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Face of the Race: Smokey Burgess

When it comes to the Leadville Trail 100 Run, Smokey Burgess has experienced it all: He’s been a pacer eight times, crewed three times, and is headed for his third time actually pounding the 100+ miles of pavement and trail on his own two feet. Burgess’ goal for 2013? This Leadville local wants the big buckle, of course. 

Every runner has a different reason for being hooked. Why do you run?

I grew up running so it has just always been a part of my life. I run because I can’t imagine not running.

Do you run through the winter? What is your average mileage at this point in the year and what are you focusing on in your training?

I do run through the winter but it’s on snowshoes. We pack out the bike trails and get to run on fantastic singletrack all winter. The ski and snowmobile trails are also great for snowshoe running. Nordic skiing is a big part of my winter training as well. My average mileage this time of year is pretty low because I’m still running on snow and skiing. Now that the snow is starting to melt, it’s time to concentrate on getting in those long runs and increasing mileage.

How long have you lived in Leadville? What do you love about it?

I have lived in Leadville for 17 years. I love that Leadville is a real mountain town and I love the people.

Give us a local’s perspective: What is Leadville like the rest of the year (when the two different LT100 groups are not descending upon the city)?

Leadville is a lot different the rest of the year than what it’s like during the races. It gets pretty crazy up here in August. You haven’t truly experienced Leadville until you’ve visited it in the winter. It’s laid back and chill.

Where can we find you when you’re not on the trail?

I own a shop here in town, Community Threads. It’s a consignment shop that does clothing and sporting goods. I can see the start/finish line from my counter. We greatly appreciate the race series and business that the races bring to our small town.

What are your goals for this season?

My only goal this year is to get the big buckle.

You’ve been on all sides of the LT100 race experience, as a pacer, a competitor, and crew. Do you have a favorite of the three?

Definitely as a competitor. After crewing and pacing for many years, I thought I had a good idea what the race was all about, but it wasn’t until I actually experienced those exhilarating highs and terrifying lows that I truly understood.

What are your top tips for being a good pacer?

My best advice for being a good pacer is to have a conversation with your runner before the race and identify your role and duties.

Have you experienced breaking points during a race? How do you push through and keep putting one foot in front of the other?

I have definitely experienced those breaking points during the race, but then I just focus on the little victories, like getting to the top of a climb or even just getting to that rock up there.

What’s your best advice for those attempting the LT100 for the first time? 

Be flexible with your race plan. Things don’t always go as planned so be ready to roll with the punches when they don’t.

Any nutrition secrets for training or racing?

I don’t have any secrets. I just eat what I like before I need to.

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