Back in 2004, Ken Chlouber had a plan to expand the Leadville Race Series from…
“Snow.” I repeated the word slowly drawing it out, “Snooow.” My 11-month-old daughter Katrina pointed outside at the white falling crystals and giggled to my wife Lynnette and me. We were in our house in Leadville, Colorado getting pounded by the umpteenth storm of the season. I had just gotten back from an early morning run in Leadville; a perfect jaunt through a winter wonderland, albeit a bit slippery.
I moved to Leadville in August of last year after acquiring a job at the local high school teaching history. I ran the Leadville Trail 100 Run in 2009 and 2011 and was planning on running it last year but life got a little busy. I spent the summer looking for a teaching job and unfortunately not training enough. The few training runs I do remember were all in and around Leadville. My favorite was easily an 18 mile 10+ hour day covering 15 mountains summits in the Tenmile Range just to the northeast of Leadville. Then low and behold I moved to Leadville!
As does any runner, I enjoy exploration. Upon moving here I jumped headlong into memorizing every tree, trail and hidden alcove I could find. Discovery was daily, excitement constant. The grand discoveries coupled with the mountain vistas beckoned me further to train.
So, what’s it like living and training at Leadville in the heart of the Rockies at over 10,000 feet? Of course the altitude could either be a seen as a deterrent or embraced. If you want life to be easy, boring and full of lackluster then sit on the couch. However, if you are ready for adventure, excitement and life itself…then step into it. The snow here in Leadville in the winter might slow you down a tad on the roads, or as I see it, it is ever increasing my strength and core. The air is crisp here, waiting for you to breathe in life, exhaling lethargy; the mountains beckoning with the sunbeams catching elusive crags near the high peaks summits.
What a privilege to run in such pristine creation. I’ll be racing the racing the Leadville Trail 100 Run for my 3rd time coming August. I was first introduced to the Leadville Trail 100 Run in August 1998. My family and I were camping at the base of Mt. Elbert (14,440 feet and a few miles away from Leadville). At night I saw periodic headlights bobbing their way along the Colorado Trail beckoning the question, “What are they doing?” My question elicited the response, “A challenging 100-mile race.” In my psyche it provoked something more, something awesome!
Indeed calling a 100-mile run “challenging” is both redundant and inadequate. A 100-mile run is demanding regardless of location or individual fitness. However physically, mentally and emotionally arduous and strenuous a 100 may be, it is equally rewarding and mesmerizing. To defy intimate demands to give up, surpassing the personal trial, allows one to articulately comprehend and appreciate the journey.
My journey has brought me to Leadville. I’m excited to be back running the Leadville Trail 100 Run this year. As always, it will be an intense personal journey aided by family, friends, crew, staff and other runners on the course. They are an inspiration to me. This August the course beckons, nerves escalate, miles depart, hills rise, mountains increase, views abound, spirits soar and journeys are achieved one step at a time.