Well, this one really sucked. Going into the race, I have to admit that I wasn’t very enthusiastic about the event. The only reason that I committed to run Leadville was because it was part of the Grand Slam. And even that is a minor point of irritation since I don’t think it’s right for someone to sell entries into a series of events that they don’t direct, sponsor, or donate to. But that’s an entirely different issue.
Leadville is really an over-priced, over-hyped, over-crowded event on a mediocre course. I will say that the event has a lot of potential. It could really be a world class race if it were organized with the same level of support and competition as Western States. After running events like Western States, Vermont, and Bighorn, paying $300 for Leadville is quite a let down.
If they can’t run the entire race on decent trails, they could at least make use of the miles and miles of perfectly accessible road to set up decent aid stations. I had a miserable time covering the final 10 mile stretch over Sugarloaf and the last 13.5 miles from May Queen and I can’t comprehend how anyone at the back of the pack pushing to make the cut offs could manage that. The race would have a much better finish rate with just a few more aid stations along the way. But I guess that’s part of the money making system. Bring in as many entries as possible from anyone and everyone and bank on a high DNS and DNF rate to pocket the profits. The volunteer aid station crews that were out there were fantastic. Especially the team that packed in gear on Llamas and camped on Hope pass. I just wish the race organizers would set up more aid station crews on the course.
And the sheer volume of trash on the trails really put me in a bad mood. On the way outbound, there weren’t more than 30-40 runners ahead of me but I still saw more dropped gel packets and other trash than I’d seen at every ultra I’ve run in the past two years. The runners who dropped that trash weren’t the brain dead zombies who couldn’t manage to hold onto a gel tab with swollen fingers. That’s just unacceptable behavior. On the way inbound, Eric filled his pockets with trash several times between Twin Lakes and Fish Hatchery. But even that was a losing battle and a token effort at best.
So I guess I can’t be surprised at my final performance at the race. You just can’t run a 100 miles well without being fulling mentally committed. I started out thinking that I might be able to run sub-20 if I had an exceptionally good day. At the very least I thought I could run under 24 hours comfortably. Well, I didn’t have an exceptionally good day and I think I’ve finally realized that if I continue to run races back to back each month like this, I probably won’t. I didn’t run under 24 hours either and it wasn’t comfortable.