Leadville Trail 100

Leadville Trail 100

Leadville Trail 100

( 4 reviews )
100% of reviewers recommend this race
  • Leadville,
    United States
  • August
  • 100 miles
  • Trail Race
  • Event Website

Matt Curley

Chicago, Illinois, United States
4 5
"Epic Adventure"
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Race Management
Matt Curley's thoughts:

For my first ultra I ran the Leadville 100 this year. What an amazing experience! I am typically a road racer running marathons but have been enjoying getting out in the trails when possible. Being a flat-lander living in Chicago, that's easier said than done. I love Colorado and even more so I love a challenge. Why not go for one of the most legendary, challenging 100's right out of the gate?! I signed up originally to run the 2014 race but suffered an injury and had to defer. For 2015, the race entry was determined through a lottery but luckily I had a spot reserved from the prior year.

To get started with my training, I did a lot of research online and talked to friends who have completed ultras. One of the recommendations was to attend the Leadville 100 Run Training Camp in the summer. I believe this is a MUST for any first time Leadville racers. The race oraganizers are super helpful (Abby, Josh etc.) and there are multiple coaches on hand to share Leadville wisdom over the three days of training. During the camp, you cover the entire course (not in both directions) including going up and over Hope Pass each way. I ran with a coach and previous year's Leadman the first day who gave me a ton of information about: the course, race strategy, nutrition, gear, pacing etc. They had a expert panel one night with a ton of great information and Q&A. On top of all that, it was a blast! I met a ton of great people and went back to Leadville three different weekends to train with a few buddies I met at camp. This was also important to get back up in the elevation and increase my familiararity of the course.

The next thing I did in preparation of the race was to organize my crew/pacers. This is critical. I chose the most awesome group that included two great friends who compete in road and trail races. I chose one to be the leader and she was the best. We organized all the gear/nutrition to be carried by the crew with a very specific plan as to what I (or my pacer) would be wearing, carrying, eating, drinking throughout the race. Organization is the key! My parents were part of my crew team which made the race even more memorable. One other thing I did for the race was I rented a house for all of us from Wednesday to Monday. This worked out great!

When I got in town for the race weekend, the excitement was building for sure. Leadville is an old mountain town sitting at 10,200 feet. The race HQ is right in the middle of the quaint town. I checked in for the race and got a nice racing shirt. It's pretty typical but anything that says Leadville and 100 miles I think is cool. The race itself starts at 4am on Saturday morning. TIP - grab shop excellent pizza at High Mountain Pies in the days leading up to the race! There is a pre-racemeeting for all racers and of course the highlight is Ken and Merilee's talk.

When I got to the start line for the race, it was a cool 45 degrees, perfect weather. I wore shorts, short sleeve shirt, arm sleeves, buff headband, hat and headlamp. That worked great. My crew skipped the first aid station and we met up at Outward Bound. That also was a good call. I have to say all the race volunteers and organizers were completely amazing. The aid stations were very well supplied with great food, drink, toilets, first aid etc. As I made my way through the course, my crew met me at most of the rest of the aid stations and everything was going ahead of plan. Then the dreaded nausea set in at mile 45. Bummer! This really punched me in the gut and it took every ounce of determination to grind it out to finish the race. Thankfully I was able to do so with the support of a great team and all the wonderful volunteers and fans cheering me on. The best hug you will ever get is from Merilee when you cross that finish line! At noon on Sunday is the race awards ceremony when it's time to pick up the hardware - the race coveted buckles! They also print your name and time on a zip up sweatshirt which is pretty sweet.

Some random thoughts on the adventure... The scenery is breathtaking. I love the mountains and the trails are first rate. I picked up my super lightweight trekking poles at the 50 mile mark and used/carried them the rest of the way. They are extremely helpful on the climbs and I will do that next time for sure. During this last 50 mile stretch I wore my SJ Ultra Vest (even though my pacer carried all my water and food) and will also do that again next year. The nutrition thing I need to improve on for sure. I practiced and trained with a certain strategy incorporating lots of real food but something didn't agree with me. The course is challenging because of: 1) the elevation, 2) the elevation change and for sure 3) nutrition. I think what knocks most people out is nutrition (getting sick). Less than 1/2 of the racers finished the race in 2015 under 30 hours which I think is pretty typical.

Well, that's it. It was one of the most memorable things I have done in my life and a real test of character. I can't wait to do it again in 2016 and plan on crushing it.

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