Saturday, August 27, 2011

2011 Leadville Trail 100 Race Report

I've always considered running to be a gift that I just happened to open in my early thirties.  I've never thought that I'm particularly good at it, but more in terms of a way for me to use the body and mind God's given me to get out and enjoy His creation.  There is simply no other way for me to explain the grandeur and majesty that is found in the mountains and my capacity to see it as such.  Over the years, my runs have gotten longer and longer, and the places I've seen and experienced keep getting more beautiful.  Sure, I get sappy with what amounts to a sweaty and smelly endeavor, but I do know that each day I have to run is a blessing.  It could end tomorrow for whatever the reason, and thus I grab hold of this gift and enjoy the ride.

In running, there's a "first" for each race at a new distance you encounter and all those "firsts" are memorable. I can remember the pain of an injured knee during my first half marathon.  I vividly recall hitting the wall HARD at mile 18 of my first marathon.  Oh and the elation I felt above treeline during my first Pikes Peak Marathon.  I can't forget to mention the longest run of my life during the Silver Rush 50 miler last summer.

With that said, I knew running my first 100 miler would be memorable on so many levels. I wanted to soak it all in and enjoy sharing the experience with my family that came to pace and crew. I really wanted my Leadville story to have a happy ending and I can say that I was not disappointed.

I'm quite late to the party putting out a race report and I think that's because I've just wanted to sit and enjoy the memories in my head before I spit them out on the screen.  I know all too well that races don't always go the way you hope they will.  They're are hard, unpredictable, and often leave you frustrated with the outcome. I've had my fair share in this category.

Thursday, 8/18

I worked a half day before heading up to Leadville for the race & medical check-in. I bumped into Andy from Leadville and chatted a bit before getting in line. I was in & out no more than 10 minutes after I started. The whole weigh-in thing had me pretty nervous since this was the first race I've ever had to do so. I typically lose a bunch of weight when I run and I didn't want to weigh in on the high side. I stepped on the scale. 188.9 lbs. Not too bad considering I'm usually 187 in my birthday suit.

I was also banded. The green wristband signifies your life during the race. If it's on, you get to keep going. As soon as it's cut due to getting pulled or dropping, your race is over. I had another lifeline on my other wrist. My daughter Megan frantically braided me a special LT100 friendship bracelet to wear during the race. I can tell you I looked at it many times to remind myself of why I needed to keep going.  Setting an example of finishing what I started and challenging myself to work through adversity while moving beyond typical boundaries are values I want to instill in my girls.

The race lifeline.

The more important family wristband.  That couldn't be cut for any reason!

After dropping my stuff off at our cabin in Twin Lakes, I shot back up to Leadville to hit up a BBQ hosted by Brandon. I was a little late, but there was plenty of food and conversation left for the taking. There were quite a few laughs and relaxation was easy. Next thing I knew, about two hours had passed. A huge thanks to Brandon and his sister Natalee for putting out a delicious spread for everyone.

Back at the cabin I had a fitful night's sleep. I was alone and the creaky cabin made noises.

Friday, 8/19

I hung out at the cabin in the morning before heading to the pre-race meeting. At the meeting I bumped into a whole lotta folks and asked the obligatory, "Are you ready?" Most were. The legendary Ken Chlouber kicked things off and got us all pumped up. He has a natural way of motivating people, especially with his famous quote, You're better than you think you are and you can do more than you think you can!”  Dr. John Hill also spoke for quite some time about the medical side of the race. I heard him speak at training camp and he's one entertaining guy. By the end of the meeting, Ken had everyone on their feet chanting, "I commit I will not quit" repeatedly.

That afternoon I got sleepy and made the mistake of taking a nap. Only 45 minutes, but the damage was done. I awoke just in time to greet Tanya & the girls in a groggy state. We started making dinner and then my cousin Scott and his family arrived.  Dinner and then a crew/pacer meeting to go over final details ended the night. All was good. Time for bed.

Lights went out at about 9:45-10:00, but the lights were burning bright in my head. I wasn't nervous. I just wasn't tired. That dang nap! Just when I thought I might snooze off, a storm came upon us and the rain, thunder, and lightning all began. I immediately began to project that weather on the following night and...okay, that got me nervous. Next came the realization that I hadn't packed spare batteries for the morning darkness and I thought for sure my batteries would fail and I'd be stuck in the dark. Irrational, but that's what happens when you lie there staring at the ceiling for hours. The last time I looked at the clock, it was a little before 1:00am. The alarm went off at 2:40, so that had me beginning race day on about 1hr40min of sleep. Not good, but the adrenaline was flowing, so it didn't bother me much.

Saturday, 8/20


Tanya got up with me and drove me to the start. As expected, it was a quiet ride with the exception of going over a few more crew details and she offering up some last minute encouragement. The scene at 6th & Harrison was hopping for 3:30 am. I hit up the port-a-potties, took a picture with Tanya, sneaked a kiss, and faded into the crowd of runners corralled at the start line.

You think it was a long day for me?  Tanya was also awake from start to finish.

Start > May Queen (13.5 miles - 2:09 - 6:09am)

4:00am and we're off!  You'd think a 5K just started with how fast the pace was out of the chute!

As the sea of handlamps ran down 6th Street, I'm sure there were at least 200 runners ahead of me. Well, you can see just how many shot out of the gate before Tanya shouted for me as I crossed the start line. I was nervous about getting stuck behind people walking on the lake trail, but also knew there were many wide open miles before we hit that trail. So I just relaxed and tried to get in a groove heading down the Boulevard, on CR-48, and the hike up mini-powerline. The lake trail was slow, but the group I was in ran almost the whole thing. The best part was that I was last in the train. I had promised myself that I would pass no one unless they pulled over for a break. About 10 miles in, I pulled over for a bio break and even with a 2 minute stop, no one passed me and I caught back up to the group with minimal effort.

I also pulled over once to just marvel at the string of headlamps and flashlights lining the entire lake as the 600+ runners plodded to May Queen. It was dark and foggy, so the effect was spectacular.

The aid station was packed. I had planned for Tanya to skip this one, so I refilled my bottle and took off. I was about five minutes behind on my first split, but I kept saying to myself, "no one I know has ever complained about getting to Winfield (the turnaround point at mile 50) too slow." I also promised myself that if I got to Twin Lakes Inbound (mile 60) with boundless energy, I was free to let 'er rip. Ha! I knew that would NEVER be the case, but it helped set pacing boundaries early on.

May Queen > Fish Hatchery (23.5 miles - 4:01 - 8:01am)

After the two miles or so on the rocky and gently climbing Colorado Trail, I popped out on Hagerman Pass Road. This dirt road begins the climb that takes us up and over Sugarloaf Mountain.

Hagerman Pass Road

The sunrise over the lake was pristine. After several hours in the dark, the rising sun got me fired up.

Sunrise over Turquoise Lake.  Taken from Hagerman Pass road.
At one point thought, I was getting a little distraught because I could feel a hotspot developing between my big toe and it's neighbor. I had taped those toes the night before due to previous blister issues, so that shouldn't have been happening! Well, the pain was such that I knew ignoring it would come back to haunt me, so I found a rock on Sugarloaf and took my shoe and sock off in order to rip off the tape. Once I got back to running, the hotspot disappeared and my foot was happy again.


I bombed down the Powerlines a tad too fast, but then recovered a bit on the road section to Fish Hatchery. I was met by Tanya and was so happy to see my first familiar face. She handled crew duties on her own during the early morning before getting assistance in the afternoon.

Arrival into Fish Hatchery.
As was the M.O. for the day, she had me sunscreen'd up, restocked and off running in no time flat. I had gotten back on schedule and was feeling strong.  The video below shows just how packed Fish Hatchery was with crews.

Fish > Treeline (27 miles - 4:44 - 8:44am)

This short road section wasn't too bad. Tanya had taken my pack, so I ran with just a bottle in hand. It felt great to give my shoulders a break. It would be the only time during the entire race I wasn't wearing my pack.

The Treeline crew stop was already filled with cars, but I found Tanya quickly and grabbed what I needed for the next long stretch to Twin Lakes. Once again, we were fast in our exchange as I grabbed my pre-loaded pack and kept on moving.

Treeline > Twin Lakes (39.5 miles - 6:54 - 10:54am)

This section has it all with ups and downs, wide jeep roads, and narrow singletrack through aspen trees. My favorite part are the views of Mt. Elbert as you clip its eastern side. My least favorite part was the never-ending views of the Twin Lakes area. I'm not kidding when I say you can see the lakes and the town for about an hour before you get there.

During this stretch, I started feeling some discomfort in my stomach and legs. I was actually surprised it took so long for my stomach to wake up and realize what I was doing to it. Usually he kicks and screams shortly after mile 26. I had been fueling well, but noticed I wasn't really keeping to any specific schedule. Typically, I'm on a strict 300-400 calorie per hour deal. On this day, I had no idea what I had ingested over the previous few hours. I decided to let it slide and work through the bad patch.

I dropped into the TL aid station about 20 minutes prior to my planned split. I knew my crew would be there, but OH MY was it a scene of near pandemonium. People were everywhere! I ran through the checkpoint and started down the road looking for my crew. Nothing. I walked back to aid station thinking I might have passed them. Nothing again. Finally someone said there were crews around the corner. I ventured on and still could not spot anyone familiar. The realization started sinking in that I'd be tackling Hope Pass without the fuel and gear I had planned to pick up at Twin. I chatted with a lady from another crew who offered to reload my supplies, but figured I had enough to get me to the next aid station. So I crossed 82 and began my run towards Hope. Lo and behold the very last crew down the trail towards Hope was mine! They were shouting and cheering for me not knowing that I had spent about seven minutes looking for them. They felt awful, but I felt even worse realizing it was completely my mistake for not telling them exactly where the aid station was.

The BEST Crew around!

Well, they snapped into action, and next thing I knew I was sent back out onto the trail. Actually, that was their promise to me and motto as a crew. "We'll get your tail back on the trail." They have the shirts to prove it!

I also need to point out that I may have been the only runner with an official "Kids Crew". Their sole job was to cheer like crazy when I passed through.

The Kids Crew - minus Andrew
Jennifer - aka Kids Crew Chief & Cabin CEO.  She was invaluable team member keeping six kids going all day & night.
Time to "Go BIG or Go Home"

Twin Lakes -> Winfield (50 miles - 10:22 - 2:22pm)

This section was the only stretch I had not previously run in training. I just didn't have time to get up there to experience it, so I looked forward to the surprise during the race. Oh boy, did it surprise me good!

Time to get wet.

First came the water crossings. I didn't count, but I'm guessing there were 6-7 with some being glorified puddles, and others being full fledged rivers. None were too deep and they actually felt good. My shoes instantly weighed 10 lbs more and towards the last one, I started getting the chills. Before long, the climb up Hope began. In my mind, I had pictured a long, but gradual climb. With 40+ miles on my legs already, there was nothing gradual about it at all! The 3400' climb seemed steep and relentless to me and the longer it went up, the more I started feeling my stomach bloat & cramp. Once again, I kept eating as best I could, but there was absolutely NO method to my eating madness. I just got down what I could and tried not to fear the repercussions of what could come later if the lack of calories caught up with me.

The Hopeless aid station sits about 800' below the pass at treeline. There's quite a tent city setup with about 20-30 llamas scattered around the grasses. Why llamas? Well, how else do you haul up tons of gear, food and water? Those llamas are a huge part of the race and provide a surreal sight to the tired eye.  I passed through the aid station with downing just one cup of Gatorade. I felt a strong need to get off the pass quickly in order for the bloating to dissipate.

Top of Hope Pass celebration.

As I crested the summit (12,600'), I couldn't believe how pristine the weather was. The race organizers scare the pants off you about how bad it can be up there in order to get you to carry enough gear for all conditions. None of that would be needed now. Time to drop 2600'...and start feeling better.

Getting off Hope Pass.  Wish I could have enjoyed the scenery a bit more.

No more than three minutes after I began my descent, Ryan Sandes, leader and eventual winner came hiking up. I can't say he looked good, but I can tell you he was focused and determined. Many other frontrunners started coming up with everyone huffing and puffing except for my friend Brendan and his pacer Stephen. I've gotten to know Brenden a bit this year, and his Leadville back story is by far the most inspiring. He and Stephen were popping up Hope Pass chatting and laughing like they were taking a stroll through the park. Unreal. Brendan went on to finish in 11th place!

The rest of the descent was uneventful other than the bloating in my stomach disappearing! I hit the 2.5 mile dirt road to the Winfield turnaround and jogged most of it, passing a few running friends as they began their journey back to town, and met up with Scott (my pacer) and his wife Catrina at Winfield! 50 miles done...and I was still smiling.

Wait, I had to step on the scale here and get weighed. Fear took over that they'd find me down 10 lbs and pull me aside until I could get enough fluids down to satisfy their requirements. As the scale's screen went blank, it seemed like an eternity before the number appeared. 185.8. Sweet!! Only down 4 lbs and the medical person confirmed my joy by saying, "Great! You're good to go."

Winfield > Twin Lakes (60.5 miles - 13:50 - 5:50pm)

Catrina was a rock star and braved the dreaded drive to Winfield to drop Scott off and crew for me. She got me all prepped and ready to head out for LT100 Part II.

I need to pause here and tell you a little about my pacer Scott. He was AMAZING! He is an accomplished runner who recently ran a 2:58 marathon and tackled the Golden Gate Dirty Thirty in June. When he offered to run the entire second half with me, I couldn't think of anyone better. I can say with confidence that his presence was the number one factor in my success during the second half. He knew just when to encourage me and never once expressed that he was dealing with any issues or discomfort...did I mention this was his first time running 50 miles!

He was so positive and upbeat, but in a natural and effective way. At one point, I pulled over to for a bathroom break. Next thing I know, Scott is saying, "way to go Woody for staying on top of your pee!" I laughed good and told him that was easily the line of the day.

Scott ran behind me almost the entire time. It helped me to have him there because I felt like his presence was a gentle push. But let's say being behind me probably was quite unpleasant with bodily smells having nowhere else to go. Again, no complaints. The other thing Scott persevered through is about 8,341 deep & rapid fire burps. I have no idea what was wrong with me, but they just kept coming all night long. I'm sure if you heard me, you would have thought I was about to throw up. I wasn't, but it sounded awful. Just imagine listening to that for 13+ hours.

So Scott & I took off from Winfield and I was feeling awesome! I was excited to talk and share some of the highs & lows from the first half. I knew that would be short-lived once we started back up Hope Pass.

Sure enough, the brutal climb back up Hope zapped any pep that I had and transformed me into a snail. It didn't help to have non-stop traffic coming at me from those still descending. It's almost all singletrack, so passing by became a frustrating challenge. I also felt the dreaded stomach bloat returning the higher we climbed. As we got within a mile or so from the summit, the cloud cover thickened and the rain started. It wasn't bad at all, but enough to cool me down that I needed to don my jacket.

Hands on the hips always means I'm wiped!

The summit didn't come fast enough, but once we were there, I couldn't wait to show Scott the view AND just how far away Turquoise Lake looked! It's quite baffling because it looks about 200 miles away and that's where we needed to go. Oh well, down we went. My downhill legs were not feeling all that good, so I started getting passed with regularity. No worries. There was still SO much race left to go.

Gingerly running down from Hope Pass (photo:  Matt Mahoney)

We passed through the llamas at the Hopeless aid station and I took a quick peek into the medical tent. Many runners were strewn out with IVs in their arms.  Their races were done.  That would be the last time I looked into a med tent. We made steady work of the descent, then came the water crossings, and a mile jog back to Twin Lakes to meet up with our crew!

Arriving into Twin Lakes with wet, sloppy feet.
Mile we come.
This stop was extended a bit by the need to change shoes & socks and grab our night gear just in case we slowed down and encountered darkness before the next crew stop.

Not too bad eh?

I'd say this is pretty good for 60 miles.

Twin Lakes > Treeline (73 miles - 16:31 - 8:31pm)

Leaving Twin Lakes found us climbing about 1200' in a mile or two.  It's a tough climb and I was dreading it.  All in all it wasn't too bad.  After the climb, we got into a good running groove and tackled the rolling hills to keep the miles passing by.  The hiking breaks started to get more frequent now, but overall we were doing quite well.

What wasn't going so well was my eating.  I really wasn't hungry and the thought of most anything caused my stomach to turn.  I knew this would become a major problem, so I ate just the minimum amount of EFS to get by.  Scott seemed a little concerned about my eating, so I promised him I'd eat something substantial at the Halfpipe aid station.

I fulfilled that promise with some ramen noodles and broth.  My stomach became happy and it was plenty to get me the next three miles until we met up with the crew at the Treeline crew stop.

Those three miles went by quickly and we "called in" to the crew via walkie talkie to let them know we didn't need anything and would just pass through this stop before spending more time at the Fish Hatchery aid station only 3.5 miles beyond.

Scott & I arriving at Treeline

This is when we started to hear that Steve was serenading everyone with some music and song.  Talk about someone you want to have on your crew to provide entertainment while they wait for hours on end!  We almost stopped and hung out to take in the concert.  Enjoy a little taste below.

Chief Night Owl & Crew Chief

Chief Aid Station Musician

Man, is he good or what!

Treeline > Fish Hatchery (76.5 miles - 17:27 - 9:27pm)

3.5 miles of almost flat running was all we needed to get through before we hit the Fish Hatchery.  Easy right? Then why is it that this section is one of the most difficult and hated of the course?  Well, I found out.  The miles of flat road running hurt like the dickens, and the monotony is enough to make you brain dead.  It is also the point you cross the 74 mile mark and realize you have a MARATHON to go.

Scott & I plodded away in the dark.  The road was busy with traffic, but I barely noticed.  The fatigue of the day was hitting hard!  I ran with my eyes closed for long stretches.  Not smart, but I reasoned that getting hit by a car couldn't hurt much more than the pain I was already enduring.

When we got about a mile from Fish Hatchery, Scott could tell I was fading.  He wisely spoke up and made me promise again to eat something at Fish in order to prepare for the big climb back up Sugarloaf.  I wasn't thrilled to think about eating, but he was spot on with the advice.  The climb up & down Powerlines/Sugarloaf would encompass ten miles and over three hours until we hit the next aid station.  I really needed to eat.  I really needed caffeine too.

I stumbled into the aid station and was looking about as bad I could.  Everyone had a look of concern as I resembled a drunken sailor more than a runner.  I got up to the building with the food and started eating a cup of noodles.  That's when I noticed the chair sitting against the wall, and boy did that chair look good.  It was a simple folding chair, but at that moment it looked like a plush and exquisite throne.  Now, I had prepped my crew beforehand with the phrase, "beware of the chair".  I told them to keep me away from chairs as much as possible as they are nothing but deceiving traps.

I slowly moved over to the chair and sat down.  Next thing I knew, Catrina was in my face with her index finger pointed in the air in front of my nose. "One minute.  You get one minute in that chair and then I want you up."  As much as my insides crumbled at her words, I knew it was the best thing and I admired her determination to "kick my tail back on the trail".  Thank you Catrina!  You saved me significant anguish had I sat there any longer!

Farewell Fish Hatchery and thanks for the belly full of Coke, soup and noodles...and a No Doz pill!

Sunday, 8/21

Fish Hatchery > May Queen (86.5 miles - 20:37 - 12:37am)

Leadville allows trekking poles during the race.  I knew they would probably help, but decided pre-race that I wanted to complete the race without them.  That's all fine and dandy until you get to mile 76 and are faced with a scary climb up Powerlines that is known for eating runners alive.

I have one pole that I got years ago at Walmart for $10.  It is nothing special, but upon leaving Fish, I asked for the pole.  A huge decision that paid off.  It was awkward hiking with only one pole and my arm would tire out quickly. What it did do was keep me upright and continuously providing an ever-so small push with every other step.

Heading towards the Powerlines climb.  Scott's got the pole!
I wasn't sure how many false summits there were on Sugarloaf, but I knew it was in the 5-7 range.  I'm pretty sure that night it was more in the 14-15 range.  After an hour of climbing, I told Scott I'd take a big swallow of EFS to celebrate hitting the top.  I gulped it down on top of a false summit and another 20-30 minutes of climbing up followed.  Argh!

My favorite saying of the day was, "this too shall pass."  Something about saying it brought a peace knowing the end of whatever was seeming endless, would eventually come.  It always did.  I'm quite sure I said, "this too shall pass" about 100 times climbing Sugarloaf, and guess what?   It did.  Finally, we were running down the backside, down Hagerman Pass road, down the Colorado Trail towards the lake, and into the May Queen campground aid station.  The crew was ready for action.  More noodles.  More caffeine.  Fresh batteries in the flashlight!

Coming in the last aid station!  We're beginning to taste the finish...that is still over three hours away!

More Ramen Noodles!  My primary fuel source for the last 30 miles!

May Queen > Tabor Boat Ramp (93 miles - 21:48 - 1:48am)

There not much to say about our run on the lake trail.  I'm sure I burped much more than I talked.  The trail constantly bounces up and down with plenty of rockiness tossed on.  Everything in me wanted to walk the final 13.5 miles, but there was absolutely nothing wrong with me to dictate that course of action.  Yes, I felt awful and my legs hurt beyond imagination, but again, I wasn't injured and there was no reason not to shuffle.

When we popped off the trail at the Tabor Boat Ramp, our crew was ready for the final prep to get us to the finish.  I can't remember at all what happened here other then saying, "see you at mile 99".  Wow, mile 99...were we really that close?

The Dynamic Duo of Tanya & Catrina

Tabor > Mile 99

After Tabor, the lake trail flattens out and the rocks pretty much disappear.  It's great for running and I had mentioned to Scott several times that I was looking forward to this stretch.  The walk/shuffle intervals continued all the way until we finished the trail, hobbled down the nasty mini-powerlines section, cruised along CR-48 and onto the Boulevard.

The Boulevard is a dirt road that steadily climbs for three miles.  I'm convinced there isn't a darker place in Leadville.  There were lots of runners on it wrapping up there races and we were all leapfrogging each other.  Leila passed me with her pacer Becca.  I can tell you there is no one I would rather have pass me than Leila.  She's a good friend and incredible runner.  I was honored to even be running near her during the final miles.

About halfway up, you see a streetlight off in the distance signifying the end of the Boulevard.  I can tell you that light is magical.  It moves further away the closer you get to it, which of course makes my "this too shall pass" mantra ineffective.  Somehow the magic ended and we found ourselves standing underneath it.  One more mile to go!!

Last Mile

At this point, I immediately began looking for Tanya & Catrina who were going to join us for the final mile.  They were nowhere to be seen.  Ah, they were smart ladies and stationed themselves towards the top of the first hill on 6th street!  We got ourselves up there and within seconds could see the finish line off in the distance.  We ran the entire thing together.  I remember feeling like emotions were supposed to be pouring out (since they normally do for me), but the well was dry.  I think I thanked them all for helping to make this dream possible and soon the red carpet was in view.

200' to go!

Approaching the red carpet

Here we met up with Steve and he joined us for the last 20-30 feet.  Arms went up in the air and stayed up until the finish line had been crossed.  Done!  23:48:27.  3:48am.

Breaking the tape.

Next came the hugfest with the LT100 race organizers Shannon & Merilee, and my crew & pacer.  The moment was a sweet one that I'll never forget.  I had just finished running 100 miles twelve minutes shy of a full day!  Yeah!

Smiles so big we might just pop!

My rock out there for 13+ hours!

Post Race

I made my way over the med tent for my final weigh in.  185.8.  Nothing lost on the return trip!  While standing on the scale outside the tent, the first waft of warm air hit and enticed me to follow it to the source inside the tent.  I found a seat inside and just sat enjoying the heat and a cup of soup that a volunteer graciously got for me.

Later it would take two people on either side to lift me out of that chair.

About ten minutes later, Tanya came over to help me change into warmer clothes.  Just the act of taking my shoes and socks off sent me into a bout with the chills/shakes.  So I simply rolled off the chair and into a cot & sleeping bag to warm up.  I only wish it was that easy to get back up to a standing position.

Next it was back to the cabin for much needed sleep for all.  I slept in an upright chair and only managed 1.5 hours before I awoke feeling dehydrated, hungry, and in pain.  There was no falling back to sleep in that state!

Around 9:15am, I joined Tanya and the girls as we made our way back downtown to watch the race finish.  The official cut off is 30 hours (10:00am).  We caught the last twenty minutes of finishers and I can tell you there is nothing more inspiring than watching the people who have been out there the longest finish with large crowds cheering them in.  The final finisher came in with two and a half minutes to spare.

Shortly thereafter, we went to the awards ceremony.  It was hot (inside the gym) and my body was in non-stop pain.  I don't remember much except for sitting next to Patrick (who finished in 13th place for his first 100 miler!) and getting my buckle.  Ah, the buckle.  I'll never wear it, but everything written above comes pouring out every time I look at it. I'm thinking it looks a little lonely.  Do you agree it needs a friend?  Maybe next year!

The Big Buckle!

Dedicated to my amazing crew and pacer!


I am so grateful for the sacrifices my family made to support me through this experience.  Many hours were dedicated so I could selfishly run 100 miles.  I'm humbled by your generosity.

Tanya - You are the best and I can't thank you enough for your encouragement on all these "crazy" running endeavors.  We always say that we love "doing" life together.  I'm not sure this was what you had in mind, but isn't life grand?  I love you.

Megan & Zoe - Running may be a gift to me, but it is one I can put aside in a heartbeat.  You two are the gifts that mean more to me than you'll ever know.  Megan, I forgive you for telling me I wouldn't finish!  Haha!  Remember, daddy always finishes what he starts!

Scott - You were my rock out there.  I'm quite sure I'd still be wandering the trails of Leadville now had you not been with me each step of the way.  You are much more than a cousin to me.  You are a friend and brother and I'm so appreciative of our relationship.

Jennifer - Your job as Kids Crew Chief was huge!  Caring for the six kids all day & night may have been more challenging than running in the race.  None of this would have happened had you not been there for the kids.  Thank you!

Steve - The man of many hats and titles.  Your pictures tell the story of this insane adventure more than my words ever could.  I'll savor the hug of brothers we shared at the finish.  I'm so thankful for you and that you were there to see this unfold!

Catrina - Can you believe what your husband did?  You are married to a stud!  Thank you for all you did with venturing the road to Winfield, prepping me for the second half, and KICKING me out of that chair at Fish.  It may not have seemed like much, but that moment was a turning point in the race.

Friends & Family:  Thank you for praying for my safety and health.  Thank you for tracking my progress online.  Every time I stepped on a timing mat, I gushed with adrenaline thinking about you getting the update that I was keeping pace with my goal.  Thank you for all the kind emails & calls you gave before, during, and after the race.  I'm feeling the love!

Life Time Fitness:  Your team is a class act and has done so much to make this race one of the finest experiences I could ask for.  The changes you made this year were excellent and didn't diminish the "Leadville" feel that everyone has come to know and love.  I'm still amazed you donated $117K to the LT100 Legacy Foundation so kids from Leadville can get college scholarships.  Well done.  Thank you Scott, Shannon, Ken, Merilee, and everyone else involved!


  1. Woody,
    What an excellent report about an excellent race. Your first paragraph is amazing and shows that with an attitude like that you simply cannot fail. You prepared and worked hard for this one and it showed. Great job!

  2. The methodical prep work over the last year paid off big time. Congrats on such an impressive finish, Woody! Great report. Can't wait for next year's recap. Go get 'em.

  3. Yeah! Your race sounds epic - bracelets, thrones, a minstrel, and a wizard stick (hiking pole). Congrats on the great race! Also, I think you should get a belt and wear the hell out of that buckle. You earned it!

  4. Awesome race and report Woody. I was so stoked that you had such a great race. The work and preparation you did showed!

  5. Woody, the tears started falling when you wrote about the bracelet Megan made for you and by the end I was a sloppy mess. What an experience! You are surrounded by people who love and support you and its apparent you realize and appreciate that. We are all very proud of you.
    Love, Nana

  6. Absolutely awesome! So excited that you ran such a strong AND smart race. And I gotta say, you had an amazing crew out there on race day.

  7. Chris - We've talked about stuff like that before and you help keep me thinking that way. Thanks!

    Jim - I might be getting ahead of myself a bit in talking about next year. I need to meet with the boss first!

    Stephen - Haha! I love my wizard stick! I think I'd have to do a complete wardrobe makeover for that belt buckle to work with anything I own.

    PG - Well, someone showed me how to get after it and train like an animal. Let's just say it wouldn't have been me sending the invite out for a night run at Falcon when it's 12 degrees out. Your toughness is contagious.

    Nana - Ah, I knew the bracelet thing would get you! It got me too even while watching her work on it at a feverish pace so I could tie it on the night before. Thank you for the kind words.

    Jaime - There may have been a little bit of "smart" in there, but I know there was a whole lot of luck. I'm pretty sure most wouldn't recommend trying for the first time an "eat when you feel like it" approach in a 100 miler. I'm glad it worked out, but it also could have been ugly.

  8. Woody - it's been so much fun watching you have an incredible summer of races. Looking over and seeing the joy & excitement on your face at mile 98 was honestly one of the best moments of the entire race for me. Such a treat to share those final painful miles with you - here's to hopefully many more! Congrats on your well-earned accomplishment!

  9. I didn't cry until Tanya started running with you at mile 99. :) What an amazing accomplishment. Way to go!

  10. Congrats on a stellar race! Hope there is more to come for you in the future in Leadville.

  11. Leila - I probably shouldn't tell you this, but that look of joy and excitement on my face was because I grabbed hold of the edge of your pack as you passed by and let you pull me up the Boulevard! Haha! Nah, I had a great time crossing that line just seconds after you!

    Rachel - Thanks! I admit that I too get a little choked up at that part as well.

    Brandon - I've come to love Leadville as you do. It pains me when I mention to someone about running up there and they say something to the tune of, "Oh Leadville, I think I drove through there's kind of run-down and there's nothing to do up there." I've come to have such a respect and admiration for the town and the people that I want to fiercely protect it. Clearly, you've had the same notion and promote all that makes Leadville special. Already looking forward to running up there with you next year.

  12. Woody, you were unbelievable out there last weekend! I had a blast running with you and am honored to have participated with such a great runner. You have provided me with so much inspiration and motivation to push myself in my running adventures over the last few years, none as much as this race. Congrats on that big buckle, you definitely earned it! "Way to go, tall guy!"

  13. Scott - Haha! I totally forgot about that lady and the "tall guy" comment. All I can say is I'm looking forward to whatever adventures we can find ourselves in over the years to come!

  14. 187 pounds? Really? Damn - you might be the biggest guy out there for a big buckle (and so can actually wear it without it looking like a frisbee on your stomach). -

    Seriously - nice job man. Well done. Hope to cross paths again with you soon.

  15. GZ - Yeah, that weight hasn't changed in years, so there's just nothing I can do about it! I have serious weight envy when I see you guys in the buck forty or fifty range!

    Frisbee? Definitely. It's almost a joke. Although I would love to see Pikes get behind the buckle tradition!

  16. I paced someone years ago at LT from Twin Lakes to the hatchery and I can still remember the flatness you refer to.