come out. I’m glad I got to crew for you a bit at TL and wish that I could have caught you at Mayqueen inbound, but ended up pacing a lady who needed me more instead. Great job on another successful race. Also, now that there is some time distance between the race and now I can agree with you that Leadville is what it is. Even with only 500 runners there would still be congestion on Hope Pass, traffic, misbehaved spectators, trash on the trail, etc.

    • Scott, thanks for your friendly reminders! Gave me the push I needed to get this sucker done. Now I still have 4 more to get caught up.

      Glad you caught on to the gist of what I was saying. It is what it is. It’ll either change or it won’t. I’m not saying I don’t care, because I do very much – I just don’t get the whole torch and pitchfork routine that has been going on. Thanks for the crewing, too!

  6. Curtis Simmons

    You inspire me Brother and amaze. You are the ass kicker of ass kickers. Congrats to you on another epic year. See you at the buffalo run?

  7. Another great story!

  8. This would have been a lot more hard core had you posted it way back when Pb was still a Hardrock qualifier.

  9. I guess anyone who finishes a 100 miler feels like dog food at one point, but I have mad respect for those who tough it out and finish what they started. Leadville has a very special place in my heart and despite all the whining and complaining about it, if I ever did a 100, it would be Leadville – simply because there ARE a lot of people around. I don’t do well with my own demons for long stretches of time – I need to see others suffering along with me! Congratulations on a very strong finish!

  10. I can’t believe that you haven’t reached your potential yet, you have already gone beyond what the human body is designed to do! You said at 31 you haven’t reached it. It is making you younger so that is great!

  11. Loved your thoughts on the LT100. Loved the report. Didn’t love the visual of the halter top. Haha! Man, you must have superhero night vision to see 90% of the course at the start line. I can only see about 2/10 of a mile down 6th St.

    Dang, now I’m officially the last runner to post their LT100 report. Hopefully in the next two weeks.

    For me this race (and all others) is about personal responsibility. I know what I signed up for. Nothing should be a surprise to anyone if they have truly prepared for a 100 miler in the Rockies. It is an entire day of non-stop problem solving. Sure, some of the problems to solve really suck, but that is what makes a finish in Leadville so satisfying. Complaining about the problems of a race the runner voluntarily signed up for immediately sucks the satisfaction out of any experience.

    • Finally a halter top comment! That was the highlight of race.

      Get on that report! You should have had that done long ago based on my theory of the faster you race the faster you write a report.

      Your last paragraph nails it. Pretty much what I was hoping to get across, but you articulated it so much better.

      I hope you checked the 100% box at Bandera!

  12. I love this – and I love the idea of a Goldilocks 100! I’d be guaranteed to win the lottery, it would never be overcrowded, and I’d be more than guaranteed to win and have the FKT because who else would have the exact same Goldilocks 100 as me? From one ‘no cup at Hopeless but finished the race anyway’ congrats on your finish – and its good to see more than one person out there with a different perspective on the race other than critical..

    • Hey, sllygrl – thanks for the comment. The Goldilocks sure would make for a boring race report, though! That said, I wouldn’t mind having just one of these work out that way… Glad you finished despite a missing cup! 😉

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