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Running 100 Miles

Posted by Gale Bernhardt Aug 20, 2007


Running for 100 miles is entirely beyond my image of "doable for Gale". I just don't think I'm built to be running for 100 miles, nor does it even sound like a fun thing to do.



I've trained a 100-mile ultra-runner, I know what it takes to be ready for such an event. I have a deep admiration and athletic respect for people that can do things I cannot imagine doing.



Last Saturday I was a volunteer at the 50-mile turn around aid station, the ghost town of Winfield, for the Leadville 100 Mile Race Across the Sky Run. Some racers came through looking great (which blows me away), others looked good, some okay and a few not-so-good. Seriously, think about driving your car 50 miles, then consider running that distance.



It's not only the distance, but the course. The profile you see on the link is only half of the course. Racers turn around and at the small yellow dot and go back to town again.



Altitude? Of course. Climbing? Absolutely - the official website notes 14,958 feet of elevation gain (and loss) over the 100 miles. Ouch.



I was able to get a few photos at the aid station before the runners started pouring in. The food tent volunteers, organized by Harry Camp were ready and waiting.





Volunteers brought up drop bags for the racers and organized them for the runners. Some runners would use only the drop bags, others would meet crew members and pacers.





Winfield is the first place that runners can meet pacers should they choose to have pacers. Some runners use only one pacer to help get them from Winfield to the finish line, others use a different pacer at each opportunity.



Pacers can indeed help the runners hold a steady pace, pacing them to a faster finish. Some simply encourage the runner to keep moving. The pacers can be pack mules and carry all of the runner's supplies; leaving them with only one thing to carry, the hope and dream of completing the race.



My buddy Eric did not achieve his Leadman goal. When he got to Winfield his hamstrings and calves were taking turns locking up. His pace reduced to a stiff walk, he was able to get just beyond Winfield and up part of Hope Pass before he decided this was not his day. Doing the other four events prior to this one took a significant toll on him.



Best I can tell from the website results, 24 people registered for the Leadman goal and 5 made it through all of the events. For just the 100 mile run, 583 people registered and only 210 completed the event under the 30-hour time limit.



Beginning at 4:00 am on Saturday morning, runners needed to be across the finish line by 10:00 am on Sunday morning. The shot below is looking away from the finish line toward "the hill". Depending on the runner, it typically takes five to seven minutes to get from the top of the hill to the finish line, which is really the top of the hill. Yes, an uphill finish.





The final photo I'll leave you with is a shot of the last finisher, David Strong. Strong indeed. He does have a bit of the "Leadville Lean", the name given to the hunched over running form. Although each runner has their own lean style, I noticed that the variety of Leadville Leans and Ironman Leans are identical.



I hope to be as strong as David when I get to be 62 years young.











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