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The path to becoming Leadville Legendary looks different for everyone. For Roxanne Hall, a Leadville local, it meant a broken leg at a 12-hour race in Mesa Verde, CO, May 2021.
Chasing a goal of finishing her 20th Leadville Trail 100 MTB race in 2023 alongside her husband and Leadville Trail 100 Legacy Foundation Dream Chaser, Ty Hall, things were not looking good for a 2021 race. But if you know Roxanne, you know you can’t keep a strong Leadville woman down. Hear about her 2021 race, the odds stacked against her and how she overcame those odds in her continuous quest for two decades of finding that red carpet at 6th and Harrison. We hope you enjoy her story!
Hi Roxanne, it’s a pleasure to speak with you today. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
What’s it like living in the magical cloud city of Leadville?
Living in the magical city of Leadville has always been a wonderful and exciting experience for me from the time I was very young until now. My young life was filled with many activities including skiing, gymnastics, running, biking, swimming and riding horses. Today my Leadville adventures consist of Nordic Skiing and of course mountain biking.
You and Ty are chasing a 20-year finish together, now slated for the year 2023. In May of last year, the two of you go to Mesa Verde for a 12-hour race. What happened?
Last May 2021, Ty and I went to Cortez CO to compete in the 12 hours of Mesa Verde. This would have been my 14th time to do this race solo. Ty and I rode the course, which is a 17 mile, mostly single-track course with some pretty technical sections and really fun, flowing sections. The next day I was going to ride just half of the course and his friend who was going to be on his team. His friend was running very late. Ty told me to just go without him to do my half lap. I came to one of the more technical sections of the course and for some reason I took a different line and was not going fast enough to make it over the huge rock that extended over the entire trail. My front tire hit a notch in the huge rock and stopped me immediately. I was falling backwards and looked to my left and saw that it was a complete cliff on the left side of the rock. I knew I had to get out of my pedals as fast as a good or I was going off the cliff. I used all my strength to twist of out the pedal and I heard a loud snap. I spun around and awkwardly landed on my right with my bike below me and my left leg in excruciating pain! I looked at my left leg and saw it was immediately swollen and deformed. I screamed and cried because I knew that I had a very bad injury, and I knew that my biking season may be over for the year. One of my friends finally appeared and had me sit on the bottom of the huge rock. She called for help, and it took 2 hours for help to arrive. I was put on a 4-wheeler and had to hold on to the driver. When the trail opened, I had to be put into the back of a side-by-side vehicle for the remainder of the rescue effort. Finally, we arrived at the start/finish area where everyone was camping. Ty took me to the only Hospital in Cortez which was more like an urgent care facility. They did X-RAYs and told us I had broken my leg, but they didn’t know very much about how to take care of it. Ty immediately took a photo of the X-RAY and sent it to the PA who took care of me in 2008 when I was hit by a car. The PA told him that this was a very bad injury and he had to pack me up in the van and get to Vail as soon as possible. If I waited to get expert help I could have gotten compartmental syndrome and lost my leg.
Now most would consider this an anomaly, however, getting hurt and having the odds stacked against you is when you seem to come alive, can you tell us how this year might not be much different?
My body has changed, yet again, in a negative way. Another hunk of metal to hold me together is not a pleasant thing, but I must look at the big picture and always be thankful for what I have and for what I am capable of. I always think about people who are less fortunate like the gentleman who told me to “get on his wheel” in the 2019 100. At that point I looked down and he only had one leg. I couldn’t even keep up with him! What a hero!
Skipping back a bit, it’s now late May, take us through August with your training, how did you battle back from a broken leg and still bag the proper (or close to it) training?
After two months on crutches and non/weight bearing, I had an appointment with my surgeon. I asked him if I could possibly ride my peloton bike for some of my therapy. He gave me the okay to do this, but it was so difficult for some time because I couldn’t even make a complete pedal stroke. I kept working on it until finally one day I made it all the way around. I was so excited and kept working on it I until it became more fluid. My next appointment I asked him if I could ride my mountain bike if I used a flat pedal on the broken leg side. He said I could but only if I was very careful! My training for 2021 Leadville 100 was the least amount of riding I have ever done and the most pain I’ve ever endured. I have such wonderful friends who helped me get on the bike and simply ride. Tamara Jenlink was the first person who went with me for only a small portion of the Mineral Belt trail. I did this short ride a couple times always with friends so if I had issues, I would have help. I gradually increased the distance over weeks. By the end of July I was ready to ride some parts of the 100 course. The major issue with riding the 100 course with one flat pedal was the rough descents. I knew I had to be clipped in to be safer. My next appointment with my surgeon, I asked him if I could clip in on my broken leg side. At first he said no because I might have problems getting out of my pedal and it might cause another injury. He finally said it would be okay if I was extremely careful. Of course in the back of my mind I knew I was going to try to race the 100. I could not tell him this, but this was my ticket to try! The only parts of the course I rode were Saint Kevins and Sugarloaf and only a couple of times before the 100.
Tell me about race day, what was it like getting on that line, how confident were you? Please take us through the whole day.
On race day I was so scared and nervous, I was shaking when I got into my corral and had to say a little prayer to calm my nerves. This was the least amount of training that I had ever done, and I felt weak. Not only was I out of breath on sections that were not very difficult but I was in a great amount of pain especially on the descents. All day I kept looking at my watch and didn’t think I would make it under 12 hours.
On August 14, 2021, Roxanne Hall’s physical and internal battles came to an end as she successfully raced her way up Leadville’s famous red carpet and across that finish line located at 6th and Harrison for the 19th time. For Roxanne, this concluded a painful year of teaching all of us not only what it takes to “Dig Deep,” but how to do so in the same light as Leadville’s leading ladies had to do before her. Our hat is off to you, Roxanne, we can’t wait to see you race across that line again next year for number 20!
My “why” is basically because I absolutely love my bike, I love the feeling of adventure and speed, and I love my hometown race and why it was created in the first place!
What advise can you offer to a first timer?
The advice I would give a first timer, is to check out the course, try riding the major sections if possible. Come to the Leadville 100 camp, dial in nutrition, have appropriate clothing and do not give up!
Will you be back?
We’d like to extend a special thank you to Roxanne for taking the time to tell us her story. If you’d like to follow Roxanne on her journeys, check out his social media links below.
Instagram – @roxanneleighhall
LRS Grit, Guts and Determination Podcast featuring Ty and Roxanne Hall –