2009 Leadville Trail 100 Run champion Timmy Parr returns to the race for the third time this year. We talked with him about his recent move to Leadville, setting “extreme” goals and his love of the ultrarunning journey.
What instigated your move to Leadville — was it a teaching job? What do you teach?
Last year in May I earned my Masters of Education. The previous year I received my Colorado Teaching License in Social Studies. It was the culmination of many years of hard intensive work. In July I applied to Leadville and was soon hired with the school year fast approaching. We quickly moved and I started teaching history and psychology.
What is it like to live in Leadville? What are some of your favorite things about the city?
Well, the town is small. We have one grocery story: a Safeway. Overall, I love the nearby mountains, the views and the trails. Currently the trails are buried under snow but once they are free of snow they will be amazing. I’m an avid mountain climber so living at 10,000 feet makes high altitude climbing a little easier. In January I went up Mt. Elbert with training partner Marco Peinado. We were racing the sunset to the summit and were amazed with how comfortable we felt at 14,000 feet. I also love the history here. I’ve gone for runs and discovered – well, rediscovered – old mine shafts or dilapidated 100-year-old cabins.
You first ran the LT100 in 2009, but said the race initially came on your radar in 1998. Were you an ultrarunner in 1998, or did learning about the LT100 introduce you to the idea?
I was in high school in 1998. I might have run the LT100 the next year; however, at that time there was an age requirement of 21 to race. Instead I focused on doing the double at Pikes Peak. After high school I ran in college at Western State Colorado University. After college I spent two years at competitive marathoning and then started ultras in 2008. That year I once again focused on Pikes Peak. The following year I made the LT100 my ultimate focus.
Tell us a little about your first LT100 experience — and the win — in 2009.
2009 was a great year of training when everything came together. I trained my tail off. The morning prior to the race I got a phone call from Duncan Callahan informing me I had to check into the race… I had somehow missed that. I jumped out of bed, grabbed some racing gear, jumped in my car, and sped to Leadville where I made the weigh in with two minutes to spare. The next day we raced. I went out way too hard. By mile 65 I was reduced to walking hoping that I could finish in less than 30 hours. My pacer held a shirt over my head for shade. I was in third and mentally almost ready to pull out of the race. My pacers got me through; I turned the corner and mentally came back. I could not physically win until I had conquered myself mentally.
What are you focusing on in your training this year? Are you doing anything different than you did when training for the 2009 and 2011 races?
Living at Leadville does mean my training overall is slower. This in turn means I’m focusing on more speed. In 2011 I did less speed and it showed in my result. This year I’ll be focusing on mile repeats and long tempo runs.
You have a young daughter, Katrina. Any other children? How does being a parent affect your training and racing?
I have a wonderful wife Lynnette who encourages and supports me in my racing. We have our daughter Katrina. Currently no other children — unless you count my 11 year old dog Cody. I take him out daily for an easy 2-3 miles. Being married and a parent just means I need to have better time management skills. I often run in the morning while the others are asleep. I set running priorities while emphasizing family time. It is a balancing act… but life overall is a balancing act.
What are you looking forward to about running this year’s race?
Journey. Experience. Discovery. The journey in training to get to the starting line will take another five months. I look forward to toeing the line and knowing I can race 100 miles. I look forward to the experience. Even when you are fit and ready for a 100-mile race it is still an extreme challenge. The day itself seemingly lasts forever while simultaneously speeding to a close. I’ll be racing the sun to get as far as I can before nightfall. Overall, I look forward to the discovery of pushing myself and seeing what I can do that particular day.
What advice would you offer to someone attempting this race for the first time this year?
Come mentally prepared! When you feel horrible and ready to drop out or give up you need to mentally keep going. Know that if you are patient your lows in the race will be followed by highs. Mentally know that you will race well and finish.
Anything else you’d like to mention?
What’s next? I’d like to push myself this year. I’ve set some extreme goals and will try to achieve them. However, even with extreme goals I will not lose sight of why I run. I love the freedom that comes with running. I love the journey…