The LT100 foot race began in 1983 with only 45 runners and grew
until it reached about 600 entrants in the mid-2000s.
The LT100 bike race began 16 years ago. It, too, grew by leaps
and bounds until it had to be controlled by a lottery to keep
the numbers at a safe and manageable level. In recent years it has been
determined that the number can be increased to its present
level of 1400-1500 entrants. It will be interesting to see if even more riders are
allowed to enter next year.
LT100 bike entrants work out the kinks on 6th Street late Friday
Other LT100 events include a three-day running camp in late June
that allows folks to see about 60 miles of the run course (we
enjoyed the camp we attended ten years ago), the marathon run
and "Heavy Half Marathon" run (about 15 miles long) held in
early July, the Silver Rush 50-mile mountain bike race and run
in mid-July, and the LT100 10K run held the same weekend as the
100-mile bike race. The 10K run will be held at noon on Sunday,
after the bike awards ceremony. If we get too lazy to go outside
to watch the race, we can see the runners from
our camper windows as they make the turn at 6th Street and McWethy.
A new event called "24 Hours of Leadville" is planned for
September 4, 2010 but there is minimal information about it now on
the website and we keep forgetting to ask Merilee or Ken about
it. I don't know if there are separate events for runners or
cyclists, or if you have to do both.
Depending on the format and course, we might be interested in
that event next year.
14er Mt. Sherman is shrouded to the east of town
as two cyclists take one last ride on Friday afternoon.
Back to the money issue . . .
I have no problem with whatever profit Ken, Merilee, and the
LT100 corporation earn. Yes, EARN. It's not like they stole the
money from unsuspecting victims. I believe in capitalism,
entrepreneurship, creativity, turning a good idea into reality, and hard work. My
favorite book is Atlas Shrugged, remember?
don't want to pay the fees LT100 charges
aren't forced to pay them. There are plenty of low-cost and
no-fee ultra events all over the country from which to choose,
and they can be just as challenging and as much fun as the
Or, just come enjoy the LT100 events by being a pacer, spectator, or
(better yet), a volunteer.
LT100 race management is backed up by a large cadre of volunteers who
willingly give their time and expertise to make the race series
Why would anyone (like us) do this for free??
- Because we don't feel taken advantage of, even though we've been
known to joke about Merilee's new and expensive SUVs. If we felt
"used," we wouldn't
be here, or at least we wouldn't keep volunteering for or running the race. We'd
just hang out, observe, crew, or pace someone.
- It's a lot of fun to
see the runners, many of whom we know, for one or two
weeks before the race as they acclimate to the altitude. We "run
into" them out on the trails and in town, give each other big hugs,
and continue conversations begun months or even years ago. It's more
personal to volunteer when we know some or a lot of the race
participants, as we do here.
Jim with friends Karen Pate and Pat
Homelvig at the bike packet-stuffing;
note the Soleus banner: "Sanity is for
the sedentary. Run Wild."
- We feel
good about "giving back" to the sport by volunteering our time;
without adequate volunteer support, races would either die
or not be able to offer as much to the runners (like course monitors, medical personnel,
and radio communications for safety, or adequate staff for aid stations).
- Leadville is a cool (literally and figuratively) place to hang out
in the summer, with lots of scenic trails to run and 14ers to climb.
While we're here, we may as well help out.
- For their work, volunteers receive some other bennies besides
the more esoteric ones listed above. We get what I consider to be nicer shirts than the
run or bike participants (I've been wearing some of the LT100
volunteer shirts for ten
years); we get supper (pizza, subs) after the packet-stuffing sessions
for the bike and run; and we can eat free at the bike and run carbo-loading
suppers pre-race. Volunteers at aid stations can also eat aid station
food during the races.
Over the years, many of the race participants and volunteers have fallen in love with Leadville
to the extent that they not only keep coming back year after
year like we do, some have also either purchased second homes
here or relocated altogether (such as Don Adolph and Marge and Mike Hickman) to work or retire in or near the town.
That's very similar to what has happened in Silverton because of
the Hardrock race.
These places get a hold on you!
Pretty flowers in a yard along 6th Street
For now, Jim and I will just continue to camp out in both areas
in the summer and do our best to keep both races alive. We've
already got one house we seldom live in . . .
BIKE "PACKET" STUFFING: THURSDAY @ 5 PM
I'm not sure the LT100 has ever had just packets (large
envelopes) for its 100-mile race participants but the process
continues to be called "packet stuffing." Since we've been
involved with the goodie bags at this race, it's had very nice
canvas duffel bags that we fill assembly-line fashion with
assorted items donated by sponsors, a detailed participant
booklet, coupons for local businesses, and various necessities like
pins for the race numbers.
Since the bike race has so many riders this year (several
hundred more than when we did this job two years ago), we
figured it would take longer to stuff the bags than the hour it has usually taken
in the past. This year the entire process took about twice as long (carrying in
the boxes of items, arranging them on the tables, unwrapping all
the bags, filling the bags in the assembly line, and putting as
many bags as possible back in large boxes for distribution to
the cyclists) -- but actually stuffing the bags did take just
about an hour because there were so many riders and runners
(about 40) handling the task.
Jim and I arrived at the gym early to help fold the shirts the
bike entrants would receive. We got a nice surprise -- the
just be handed out from the boxes this time, and not neatly
folded. Great idea! That's a tedious task and quite unnecessary
since most of the folks just quickly shoved them into their bags
Years ago we used to make each bag specific to the rider or
runner, with their race numbers and shirts already inside. Jan
and Bill Moyer, who run this operation for both 100-mile races, got very smart one year and decided to make the
bags generic. That was positively revolutionary and greatly
simplified the task of "packet" stuffing. Now race entrants get
their bags, their numbers, and their correct shirt sizes from
three different people during check-in.
Not folding 1400+ shirts this year was almost as revolutionary.
What a time-saver.
When we got to the gym Bill asked Jim if he could help set up several
tables for the assembly line and lots of chairs for the bike
race briefing to be held the next morning. Jim and some other guys soon had
the gym full of hundreds of chairs neatly lined up:
Volunteers roll up race posters in the
background after chairs are set up;
the packet-stuffing assembly line is to the
right, out of sight.
Even so, the
be filled to overflowing with all the cyclists and their crews
during the race briefing, pre-race carbo-loading supper, and
the awards ceremony. We noticed that the balcony was
reopened now, which would help a little bit with the crowd.
Another group of about ten guys was hanging all the sponsors' banners from
the balcony railings. More folks were arranging all the items to
go into the bags along 100 feet of tables, while others rolled
posters and put rubber bands on them. Jim and I have done these jobs in previous years, too.
I decided to help six or eight other volunteers unwrap the
canvas bags and stack them nearby for the assembly line
volunteers to stuff. This is a job suitable for folks of any age:
The bags are entirely different this year,
not duffel bags but equally useful bags with pockets and a drawstring top:
I like them. I heard the runners will get the same type of bag
Unwrapping and stacking the empty bags was a job I could do either sitting or standing (i.e., not
stretching or lifting too much for my cracked ribs and sore shoulders to
handle) so I continued to do it until all fourteen gazillion of
the bags were ready for stuffing. Even though we got a head
start, we barely got done unwrapping all of them before the assembly
line folks were done filling them! I had only a few
minutes to wander down the line and take some pics of other
volunteers before the bags were all filled and the line was
When Jim got done setting up chairs he took a spot in the
assembly line and stuffed half the bags with samples of
Muscle Relief Gel.
He had fun because Karen Pate was on one side of him (hamming it
up in the photo below),
Bill Heldenbrand was across the table, and other friends were nearby: Bill Dickey
(white shirt in photo above), Karsten Solheim, John and Marcy Beard, etc.
Marcy (L) and John Beard (R) and another
fella in the blue shirt took the
stuffed bags and put them in big boxes for
cycling check-in the next morning.
After enough bags were filled (about 10% fewer than the number
of entrants, to account for no-shows) and arranged for pick-up
by the cyclists the next morning, we all enjoyed a variety of pizzas and soft
drinks that were brought to the gym for our consumption.
See, what did I tell you about the perks of volunteering??
RIDER CHECK-IN: 7-11 AM FRIDAY
Because of the huge number of bike entrants this year, the
check-in process started early to allow all the riders to get
their bags, shirts, numbers, etc. before the 11 AM course
briefing by Ken. Not everyone got checked in by 11, which meant
Jan and Bill Moyer were still dealing with the process after the
Jim and I don't usually get up till 7 AM or later, so setting the
alarm for 5:15 was tough. We got ready early and
arrived at the gym about 6:15, fifteen minutes before the
volunteers were asked to arrive. That way we were able to
park close to the door and we got to choose the jobs we wanted.
Early morning before the crowd
hit: cyclists (R) who were volunteering at check-in
medical before getting their bags, shirts,
numbers, timing chips, etc. at the tables to the left.
We had several choices: checking everyone's ID at the
door, working at the medical tables (just asking questions and putting the
plastic wristbands on the riders, not doing weights or blood
pressure like in the run), or handing out one of the following:
bags, shirts, several pages of last-minute instructions,
race numbers, computer timing chips, crew tags, or race posters.
We've done all of these jobs before. This time we both chose to give out race numbers, thinking that would be
fairly easy because we could sit down and not have to bend and
stretch a lot.
Ha! In the photo of Jim (center, in white shirt) and other volunteers giving out numbers below, you can see that it didn't quite
work out that way:
What we didn't initially know was that
we also had to check each rider's orange plastic wrist band
(next photo) to make sure the
name and number were correct (some didn't jive and had to be
corrected in the computer)
and tell each rider where to put
each of the four numbers they received (helmet, jersey, bike
tube, front of bike), plus some other verbal information. That made
sitting difficult. So did the noise in the gym; we had to
stand up for the riders to hear our spiel. We both ended up
nearly hoarse after talking to so many people for four hours. We
quickly learned to explain the numbers to small groups of people in
our respective lines at one time, instead of each one
We still ended up hoarse!
Each volunteer giving out the numbers had about 200 runners to
serve. Sometimes our lines would be empty for a couple minutes
and other times they'd be backed up six or eight deep. The thing
that slowed us down the most was having to get each rider's
signature and emergency contact information. As usual, some folks had no
clue where they were staying locally or who should be contacted in an
emergency. I'd guess 40% whipped out their cell phones to find a
A rider (R) checks his cell phone for an
emergency number while Dan-the-volunteer patiently waits.
That was funny! I don't remember that happening nearly as often
when I did this job two or three years ago. It says a lot about
how much some folks have come to depend on the lists of numbers they have
stored in their cell phones. It's hard to believe, however, that
they wouldn't have their #1 emergency contact number
Although neither Jim nor I received any direct thanks from the
riders checking in (that's typical in our experience, unlike the
ultra runners who often thank us for helping out), Bill
and Jan told us later they'd received some good reviews this
year about the smooth check-in process.
That's good to hear; second-hand kudos are better than nothing.
We don't volunteer for the accolades but it's nice to know that
we're appreciated. Jim and I always thank as many volunteers as
possible at the races we run. That's just common courtesy and
spreads good vibes.
Truth be told, if there was no 100-mile run a week later, we
wouldn't come out here to work only the bike race. Very few
cyclists are around a week later to help with the run. I think
the main reason so many runners help with the bike race is
because they're here early to acclimate to the altitude.
Time to go -- they're crowding in behind us
The gym became so crowded (above) by the time of the briefing -- and we
were so exhausted from our job -- that we didn't stay to hear
Ken's motivational speech and directions. He's a good speaker
but we've heard his spiel many times now. We'll probably
attend the runners' briefing next week because we'll get to see
lots of people we know.
And it won't hurt us to hear Ken's motivational speech again.
It'll help get Jim psyched up for The Bear.
CARBO-LOADING DINNER: 5 PM FRIDAY
Another perk extended to volunteers is the free spaghetti dinner before both
races. Jim and I know to enter through the back door and not
stand in line with hundreds of race entrants and their crews at
the front door.
Otherwise, we probably wouldn't eat there.
Cyclists and crews enjoy their
carbo-loading dinner in the gym on Friday evening.
After we got done with check-in on Friday morning, Jim took Cody
for a long run on one of
his favorite parts of the LT100 run course: out and back
on the rolling Colorado Trail section between the Mt. Elbert
trailhead and the town of Twin Lakes. He wasn't sure if he'd get
back in time to go to the spaghetti supper so he encouraged me
to walk into town and do it.
I ended up walking into town twice on Friday, once to pick up a package at
the Post Office and just wander around town,
Sign I saw on a tandem bike for sale; why
not just keep it
and find a girlfriend / boyfriend who likes
and a second time to eat at the gym. I always
enjoy the salad, rolls, raw veggies, fruit, meatballs or meatless spaghetti, and
array of desserts and the chance to talk with other volunteers. I
was a little disappointed that only the Moyers and three medical
volunteers were there, but we had a good time.
On the way out 6th Street to return to our camper, I saw a group
of course monitors being briefed near the start:
Others volunteers were finishing the job of erecting barriers
along the beginning of the course on 6th Street:
Now try to visualize 1300+ bikes and riders lined up on
Harrison Ave. (to the left of the camper in the intersection in
the background of that photo) tomorrow morning at 6:30 AM
. . .
I was already back home (about a mile walk) when Jim and Cody
returned around 6 PM from their run. Jim drove into town to see
if they were still serving dinner at the gym but decided before
he got there to buy a burger at
Wild Bill's instead.
We'll both enjoy the free carbo dinner for the
run next week because we'll be handling runner check-in at the
same time. That check-in procedure is a bit different from the
INSPIRED BY VAN GOGH
We also got our beautiful bike volunteer shirts today. That's
favorite "perk" at Leadville. I'm very pleased with the
it is a reprise of one of the most popular volunteer shirts
the race has used -- a Van
Gogh-inspired mountain scene:
2009 volunteer shirt
I'm still wearing my long-sleeved bike and run volunteer shirts with the
original design from ten years ago. The volunteer shirt from the
run is navy
(below); the bike volunteer shirt has the same design on white.
My 10-year-old volunteer shirt with the
same "Van Gogh" design
Each year, the volunteer shirt design is the same for both races but a different
t-shirt color is used for each race. I'm curious to see what
color our volunteer shirts for the run will be.
The volunteer shirts are always totally different from the
participant shirts in each race. This is the shirt the cycling
entrants got, modeled
by new friend Dave C:
Those are nice, too, but
I like my volunteer shirt better!
[If you look closely in the photo above, you'll see part of
Dave's right hand . . . in a brace. Guess how he broke
one of the bones in that hand?? Clue: he's an endurance
runner and cyclist. In fact, he's cycled solo across the
continental USA. Before we started our check-in duties today, I
asked Dave to hold up one of the bike shirts. He is volunteering for both LT100 races this
year and plans to enter one or both in 2010. He'll also be
working with us tomorrow at the West Granite crew station during
the bike race.]
Next entry: the LT100 bike race -- will Dave Wiens be
able to hold off Lance Armstrong for the second year in a row??
We'll have a good vantage point at 43 and 57 miles into the
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil,
and Cody the Ultra Lab
© 2009 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil