This summer was an unusual one for us at the Leadville Race Series. For the first time in 37 years we didn’t host a single one of our races, and that left us spiraling with the question of how to move forward? We threw out many different ways that we could engage with our athletes and share our love for endurance sports, and finally settled on a challenge that would require the same grit and resilience that our races do – the Leadville 100K FT Challenge.
Turns out, this challenge was so much more than just a ‘virtual challenge’. We got to see so many participants push themselves outside of their comfort zones, share their passions with new friends through a Facebook group, and revel in the simplicity of running and riding.
We were lucky enough to watch everyone’s very different journeys to 100,000 feet (or even more!), and the new experiences, memories, and discoverings along the way. We heard from many people about how they uniquely got to 100,000 feet and wanted to share some of our favorites…
One of our favorite stories comes from Kathleen Callahan.
“After supporting my husband through the start and finish of every single LT100 MTB, now it’s my time! He has been my #1 support and I beat him to 100,000!” Kathleen’s husband, John also completed the 100,000 foot challenge this summer, adding to his record of completing 27 of the 27 physical Leadville Trail 100 Mountain Bike races. John is only one of two people to complete every single race since its inception, alongside Todd Murray. Kathleen and John’s son, Kevin, has also completed two Leadville Trail 100 races.”
Some of our other favorite accomplishments from participants include:
- “I climbed all 58 unique Colorado 14ers.” – Michael B.
- “The challenge motivated me to finally climb Mt. Elbert, Colorado’s highest peak at 14,433 feet.” – Bob F.
- David C. lives in Indiana and completed the Leadville 100K Ft Challenge in less than 2 weeks with the help of a treadmill and a DIY 17% incline!
- Ben R. from California climbed a whopping 418,590 ft of elevation on his bike this summer.
- Cole S. gained 24,957 feet in one climb during a 34 hour trek across Mt. Rainier in Washington.
- Melissa H. said, “We officially finished the Leadville 100,000 foot challenge on top of Mt. Bierstadt, which was also our kid’s first-ever 14er. I’m so proud of these kids. They worked so incredibly hard doing stair repeats during the week more times than I can count and long hikes on the weekends to help our team finish the challenge.”
- Terrence G. climbed 21 flights of stairs in his apartment 10 times per day, to gain his elevation in New York City.
- Gabor K. never mountain bikes without his dog, Levi, and therefore, his dog completed the whole challenge (100,000 vertical) with him!
- Jack B. lives in St. Augustine which is super flat. Therefore, to get his vertical feet he continuously rode back and forth over a bridge, which in the end, he calculated that he rode across the bridge for 1,000 miles.
- Jill P. said, “We got our daughter pedaling on two wheels without training wheels by herself during the challenge!” Jill then chased her kids around the driveway to get her vertical feet completed.
- Lisa K. lives in Scottsdale and did everything outside and in record high temps in July. Her husband joked she should win the “Hot Head” award!
- Andre H. lives in Texas and did almost all of his elevation gain running up parking garages!
For the challenge, runners had to complete 100,000 feet of elevation gain in 10 weeks, while cyclists had 8 weeks to complete the 100,000 feet of elevation gain. Participants could sign up individually, or as a team of two to complete the challenge. The challenge officially wrapped up on August 15th for riders, and on August 22nd for runners, with 2,000+ participants having signed up to take on this challenge. Additionally, participants resided from all 50 states plus 17 countries!
We also were very impressed with the creativity of our participants. Some of our favorite team names included: Chafing the Dream, Shut Up Legs!, Netflix and Hill, Fueled by Mini Muffins, The Young and the Breathless, Caution: Idiots Climbing and Burrito Slayers.
Aside from the physical and mental rewards for participants, the challenge also raised money for the Lake County School District’s lunch program. As a result of registration fees and individual donations from the challenge, approximately $140,000 dollars was raised for the Leadville school district.
We are so proud and amazed by every single person who participated. Look out for our next exciting virtual challenge, which will certainly require the same grit and resilience you’d expect from a Leadville Race Series event. Happy trails!