is socializing with so many of our friends -- and meeting new
ones like Tim Hicks, the uber-enthusiastic gentleman both Jim and I "ran into"
on the Turquoise Lake trail on Tuesday. We both recognized him but neither of
us knew his name or remembered talking with him when he ran (and finished) the
race two years ago. When Jim turned around and came back toward us, Tim said,
"You're married to an icon!" Jim got a good laugh out of it, too.
Tim's just real happy when he meets folks from the internet ultra list
or runners he considers role models, such as Matt Carpenter, who he met last
weekend at the Pikes Peak Marathon in Colorado Springs. Matt also has
the LT100 course record by a wide margin. Too bad he's not here again
this year; he's a friendly fella, too.
The gregarious Tim Hicks
I can understand
Tim's enthusiasm. I remember meeting well-known runners like John Medinger, Aaron Goldman,
Stan Jensen, and Geri Kilgariff when I ran my first 100-miler in Vermont in
1998. They were all active participants in the sport and on the ultra list. I was
impressed with their knowledge and abilities, and the memories of
meeting them in person have remained with me for eleven years. Since
I've been contributing to the ultra list for 11 or 12 years, my name is
well-known by now, too.
As Tim said, everyone he's met from "the list" at races is just so
nice in person. I've found that to be mostly true, also. Hopefully, he
feels the same about Jim and me! We ended up talking with him some more at the
packet-stuffing on Wednesday night.
A LOW-HYPE RACE
In this entry I'll talk mostly about volunteering for the
various pre-race activities for the runners this week.
The pre-race agenda is a bit different than last week for the
cyclists. Volunteer activities start one day earlier for the
run, the pasta dinner is on Thursday and not Friday, runners
have a more comprehensive medical check, and they have not one
but two opportunities to pick up their packets and numbers.
That also means more opportunities for Jim and me to volunteer
for the run. That's great -- we know a lot of the runners but
almost none of the cyclists. It's more fun for us to volunteer
for folks we know.
Same tote bags/backpacks for the runners,
but many fewer of them to fill
Although the LT100 Run is the flagship race that began the whole
series of run/bike events in Leadville 27 years ago -- and
pretty much put the town back on the map economically -- it has
become much more low-key in comparison to the bike race since
Tour de France celebrities like
Lance Armstrong and Floyd Landis have been competing here. The bike
race has become a huge money-maker with over 1,400 cyclists
participating. This year there was a slick video on the LT100
homepage about the ride, helicopters flying around during the
race, film crews seemingly everywhere, a live for-pay web cast
so folks in cyber land could see some of the action during the
real-time chip timing that broadcast the riders' times at aid
stations and the finish.
None of those things were done for the run one week later. I
speculated why in an earlier entry.
I'm glad in some ways and disappointed in others. Has the LT100
run become the stepchild of the two 100-mile events? I'd prefer
that it not become as hyped up as the ride but there is room for
some improvement, particularly regarding timing and results. Since we had an
inside view of that process this year, I'll expound on
that issue in the next entry.
WEDNESDAY, 4:30-5:45 PM: PACKET-STUFFING +
The last few years when we've done packet-stuffing for both the ride
and run, the task for the run is accomplished much faster and
with many fewer volunteers.
Why? Because there have been "only" 500-600 runners registered in
recent years and we've stuffed bags for about 90% of that
allowing for no shows. That's less than half the bags we've been stuffing
for the cyclists. In addition, there were fewer sponsors' items
for the runners in their bags this year than for the riders. Our
job was relatively easy this week.
When we arrived at the gym late Wednesday afternoon we didn't
have to hang sponsors' banners or set up hundreds of chairs;
they were already in place from the bike race.
Karen Pate,. Marsha Talley, Jim, and Bill Heldenbrand
unwrap the runners' bags.
Jim and I assisted with unwrapping the same nice tote bags/back
packs and stacking them for the assembly process while other
volunteers arranged the items to go into the bags along several
tables. Then we joined in the stuffing line and had all the bags
ready in less than an hour:
Foreground, L-R: Karen (red shirt),
Dave C. (brown shirt), Jim (black shirt)
Bill Dickey, L
When we finished we all enjoyed our reward: more pizza
selections from High Mountain Pies! I'm not as big of a pizza
lover as Jim but I do like this company's "pies."
During supper we got to talk
more with our friends Bill Heldenbrand and Jean-Jacques d'Aquin.
Bill's entered in the race for the first time and Jean-Jacques
will be pacing Hans-Dieter Weisshaar the second half of the race
(Jim helped pace J-J for a while at Hardrock last month).
Before leaving the gym we discussed our communications
assignments for the run with Bruce Talley, the ham radio
director for both of the LT100 races. I'll go into more detail
about that in the next entry.
WEDNESDAY ~ 2 PM: TRAGEDY ON MT. MASSIVE
A terrible accident happened mid-afternoon on Mt. Massive but
there was no mention of it during packet-stuffing a
couple hours later: an
Army Black Hawk helicopter crashed on the eastern flank (the
side facing Leadville) near the summit of the 14,421-foot
Jack Saunders, our "campground host," told us about it that evening after
hearing on Fox News that two or three people had died in the
crash and another person was missing.
Little did we know for a day or two how much that would affect the
town of Leadville, the surrounding mountains, and the race
Mt. Massive from Half Moon Road (photo
taken Thursday, 8-20-09)
The Army was slow in releasing the news on Wednesday because of the remote
area in which the 'copter went down and the sensitive nature of
its mission. Jim drove over 60 miles down to Salida on Wednesday
to have some warranty work done on our truck at a Dodge dealer.
He didn't hear a thing on the radio about the crash on his way back to
Leadville late in the afternoon. We didn't hear the news on TV that
reception in our camper here) and didn't see it on the internet.
All we knew was the little bit Jack told us. We did hear some other helicopters flying in the area in the afternoon
and evening, but that isn't unusual in the summer.
We were concerned about Jack's news but had no clue how this
would affect life in Leadville and beyond.
Early Thursday morning, Jim and I knew something BIG had
THE IMPACT FELT 'ROUND THE COUNTRY
On Thursday morning
Jim wanted to run about 15 miles on Mt. Elbert and the Colorado
Trail, a challenging and beautiful triangular
route I enjoyed two years ago: up the
main trailhead on the NE flank of the mountain, down the SW side
toward Twin Lakes, and back on the CT. This section of the Colorado Trail is one
of the prettiest parts of the LT100 course, undulating and full
of aspen trees.
My plan was to go at least partway up the mountain, and if that
was too strenuous for my cracked ribs, I'd just walk on the
Colorado Trail portion.
We headed out Half Moon Road, passing Bruce and Marsha Talley's camper
in a dispersed campsite in the woods. Shortly after that,
however, we ran into an unexpected roadblock before reaching the location of the
Half Moon aid station or the Mt. Elbert/Mt. Massive trailheads.
The state trooper politely told us that only
military and government officials were permitted back the road
while they were recovering
the bodies of three dead soldiers and parts of the super-secret
helicopter. He confirmed that all four men in the aircraft had
died (one on the way to a hospital in Denver on Wednesday).
Folks who were camped farther back on Half Moon Road had to
vacate the area Tuesday night and no one was allowed in to hike
to either Mt.
Elbert or Mt. Massive.
Needless to say, we had to regroup and go elsewhere to run. We
were allowed to proceed farther up the road to turn around, but
we knew there would be another roadblock beyond that so we
didn't try to sneak in. Nor did we attempt to go back to Elbert
again before we left the Leadville area,
although we later read on the internet ultra list about one
runner who hiked on Elbert today (Friday).
The minor impact on the two of us was nothing compared to the
for the four families who lost loved ones. The men were part of
160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment stationed at Fort
Campbell, KY and were training in high-altitude mountainous
conditions similar to those in Afghanistan where their unit is
often assigned. According to the
unit's website, the
MH-60 Black Hawk is frequently used for
infiltration missions and to bring supplies to special
operations forces in the field. The helicopter is also used for
rescue and medical evacuations, and an armed version is used for
escort and fire support.
Mt. Massive from the road that leads to the
Leadville National Fish Hatchery (8-20-09)
Although the flight recorder was recovered
the day of the crash, we haven't heard anything yet about the
cause of the accident. An investigation team from Fort Rucker,
AL arrived on Thursday but reportedly had significant problems
searching for bodies and pieces of the aircraft at 14,200 feet.
Some of the rescuers apparently had to be rescued themselves because they couldn't
handle the altitude.
Hey, it takes time to get acclimated to
14,000 feet! Just ask about 500 runners here for the LT100 run
Too bad the Army doesn't trust the already-acclimated local
search and rescue teams to recover the bodies (one of which
reportedly was packed in ice Thursday for recovery on Friday
-- that came from what I consider a credible source).
Nope. They might steal some secrets. Don't you just love
THURSDAY: A LAST-MINUTE RACE RE-ROUTE?
We heard both accurate information from the LT100 staff and
plenty of rumors from other people at runner check-in late Thursday afternoon.
One of the facts was that RD Merilee Maupin was informed by the
US Army that the course would "probably" need to be re-routed
away from part of Half Moon Road and the Colorado Trail (about
28-36 miles into the course, outbound).
In addition to a re-route of about eight miles of the course, a
completely new aid station location had to be found --
and the aid station set up to serve over 500 runners on the
outbound and perhaps 300 on the return -- to replace the one on Half
Moon Road. The military rescuers' reconnaissance area was located
close to it.
white shirt, center of photo) walks through the tree line
toward the Half Moon aid station several
miles south during the 2007 run.
Merilee and crew had only hours to make these changes. The whole
process was very
stressful on not only Merilee and Ken, but also their key
volunteers. They couldn't just wait until the race started on
Saturday to see if it was OK to run the regular course; a
decision had to be made on Thursday in order to get the course
marked and the aid station ready.
The decision was to re-route the course part way back Half Moon
Road, use a portion of the bike course in the valley, then send the
runners back up to the Colorado Trail closer to Twin Lakes. The
Half Moon aid station tents and supplies were moved to this section and renamed Box
The crash became more personalized to Jim and me as we learned
more about it and how it was affecting life in Leadville (and
'way beyond). We were able to gain more information from
internet news sources during the day, which seemed more reliable
than all the rumors floating around town.
After I got done running on Thursday, I did laundry in town. Jim
was still out running his alternate course. I had a great
view of the entire eastern flank of Mt. Massive from the windows
on the upper level of the Laundromat. I couldn't keep my eyes
off the mountain, searching for some activity near the summit. Throughout the day Jack was also looking from
the deck of his office at the end of 6th Street (we're camped
behind his office building). Even with binoculars neither of us could
see any activity near the summit or locate the crash site. The
whole incident kind of mesmerized us.
THURSDAY, 5-7:30 PM: RUNNER CHECK-IN & THE PASTA DINNER
Jim and I arrived at the gym about 4:15 PM on Thursday to help set up the
registration tables and pick our jobs. We took time to eat
dinner with the other volunteers (at least half, runners in the
race) before the doors opened at 5 for
the race entrants, their families, and crews:
That's one of the
things included in the rather high race fee: "free" pasta
dinner for the runners and their entourage. Many races charge
extra for that.
L-R: Bill and Jan Moyer, Jim, (unknown
Jean-Jacques d'Aquin, (unknown name)
discuss runner check-in procedures on
This time I chose a less-stressful job than I had for the
bike check-in: handing out the tote bags/ backpacks as the
runners came through the line before or after eating dinner. Jim
handed out numbers and manned the emergency contact sheets
again. His job was easier this time because he didn't have to
explain nearly as many things to the runners and they understood
the emergency contact sheet better. Neither of us ended up
hoarse this time!
I'd guess about half of the 587 registrants picked up their bags, shirts,
numbers, posters, and crew tags on Thursday, which made our job that much easier on
Friday morning when the remainder got theirs.
A runner picks up his shirt at check-in.
Nick Coury (L) waits for his shirt. His
mom and two brothers
came to pace and crew him in his first
It was so much fun to see friends we hadn't seen for a while
--and to have many of them thank us for volunteering! We got virtually
no thanks from any of the cyclists last week.
Susi Seidel (Hans-Dieter Weisshaar's wife), Larry
Hall, Beth Simpson Hall
Chrissy and Stan Ferguson
In addition, several people had
read our journal and knew about my bike crash. I really
appreciated them asking me how I was doing and sharing stories
of their own or others' wrecks. Misery loves company!
Here are a couple more pics of folks who checked in on Thursday:
Marcy and John Beard
L-R: Jim Fisher, Bill (last name??), and Tyler Curiel,
who is going for his 10th LT100 finish.
By 7:30 PM the runners and their guests had finished eating
dinner and checking in. The Moyers ran us out <grin> and locked
up the gym for the night.
FRIDAY, 7:30-8 AM: A DEFINITE RE-ROUTE
Jim and I arrived back at the gym this morning about 7:30
to handle runner check-in again.
While we were getting set up, Ken Chlouber came over to talk
with one of the men who volunteers many hours to the race each
year; neither Jim nor I can remember his name. Both men
are in the foreground in the photo below; Ken is on the
left in the black Lifetime Fitness shirt and the volunteer
is on the right in the green shirt:
Jim was close enough to hear much of the conversation. Ken was
describing the re-routed part of the course and asking the
volunteer to go out and mark it. That was when we knew for sure
that the course was being modified.
One of the questions I had about a re-route was whether a
possible new course or age group record would be recognized.
Anton (Tony) Krupika, who won the race in 2007 and has the
second-fastest time on the course, has made it
clear in his blog that his recent training has gone better than
when he won the race two years ago. Everyone assumes that he
intends to go after Matt Carpenter's course record of 15:45 hours, set in 2005.
In addition, last year's winner, Duncan Callahan, is also
entered this year.
Tony Krupika willingly let me take his
photo when he picked up his shirt today.
Fortunately for Tony and anyone else gunning for records this
year, Ken made it clear during the briefing that any new records
would be recognized. He explained that not only has the course
changed numerous times over the past 27 years, but every year
the vagaries of the weather are also a big factor in the runners' times. Last
year about 28 out of the 30 hours the course was open the weather
was cold, wet, and miserable. This year would prove to be the opposite:
hot and dry (and still miserable for many of the runners!).
I'm sure Tony was up in the balcony breathing a huge sigh of
relief when he heard that a new course record wouldn't have an
asterisk after it (denoting an altered course) and knew it was just up to him to
FRIDAY, 8-10:45 AM: MEDICAL CHECK-IN & CONT. PACKET PICKUP
All the runners are required to have their medical checks done the
morning before the race, and about half still needed to pick up
their bags, numbers, shirts, etc.
The doors were opened a little before 8 AM for the runners to
begin their medical checks. Weight, blood pressure, pulse,
allergies/medical problems, name, and runner number are recorded
on a plastic wrist-band that is worn throughout the race.
Runners are weighed several times during the race to be sure
they haven't gained or lost too much weight. If they have, they
are held until they have adjusted their fluid levels
Fortunately, they spaced themselves out pretty well between
8-10:30 and they all didn't wait until the last few minutes to come in.
Everyone must finish both medical and packet pickup several
minutes before Ken delivers the briefing at 11 AM. Things always
get a little hectic near the deadline, though. Some people
simply don't want to make two separate trips to the gym.
We were short by a few volunteers this morning so we helped each
other out when things got hectic.
Jim handed out numbers and took emergency information again.
I helped Jan Moyer hand out tote bags/backpacks and another woman (shown front R in photo
below) with the shirts.
The bags were no problem
-- they are "one size fits all."
The shirts are another matter, made more complicated by the fact
that they ran one or two sizes too big this year.
Volunteer Jean-Jacques holds up an attractive
technical runners' shirt so I can photograph it.
Management knew that and ordered accordingly. We were to give
the runners one size smaller than they requested on their entry
form. Even so, we ran out of large and extra-large sizes
before the runners all got their shirts. Some men were cheerful
and said they'd give their too-small shirt to their wife or child;
a few weren't happy at all, and you can guess who they
Next time I think I'll stick to handing out bags!
FRIDAY, 11-12:30 PM: COURSE BRIEFING
This time Jim and I did stay for Ken's inspirational and humorous
briefing, which we've heard at least eight times before. He does
change it a little from year to year but it always end in a
crescendo of "You are better than you think you are and you
can do more than you think you can!"
Attendance at the briefing is always good but this year the gym
and balcony were even more packed with runners, crews, and
pacers. Everyone was curious about the re-route they'd been
hearing might occur.
After preliminary thank you's to the sponsors and volunteers,
Ken introduced RD Merilee Maupin and praised her for the great
job she has done with the event series this summer and
especially her handling of the current re-routing crisis due to
the Black Hawk crash. Although she was all smiles during the
briefing, earlier in the morning she had been crying more
privately from all the stress.
Merilee is always content at the briefing and awards ceremonies
to let Ken run the show. He's a flamboyant and articulate
speaker -- aren't most former politicians?? -- who
relies on Merilee to prepare notes about the topics he should
cover and the particulars, such as who is going for his 26th
finish (the amazing Bill Finkbeiner) and which previous race
champions are in the audience. He often turns to Merilee during
the briefing and awards ceremonies to be sure he's covering
everything. Merilee keeps the sheets he uses in order (see
below) and continually hands him new ones or whispers something
in his ear.
Guess that's the LT100's low-tech version of a teleprompter!
Ken (L) gets a kick out of John's comedy routine during the
Ken knows other good speakers when he hears them and he's
willing to share the stage. That's
why he's laughing in the photo above at something Dr. John Hill
is telling the audience. John's medical briefing has gotten more
entertaining each year. He presents very serious medical
warnings about dehydration, high altitude, overuse of Ibuprofen, and
other relevant topics with great humor.
John has been the race's medical
director for several years. This summer he is taking on the huge
challenge of finishing all five of the LT100 events to
become an official "Leadman:" the Leadville Marathon, Silver Rush 50-mile bike or run, the LT100
Bike Race, the 10K Run, and the LT100 Run. He has completed all
of them in the past few weeks except the 100-mile run. That's quite an accomplishment.
Ken always acknowledges runners who are new to the LT100 run,
asks crews and pacers to stand and be recognized, introduces
runners who are going for significant numbers of finishes, and
has participants stand up by their age groups. Everyone cheered
wildly when seven men in their 70s (including Ken) stood up.
There were about three times that in their 60s -- but no
women are entered who are 60 or older. I don't think any women
over 60 have ever finished this race, either.
Ken spent several minutes describing the course re-route and how
it will effect the runners, crews, and relocated aid station.
The new section is less hilly and a
little shorter than the regular course on Half Moon Road and the
Colorado Trail. Some runners are excited at the prospect of a
personal record on the altered course, which should be a little faster, while others are disappointed
they can't run the old course.
Jim's glad he isn't running this year. Not only is the Colorado
Trail section on the way to Twin Lakes his favorite part of the
course, but the weather is also predicted to be uncomfortably
warm and dry. After all the time we've spent at high altitudes
this summer, neither one of us is heat-trained.
Will this be one of the few years when runners haven't had rain,
sleet, hail, or snow on Hope Pass??
After a crescendo of encouragement to the runners to give the
race everything they've got, the briefing was over at 12:30.
The runners dispersed to pack and deposit their drop bags,
relax, and get a few hours of rest before the 4 AM start of the
race tomorrow morning.
FRIDAY AFTERNOON & EVENING: VOLUNTEERS IN
All day Friday many volunteers were busy, too. Aid station captains picked up
their drop bags and supplies. Volunteers at two or three aid stations
will be in place by dark this evening: Mayqueen, where
over 500 runners will descend early Saturday morning between
about 5:40 and 7:20, and the "Hopeless"
aid station at over 12,000
feet, where llamas haul up the supplies and some of the
volunteers spend three nights sleeping in tents. Fish Hatchery,
the second aid station,
may also be mostly set up tonight. Box Creek, Twin Lakes, and
Winfield will finalize their set ups on Saturday morning and be ready to welcome
the runners on the outbound and inbound.
This evening Jim and I met again with Bruce Talley, who
organizes the ham radio volunteers, and Dick Daugherty, a local
retired teacher who will spend the weekend at "net control," the
main headquarters for the communications and timing operations.
Both of their wives, Marsha and Anne, will also put in
long hours on their ham radios. There's a shortage of ham operators this year;
most will be working in pairs while their aid stations are
open, then report to net control after their aid stations close
to see if more assistance is needed there.
I'll talk about our role with the radio/communications and
timing teams during the race in the next entry.
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil,
and Cody the Ultra Lab
© 2009 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil