Thursday, August 2, 2012

Leadville 100 Information for First-Timers

I've been getting a lot of e-mails from first-time Leadville 100-Mile entrants. It's great to see so many folks psyched about what is undoubtedly one of the two or three most awesome 100-milers in the world today.

My two El Plato Grande buckes. Yep, I look forward to adding a third.

Over the past few years, I've written quite a bit about Leadville, including a detailed, two-part course description. Below is everything you might need to know about the big race, and I would encourage you to also reach out to other veterans via the Yahoo group. Also, here are three bits of advice I encourage you to consider if this is your first Leadville 100:
  1. Do not go out too fast, even if a slow(er) start means you're in that epic traffic jam along the lake. Leadville is at 10,200 feet. If you go out fast, even if your pace "feels good," you'll likely pay for it later when the altitude finally catches up to you. Leadville is a race that rewards patience. The true essence of Leadville is from Fish Hatchery to the finish, when most runners are staggering. If you can run/hike those last 24 miles strong, you will pass a ton of people.
  2. Hike the big climbs. Most runners will hike Hope Pass both ways and also the Powerline climb. Hopefully you've incorporated walking/hiking into your training.
  3. The return trip is way harder than the outbound trip, so be sure to have a lot in the tank when you turn around at Winfield. This is a well-established fact. It's very hard to even-split Leadville when you have the Powerline/Sugarloaf Pass climb on the return trip. If your goal is 25 hours, then I would suggest your first-half split be something like 11:30, allowing for a second-half split of 13:30.
Detailed course description
Tips for First-Timers
Here I cover everything from trekking poles and dealing with the altitude to nutrition and pacing.
Also check out Coach Weber's very helpful Leadville Pacing Patterns and Charts.

My Race Reports
  • 2011 (29th overall, 22:35)
  • 2010 (92nd overall, 24:47)
History Lesson
Here I write about the town's history and the aura behind its legendary 100-mile footrace.

More Stuff
Click here for my All Things Leadville landing page.

Also, check out, which is maintained by a friend of mine, Brandon Fuller.

Finally, check out Adam Feerst's Leadville 100 pacing guide.

Inspirational Videos

This video makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. RIP, Micah True.

You really want to know what Leadville is all about? This video of AJW losing his lunch represents the essence of Leadville. Yep, Leadville has a way of making you puke. Last year I barfed while still running, to the shock (and amazement) of my pacer, Lance.

And this video gives you a good idea of what Hope Pass is like. The lakes in the top righthand corner of the screen are Twin Lakes--where you're coming from and have to go back to. Oh, and that's Timmy Parr, an elite, hiking up Hope.


  1. "Undoubtedly one of the two or three most awesome 100-milers in the world today"?
    After this year's Run Rabbit Run, Leadville will barely crack top three in Colorado (clearly bested by Hardrock and competing with Grand Mesa for the bronze).
    Add in UTMB, Wasatch, Massanutten, Vermont, Angeles Crest, The Bear, Bighorn, Arkansas Traveler ...
    Does Leadville even belong in the top 10 (of an admittedly U.S.-biased list)?

  2. Anonymous: First off, the fact that you didn't leave your name kind of undermines your credibility. Be that as it may, I think Leadville is right up there with Western States--not quite where WS is but not too far behind. Leadville, like WS, has history, mistique and legend behind it. How you can compare a race like Run Rabbit Run that's so new to a race like Leadville that's been around for nearly 30 years is beyond me. The same goes for Grand Mesa, a new race where few elites have run yet. Wasatch, Bear, Hardrock, Massabutten, AC, Bighorn, etc. are all amazing events--no doubt about it. But, sorry, Arkansas Traveler isn't in the same league as Leadville. Anyway, there will always be those out there, particularly Hardrock and UTMB snobs (not saying all HR and UTMB runners are snobs), who love to denigrate Leadville. The fact is it's a great race because it's a runnabl, yet challenging course at altitude. It doesn't even compare to Hardrock or UTMB. And if Leadville is such a third-rate race, then why did over 1,000 people register for it this year, once again bringing the race to a resounding sell-out?


  3. Leadville definitely is in the top 2 or 3 100's. Nice informative post, thanks putting it out there.