I like to look at statistics. Below are some numbers I pulled from the data on Milliseconds Sports Timing. I used the data sets from the all-male and all-female sorts on the Leadville results page. That means the mixed tandem team data is not included in numbers below.
14% of the entry field was women
25% of the w's field didn't show up
64% of the w's start field finished
47% of the w's entry field finished
This includes all-male tandems
13% of the men's field didn't show up
84% of the m's start field finished
71% of the m's entry field finished
I’m interested in what kept the women from showing up to the start line. You can post your comments here on Active, on Facebook or send me a private message at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you know of women that didn't make it to the start, please forward this post to them - thanks.
Something new for this year's Leadville 100 Mountain Bike Race is athlete tracking. Keep in mind it's not exactly "live" - don't think follow someone like GPS tracking. Rather, the athlete tracker will tell you when the athlete crosses certain points on the course.
If this system is like others I've had experience with - don't panic if you can't find your athlete on course. There are often glitches in the system and I can't imagine the challenges on a mountain bike course like this one.
A few days ago, the organizers for the Leadville 100 Mountain Bike Race released the new athlete packet for 2011 and there were some changes made. Good changes – in my opinion.
Recall last year I commented that the race was growing and those growing pains were causing problems. Of that list of issues, two items that have caused the most message board discussion (sans – What tire pressure are you running?) in previous years included the use or non-use of timing chips and how to seed the athletes at the start line.
Though timing chips were used in previous years, they were not utilized to record official race time for the athlete. Official race time was the time you crossed the finish mat. Official start time was when the gun went off at 6:30am. For people lined up a couple of blocks back this meant a several minute time penalty – critical if you’re aiming for a sub-12 or sub-9 finish time.
That issue combined with a first-come-first-serve starting position caused multiple problems that I covered in last year’s blog. To help alleviate these issues, the new race organizers have instituted two important changes:
Your official race time will be recorded by your chip. This means if you have to start 10 minutes behind the leaders at the start line, your timing chip records the difference and gives you “credit” for a start deep in the field.
You will be put into a corral based on your best previous finish time in the past three years. This gives racers with proven experience racing this distance at altitude a seed time over newbies. All newbies (to this race) start at the back. Race bibs will be color-coded and those cheating by seeding themselves into an inappropriate corral will be disqualified.
I think these changes are positive and will be effective. We’ll see if I’m right in about a week.
This morning there was a press release that Cadel Evans is confirmed for the USA Pro Cycling Challenge, slated for August 22-28.
By next week we should know if the entire Tour de France podium from 2011 will be in Colorado for the week-long race. The team rosters should be complete by August 4th. The rumor mills are hot and heavy that the Schleck brothers will be racing in Colorado as well – skipping the Vuelta a Espana.
For those of you that didn’t get into the Leadville 100 Mountain Bike Race via the early lottery, I mentioned in a previous blog that there would be three qualifier races this year. They are:
June 19th, 2011 100K Wilmington/Whiteface
July 10th, 2011 Lake Tahoe Trail 100K
July 31, 2011 Crested Butte Alpine Odyssey
The qualifiers are intentionally selected and designed to mimic the conditions at Leadville, sans the altitude.
Each of the events will have 100 slots for the qualification process. The qualification process at each event is:
Fifty (50) spots will be allocated based on the top age-group performance. The spots will be proportionally spread across age groups based on the age-group profile of registered athletes (e.g. if 70% of the registered athletes are men, then approximately 70%, or 35, of the slots will be allocated to men). There will be at least one qualifying spot per age group.
The other fifty (50) spots will be allocated by drawing among finishers who meet the time standard specific to that qualifier. The time standard for Leadville Qualifying Series Races is designed to establish a threshold level of performance that suggests that an athlete has a reasonable likelihood of finishing the Leadville Trail 100 in less than 12 hours.
The time standard will vary from race to race depending on the race's length, profile, total amount of climbing and base altitude. The number of spots per age group and the time standard for each race will be posted no less than 48 hours before the start of each race.
Only riders who achieve the time standard will receive a spot in the Leadville Trail 100.
Racers will now be lined up according to past performance, with the professional racers at the beginning and the slower, beginner racers taking up the end of the line of the mass start.
Though it sounds good on paper, rather in cyberspace, but there will need to be a way to enforce any proposed changes to the start. You see, in past years, racers were instructed to line up according to past and/or predicted performance.
Some did line up in the correct area. (“Areas” were in one-hour increments such as sub-8-hour performance, 8 to 9 hours, 9 to 10 hours, 10 to 11 hours and 11 to 12 hours.) The areas were marked by volunteers holding cardboard signs on the side of the road.
Here are some of the issues with the past attempts to corral athletes according to predicted performance seed times:
Overestimation of ability. People with zero experience mountain bike racing believe that 100 (104 actually) miles on a mountain bike can’t be that much harder than a hilly road bike course. Particularly since the rumor is Leadville is “not technical”.
The Hollywood effect. Some athletes are eager to say they rode on the wheel of one of the big stars of the sport. Others get a charge out of getting their photo taken while standing near some of the name-recognized racers. Still others want work to get a cameo appearance in video footage. These people line up as close as possible to the professional racers.
Honor system is based on wishes for some. People really do want to perform at a sub-9-hour speed. They’ve trained for it and many believe they are capable. Want and wish is different than actual. Race seeding should be based on some actual performance, not a wish.
Loosely encouraged. In the past, racers were loosely encouraged to line up according to ability. As a result, racers lined up where they pleased, based on personal justification. In some cases it happened, in others it didn’t.
What to do?
I have some thoughts:
All racers with past race performance in the Leadville 100 Mountain Bike Race have established times. Use those times to establish start priority. Since some people have had mechanical issues, and last year’s time might not be the best, look at the last three to five years and allow the racer to have the best time in that period to establish start wave.
For the qualifying races, there are probably racers that have done both races in the past. Use that data to establish a scaling factor to seed qualifying racers into Leadville waves.
Assign each racer a color-coded and bar-coded bike plate or in the race chip. On race morning, all color-coded bar plates in the sub-8-hour corral will be the same. All color-coded plates in the 9 to 10 hour corral will be the same, etc. On race morning officials can easily see if someone is in the wrong corral.
With today’s technology it is easy to track all athletes electronically. Do the wave start any way you please (rolling or staged 30-seconds apart), but any way you choose, it is possible to track if people are in the correct wave or not.
Lastly, if there is no way to enforce the performance-based start, there will be no changes in athlete behavior.
So what if a racer is a beginner and lines up in the 8- to 9-hour corral?
Back in August, I wrote a column that asked if the Leadville 100 Mountain Bike Race was becoming the next Ironman phenomena. It looks like that story is one step closer to reality.
Traditionally a lottery pick, with the entry deadline coming up on Monday, January 31, race organizers have added three qualifying events to help riders enter by performance rather than luck. The currently unnamed qualifying events will be held in California, Colorado and a Northeast location. Each event will have 100 qualifying slots, totaling 300 riders out of a 1500-rider field. (website paste below)
Singletrack.com notes that “The three qualifying races will expand to an eight-race series by 2013 with additional races added in Texas, the Southwest, Midwest, Southeast and an additional California event.”
From the Leadville Trail 100 race website FAQ section:
Is there a limit on the number of participants in the race?
Yes, here are the caps for each race:
The Leadville Trail 100 Mountain Bike Race has a limit of 1,500 cyclists.
The Leadville Trail 100 Run has a limit of 750 runners.
The Leadville Trail Marathon has a limit of 1,000 runners.
The Leadville Trail Heavy Half Marathon has a limit of 500 runners.
The Silver Rush 50 Mountain Bike Race has a limit of 1,000 cyclists.
The Silver Rush 50 Trail Run has a limit of 750 runners.
The Leadville Trail 10K Run will have a limit of 500 runners.
Last night was the premier of the Race Across the Sky Movie, documenting the 2010 Leadville 100 Mountain Bike Race. This is the second movie about the race, produced by Citizen Pictures.
Though I attended the Fort Collins, Colorado event, live feed from the Denver event was shown on the big screen. The live feed included a panel discussion before and after the movie. Panel members included Bahram Akradi (founder of Life Time Fitness and new owner of the race), Levi Leipheimer (2010 men’s winner), Dave Wiens (eight-time finisher, six-time winner), Rebecca Rusch (two-time winner, including 2010), JHK (Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski, second place 2010) and Erik Weihenmayer (first legally blind racer to finish the event as a tandem stoker, accomplished Mount Everest climber). The panel discussion was moderated by Boulder, Colorado’s Dave Towle.
The film began with race founder Ken Chlouber in the depths of what I assume was the Climax Molybdenum Mine. The history of Leadville is hand-in-hand with the mining industry. The mountain towns like Leadville were built on hard work, persistence and digging deep. That theme carries though the race.
There was a much better balance this year of film footage of the elite racers and ordinary people. Similar to the NBC broadcast of Ironman World Championships – if you need inspiration, you can find it in the people featured in the movie. The human interest stories included athletes able to race after surviving accidents, battling disease, fighting the age clock, racing in memory of others and racing in spite of other various obstacles.
The graphics showing the course were well done as was the pre-race course shakedown. There were loads of race-day struggles and triumphs. Those small clips woven together give viewers hints of the course difficulty.
I know it isn’t as easy to do as the men’s race; but it would be great if the top ten women were honored at the close of the film in the same manner that the top ten men were honored. At minimum, list the top ten women rather than just the top five.
Overall, I thought Citizen’s did a great job. If you love to ride and could use a bit of inspiration (who can't use inspiration?) take the time to see this film.
I’ve gotten several questions from racers asking about walking vs. riding the Columbine Mine section of the Leadville 100 Mountain Bike Race. I’ve told them that walking the steepest sections of the climb may not hurt your overall race time and may help.
How can walking during a mountain bike race make you faster?
Doing any ultra-distance race that takes some 9 to 12 hours for 86-percent of the field, is a balancing act for the majority of riders. Many of these races, Leadville included, have cut-off times at various aid stations. You have to be fast enough to make the cut-offs early in the race without that speed costing you so much that you blow up later in the race.
The 2009 race was an unplanned lesson in walking for me. I ended up walking more the Columbine Mine section that I had done in past years. There was really no choice because the road was rock and rutted, there were riders coming down the mountain at high speeds (using the left side of the road), and everyone in front of me was walking. There was no easy way to pass people without spending loads of energy and risking a crash. So I walked and pushed my bike.
When faster walkers wanted by, I happily let them go. If people were trying to ride through that mess, I gave them as much room as possible. When others were grumbling about walking, I just kept thinking…most speed, least cost. It paid off.
Below is a chart that summarizes my past five races:
Twin Lakes I
Twin Lakes II
Turn around at top of hill
Turn around bottom of hill by old building
Added 1mi to course, single-track, TWI, PII affected
The top line for each year is the split time, the bottom line is accumulated total through that aid station.
Though I walked more of the mine in 2009 than the previous year, I was at higher intensity for less time on that climb. I think that helped me cut half an hour off the back end of the race because I was able to ride a faster average speed coming from Pipeline II to the finish line.
If you are forced, or choose to, walk some of the steep sections at high altitude; perhaps it will work in your favor?
In a previous blog, I wrote about the felony charges filed against a couple of women involved in cheating scheme for the 2009 Leadville 100 Mountain Bike Race.
Wendy Lydall (the woman that actually rode the event) has pleaded guilty to third degree criminal trespass, a misdemeaner charge. She has a one-year deferred sentence as long as she takes a bicycle safety education course, writes a letter of applogy to the race organizers and to the community. Not fulfilling those arrangements could land her in jail for up to 6 months.The race director is also looking for a complete explanation as to how the two pulled off the switch, getting through the pre-race check-in process that requires a photo ID.
The second woman, Katie Brazelton, has yet to face the judge.
It wasn’t that long ago that I wrote a two-part story on Liars, Cheater and Thieves in your sports. In Part II of the column, I investigated why people do these dishonorable acts and potential options for event directors to pursue offending athletes. I inquired if some of these actions were illegal?
Ken Chlouber, long-time race director for the Leadville Trail 100 series of events, thinks so.
Veteran racer Wendy Lyall used Katie Brazelton’s entry number in the 2009 race. This kind of behavior often goes unnoticed; however Lyall (age 36) happened to place second in the 40-49 age group.
Though details are unclear at this time, somehow Lydall made it past the photo-ID check at registration. This could be done by Brazelton simply picking up all of the registration materials or by Lyall bypassing the registration table or by claiming she left her ID elsewhere and a kind check-in person didn’t push the issue.
The Denver Post reported that a local bike shop pleaded to get Brazelton an entry, when she didn’t get entry via the lottery system. Accommodating the local shop, Chlouber gave Brazelton an entry. According to the Post, Brazelton was injured and didn’t want to be out the $250 entry fee. (Apparently selling the entry to Lyall?)
Tipped off by an anonymous caller, Chlouber is the first race director I’m aware of that has taken a strong stand to protect his asset - the race. He has filed criminal impersonation charges against both Lyall and Brazelton. This is a Class 6 felony.
Chlouber is drawing a hard line in the sand. The race will not tolerate liars, cheaters and thieves. Certainly others will think twice about pulling shenanigans with this race series.
Will other event directors follow this lead? Is it possible that Chlouber has drawn a hard line in the sand not only for his event, but for others as well?
The outcome of the case, and the future of cheaters in endurance sports, will be very interesting.
Todays blog was sparked by a combination of reading several blogs over the past week, having several conversations with racers (triathletes, cyclists and runners), volunteering at the 50-mile point of the Leadville 100 running race, watching Pb-ville 100 runners four miles from the finish line at 7:00am yesterday morning (after they had been running for 27 hours) and add a dash of personal reflection.
In my Leadville debrief, I didnt make much mention of pain and suffering. Im not sure why I tend to gloss over it, perhaps its my way of remembering only the positives and moving on to the next adventure. It was the Dave Wiens blog, part II, recounting how the race really went down in the pro field, which reminded me of how hard that race is without weather and then how hard this years race was due to rain and cold. (If you havent read Daves blog, it is worth a look.)
1. Everyone suffers - from the leaders to the last soul in a race. If you are going to race, and quite frankly make it through life, you WILL suffer. You can see by Daves recount of the race, he battled pain and cold just like every other rider in the event.
Yes, there were times I was cold during the race. I had to stop and put a jacket on. I did a constant monitoring process on my cold fingers how numb is okay? Can I still use the brakes? Yes. Okay, go for awhile longer and see how it goes.
There were times I battled leg cramps. It has happened each year and it occurs at a different point in the race each time. To deal with it, I would change positions on the bike, change gears, grab the cramping muscle and pinch/massage it while still riding. Id take another electrolyte tab. Id drink more. I did everything I could think of to lessen the pain and make it go away all while still trying to keep rolling.
The first time I had vicious leg cramps was during my night ride of a 24-hour relay mountain bike race. The pain was so fierce, I had to get off the bike and walk. Its dark; its raining; its cold; there arent many people around; surely there are lions, tigers and bears (oh my!) in the woods; and I had to figure out a way to get off the mountain and back to the safety of my team camper. After awhile I figured out that I could change my position some on the bike and make the cramps go away. I also figured out that there were some sections of the course that triggered the cramps (short, steep, technical climbs) so I got off and walked/ran those sections. It was simply the best/fastest race strategy for me.
In that relay race, I rode another lap the next day in the daylight, still pouring rain, and still managing the cramps though they werent as bad as in the night lap. I didnt really know how that day lap would go, but I decided I could simply walk/hike/jog any section that caused me problems. Yes, I wanted to ride the entire course, but that was no longer an option for me.
2. When things dont go to original plan, be willing to modify the plan.
3. Is it more important to you to reach a particular time or finish place, than it is to simply finish the event? Each person, at each event, needs to answer this question head-on. If you change your goal to just finishing the event, you may be pleasantly surprised at your time. If you are so invested in a time goal (Ironman athletes in particular) that any deviation puts your head in the tank, you will quit. Quitting gives no opportunity for pleasant surprises.
During this Leadville race, the left side of my lower back hurt. Im not sure why. It hadnt hurt anytime before or after the race. Like my leg cramps, I managed it by moving around on the bike, trying to see what I could do to make the pain go away. I was able to get it to a tolerable point of discomfort.
I rode all the descents as fast as I could, however that meant some aggressive braking at various moments to control speed and avoid other racers. Pushing this limit for hours made my triceps ache. Pretty much after the Columbine descent, they reminded me of their exact anatomical location with every hard or long braking action. At least they took my attention away from my back for those moments.
4. Every racer that pushes his or her own personal limit suffers physical pain, deals with pain and somewhat enjoys managing pain. Pushing the edge hurts. If you are entirely comfortable for an entire race, you arent racing youre on a comfortable group ride. Being comfortable is a different goal than racing your limit and risking physical failure. Know that Im not judging the goals as good or bad simply different.
5. The more opportunities you have to fail, learn something and try again, the more tools you have in your tool chest of options. Ive raced a lot. I started competitive swimming when I was 10 and had weekly opportunities to risk my ego. When I had bad races, I lived through them. People that swam slower than me in practice kicked my hiney in races. I found it curious and inspiring.
6. Race more. There is no other way to get racing experience, other than to race. Sure, you can read books to help you; but you have to get out there and risk physical, mental and emotional pain in order to become a better racer. Fast group rides do help, but they do not carry the mental and emotional risk of a race.
I cant tell you exactly where my physical limits lie. I can tell you that there are people out there willing to suffer and risk much more than I. Ive seen racers completely wasted in the medical tent, unable to walk. Ive not been there and I dont want to go there.
I know of racers that have suffered long-term health damage after suffering through an event. Ive not been there and I dont want to go there.
7. Suffering physical pain in an event is somewhat like doing a risk-reward analysis on your investment portfolio. Big risk, big suffering can often bring big rewards but not always. Low-risk or no-risk can bring limited rewards; but it depends on your personal definition of reward.
I cant tell you when to keep racing or when to stop, due to extreme conditions or physical pain. You have to make that decision for yourself. Your suffering limits are likely different than mine, some of you have a much higher tolerance for pain than I do.
If you had a race where you dont feel like you pushed your limits, learn from it and decide what you want to do differently, if anything, in the future.
There really are no easy steps to learning how to suffer or what your suffering limits are, you have to gather that experience for yourself.
If you follow sports whatsoever, by now you know that Lance Armstrong won the Leadville 100 Mountain Bike race in a time of 6:28. He beat the course record and dethroned six-time champion Dave Wiens (6:57). You can do a search for the event and find all the details and videos you please of these two great athletes and the top five or so men in the event.
What is tough to find in print or video media, is coverage of the real tough-gals and tough-guys of the event. I want to tell you about these superhumans.
The overall female winner, Rebecca Rusch from Ketchum Idaho, placed 30 OVERALL. Yes, overall and with a time of 8:14. (She is in the photo below, left to right, Ken Chlouber, Rebecca, spectator in the background, Dave Wiens and Lance Armstrong). Second female, Amanda Carey from Victor Idaho was second female and 66th overall with a time of 8:40. KC Holley from Spanish Fork, Utah was third female, 126 overall with a time of 8:59.
Two women rode the event on single-speed bikes. That is da/mn tough. Kara Durland from Colorado Springs, Colorado was the first singly with a time of 11:19. Second was Amy Owens from Denver, Colorado with a time of 11:28.
The mens single-speed division was tough as well. The top single-speed male was Charlie Hayes from Boulder, Colorado with a time of 8:11. David Bott from Buena Vista, Colorado was second with a time of 8:43. Third place was Kenny Jones of Provo, Utah with a time of 8:49.
As if going for the Leadman distinction isnt hard enough, Corey Hanson and John Odle did the mountain bike race on single speeds. (Leadman is completing five Leadville events the marathon, 50-mile Silver Rush mountain bike race, the 100-mile mountain bike race, the 10k running race done the morning after the 100-mile mountain bike race and capped off with a 100-mile run done a week after the 100-mile mountain bike race.)
You think descending on a mountain bike is scary? How about grinding it up a steep, loose section? Try it on a tandem. Serena and Mark Warner did it in 10:48, followed by Mark and Jon Hirsch in 11:14. Charles Schuster and Karla Wagner round out the top three with a time of 11:19.
Id tell you about the oldest female and male finishers, but I cant tell from the results page who those people might be.
It was a tough race day with rain and cold temperatures. (Ill give you my personal race debrief later in the week. Ill also finish the France trip series.) Here are a few stats I compiled from the results page:
1307 people started the race
896 official finishers (I gave the last racer the two-minute timing chip leeway that the race directors gave at the awards ceremony)
40% of the entry field did not finish the race
33% of the starting field did not finish
The stats tell you that it was obviously a tough race, made more difficult by the conditions that day. Hats off to everyone that trained, took the challenge and did the best they could on that day.
A couple of weeks ago I was up in Leadville for a course pre-ride. Marilee, the race director, mentioned that the Leadville 100 Mountain Bike race would be available for viewing on the internet. On August 15th, they will have a live stream webcast that will feature four, 30-minute segments. The segments will include the race start, mid-way of the race for the top riders, the finish for the top riders and finally the last 30 minutes of the race including the “Last A$$ up the Pass” – i.e. the last official finisher.
Yesterday I spoke to race promoter Kathy Bedell and she told me that Lance and Dave are racing, but so is Jeremiah Bishop (2008 National Champion for short track and marathon mountain bike) and Tinker Juarez (2 x Olympian, 4 x 24-hour solo champion). Kathy told me that they are not counting out Levi Leipheimer yet – hoping the broken wrist he suffered during the Tour will heal enough to allow him to race.
You know that Lance was busy getting himself on the podium at the Tour de France, as Leadville preparation. Dave Wiens’s preparation can be found in the column I wrote for the July Active Cyclist. Jeremiah won the Breckenridge Epic. Tinker’s prep can be found here.
If you can’t be in Leadville, you can watch the action live via streaming video at a cost of only $5.95. The Leadville 100’s new website went live today and you can find all the info. you need on the site.
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