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    Thursday, August 26, 2010

    2010 Leadville 100 Trail Race Report

    At the start: Greg Labbe, Cabro & Me

     Feeling great after 100 miles in the Rockies.

    My fourth summer in a row visit to Leadville, Colorado and my third completion of the Leadville 100 Mile Trail Race...what an experience.  Deep gratitude for good friends and a strong body.

    Finished!

    This year's race was to be my second attempt at running the entire course barefoot and with my own Luna Sandals.  Two years ago, I started with sandals, but had to change into VFFs KSOs at the top of Hope Pass in order to complete the race due to horrible weather conditions.  This year I was able to run the entire race with my sandals (see www.LunaSandals.com) and in bare feet...a pure joy fest.

    At the finish line carpet, McDougall at my side.

    I spent the week before the race acclimatizing in Leadville staying at the Labbe Family Compound behind the famous Tabor Opera House.  The week leading up to the race included lots of great reunions with old friends along with a couple high mountain hikes.  I have thankfully not suffered from any serious altitude problems while participating in the race...which I believe is connected to my practice of deep nose breathing throughout the week and throughout the run.

    Pacers Jules and Bookis Smuin and me - Post Race in Proven Grounds

    This year, Mas Loco veteran Chris Labbe, aka Cabro, came up with a terrific strategy.  Both he and I had not really been training hard in preparation for the race.  In his case, he just didn't have time.  In my case, I have been purposely finding out what the lowest amount of training is necessary to complete the race well.  For me, that meant averaging less that 15 miles per week throughout the year, completing a marathon in May (Copenhagen Marathon - barefoot), a 50K in June (Vashon Island 50k in Luna Sandals) and a 50 miler in July (White River 50 Mile Trail Race - barefoot & Lunas),...and concentrating on running gracefully and joyfully everyday.

    I also want to add that I spent one week in West Virginia in July training with Erwan Le Corre and practicing MovNat.  Now that added something to my overall fitness for sure.

    Matt Mahoney and me pre race.

    So Cabro's plan seemed genius: we would run to Winfield (the 50 mile point) in 12 hours and 30 minutes and come back in the same amount of time...thus getting in at or under 25 hours...and getting the big belt buckle prize.  Sounded good to me.

    The key to this strategy was going be avoiding trying to go too fast...as a matter of fact, we were going to have to go slow...slower than our bodies craved when fresh, slower than most everyone else on the course.  No easy feat.

    However, I bought in to his plan, mostly because it meant I could take it easy and just enjoy the run through the wilderness...barefoot and in my sandals...and focus on staying focused and smooth and graceful and happy.   I think I succeeded.

    Me and Cabro entering Mayqueen outbound | Photo Matt Mahoney

    All was going according to plan until we started climbing outbound Hope Pass.  Cabro just could not keep his speed down.  Up he went, passing one runner after another...even though we had already tested the idea of keeping the intensity down on this climb.  I tried to stick to the plan, but was sad to see him go, for I was relying on his knowledge of the course and the splits we needed to maintain in order to get under 25.

    On my way outbound to Hagerman Pass | Photo Matt Mahoney

    By the time I got over to Winfield, I was pretty tired.  It's amazing how much energy one must have in order to run 50 miles and still have enough energy to run 50 more.  Once into Winfield, I met up with my first pacer, Dennis Shaver, and was given some homemade burritos (thanks Joey!) that really tasted great after having basically been living off of gels for the last 12 hours.  Dennis' job was to get me up and over Hope Pass a second time...not easy even with fresh legs, but we did it and found ourselves in Twin Lakes for the second time...and me really starting to feel good.

    Matt Mahoney captured this shot of me on my way towards the Hope climb

    In Twin Lakes I picked up my second pacer, Luna Sandal wearing Jules Smuin.  Jules was in for a treat.  As we left Twin Lakes and started our 9 mile journey to Half Moon, I started to feel stronger and stronger.  About half way to Half Moon, I started passing runners and would continue to do so for most of the rest of the race.  Note:  it is a delight to be strong during the last half of a 100 mile race.  While others have spent the day running in the heat to gain position, I was able to preserve myself.  Running at night is easier, primarily because it is cooler.  And with headlights to chase in the distance, one has something to follow and aim for...persistence hunting ones way to the finish.

    Crossing river out of Twin Lakes | Photo Matt Mahoney

    At the Fish Hatchery I picked up my third pacer, Bookis Smuin sporting sandals too.  He paced me up and over Powerline and down to Mayqueen.  We were amazed at the power of my newest light, a Fenix PD30 - the brightest light you could ever hope for, small, lightweight, a dream...making it possible for me to run sections of the trail that proved impossible last year without good light.

    Tracy Thomas and me, day before race.

    Upon arriving in Mayqueen inbound, I picked up my final pacer, Born to Run author Christopher McDougall and he too was wearing sandals.  Now, I truly did have a lot of juice left in me, but I was not about to just run without talking to Mr. Oso.  We turned the last 3 1/2 hours into a time for catching up...hearing about all the exciting things happening including a possible film adaptation of BTR.  Very cool stuff.

    Outbound at Powerline

    We finally arrived at the finish line at 7:16am...27 hours after I had left.  Me feeling great.  Feet feeling great.  It is great to be alive.

    BFT

    Sponsors:  I want to thank the following folks for providing materials necessary for the success of my run: Chocolate #9 of Seattle, ProBar of Utah, Amanda McIntosh and Hammer Gels, Extreme Outfitters of North Carolina and Vibram USA and of course the Luna Sandal Company of Seattle :-)

    Cabro & me entering Treeline outbound


    PS.  My recovery seems complete less than 4 days after the race.  I am stunned and amazed by the body and its capacities...if treated well.  Moral of the story: treat it well.





    Video of me coming into the finish with McDougall at my side and my trusty stick :-)



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