Note to Reader: This is the fourth article in a series that challenges various assumptions in ultrarunning. In some cases, we may find that certain assumptions are correct; while in others we may find a new and better viewpoint. Please contribute your insights in the comments section. Enjoy!
Runner #1 and Runner #2 are both training for a fast time at the Leadville Trail 100 but take different approaches in their preparation--mostly because of varying interests, time availability, and strengths.
Both runners live in the Denver area. Both are the same age and gender (male). And both are about equally experienced.
Runner #1 runs 100 miles a week in 13 hours, averaging about 7.5 miles/hour. He runs most of his miles on roads and smooth trails and gets to the mountains once a week for some quality climbing. Runner #1 also does very solid quality at the track and in his tempo runs and has excellent efficiency and leg turnover. He rarely does training runs over 3 hours (except in races) but has excellent daily consistency. He trains on parts of the Leadville course a few times during the summer.
Runner #2 also runs 100 miles a week, taking him usually 18 hours, for an average pace of about 5.5 miles/hour. He trains mostly on mountain trails, never goes to the track, and rarely does a tempo run except for some fast descents. Runner #2 isn't that fast but he's strong on the big climbs, pretty formidable on the downs, and an excellent hiker. He often does training runs of 4-6 hours on mountain trails and runs on the Leadville course a few times during the summer.
For Leadville, who's doing better training and has the better shot at a top finish...Runner #1 (the fast guy) or Runner #2 (the mountain guy)? And why?