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How To Tackle 100 Miles – Advice From Life Time Staffers

With the Leadville Trail 100 MTB and Leadville Trail 100 Run presented by La Sportiva quickly approaching, we’re here to give you some intel from experienced athletes whom we’re lucky enough to call co-workers! Here in our Colorado Life Time Athletic Events office, there are quite a few employees who have completed the 100 MTB and Run. Those who have participated in the 100-milers were asked to give their two cents about the whole experience, from training all the way up to race day.

We polled five staff members regarding training, nutrition, and race day advice (3 for the MTB, 2 for the Run). On the MTB side, we’ve got advice from the following:

  • Senior Vice President, Kimo Seymour, is an 11-time sub-8 hour finisher, looking to complete his 12th 100 MTB in 2018
  • Vice President of Operations, Michael Melley, is a small buckle finisher of the Leadville Trail 100 MTB
  • Athlinks Media Consultant, Bryan Derstine, has completed the 100 MTB in 2015 and 2016, while looking to complete his third in 2018

On the run side, we spoke to the following staffers:

  • Athlete and Event Customer Support, Drew Schulte, is a 2-time finisher of the LT100 Run
  • Leadville Race Series Athlete Services Specialist, Quinn Cooper, is a 2017 LT100 Run participant and our LRS go-to for all athlete questions

Read on to hear the inside scoop from our very own team members!


Training Tips

As the race is not too far away, it is tough to offer training advice and expect it to make a major impact for your 2018 race. However, it may be beneficial to implement some of these tips in your last few training weeks. A major theme that was echoed by all three 100 MTB finishers was the emphasis on consistency in training. Both Kimo Seymour and Michael Melley, placed a major emphasis on the need to climb in training. “Climb, climb, and climb so more”, says Seymour when asked about his top training tips. Bryan Derstine also highlighted climbing, but placed more of a focus on getting your body use to riding for 8+ hours. “You can do all the climbing you want, but if your body cannot last 8-9 hours in the saddle, then race day will be tough,” says Derstine. So, although the massive elevation gain is a daunting task, make sure you place an emphasis on training rides that mimic an 8+ hour race. Another major factor of the Trail 100 MTB is the elevation. Michael Melley emphasized the importance of training at altitude to prep your body for race day. Melley recalled thinking he was in good shape going into the race, but the elevation quickly made him realize how big of a factor it was in performance.


For long races such as the 100, nutrition is a CRUCIAL part of your success. Fueling for an 8+ hour day can be tricky, which is why all three preached the importance of practicing your nutrition throughout training. Kimo Seymour said “train your system to be able to handle food on your long training rides.” Seymour stated he is quite particular when it came to his nutrition and referred to himself as a “calorie counter.” Knowing how many calories your body can handle per hour is an experiment in its own, which is why training is the perfect time to test what works for you.

Another important nutrition tip that Bryan Derstine mentioned, was the importance of training with whole foods. A majority of the fuel at aid stations consists of fruit, sandwiches, chips, and cookies. Although there will be energy gels and chews at aid stations, Derstine said it is great to know that your body can handle the food at aid-stations on race day.

Race Day + Course Guidance

As you line up on August 11th, make sure your equipment is in top form. Bryan Derstine experienced two flats in each of his two appearances. The first year he raced, he failed to realize he had a faulty spare tube, which gave him a second flat no more than 10 miles after his first. Derstine said the race requires the utmost respect, and the proper equipment is a major part of this. However over the course of this race, expect flats and mechanicals to happen. Just about everyone has to deal with some mechanical issue, so make sure you have experience dealing with potential issues.

Having a tested race day strategy is particular to each rider, but there are certain tips and factors that are beneficial to consider. As mentioned prior, Kimo Seymour made it clear that having a tested nutrition strategy on race day is necessary for a successful day. Know what is available to you at our aid stations and plan accordingly. One of Seymour’s biggest emphasis about race day was the importance of the start of the race. “You can make or break your day in the first 30 miles,” stated Seymour. He recommends erring on the side of caution and riding at a conversational pace to get into a rhythm. In terms of course strategy, Seymour said that getting into a pack between Powerline and Twin Lakes, and Columbine to Twin Lakes is a great way to save energy and gain time back. Riders in a pack save 30% less energy as compared to riding solo, so it is highly beneficial to find packs on the flat sections.

A major player in the 100 are the two historic climbs: the Powerline and Columbine climb. These climbs can play a major factor in your race and if unprepared, can really hurt your chance at your best race. According to Michael Melley, he felt that the Powerline Climb was not as tough as expected, but the Columbine Climb certainly lived up to its name. Despite Melley’s claim, both climbs require big efforts and Bryan Derstine recommends utilizing the aid stations approaching these climbs. The Columbine Climb represents the peak altitude of the race, so getting the necessary fuel and equipment for the long, potentially cold assent can make for a much smoother climb.


Training Tips

A 100 mile race is never easy, no matter how much training one does. This point was emphasized by both Drew and Quinn. This does not mean that you shouldn’t train as much as your schedule allows, but just expect for the race to be incredibly difficult no matter your fitness level. A training tip that was echoed by both Drew and Quinn was training in terms of time and not miles. All miles are not the same, due to vertical gain, elevation, etc., so making sure that your body can spend a certain amount of time running is a better reflection of endurance race fitness.

All runners will be on course in the dark, so Drew mentioned, “make sure you get a few night runs in. Getting comfortable in the dark will allow for more confidence in race especially during those later, grueling miles.”

Quinn and Drew also stated the importance of running at altitude prior to the race. 10,000 feet is tough on your body, so it is beneficial to expose your body to the lack of oxygen. Quinn took this one step forward: “train on course as much as possible, while also making sure your pacers have been on course.” She emphasized the importance of knowing the terrain going into the race.



Similar to the words spoken by the bikers that were interviewed, both Quinn and Drew made it clear to have a nutrition plan prior to race day. They also mentioned the importance of training with whole foods, as they are available on course and a nice change from gels and chews. Quinn used pickles during her race as a great way to regain some lost sodium during the run. Whatever your food of choice is, make sure it has been tested in training and you have access to it on course. Drew also mentioned that it is “incredibly risky to try new nutrition on race day”, due to the chance that your body may not accept it.


Race Day + Course Guidance

A 4 AM start will place runners in complete darkness to start the race. Cold weather is likely present at the start, so be prepared to start the day uncomfortable. The course starts with a fairly severe downhill for the first few miles, and is relatively flat going into the Sugarloaf Pass around mile 18. Drew noted to take advantage of the flat start because there will be many times throughout the race where you are forced to walk. The many steep climbs pose challenges to all runners, but can be aided through trekking poles. “I didn’t use poles the first year, but did my second, and was surprised to see how energy I saved with them” said Drew.

Hope pass is the notorious difficult climb for the Trail 100, but Quinn mentioned not to neglect the Mount Elbert Climb at mile 62. After having just climbed and descended Hope Pass, you reach the low point of the race (9,200 feet) and have to climb back up above 10,000 feet in a little over three miles. These climbs place athletes well over 11,000 feet, so be prepared for the difficult conditions that may await you. Despite the urge to be as light as possible while climbing, it is generally better to make sure you have too much gear because of the unknown weather.

The Leadville Trail 100 MTB and Run are set to be two glorious weekends of athletes achieving their dreams. We hope these few tips help make your races more successful and we can’t wait to see you at the finish line. As you make your way to Leadville for race day, remember the most important advice of all, “You’re better than you think you are. You can do more than you think you can.”

The Leadville Trail 100 MTB and Run are set to be two glorious weekends of athletes achieving their dreams. We hope these few tips help make your races more successful and we can’t wait to see you at the finish line. As you make your way to Leadville for race day, remember the most important advice of all, “You’re better than you think you are. You can do more than you think you can.”

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