How to Run Leadville 100 Part 2: Pray to God or Train

If you haven’t read Part 1 yet, do so here.

Since finding faith in God isn’t likely, nor is the chance that he may accept your belated and misguided faith, you need to figure out how to actually train for Leadville.  I’ll eventually release the “How to Run a 100 Mile Race” guide that’s already written (and pretty damn awesome), just not down in physical words yet, so for now we’ll focus on the overview of training for Leadville specifically.

The next six months of your mountainous high altitude training.  Good luck.

See, Leadville is an odd race.  It’s an incredibly runnable course yet offers two obstacles, one obvious and tangible (Hope Pass x 2) and one unseen (altitude).  Many of the participants come from Colorado. When I ask them why they run Leadville (when there are so many other badass 100s in the country, I get the obvious(?) response “Because it’s convenient.”  I’ve run a few 100s and I can assure you that no 100 mile run is “convenient”.  Whatever.  The point is that these Coloradans are used to both the climb of Hope Pass and the altitude of the entire race.  I’m assuming you’re from some sea level handicapped, humidity saturated town.  You know, a place where only a tool d-bag would wear a Leadville Big Buckle (we’ll get to that distinction eventually) to a cocktail party.  Wear that thing to a party in Colorado and you’ll be ostracized to the living room off the foyer (hall/entrance) -you know, the room where no one has ever spent more than three minutes, much less sat down and relaxed.  The sort of room your grandparents would have plastic all over the furniture so if you did sit on it, you’d make constant farting and squeaking noises and smell like a new beach ball the rest of the night.  Wear that buckle to a party in New Mexico and you’ll get shot and have the buckle stolen only to be sold for scrap metal with an old radiator and random fence material and your scalp will be spray painted pink and dangling from the rearview mirror of a lowered 1982 Chevy Silvarado.  Regardless, we’ll say you’re from a coastal state or, sadder even, a midwestern state where you have no idea why the air is so fucking thick and your house is ripped up by a tornado every two years.

Xenia, Ohio tornado.  I lived through this bitch when I was a kid. photo Dayton Daily News

Anyway, you need to figure out how to survive at over 10,000 feet, as well as how to run continuously uphill for 3,500 feet (a couple times), just to impress chicks who probably won’t care much because your arms are skinny like a malnourished spider and your feet look like you’ve been spending nights with Kathy Bates in the movie “Misery”.  Whatever, at least you’re interested in trying to impress the ladies.  It’s a start.

If you’re one of those dumb rich guys with a shitty marriage, you could buy yourself a high altitude tent to sleep in like the bubble boy.  Your kids will start doing drugs out of sheer embarrassment.  Or (since you obviously have no sense with your cash) you could fly to Colorado and spend some time in the mountains learning how to breath air with like 2 molecules of oxygen per lungful.  At least there are nice views (and you’re not encased in plastic watching your family live like normal people).

Aside from acclimatization, you’ll need to run a lot and run uphill a lot.  Easy.

Let’s assume you’ve done all the proper training.  You’ll know whether you have if you’ve lost all your friends, you are so skinny you look like you escaped from a concentration camp, and you are tanner than a lifeguard at a nudest colony.  Now you’re ready to race Leadville.

Mining competition, circa 1900-1910.  These guys would kill and eat an ultrarunner.  photo Denver Public Library

The scene in the town of Leadville surrounding the week of the 100 mile run is, well, odd.  There’s this town full of mostly unemployed, deep fried food eating, cigarette smokers, who look like they’d just as soon kick your 2010-model-Subaru-driving self in the teeth, than say hi to you.  And then there’s you and the other thousand quinoa and kale eating, sinewy appendaged, Patagonia wearing, hipster wannabe, bleach white toothed “health nuts” wandering around the main street shops like you’ve never seen a silver necklace with a bear claw pendant before.  It’s like two worlds colliding in some time warp.  It’s really fascinating if you step back from your terribly important life and just observe it.  I often hope something will spark a massive brawl between the townsfolk and the tourists.  I envision the fit runners slapping at the tree trunk fore-armed and walnut knuckled Leadvilleans like five year old girls.  Then they get killed and dumped into Turquoise Lake.  But I digress.

Part 3 of “How to Run the Leadville 100:  Choice, Buckle or Death?” Here

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