How to Run the Leadville 100 – Part 1

Here’s the scene: you are at a friend’s holiday party and some d-bag shows up with a belt buckle the size of your VW’s hubcap.  He becomes the center of attention (yes, you’re jealous) and proceeds to woo the crowd.  You even start to question your own sexual preferences because you find yourself staring at his belt and crotch area with a half-smile on your dumb, standing-by-yourself, face.  You finally force yourself to wander over to talk to the man with the shiny beacon.  He’s skinny, almost puny but has the aura of Midas and animated like a cracked out marionette.  After listening to him tell you, and the cast (look it up) of fifteen women bunched in front of him, the tale of courageous suffering and triumph in the wilds surrounding 10,000 ft Leadville, CO, you brush aside the notion to mention the Melanoma 5k you completed last summer, an uninspiring event at which most of the participants were covered up like Saudi Arabian women in winter.

Melanoma 5k where you took 10th in your age group.

That night your mind is filled with images of yourself running through dark woods, over razor-edged mountain ridges, crossing the Vegas-like finish line of the Leadville 100, and, finally, being smothered by women in cocktail dresses wanting to touch your big shiny Leadville belt buckle, which is conveniently close to the crotchal area of your Rod Stewart tight slacks.  Not being able to sleep and encouraged by the images (and lingering buzz from vodka), you register for the Leadville 100 miler – even though you’re not certain where Leadville is actually located.

The next morning the only thing that hurts worse than your hungover, swollen brain is the reality that you are now obligated, at least financially, to run 100 miles at over 10,000 feet elevation.  Upon looking over the race website, your nausea comes to fruition as you stumble across the elevation profile…

At first glance, you find the image sort of cute with the pointy bunny ears in the middle.  Then your gaze drifts down to the diminutive numbers at the bottom and the words “Distance (mi)”.  The furthest you’ve ever run was 20 miles (and that was because you became lost and ended up fighting tears back because it was getting dark and finally getting a ride home from a stranger).  20 miles on the chart looks ridiculously short, so you avert your attention to the numbers on the left and realize they represent feet above sea level.  Holy shit!  Those cute bunny ears go up to 12,600 FEET!  You almost pass out because looking over the rail from the second floor of your shopping mall makes you dizzy.  You almost wish you could impale yourself on the bunny ears and end the imminent suffering.

The Web is such a great place for (some) useful information.  It’s like a garden combined with a junk yard.  So, you do a couple of quick searches and find race reports from other sorry bastards who’ve run the race.  The photos alone are enough to make you finally barf, so you slap the monitor of your laptop closed and begin the mental struggle of acceptance that you are doomed to die at nearly 13,000 feet in a place so harsh that even miners gave up on it.

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