Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Leadville 100: 2009

Tony and I on Hagerman Pass Road about 6:00 am.

I have a FULL race recap here:

A Wonderful Weekend… Aren’t They All?

Friday’s Race:

Duncan Callahan, my training partner and 2008 Leadville 100 Champ, called me Friday morning the day prior to the race. He informed me that there was an official weigh in for Leadville that I needed to make. This valuable information which I had been oblivious to was somewhere in the inch thick Leadville packet… alas, I had missed it. I was still in Gunnison and had yet to pack. I threw everything I thought I would need into my car in a hurried 10 minutes and left town at 9:50 am. The weigh in would close at 11:45. On a good day the drive to Leadville takes about 2 hours to 2 hours 10 minutes. Darn, I’d have to race to get there in time.

I set a quick safe tempo in my car making sure not to speed… too much. The minutes raced on, the sweat metaphorically dripped from the forehead, doddlers where passed, and pacing was impeccable. I arrived in Leadville at 11:40: 1hour 50 minutes to drive there. This was a fantastic PR. May I note here that I normally don’t drive in the same manner of how I race. I was the last person to weigh in. I jokingly thought perhaps that I should drive back to Gunnison to rest up. The added pressure of getting to Leadville on time had not been draining, on the contrary it wet my appetite for competition. I was ready. I stayed with Leadville resident and ultra runner Bill Dooper. He ensured I was comfortable and ready to roll the next day.

Saturday: Race Day:

2:08 am. My alarm went off. I needed no prodding, I was up.

3:58 am. 2 minutes prior to the start. I made a last minute decision to drop the long sleeve (what was I thinking; it was already almost 50 out) and go with the short sleeve.

The race plan: It was pretty simple… well when it comes to running 100 miles the idea of a simple plan may be a bit relative but I wanted to go out with the leaders, or rather leader. I knew Anton Krupicka would be setting the pace in an attempt for the record. I wanted to hang, and be able to compete. Simple plan really… in theory.

I took glances at my watch here and there but for the most part was pretty oblivious to the time throughout the day. For the first hour and a half I just jogged along paying attention to other runner nuances: running rhythm, posture, changes in cadence on hills breathing patterns, muscle tightness, etc. Tony looked strong, confident, and had a desire to set the pace. This was good. It was my first 100 and there was no way I wanted to set the pace. I’d run the course (first 40 miles) this summer with Duncan, so I had an idea of what pace I wanted to hit, but was content to let Tony lead.

We got to Mayqueen in 1:42. Our pack of 6 runners had been running strong and comfortable in a solid pack, but at Mayqueen the pack fell apart. The trail heads up a technical single track up to Hagerman Pass Road. Gustavo Reyes held the lead here tailed immediately by Josh Meitz, Tony, and I. It was evident the first two runners pace was being pushed and they were a bit uncomfortable at the pace on the trail. As soon as we hit the Hagerman Pass Road I finally felt fully relaxed, running comfortably in my element. Tony and I quickly dropped the others up Sugarloaf. I felt like the pace was fine and not being pushed… too much. The sky was brightening, giving an eerie surreal feeling to the morning. Today, was a good day to race. Tony had to stop a few times for pit stops giving me the lead. I’d consciously slow the pace expecting Tony to catch back up in a minute or two. I did not want to run alone this early in the race.

We went through Fish Hatchery in 3:06. I felt smooth and fluid and opted to go shirtless a while. I could feel it was warming up and knew I’d get a jersey later in the race. By this point I guess we had a 7-8 minute lead over Duncan and Nick (eventually 2nd place finisher). Tony and I just started clicking off the miles on the pavement following the Fish Hatchery. The pace was a tad quick but I figured that mentally it would be good for me. We got over to the Pipeline Turn off and I knew it was going to be a hot day. The reroute here (a black hawk had crashed near the Colorado Trail only days before forcing a reroute) was bare and desolate with little shade. It would be hot coming back through here later. Tony had to stop again for another pit stop putting me in the lead again. I did not want the lead this early. I mentally slowed the pace to a better controlled manner and waited for Tony yet he did not come, so I just kept on rollin.

I went through Box Creek (31 miles in) in 4:09 about 2 minutes in front of Tony. I was feeling smooth, yet a little concerned about being in the lead so soon. I stopped after Box Creek for a quick pit stop and kept on rolling. I soon rejoined the Colorado Trail surprised that there really was no major hill up to it on the reroute. From the Colorado Trail I kept a controlled pace expecting Tony to Catch up any second. I deliberately power hiked the steepest sections of the trail and finally Tony caught up with about 2-3 miles prior to Twin Lakes. He looked rejuvenated, wanted the lead, and set a blistering downhill pace to Twin Lakes. I let him go, knowing that I did not want to kill my legs just yet, I still had 100K to run. I went through Twin Lakes in 5:15 about 3 minutes back from Tony. The time was about an hour faster than the training run during the summer. Wow. I ignored the time and focused on more important things: the next mile.

I headed up Hope Pass, blocking out all negative thoughts: namely how I was running poorly. Of course I was not running poorly but the thoughts creep in just the same. Around every few bends I would see Tony only about 2-3 minutes in front of me. How was this possible? I thought he had a greater lead mostly because I felt like I was going so slow, after all I was power hiking the steeper sections. At the Hopeless Aid Station (6:24) near the top of Hope Pass I could see Tony nearing the pass. He was about 5 minutes in front. At this point I started cramping a bit from the heat and lack of salt. I had not been taking enough salt caps and I was starting to feel it. I resolved to not push it and just get over the pass down to Winfield and get some salt in me. I was craving it.

I ran down the South Side of Hope. Oh boy, almost halfway. I was looking forward to the return. At the bottom of the Hope Pass Single track I hit the road up to Winfield this part of the run was the only part I did not do my homework on. I really had no idea how long the dirt road up to Winfield would be. I ran up the sun beaten dirt road in a slow methodical manner. I was feeling drained and in desperate need of salt and some food. I kept expecting to see Tony on his return. At last I did and estimated he had about a 10 minute lead on me.

Getting to Winfield was mentally everything I needed. My crew informed me I’d have a pacer back over Hope. I had been unsure if I would have one or not. I sat down and took about a 5 minute break eating mostly Fritos. I was craving them; they were my choice food throughout the day. Those 5 minutes were well needed. I got up and left, the watch read about 7:30, 8 hours even would have been much better, but this was a race, you take what you have and you run with it.
Coming into Winfield

Andy Richmond paced me back over Hope Pass constantly encouraging me. I was still feeling drained as I power hiked and jogged over the pass. Andy’s constant praise was well needed. Finally, about 5 minutes from the top of the pass, my strength was renewed. I rose up and flew like an eagle over the pass. I summited and started the decent with a renewed vigor, I was here to race and puke out my guts if need be. Remember if you are puking, you are running well. I could not see Tony but knew the race was just beginning, I yelled out with a wild yalp, “I’m a Timmy.” Translation: I’m out running in God’s creation, what more can I ask for. The race had finally started; it was 45 miles to go.
At Twin Lakes

I got to Twin Lakes in 2nd place in 9:45? knowing I had to keep running my race. I was about 23 minutes back from Tony. There was still 40 miles… a long way. Mark Stenbeck jumped in to pace. I power hiked up out of Twin Lakes to the well needed shade on the Colorado Trail. I was drained and at another low point in the race. Mark kept encouraging me and made sure I was eating and drinking. My vigor returned and soon we were rolling along flying past the trees and forest creatures. We hit the reroute. I was now a just a wee bit tired, but felt solid. The next hill was Sugarloaf, I could cruise from here. So I thought. About a ½ mile before the Box Creek aid station the sun started getting to me. I was getting severely dehydrated and overheated, even though I’d been drinking like a drowning man. I jogged through Box Creek in 11:24. Then almost instantly ½ mile later out in the direct sun, I stopped. I tried running and could only get out a few steps before being forced back into a walk. I did my first logical thinking of the day and came to the profound conclusion that I was dehydrated, overheating, and in need of more food.
Near the end of Pipeline, still walking

Mark and I walked along with me sipping water. I was at the emotionally lowest point in the race. I could not even jog. Could I even finish the race? I blocked out the thought. I had to focus on the here and now. What was most important was getting liquid and food in me and mentally getting it back together. It was blazing hot and Mark did everything to help out. He walked so as to keep his shadow on my while holding up his shirt above his head to give me added shade. I was grumpy, tired, and wanted to do the unthinkable: quit. It was unthinkable: therefore, I did not think it. Finally after walking about 45 minutes (I was at the end of Pipeline by this time) I was ready. I started with a slow painful hobble, then it turned into a slow job. Duncan caught up here (about ½ mile from the pavement). He said a few kind words, and soon was only a shadow of things to be in front. He looked solid.
Back running

I ran on autopilot to Fish Hatchery (13:15). I was refueled and ready. I got over to the base of Sugarloaf where I found Tony at the side of the road, sitting down, cramping, and done. The heat had got to us all. Incidentally, from Winfield on every hour I was taking about 2 salt caps (700 mg). I had 20 (7000mg) thought out the day). That’s might be a pr for salt intake in a single day. Yeah!
Leaving Fish Hatchery

I power hiked and jogged up Sugarloaf with my new pacer Jerry. Every minute I was feeling more solid. The sun was no longer as intense. I was well hydrated and nourished, and I remembered that Duncan only had about 5 minutes on me. Jerry and I summited Sugarloaf. I was ready to fly. I ran down picking up speed. I caught up to Duncan around mile 85. I made a joke to my dear friend and left.
I soon rolled into Mayqueen (15:13) feeling strong; I was going to win this race. I would not let anything stand in my way. Well, not pain at least.
Coming into Mayqueen

My friend Scott jumped into to pace. As always Scott knew what to say. The words running through our heads where inspiration and robot. He told me I had to run consistent like a robot. I concurred and ran on at monotonous pace hearing his inspirational words echo through the fading light.

Soon, well a couple hours later… I crossed the finish in 17:27:23. It had been a fantastic day of racing filled with action and lead changes. This drama played out over hours and hours only highlights ones appreciation for it. Nick Lewis had a fantastic race and finished 2nd in 17:44, Duncan was 3d in 18:26.

Currently, I’m resting up and preparing for the World Mountain Running Championships, in Italy next week. I’ll be ready.


  1. Congrats on an incredible race in such tough conditions. Enjoy your short (very short) recovery and good luck next week.

  2. Congrats on two stellar wins in two weeks. Pretty amazing to read that you went through some dark stuff and came back for the victory. Get it done in Italia.

  3. Congrats and great race report. I'm so going to try yelling "I'm a Timmy" on my next run.... :)

  4. Wow - Tim Parr! How the heck are you!? Glad to see you're still running. My brother gave me the link. I look foward to reading through your blog. :)