Race Report: Leadville 100Jeff Kerkove 4:59 PM
Since this was my first Leadville 100, my starting spot was not that great. Last years top 100 riders got to line up in the front. After that came the mass of some 1,100 riders from all over the USA....and World. I staged about 30 minutes before the start and was sitting about 120 riders back. Not a huge deal, since we had 100 miles of dirt road in front of us. The start was pretty mellow...although there were a few times where some riders got a bit sketchy and caused some "white knuckle" moments. The first 4 miles out of town was a police escort. Once we got to the first dirt road....the race was on.
I had a specific pacing and nutrition plan laid out by Coach. For the first 6 hrs I was to run a 160-165 HR. No problem....except my HR monitor was not picking up the HR strap due to the cool temps and the fact I was not sweating. So, for the first hour, I had to pace on how I felt. I knew I had to go super super easy.....so I did. I spun super easy and just danced on the pedals. I was hovering in about 30-40th place going up St. Kevins climb. Once to the top we followed some more double track before emptying out onto a paved road. I descended the road with out really pedaling....and just following the wheels in front of me. Once to the bottom, it was time to climb to the top of the Powerline. He I was able to make up about 10 places by the time I summited and descended the Powerline.
After Powerline, it was about 15 or so miles of rolling dirt and gravel roads. Here, I used my Iowa bred flat lander skills and powered to and past the Pipeline aid station. I was feeling good and the pedal strokes were light and effortless. Coming out of Pipeline I managed to accumulate about 10 riders. I kept my pace and basically dragged them all the way to the Twin Lakes aid station....with hardly any of them pulling through.
At the Twin Lakes aide station, I refilled my three 24 oz bottles and put more Power Gels in my pocket. I then took off in search of the Columbine Mine summit and the 50 mile turn around. I knew what I needed to do to get to the top...and still be fresh. I pegged the HR at 160 and just went up with a high cadence. In the process of the climb and ate and drank....keeping the fuel tank full. About 1 mile from the summit I was passed by Lance and Dave on their way down. When I got to the turn around point, I was told I was in 14th place overall (the official splits say different), after having caught numerous riders on the way up. I did not stop at the aide station and headed back down to the Twin Lakes aid station.
When I got to Twin Lakes I topped of my bottles and grabbed more gels. Since I was in 14th place (so I thought) I just kept my pace and started heading for home...I felt super and fresh. About 10 miles down the road I was joined by SoBe-Cannondale rider Garth Prosser. We rode together all the way to the Powerline climb. We hit the climb together. I tried to maintain Garth's wheel....and my 160 HR. It was tough...but I managed. About 60% of the way up the Powerline climb my engine cut out. I had no power and the body felt like it just popped. Knowing that I had roughly 20 miles to go, I just kept spinning the granny and moving forward.
At the top of Powerline I was caught and dropped by a few other riders. With 20ish miles to go I did not give chase. I kept moving on and shoving food down my throat. On the final big climb of the race....I lost my top 15 placing....and then the cold mountain rain came. The paved road climb up to the top of St Kevins was too much. The climb is gradual, but I didn't have the legs to push a big gear. In the process of this climb, I was caught and passed by roughly 12 riders. Yeah, it was that slow going for me...but at least the rain stopped. At the top of the climb, I stopped briefly at the aid station and took in some Coke and a couple bite size candy bars to get me buzzed for the final 1 hr of racing.
I found myself alone coming down St. Kevins. After the descent it was nothing but dirt roads to town. Here I put out my last big effort. I emptied the tank to catch what riders I could. With about 3-5 miles to go, the legs came around again....but I ran out of room due to the finish line. I would finish in 27th place with a final time of 8 hrs and 2 minutes.
Here is a list of my nutrition for the 100 miles
24 Power Gels (assorted flavors)
12 bottles of water
2 bottles of Cytomax
8 drops of ELETE in my starting 3 bottles
Overall, I am happy with my first Leadville experience. I know I can pull a top 10 in this race...and I know I can pull off a time around 7.5 hours. Just going to half to wait until next year...and there will be a next year!
An excellent little video on Velonews can be seen here.
Another cool video.
Overall results and time splits posted up on the Leadville 100 website.