2009 ULTRA RUNNING ADVENTURES

 

   
 
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  LT100 MOUNTAIN BIKE RACE:
MULTI-TASKING IN OUR VOLUNTEER ROLE
+ THE ARMSTRONG-WIENS REMATCH

SUNDAY, AUGUST 16

 
Jim to injured cyclist: "What happened?"
Female bike rider: "I don't know. I was about a mile from the turnaround
and the next thing I know, I'm lying on the road and two guys are attending to me."
 
 
Deja vu all over again??

Jim says this was almost identical to his first conversation with me last week after I crashed his mountain bike on a road near Silverton. I was talking to him (and other first responders at the scene) but had no clue what had caused me to wreck, and I didn't even remember those conversations later.

But this time it wasn't me. It was one of the female participants in the Leadville Trail 100-mile bike race yesterday. She was carried down to our crew station on one of several Search & Rescue ATVs used during the race to keep tabs on riders and cart out injured ones from locations that were inaccessible to an ambulance and/or unsafe for larger vehicles to drive because of the large numbers of bikes on the narrow dirt roads.

Jim and I were assigned to radio/communications duties at the West Granite crewing location about 43 miles into the race. It is not an aid station but a critical turn riders make on the way out and back in the ten-mile section between the Twin Lakes and Columbine Mine aid stations.


Twin Lakes and Columbine Mine are the two aid stations near the bottom of this map.
The bike course (in red) goes out-and-back, starting and finishing in Leadville at the top right.

This year crews were encouraged to assist their riders at West Granite in addition to Twin Lakes, which has become a bottleneck with all the vehicles parked there (the same thing happens to a lesser extent during the LT100 run, which is held a week later). Since there were several hundred more registrants in the bike race this year (a reported 1500 vs 1200) it was important to try to spread out the crews and their vehicles more evenly along the course.

Readers who are more familiar with the LT100 foot race may not realize that the bike course uses only a few of the same miles as the run. The bike race doesn't have much single-track trail. It stays mostly on paved and dirt roads.

Cyclists are on paved roads from the start to Mayqueen Campground and beyond. They do go up Hagerman Road and down the infamous power line from Sugarloaf Pass to Half Moon Road but they don't ride the two sections of the Colorado Trail that runners use. The Twin Lakes and Columbine Mine sections are also totally different than in the run, which tops out at the same height (12,600 feet) on Hope Pass a bit farther west. Nor do the cyclists go to the old ghost town of Winfield.

In both the bike race and the run, Twin Lakes is about 40 miles into the race on the outbound and about 60 miles inbound; the locations of the aid stations are not the same, however. Columbine Mine is the turnaround point in the bike race at 50 miles. That's the aid station where Jim and I have previously worked for several years.


Closer view of he Twin Lakes and Columbine Mine aid station locations.
I marked our crew station spot at West Granite with an arrow and "WG."

The West Granite crewing and communications station to which we were assigned this year is located about three miles beyond the Twin Lakes full aid station and seven miles below the fully-stocked aid station at Columbine Mine. Outbound, it's a gradual but unrelenting climb of 3,200 feet over ten miles from Twin Lakes to the turnaround. There is a total of 14,000-15,000 feet of elevation gain in the bike race and the same amount of elevation loss.

Cyclists ride on mostly double-track dirt roads to our intersection at approximately 43 miles into the race and about 9,400 feet in elevation. After they make the critical turn onto Lost Canyon Road at our location, they switchback another seven miles up the increasingly rocky, rutted 4WD road to the Columbine Mine aid station at 12,600 feet. It always took our volunteer convoy of 4WD trucks and SUVs a long time to negotiate that rough road before and after the race, particularly above tree line. It would be equally difficult to ride on a bike, I'm sure -- even coming back down at a much faster pace than the riders go up.

How much faster? According to the aid station splits, it took Lance Armstrong 65+ minutes to ride ten miles uphill from the Twin Lakes to the Columbine Mine aid stations and only 26+ minutes to go back down!

That's moving on rough terrain like this. These aren't paved roads like he rides in the Tour de France.

ROCKIN' AND ROLLIN'

Some less skilled riders didn't fare as well.

During the race we saw a total of five Search & Rescue ATVs head up Lost Canyon Road to keep tabs on the riders. This is one of them taking a tangent through the sage brush to avoid cyclists on the course at our turn:

Three cyclists got ATV rides back down after having problems between our location and Columbine Mine. Jim heard on the radio that some others came down in vehicles. Only the lady mentioned above was too injured to continue on the ATV over to Twin Lakes. She was in a C-Collar (cervical neck brace) when she got to our location at West Granite and was in sufficient pain (neck and chest), had a very low oxygen count, and had enough head trauma to not remember what happened . . . that she was held at our location until an ambulance could come for her. Her ride to St. Vincent's Hospital in Leadville was much more comfortable on the cushioned stretcher than it would have been if she'd had to ride on the back of an ATV any further.

On the way out to West Granite that morning, Jim asked me not to tell anyone about his EMT skills unless there was an emergency. His role was to man the radio, not treat anyone for cuts or abrasions. (No medical folks were assigned specifically to that location.) When this woman came down on the ATV, however, he was not busy on the radio and he wanted to see if he could be of any help. He also assisted a crew person who was suffering from the altitude.

 
Rider down: Pat Homelvig, Jim, and Bill Moyer talk with the EMT on the ATV (hidden behind Jim)
and the cyclist (in neck brace) after calling for an ambulance to evacuate the patient.
I distorted the cyclist's face and hair to help protect her identity.

Jim felt more useful in the half hour he was attending to the injured female cyclist while waiting for the ambulance than the other seven or eight hours he worked the radio. We were not doing any timing of the riders at that location, only emergency communication. Fortunately, this was the only emergency.

The EMT on the ATV had a neck brace and blood pressure cuff that he was able to use on the patient but he lacked some other equipment and supplies that Jim had in our truck. He welcomed Jim's assistance. One apparatus Jim had, a pulse oximeter, was useful because it showed that the woman needed oxygen ASAP. (After my wreck, my oxygen level was in the high 90s where it was supposed to be. Hers was in the low 80s, well below normal. She was having difficulty breathing but neither Jim nor the EMT on the ATV had any oxygen.)


An ambulance from St. Vincent Hospital and two vehicles from Leadville Fire & Rescue showed up.
By this time, most of the crew cars were gone along the roadway. If you drove one of them, NOW you
know why the course monitors wanted you to park on one side only (some folks didn't want to comply).

When the ambulance arrived, Jim helped the crew put her on a backboard, stabilize her head, and lift her into the ambulance. The EMTs on board got her hooked up to oxygen and a saline drip pretty quickly. We'll probably never know how she fared (those pesky HIPPA regulations!) but we hope her head and spinal CTs showed she was OK to be released from the hospital.

I tried not to be too obvious as I watched all this going on about twenty feet away. I didn't go over to her; I didn't think that was appropriate since I didn't know her and had no medical skills that would help. But I felt a kinship to her and had more than a little curiosity to see how her case was handled, knowing Jim and the EMTs from Silverton had done some of the same rapid assessment and handling procedures as these folks were doing with this woman.


Jim (kneeling at far right, in black shirt and khaki pants) helps stabilize the patient on a backboard.

Even though she was coherent and talking to people after her wreck -- as I did -- I wonder if she'll remember later that bumpy ATV ride down the mountain, the help she received at West Granite, or any of the first responders? None of those approximate 30 minutes I lost have come back to me even thirteen days later. Perhaps her only amnesia was a couple of minutes during and after her crash.

AND THEY'RE OFF!

Over 1400 riders were chosen in the lottery (or by reputation, if they're a top contender) for the LT100 bike ride this year, two or three hundred more than last year. A 10% no-show rate was expected.

According to my count of the preliminary results on the website, about 1230 cyclists began the race. It was an awesome showing a few minutes after the 6:30 AM start when they came whooshing around the first turn at 6th Street and McWethy Rd.

 

This intersection just happens to be near the edge of Jack Saunder's property and our "campsite" each of the last five times we've been here. We can see it from our camper windows about 300 feet away. It's almost a front-row seat to the action of both the bike and foot races less than a mile from the start and finish.

We decided several years ago that it'd be a lot more convenient to walk out to that intersection and watch the cyclists soon after their start than to deal with all the bikes and vehicles at the start line at 6th and Harrison. We did that a few times in the early 2000s and even then, with fewer riders, it was mass chaos. The only seeding is for the top 100 cyclists (based on the previous year's finish times). They are permitted in a special corral at the start but all the rest have to seed themselves according to their ability. It must work pretty well or there would be some sort of wave start by now, the bike race's 16th year.

Jim and I parked our truck well back on the little road that connects Jack's driveway with McWethy and walked over to the intersection, where three course monitors were directing traffic. We talked with Blake Wood and one of his daughters, Heather, who were beginning a 50-mile training run on the LT run course (Heather is training for Angeles Crest 100). Blake and I -- and a bunch of other folks --took photos of the riders as they came flying around that corner. My photos after they made the turn (below) came out much better than the ones coming into it (the two above).

I'm always surprised that no one goes down at this corner, but we haven't witnessed any crashes at that point so far in three or four years. Yesterday it seemed that the cyclists had already spaced themselves out pretty well in the first mile on 6th Street. They were closer than I've ever ridden in a group, but didn't seem to be aggressively jockeying for places yet.

After we heard the gun go off, one clueless woman drove up to the intersection and parked right next to the road. The course monitors frantically waved her off the road but she didn't get there fast enough. Several of the cyclists who went off the pavement almost ran into her car as they rounded the curve. In the photo below, far left, she has already moved over several feet from where she was and you can still see how close that one cyclist is to her:

No one got hurt this time, but the incident signifies how dangerous cycling can be. (Just ask me!)

DRAMA IN THE SKY

During the night and early morning hours on Saturday both Jim and I were awakened a couple times by rain on our camper roof. It was still misty and raining lightly off and on as we waited for the race to begin. It was in the mid-30s when we got up at 5:15 AM and still hadn't reached 40 F. by the start of the race.

When we got up to the roadway to watch the riders zoom by, I was fascinated with the beautiful range of mountains to the west and the storm clouds above them. Both Mt.  Elbert and Mt. Massive looked like someone had shaken sugar over their peaks during the night. While it was raining down at 10,200 feet, it was snowing above 13,000 feet. Very cool! (literally) That probably made the hike to the 14,430-foot summit even more challenging for the weekend warriors who'd be climbing up the peaks that morning.


One end of the rainbow over Massive and Elbert . . .

Even more interesting was the large rainbow we could see from McWethy Road after the riders went by.


The other end of the rainbow farther south (you can see it against the mountain and the clouds)

That was just the beginning of the sky drama during the morning. The changing cloud patterns, lighting, and colors were spectacular along the mountain range and at our West Granite location.

I took the next two photos looking west as we approached our crew station location on Lost Canyon Road. I took them from our moving truck:

We were hoping the gray clouds would stay to the south of us, but pretty soon it was raining lightly in our valley and we could see the ends of a double rainbow to the south, across the field from our location:

There are the other ends of the rainbows; you can barely see the second arc to the right of the more prominent one:


The riders will approach from the lower right and head toward
the campers on their way up to Columbine Mine.

To the northwest of our crew station we had a view of Elbert's snowy main peak:

Later in the morning the snow melted and it wasn't quite as picturesque.

The sky looked only a little better to the north at 7 AM, the direction from which the cyclists would be coming in a couple of hours:

The weather kept morphing from our arrival before 7 AM to the time we left about 3 PM. We had a couple showers, one fairly heavy about mid-morning. I took this picture toward the east after that storm passed over us:

It was just as bad to the west and north where many of the riders were. Some of them got wet several times during the race. Race day was the rainiest day we've had since our arrival a week ago.

The wind also challenged the riders. At West Granite we had calm air in the morning and more blustery winds in the afternoon. It got so windy we ended up taking both our canopy and the race canopy down about noon. We got ours down before it blew away but one of the race canopy's supports broke in a strong gust of wind:


Jim eats breakfast and tries to stay warm in the chilly morning air
as folks begin to arrive at our crew station.


After we took the canopies down, we enjoyed the warm sun. Here Jim watches
two cyclists make the turn at 57 miles as they head back to the finish.

Cody got to hang out with us under our canopy during the race. Although Jim and I sat about six feet from the track on the outside of the turn, Cody wasn't anywhere near the riders. He could see and hear them but barely gave them a glance. He was more interested in the folks who came over to pet him! Not only is he a terrific Trail Dog, he's also a well-behaved Radio Dog, Aid Station Dog, and Crew Dog. He's good at multi-tasking, too.

DRAMA ON THE GROUND

Our friends Pat Homelvig and Karen Pate have captained this crewing/directional station for several years now. Previously there weren't many crews here and they didn't need any additional help at the intersection. Their main job was to make sure the riders made the correct turn outbound and inbound, keep the road as clear as possible for the safety of everyone, and notify HQ is there were any problems. After the last rider and sweep came through, they took down the flagging and picked us trash along the road and down the three miles to Twin Lakes.

This year would be more of a challenge for them so more volunteers were assigned to the location.

Karen told us that last year traffic control became an  issue at West Granite for the first time. Instead of being able to eat a leisurely breakfast at the little restaurant in Granite with the Columbine Mine aid station volunteers as they've been able to do previously, they had to hustle up to their intersection when they saw crews heading up that way. The road is narrow and they had to ask a bunch of people to move their cars so they were all on one side of the road and away from the part of Lost Canyon Road where the race course went. It was a hassle, and they wanted to do it better this year.


Pat hands off traffic control to another course monitor and comes back to the
crew station at the intersection; crew cars are lined up quite a ways down the road.

Jim and I wanted to beat as many crew cars so we arrived about 7 AM. It wasn't early enough! There were already a bunch of cars lining both sides of the road. Only one course monitor was there, and since it was his first time there, he wasn't sure what he was supposed to do. The road block and cones were not set up yet. We were concerned that things might get out of control but we didn't know who was doing what, or even where to set up our canopy for the radio communications. It was our first time at this location, too. Everything eventually got sorted out after Karen, Pat, and two more course monitors arrived.

Since we weren't doing any timing of the riders at that location, I didn't have a specific radio or communications job to do. When that happens I try to see what is needed and just do it. I ended up helping keep order around the triangle where our canopies were located (the turn at the intersection between the double-track toward Twin Lakes and Lost Canyon Road) and helping direct crews where they could set up their chairs and supplies for the riders.

Everyone complied well with setting up their chairs and crewing supplies on one side of the road along the course:

There were hundreds of people at West Granite by the time the first rider, Lance Armstrong, came through our location. Cars were parked almost a mile down the road and crews were strung out at least half a mile along the road and the double-track.

Karen, Pat, three course monitors, and three park service personnel were handling vehicle parking and crew control. I only stepped in as needed. It was important to keep the road as clear as possible for everyone's safety -- so the riders didn't run into anyone on the course, and so emergency vehicles could have access.

There were also some folks camped up the road on forest service land that came past our location during the race. The forest service will not close off the area to other users, despite over twelve hundred cyclists using the narrow road this year. In addition, several spectator on bikes headed up the road to watch the action farther up. We didn't try to stop them. The road is open to the public, after all. We just hoped they'd stay out of the way of the official racers.


Karen consults with Dave, one of the course monitors.

Some people gave the course monitors and me grief because they thought they should be exceptions, but most people behaved responsibly.

I have to say, as I've commented previously about ultra running events, the dogs were under better parental control than some of the children! Since I was sitting/standing right at the bumpy turn most of the time, I could see the kids there better than the ones along Lost Canyon Road. Although we saw only one rider go down in the loose dirt on that curve, I expected to see more. I suggested to a couple parents parent that it might not be a good idea for their young child(ren) to be standing -- or worse, sitting -- on the pink ribbon marking the course around the turn.

Several adults were too close to the curve, too. What are people thinking?? It's much more dangerous to spectators and riders alike to be in or next to the course during a bike race than a foot race. In a foot race it's more a matter of respect and consideration for the runners than a safety issue, although I've even seen runners knock over, or trip over, kids who are in the way.

 
Photographers liked to hug the edge of the turn, also.

Pat and Karen encountered more obnoxious folks in vehicles than I did after they came up to the crew station. They've both learned how to be firm and ignore personal insults. It's amazing how some people think they should be exceptions and allowed to block the road, even after course monitors explain that emergency vehicles had to be able to get through. These were able-bodied folks, not ones that truly needed to park or be let out as close as possible because of handicaps.

Only one spectator made a fool of himself in my presence. When riders began coming back down from Columbine Mine, there was one 30-something guy standing next to our canopy who hollered encouragement to some of the riders in the loudest voice I think I've ever heard. It was like he had his own internal megaphone! Jim was having trouble hearing his radio.

I went over to the man, very politely explained to him about Jim's role on the emergency radio, said he was having trouble hearing over the man's yelling, and could he please cheer on the riders a little farther up or down the course? He just about went ballistic, cursed at me, and defiantly said that Jim could move! Some other spectators intervened on my behalf and the jerk did eventually move, but not far enough away to suit me. I took a picture of him later and I'm seriously thinking about putting it here.

Naw, I don't need to deal with a libel suit.

CYCLING'S POSTER BOY

Other than that little incident, we had a pretty good day at this location. It was fun to watch the racers come through our intersection and cheer them on. It was also fun to interact with many of the crews and spectators.

The "spectator" thing was new to us. Although I was a course monitor during the bike races in the 1996 Olympics held in Atlanta -- which was full of spectators -- this is the only mountain bike race we've worked at a crew location. In previous years we've volunteered up at Columbine Mine, where no crews are allowed and all we had to do was serve the cyclists.

We assumed that all the people yesterday at West Granite were crews of riders in the race.

Not so!


Lance Armstrong (L) comes through our crew station first at 43 miles, escorted by the lead vehicle (R).

We learned about another big difference between a 100-mile bike race and a 100-mile foot race: the country's most famous cyclist draws a big crowd from all over the state that is there just to see him race, even though he didn't win the Tour de France recently.

Lance Armstrong is the Poster Boy of American cycling. He's an icon, well known even to non-cyclists.

Tell me when that has ever happened in an ultra foot race or to an ultra runner, even ones as accomplished as Scott Jurek or Ann Trason?? How many people come to Leadville just to watch Anton Krupika or Matt Carpenter race? How many people have driven hours specifically to watch Scott Jurek or Ann Trason run a race anywhere in this country?

There were "GO, LANCE!" and "GO, DAVE!" shirts for sale in the gym. For $4.95 you could watch the race live from four locations during the race on your computer. Someone even fashioned a huge "LA" in the snow on the eastern flank of Mt. Massive, visible to the naked eye along the course on Half Moon Road or with binoculars from Leadville:


Above and below: "LA" is written in large letters in the rectangle of snow on the east flank of Mt. Massive.

Groupies, or just a publicity stunt for the race video and live webcast??

The world of cycling is different in many ways from the world of ultra running. Cyclists have made a hero of Lance Armstrong, winner of the Tour de France a record seven consecutive times from 1999-2005. Even though he came in "only" third in the Tour a few weeks ago, he's a popular, well-respected athlete, not only for his cycling accomplishments, but also for his well-publicized triumph over testicular cancer and his efforts to raise money for cancer research through the LIVESTRONG Foundation he started. His marriage to and divorce from popular singer Sheryl Crow didn't hurt, either.

Last year was Armstrong's first LT100 mountain bike race, which is quite different from riding paved road races as a team member. Mountain bike racing is one person against the others, not a team event. We weren't here to witness his close contest last year with six-time LT champion Dave Wiens. This excerpt by Kathy Bedell, LT100 Public Relations Manager, from this year's LT 100 booklet describes the drama:

"In 2008, Wiens successfully defended his title by beating Armstrong by just under 2 minutes and setting a new course record of 6:45:45. But before the bikes were wiped down and last year's awards were presented the whisper had already begun: who will win in 2009?"

The stage was set for another battle between the local MTB favorite and the world champion road racer when both Armstrong and Wiens decided to compete again in this year's race. Many folks were rooting for Wiens to win again but wanted a chance to see Armstrong, too.

Armstrong fans who weren't able to attend the Tour de France in person could more easily drive to Leadville to see their hero in action. Jim and I had no clue that so many folks would show up from hours away, just to watch him race against Wiens and the other top contenders (who apparently were "rabbits" from Trek to pull Armstrong and Wiens out faster the first half of the race -- after that, they couldn't keep up with either Lance or Wiens).


Dave Wiens, seeded #1 for his six consecutive wins at LT100, was in 4th place at 43 miles
and only one or two minutes behind Lance. Two "rabbits" were between them.

There was a couple with three young children who hung out near or under our race canopies for several hours, right at the turn from the double-track to the road. They told Jim they had driven from Colorado Springs just to let their kids see Lance Armstrong.

Sure as day turns into night, as soon as Armstrong came back through our spot at 57 miles, the Mrs. said to the Mr., "Let's go."

"No," he insisted. "I want to see who is in second place."

He had to wait over 15 minutes to see Wiens come through, a much bigger gap than anyone expected after the slim margin Armstrong led on the outbound at 43 miles. At that point Dave was in fourth place, only a minute or two behind Lance. Now Dave was in second place, ahead of the two "rabbits," but he'd lost a considerable amount of time to Lance.

Outbound riders deferentially move to the right as Dave Wiens, now in second place,
comes tearing through the turn on his way back to the finish . Close-up below.

Jim and I were amazed when at least a third of the crowd left as soon as both Armstrong and Wiens came through on their way back to the finish!

Silly us, thinking all those people were crewing riders. You just don't see that in an ultra run. I suppose the spectators were headed either for a later aid station or the finish so they could witness Lance's sweet revenge.

NEW COURSE RECORD BY ARMSTRONG

We had heard that Lance was hoping to break six hours and demolish the 6:45 course record Dave set last year.

We listened closely to Jim's radio as the clock ticked down to six hours but he was only on St. Kevins Road at that point, with several miles to go. Then at 6:28:57 into the race we heard that Armstrong had crossed the finish line, setting a new course record.

Even more amazing was the story that Lance rode the last ten miles on an increasingly flat rear tire, so determined to win that he didn't want to lose any time fixing it! You can see the flat tire in one of the photos below.

Our "campground host," Jack Saunders, took the next three photos of Lance as he rounded the turn from McWethy back onto 6th Street about a mile from the finish. They're great shots. Thanks for letting me use them here, Jack. I zoomed in on the first photo to highlight Lance's flat tire:

 

 

Wiens was still back several miles when Armstrong crossed the finish line. Our reception on the borrowed HAM radio wasn't very good so we didn't know how he fared until we saw the results on the LT website today (we didn't attend the awards ceremony at 8:30 this morning). Wiens finished in second place, a distant 28:11 minutes behind Lance.

The best quip I heard before and after the race (attributed to Ken Chlouber and bandied about by others later) was that Lance was probably the only cyclist who has ever used the Tour de France as a training ride for the LT100!

[Note: Even though Floyd Landis unsuccessfully attempted to upset Dave Wiens' winning streak in 2007, his Tour de France victory was a year earlier and couldn't be considered a "training ride" for LT100. He was later stripped of the Tour de France title, fired from his pro racing team, and put on suspension from professional racing until January of this year because of the use of illegal performance-enhancing drugs in 2006 during the Tour. Lance Armstrong has never been found guilty of using such drugs, although he's had a testy relationship with the French anti-doping officials for several years.]

Doggone it, I failed to get a decent close-up photo of Lance Armstrong during the weekend. He didn't come in to pick up his own number when I was doing check-in on Friday, I didn't go to the awards on Sunday, the shot farther up in this section that I got when he came through our crew station outbound was too distant, and he surprised all of us on the inbound -- he came back down from Columbine Mine so fast that I simply wasn't ready and didn't have my camera out. There are plenty of photos of him on the internet, including crossing the finish line, if you do a search of the race.

OTHER RACERS

Almost lost, by comparison, in all the hoopla was the women's winner, Rebecca Rusch, who placed 30th overall in a time of 8:14:53 -- and most of the other competitors. With helmets on, it's sometimes hard to tell the women from the men and I don't think I got any photos of Rebecca either time she zipped through our turn.

I expected more of a bubble of riders in the mid-pack but there were never more than six or eight at a time coming through the curve on the outbound at 43 miles. They were spaced out farther on the return 14 miles later after being chewed up and spit out on the climb to and descent from Columbine Mine..


#40 leads a long line of cyclists into our turn on the outbound leg.

It would have been a challenge to record their times outbound by hand if we were a timing station, but thankfully we weren't. The computer chips worn by each rider recorded the splits at the major aid station timing mats to the second, plus three decimal points. That system seems to have worked very well in its inaugural year at this race. Timing chips will not be used in the foot race next week but runners' times will be recorded by hand, both in and out of the aid stations, and HAM operators will pass on the information to HQ.

This year's bike race had another new feature: a live video webcast from four locations during the bike race (for a $4.95 fee, unheard of in ultra runs). There is also a fancy video on the LT100 home page advertising the bike race -- but not a similar one (at least yet) for the LT100 run next Saturday.

More evidence of the differences between cyclists and ultra runners . . . ultra running doesn't have the cachet (or kind of audieince) that cycling does. I could list a lot of other differences between the two sports, too . . .

Above and below: ultra runners don't have quite the same kind of pit crews as cyclists, either! The wording on the back of the guy's orange suit says "PIT CREW" in large letters. Here he's helping a cyclist change a tire.

But I digress. We prefer our internet videos and live webcasts free. We saw Lance and his fellow competitors in person twice during the race and later Jim found a pleasant montage of Lance Armstrong in competition during some of his road races. It's on YouTube. I love the music! I don't know how long it will be at that site. It reminds me of a really good ultra running montage we saw earlier in the year, except we actually know a lot of the people and places in that one.

For bike results, check the LT100 website or Milleseconds.com. Preliminary results posted today show that 888 competitors finished in under 12 hours to earn a buckle and a hooded sweatshirt imprinted with their name and finish time. There were additional awards for overall and age group winners. Another 85 cyclists made the last cut-off time at 74 miles but finished between 12 and 13:10 hours, for a total of 973 finishers.


Poignant scene:  a mom and three little kids waiting for a rider near the end of the pack, after nearly everyone
is gone. The little girls enjoyed playing with Cody, who was on a cord attached to one of our chairs.

The website also lists the entrants alphabetically who started the race but didn't finish (DNFs = about 257). That would make a total of 1230 entrants who started the race. If that is correct, there was an official 72% finish rate under 12 hours, higher than the average 65% finish rate over the last 15 years. Seventy-nine percent finished the entire 100 miles, including the ones who crossed the line between 12 and 13:10 hours.

Those finish rates are much higher than we'll probably see in the run next weekend, where the average finish rate is more like 45-50%.


Above and below (close-up): a long line of mid-pack riders head for the Twin Lakes
Aid Station on their way back to the finish (approx. 58 miles here).

I am of the opinion that if you could compare equally-trained cyclists and runners (that's like comparing apples to oranges, I know), riding 100 miles is easier than running 100 miles if for no other reason than the amount of time competitors are out on the course at high altitudes. (There are other reasons, too.) Finish times for the cyclists ranged from 6:28 to 13:10 hours this year. The course record in the run is Matt Carpenter's stellar 15:42:59 in 2005; Anton Krupika has the only 16-hour time and only about ten runners have times in the 17-hour range. The slowest finishers must be done within 30 hours. A large percentage of finishers in the run come in between 28-30 hours.

That's gotta be a lot harder on the mind and body than 6-13 hours on a bike. I'm not detracting from the cyclists' accomplishments, but I'm just sayin' . . .

Jim, Pat, Karen, and Maya (the begging dog) relax as fewer and fewer riders are left on the inbound.

Almost 200 entrants didn't start the bike race. I counted those, too, and they don't add up to the 1500 entrants I kept hearing about before the race. I came up with a total of 1427 entrants. That's still a huge number.

After the last rider and the sweep went through our station, the volunteers finished cleaning up the course and taking down markers near the turn. Karen and Pat followed the course back to Twin Lakes, taking down those markers and picking up trash. Jim and I waited until the Columbine Mine crew came down and gave the HAM radio back to its owner. It was after 4PM by the time we took the cones, signs, and barricade back to the race warehouse in Leadville and went home.

We were pretty tired after spending about ten hours working on race day -- but not as tired as the race finishers, some of whom will also be running 100 miles next weekend! (They are called Leadmen and Leadwomen.)

Although we don't know any of the riders personally, I took a fair number of photos as they came through our crewing station. Since this is more of a running than cycling website, I haven't put many of them here. If you were in the race and want to see if I took any pictures of you at 43 or 57 miles, please contact me with your name and bib number. (No charge.)

ALL GONE

Most of the cyclists and their families have left town by this afternoon. In the next week we'll see more and more runners come in to take their place in the campgrounds, motels, restaurants, and shops.

On a walk between the dam and the Tabor boat ramp and back this morning we were surprised how many folks were biking on the trail around Turquoise Lake (above). Some looked like they might have been in the race yesterday. We know one was; he still had his numbers attached to his bike! He was quite pleased when we commented on that. That's the equivalent of runners continuing to wear their plastic medical bracelets for several days after a 100-miler!

It's called pride in their achievement.

After my crash during a weenie bike ride on a comparatively smooth dirt road, I have new respect for cyclists with the skill to negotiate the LT100 course or any other difficult route on trails and roads.

But I'm glad I'm a member of the ultra running community. There is noticeably less competition,  arrogance, and comparison of technical equipment in trail running. It's a more egalitarian sport. And the Leadville runners have always been more grateful for our volunteer support than the cyclists.

There is an excellent article that was posted today on the Denver Post website about the race. In case it disappears in a few days or weeks, I've copied the text and put it on a special page. This will be the only link to it in this journal (i.e., it's not on the topics page).

Next entries: an update on my recovery + our training runs and hikes on the LT100 run course and other Leadville venues (you didn't think I was still holed up in the camper, did you??)

Happy trails,

Sue
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil, and Cody the Ultra Lab

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2009 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil

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