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An Interview with 19-time Finisher and Camp of Champions Coach Todd Murray

Todd Murray has competed at the LT100 MTB every year since 1983, and this year he’s aiming to earn the biggest buckle of them all: the 2,000-mile buckle.

We caught up with Todd to learn his Leadville secrets, and to find out what you can expect when you participate in the Camp of Champions.

Has the LT100 MTB course changed in the 19 years that you’ve competed on it? What are your favorite spots along the course?

In the early years we had to deal with some singletrack that would become very congested in the outbound direction. That piece of the course is no longer there, but the number of riders participating has increased, so congestion on the course still occurs in spots, just in different areas.

Besides seeing the red carpet at the finish line at the end of the race, my second favorite spot on the course is Twin Lakes. There is so much excitement and energy there from the crews and spectators that it really gets you pumped up! It is hard not to blast out of Twin Lakes too fast after getting the rush from the crowd there.

What are the spots along the course that challenge you the most? How have you learned to tackle those challenges?

For me, the single most challenging section of the course is starting the Pipeline climb on the way back. By that point in the race I’m very tired physically, and mentally it is really tough to realize that there is still about 2.5 to 3 hours of racing left, with a grueling climb in the middle that I’ll be pushing my bike up. Fortunately there are always spectators at the steep part of the climb that encourage everyone to keep going and I’ve always fed off of their energy and enthusiasm.

What do you love most about Leadville? Why come back every year?

Leadville is unlike any other race I’ve ever done. The camaraderie among the riders is unlike any other race and people are willing to stop and help in any way they can — I love that. I also love the fact that most riders are not racing against the other riders, but against the clock instead. That makes for a lot of people willing to work with each other to accomplish a common goal of going as fast as they can over the entire race distance while having as much fun as possible.

What’s your number one piece of advice to first-timers attempting the LT100?

My number one piece of advice for a first timer attempting the LT100 would be to show up mentally ready to do one of the hardest — if not the hardest — things they have ever done. With that in mind, show up with the mental plan of finishing the race no matter what obstacles come your way. Most people prepare physically for the race but seem to fail to remember to mentally prepare also. It will be a tough day and you will go through some bad times, but if you can stay focused and positive, you will finish.

What are the benefits of participating in Camp of Champions?

By participating in the Camp of Champions, athletes get a chance to learn from other successful athletes what has worked for them and what hasn’t. I’m a huge fan of learning from others’ mistakes in an effort to avoid making them myself.

What can participants expect from the camp rides? Will you tackle a different part of the course each day? How many miles will you cover?

I have not seen the daily agenda yet for the ride schedule during the Camp of Champions, but I believe that during the camp the entire course will be covered over multiple days, with different sections being ridden each day.

Do you have a tried-and-true method for fueling during the LT100?

For Leadville and all the races I do, I drink all of my nutrition without consuming any solid foods. This has worked for me for many years. My primary sources of fuel are GU Roctane Ultra Endurance Energy Drink and GU Roctane Ultra Endurance Energy Gels.

Do you have any recovery secrets?

For recovery I use GU Recovery Brew. I’m also a firm believer in compression garments for recovery, such as recovery socks and TED hose.

What are your race goals for 2013?

For 2013, my number one goal is to finish the race and get my 20th finish. If all goes well, I’ll get a sub 9-hour finish, and if all goes really well I’ll get a top 10 finish in my new age group, Men’s 50-59.

Any final words of wisdom?

The bottom line for doing well at Leadville is preparing properly. That means physically and mentally. Now is the time to be working on everything from hydration to nutrition to which equipment works the best over the course of multiple-hour rides. Learn from others who have done the race, become familiar with the course, and be proficient at fixing common problems that can occur on the trail like a flat tire or broken chain. With proper preparation, the LT100 can be one of the most demanding and rewarding experiences you will ever have.

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