At The Finish Line of the Leadville 100

Cross one more thing off that bucket list for yours truly. I was at the finish line at one of the most amazing races in the world….according to me of course.  But many others share my enthusiasm. Those of you who are runners may already know about this race and if you’re an ultra-marathoner, you probably have run in this thing. And if you’ve read Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen by Christopher McDougall then you know exactly what this thing is.


August 18, 2013. I arrive in Leadville, Colorado at 2:30am after looking forward to this event all summer. I’ve been prepped by blog posters and a runner friend Michael Sandrock in Boulder who said the key is to be at the Finish Line at 10:00am since that’s the 30 hour cutoff time to receive a buckle. And it’s the most exciting because finishing at 30 hours and one second and you don’t get one.


There were about 50 people around me from 2:30am-5:00am including photographers, family and friends of racers and a few others I wasn’t sure about. Just sitting for 5 minutes it was already apparent this was going to be way more worthwhile than a $10 movie ticket and $6 popcorn. And the movie always sucks! I later learned one of the spectators had finished hours earlier, got showered and wanted to see others finish and was sitting nearby. He could’ve at least limped or complained or something for me to recognize he was a runner but I only learned that after he was telling someone he was happy with his time from last year.


The words I would use to describe my 2 hours and 30 minutes of SITTING (a little chilly, little tired) was the way they finished. No they didn’t fall to the ground waiting for the paramedics or scream like they just won the Super Bowl and going to Disneyland. They crossed the finish line, listened to their finish time, glanced at their Garmin on their wrist to see what I’m sure was a plethora of information including their time while hugging whoever was waiting for them. Usually it was a spouse, parents, or a young child which I saw numerous times.


I noticed a few of the pacers might have enjoyed a little medic attention and sometimes looked like they’d just run the 100 miles themselves. I talked to a few of them and one guy paced his friend for 40 miles and had a blast while explaining excitedly he didn’t have to pay! Another paced her newly acquired friend for 30 miles. 25 hours before that she met a runner who needed a pacer because she didn’t have one. Sounds like Happy Gilmore hiring his new caddy for the day not knowing the PGA doesn’t provide caddy’s at tournaments.


So after some quick hugs the medics would point them to a tent to take their vitals before they were allowed to leave. Most thought it was a simple procedure and just part of the game. One guy clapped his hands in the air after learning he only lost .8 lbs after 24 hours of running. Again, the pacers looked like the sore achy ones while the racers probably wanted to run to their hotel for a shower without having the nuisance of finding their car, crunching into a sitting position then having to stop at street lights along the way.


5:00am  Blanket and pillow waiting for me in the car since I needed some shuteye. Oh yeah, it was in the low 40’s or high 30’s which is expected at an elevation of 10,200 feet. 5:00am is also the 25 hour cutoff for a small buckle which signifies less finishers to watch thereafter and sleep for me during this 5 hour interval until the 30 hour cutoff at 10am.


9:00am it’s time to wake up and get back to the finish line for this is going to be the highlight of my viewing pleasure. The Finish Line is now filled with a ton of people along with the surrounding portable bleachers.


The accomplishment of running for 20 hours is beyond my comprehension. 30 hours is farther off the charts and don’t get me started about a lady who persevered for 30 hours 27 minutes (10:27am finish) who I found about a half mile away from the finish line.  I found her after driving my car up the hill to see if anyone else was coming before heading out of town.


Here’s the main difference I witnessed from 9am-10am:


–         Runners are dirty. Socks, shirts, legs.  Either I didn’t notice earlier in the darkness or these are the people who fell along the way.


–         Runners now need the medics. These runners are world class but they aren’t the racers. They’re the finishers. Some, to my relief and understanding are looking beat up. One guy threw up and another collapsed after crossing the finish line. At first I thought it was a celebration but then he didn’t get up. Not an emergency but he of course went to the head of the line at the medic tent.


–         Runners acted with total thankfulness to their pacers. I mean hugs and thank you’s and I couldn’t have done this without you’s. I kept getting confused of who was the racer and who was the pacer.


The grand highlight was a runner who was coming down the hill about ½ mile away with 7 minutes to go before the 30 hour cutoff. (9:53am if you’re scoring at home) Angst was the word to describe people in the bleachers and near the finish line. People started yelling “go get him, he’s not gonna make it, someone go help him, don’t let him miss the cutoff, he can do it, he’s fine, he’s walking fine, he’s not running…!”  It was getting louder and louder to the point of almost absolute chaos that this can’t happen on our watch, on this day.


He made it. I’m not sure how loud it was but I’d put those same people (300+) up against a few thousand SEC football fans any day of the week and twice on Saturday.



2013 Leadville 100 Men’s Race Results

  1. Ian Sharman (SCOTT Sports) – 16:30:03
  2. Nick Clark (Pearl Izumi) – 17:06:29
  3. Mike Aish – 17:27:59
  4. Kyle Pietari – 18:37:21
  5. Andrew Catalano – 18:43:26
  6. Timo Meyer – 19:04:19
  7. Eric Sullivan – 19:17:33
  8. Scott Jurek (Brooks) – 19:21:54
  9. Bob Africa – 19:38:41
  10. Javier Montero – 19:45:46

Click here for the full results whether they finished or not. Kick Ass competitors in my book.


2013 Leadville 100 Women’s Race Results

  1. Ashley Arnold (Salomon) – 20:25:43
  2. Shaheen Sattar – 22:42:41
  3. Keila Merino – 22:47:36
  4. Katrin Silva – 23:16:25
  5. Rebecca Hall – 23:43:13
  6. Kara Henry – 23:50:20
  7. Abby Mcqueeney Penamonte – 24:06:20
  8. Maddy Hribar – 24:24:20
  9. Nicole Studer – 24:25:43
  10. Maggie Nelsen – 24:37:45


Click here for the full results whether they finished or not. Kick Ass competitors in my book.|Gender%20Results&format=view

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