Tuesday, March 29, 2011

More Aid Stations - Leadville

The previous post showed the type aid station you will encounter about 90% of the time in you standard 100 mile, 100K, 50 mile and 50K race.  I can't be sure about 50 mile races, I have never run one.  When I ran Leadville in 2009, I had only run one other 100 mile race, the Pinhoti 100 here in Alabama. That was also the first year for the Pinhoti.  I may run it again this year to see if I can do a little better with more knowledge and being in a lot better condition.  I have not been able to run Pinhoti the last two years because I ran the Florida Ironman which takes place the same weekend in November.  I am tired of dealing with weather problems associated with the open ocean swim in November, like really rough water and 39 deg. temperatures at the start of the swim.  I plan to enter the Houston Ironman to be held in May 2012.  If I don't run Pinhoti I will help.

The following aid stations are the other 10%.  The first group below are from Leadville.  I tried to find pictures from inside the tents but no one seems to have taken any.  The main reason for the large aid stations is the sheer size of the race.  During the Outbound half, the aid stations are crowded with with runners and their crews.  Even on the inbound side of the course, there is still a lot of congestion a each aid station.  There is also another reason.  Every aid station is very accessible and not very far from Leadville.  The only time you ever leave the pavement is the drive up to Winfield and that road is very well maintained and can be reached by any rental car.

This is the first aid station and the last.  May Queen at mile 13.5 and 86.5.  I never saw it in the dark.  By the time I reached it the first time, it was getting light.  When I arrived on the way back, it was getting light again.

Another shot of May Queen, just so you can tell how big it really is.  It contains drop bags, a lot of chairs, a medical area, cots and about 1/3 is food and drink. Here is a video from YouTube of someone coming into May Queen, outbound.  May Queen.

The Fish Hatchery, outbound it is just after descending from Sugarloaf Pass at 11,071 ft.  It is located at mile 23.5 and 76.5 on the way back.  When you leave here inbound, the "Powerline" climb is next.  The actual aid station is located in a building to the right just out of sight in the picture.  It is as large as May Queen. 

This is Box Canyon aid station, used in 2009 instead of Half Moon Campground.  The distance varies.   I arrived at this aid station sometime in the middle of the night on the inbound leg.  It looked like May Queen, volunteers everywhere, music playing and just as many lights.  That will wake you up. 

That is Anton Kruprika, Leading the 2009 race as he left the Twin Lakes aid station.  It is located at mile 39.5 and 60.5.  He was still in the lead I encountered him about two miles from this spot as I was heading for Hope Pass.  He was headed back to Twin Lakes and about a mile ahead of the second place runner. (At least I finished!)

The Hopeless Aid Station, mile 45 and 55.  This aid station is located at 11,836 feet, right at timberline on the climb up Hope Pass just 700 feet below the crest of the pass at 12,526 ft.  Everything at this aid station must be hauled up from Twin Lakes, 5 miles and 2,600 feet below.  They use Llamas.

Here is a link to YouTube of someone arriving, Inbound, at Hopeless.

The ghost town of Winfield. Halfway home!

Of course, when comparing Leadville to other 100 milers you must remember one thing.  It is the larges and one of the oldest 100 mile races.  It is probably the best known of all, even among the non-ultra running population.  "Born to Run" didn't hurt it fame either.  The next picture is of the start.  It looks more like the start of the NYC Marathon in the dark than any other 100 mile race you will ever run.  It sold out this year at something in the neighborhood of 700 runners.

Running Leadville was a totally different experience than any trail race I have ever run.  There was never a time in the race where there were not other runners around, even in the middle of the night.

In the 1870's and 1880's Leadville was a thriving silver mining town with a population as large as 40,000.  The Climax Molybdenum Mile kept the town alive until the early 1980's.  At the race's inception, Leadville was experiencing another bust cycle after the closing of the Climax Molybdenum Mine resulted in nearly 3,000 miners losing their jobs.  LT100 founder Ken Chlouber was one of those miners and conceived "The Race Across the Sky" as a way to make Leadville famous and bring in visitors during a period of economic downturn. In the beginning, there was just one foot race; 45 racers lined up at 6th and Harrison to take on the challenge. Only ten racers finished.  I think Ken succeeded in making Leadville famous.

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