Sunday, August 30, 2009

Leadville 100

Brother-in-Law Donnie finished his first Leadville 100 running race - impressive. He let me pace him in from Fish Hatchery aid station (mile 76) to the end. It was fun to be back with the hurtin' runners, but not actually have to be hurtin' myself.

Time goes fast: I ran Leadville in 2002. My experience was this: it's a one-factor race with the factor being altitude. Nearly the entire race is over 10,000 feet, and this causes all kinds of trouble - dehydration, stomach trouble, lung trouble, stiffness, etc. I had DNF'd in the 2002 Hardrock, and came back out from California to run Leadville. I wasn't too worried because I was living at over 10,000 feet. The race started off incredibly fast, and I couldn't believe all the people running it like it was a marathon. Pacing Donnie brought back a lot of other memories - the crazy guy who went over the first big hill, gave up, and then went back up the hill to quit. The guy with full-on pulmanory edema. Etc.

This year the race coincided with the helicopter crash on Mt. Massive. Catherine wanted to climb Massive during the race, and she ended up having to step over the wreckage - the craft crashed right on the southern route to the summit. Donnie went out a bit fast - finished 50 miles in about eleven hours. And then the altitude hit him. It also hit the lead runner, Anton Krupicka, who I saw sitting by the side of the road at mile 75 or so.

At Fish Hatchery, we discussed options. All Donnie had to do was walk about 2.5 mph to finish - he had banked a huge number of miles and hours already. So we went off into the night, sharing stories and walking. He has an interesting running style - he doesn't walk too fast, but when his run kicks in, I can hardly keep up. Dawn came and we were about 10 miles from the end. At about 27:40 or so, he crossed the line, threw up his hat, I caught it, and he was a Leadville finisher.

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