A Staten Island triathlete and endurance coach ventures into the ultramarathon realm where there are seemingly no limits to human endurance. In 2013, he successfully finished the Grand Slam of Ultrarunning (picture of 2013 Grand Slam finishers above; I'm second from right), becoming only the 282nd person (since its beginnings in 1986) and only the fourth New Yorker to finish four of the oldest and most prestigious 100 mile ultramarathons in the U.S. in only 10 weeks.

Friday, August 9, 2013

The Not-So-Helpful Guide to the Leadville 100

Since most of us who are doing Leadville are patiently waiting for the race guide from the organizers at this time, I figure I would take the bull by the horns and provide one for you until theirs comes out.

"The Race Across the Sky" - The other name for the Leadville 100 race. When I first signed up for this race 2 years ago, I thought I would actually be floating on air doing this race, but was bummed that it really meant racing at altitude. Oh well...


Leadville: the highest incorporated city in the United States. Located in the High Rockies sandwiched in between all of these "fourteeners".

Fourteener: A mountain peak, usually in Colorado that climbs above 14,000 feet. Leadville won't be above that altitiude, but it will certainly come close.

"Two Mile High City": The other name for Leadville. That would be twice as high as the "Mile High City", or Denver. Figure 5280 feet, which is a mile, times 2 and that would get it somewhere over 10,000 feet. Yeah, that's pretty high for a city.

The Mile: A distance that can be done in under four minutes for world class athletes. Unfortunately, there are a hundred of these miles in the race and they certainly won't be done in under four minutes, even by the best of runners. Doing the mile three times slower would actually be quite fast for Leadville, and most runners definitely would not DARE go faster than that.

Buckle: Has a dual meaning. It means what your legs do at the mile 80 mark of the race. It also means if you avoid the first definition it's the award you get for finishing the race in under 30 hours.

Bib Number: A demeaning way to label yourself in a race. I would figure most people would like to be called by their names. Instead, people are labelled by simple, cold numbers that they wear on their shirts or shorts. It's dehumanizing, but considered "necessary" in these races.

I hate being treated like a number. I HAVE A NAME YOU KNOW...


Oxygen: This is something that lowlanders are addicted to for their entire lives. Like any drug, lowlanders will go through "oxygen withdrawal" as they climb to Leadville. Once up at altitude and get through their withdrawal, they will find out that oxygen is overrated and optional to those who live at high altitudes. Who needs it anyway?

Breathing: An optional function of the body. See Oxygen above.

Mountain Pass: The lazy way through the mountains where they are at their lowest. Real men don't do passes, they go over peaks. But that will be in the Wasatch Front 100 race. Since Leadville is a warmup for the Wasatch Front 100 three weeks later, it is acceptable to do it the lazy way and go over a mountain pass. In this case, we go over Hope Pass.

Hope Pass:  The name for the lazy way to get over Mount Hope, which by the way, is only 67 feet shy of being a Fourteener (13,933 feet) Sucks for you, ha, ha! The top of Hope Pass is "only" 12,600 feet, and since people really don't need oxygen, should be a cinch getting over.

Hope Pass. Nope, no peaks, just going over the lowest part of the mountains. Where's the challenge in that?

Out and Back Course: A course in which, except for at the turnaround, everything has to be done twice. Leadville is such a course, and so Hope Pass is climbed twice. Since Hope Pass is SO very easy to get over, why not do it twice? It's just the MANLY thing to do!

Sucking Wind: Anyone trying to go through oxygen withdrawal DURING the race. It's considered a big challenge for lowlanders. Highlanders who don't breathe oxygen know better and will just laugh at the lowlanders' expense.

Pacer: Someone who will help a runner try to finish the race. A strong word of advice here; for those who need pacers in this race, make sure (s)he doesn't breathe. If (s)he does, then (s)he's dependent on oxygen and can prove to be a big liability to the runner.

Finish line: A place that has to be run to in under 30 hours. If you're dependent on oxygen, this might be a tough achievement to do. This has to be done if one has to move on in the Grand Slam to something a bit more manly like the Wasatch Front 100.

I hope this clarifies things in a "tongue in cheek" fashion as Leadville approaches. Until the real race guide comes out, I figure this will help with your preparations for this race. Until then, see you all next week!


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