Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Longer Version - Part 1 - Check In Day

After ten months of training, race day was quickly approaching.

Friday – Check-In

I went up early and alone to the mandatory Friday race check-in and race briefing.

Joanne and Jeffrey skipped that part and went for a bike ride up to Columbine Mine, the tough climb in the middle of the race. Jeffrey had been wanting to do the Columbine climb, the weather was PERFECT, and we both knew Jeffrey would love it.

I got into Leadville at 9 am; the line was 3 blocks long to get inside the old historic Leadville gym on 6th street for check-in. The growing pains of this very popular race were quickly apparent. The first time Joanne and I did the race in 2004 there were about 600 racers, now there are 1,600, and they still turned away thousands this year.

I walked to the end of the line of hundreds and hundreds of nervous fidgety entrants I did not know. To my surprise I found that the last person in line was our friend Yuki, who is a professional mountain bike racer and finishes routinely in the top 20, not the last 20 people like me.

Yuki and his girlfriend Junko are from Japan and used to go to the same gym as us. Yuki is a very friendly, humble guy - you would never know he is one of the top endurance mountain biker racers in the U.S. - until you go riding with him, or unless you are standing in line with him at Leadville! I bet fifty people came up to say hi to him and wish him luck.

We checked in, got our wrist bands, numbers, and race schwag. Then we went back outside to another 3 block line in order to attend the “mandatory” briefing by Ken Chlouber, the race founder.

Unfortunately, this little gym is too small now and can only hold the racers, so family and crew were not allowed in. So, Ned, the third person crewing for me, had to wait outside, and did not get to hear Ken’s motivational speech - which is definitely worth hearing at least once.

The Speach

Ken Chlouber started these endurance races to raise money and promote business for the struggling economy of Leadville. Leadville is a historic mining town at 10,000’ elevation and has known economic booms and even more economic busts. Ken was a hardrock miner, pulls no punches, and has many quotable phrases during his motivational “rah rah” pre-race briefing speech. Such as:

“These races are HARD, we don’t make them for whiners and cry babies”.

DO NOT QUIT. You are going to hurt and be in pain; all the racers hurt and are in pain. From the winners to last one across the line; the winners just don’t hurt as long.”

IF YOU QUIT, it will bother you long after the pain goes away.”

“We have not killed anyone yet, but you could be the first.”

“You are never alone in the Leadville 100; pain will be with you the whole race”.

"DO NOT QUIT. You're better than you think you are and you can do more than you think you can!"


The briefing was done and all the racers filed out to get ready for the next day.

My crew - Joanne, Jeffrey, and Ned - were all coming up to the condo in Copper Mountain to make my life easier on race day.

Joanne and I have learned that having a crew really changes the Leadville 100 race experience, can save a lot of time, and give the extra motivation you need to NOT QUIT.

Because Ken is right: there will be a point somewhere along the race, maybe many points, maybe the whole way, where you want to quit.

I quit my first year.  I found that quitting is easy to do and hard to live with.  The burning question of "am I mentally strong enough this year?" is just one of many reasons why I love this race.

Next.... Race Day


  1. They don't want much: be mentally tough and have a tough behind! peggy

  2. Ken's speech may be hokey (and doesn't change much from year to year), but he knows what he's talking about. It is hard. You do have to dig deep. And you are stronger than you think. jcm