This year’s Leadville 100 field is as exciting as it’s been in years, if not ever. On the women’s side, any of a half dozen ladies could descend from nearly-two-mile-high Leadville as champ, while four international level men will challenge one another for the victory. All-in-all, we couldn’t be more excited to be covering Leadville again this year. We think you’ll be pretty excited yourself once you read our preview.
It’s worth noting that just yesterday (Tuesday) evening, the race organization decided to use the new singletrack trail paralleling Winfield Road from the bottom of the south side of Hope Pass to Winfield rather than the road itself, as the race has always done. We’ve heard reports that the change adds 1.6 miles… in both directions. In reality, that may make up for the course quickening that resulted from the course changes necessitated by the helicopter crash in the days before the 2009 race. On the plus side (well, in addition to all that new singletrack!), the weather looks pretty great with warm, but not hot temps, light winds, and little chance of a thunderstorm.
Thanks to New Balance, sponsor of the 2012, Leadville 100 for supporting iRunFar’s coverage of the race. We look forward to catching up with them about the forthcoming New Balance Leadville (MT1210) shoe over the weekend.
Women’s Preview – 2012 Leadville 100
Let’s start thing off with Lynette Clemons, the defending Leadville 100 champ and local resident. Lynette became one of the very few women to break 20 hours at Leadville when she ran 19:59:06 last year. She also won the 2009 race in 20:58:01, so she’s no fluke. She’d certainly be among the well-known women of ultrarunning if she ever raced outside of Leadville and its environs. [Update: Lynette Clemons is not racing this year’s Leadville 100.]
Chasing Lynette will be a pack of highly credentialed women with the two most decorated being Darcy Africa (Pearl Izumi) and Liza Howard (New Balance). Darcy Africa is a the ultra queen of the Rockies, having won countless ultras up and down America’s backbone, including most recently at last month’s Hardrock 100 (post-race interview). Darcy has twice taken third at Leadville in 2006 and 2009. [Added: Our pre-2012 Leadville 100 Darcy Africa interview.] On the other hand, Liza Howard won Leadville back in 2010 with a 21:19. It’d also be fair to call Liza the fastest female 100 miler in the US, given her three sub-15:46 100s in the past three years.
Aliza Lapierre (Salomon) has never won a 100 miler… but in her three attempts at the distance, she’s placed second (to Kami Semick) at the 2010 Vermont 100, finishing sixth at last year’s Western States 100, and moved up to third at States this year. [Added: Our pre-2012 Leadville video interview with Aliza Lapierre.]
A few ladies who are strong contenders for the podium, but not likely to win include Ashley Nordell and Tina Lewis. Ashley has twice won the Bighorn 100 (’09 & ’10), while she’s also won the Grand Teton 100 (’09). She ran 19:26 to place ninth at this year’s Western States 100. Finishing two places and 17 minutes ahead of Ashley at Western States was Tina, who took ninth at the event. Tina has twice finished the Leadville 100, finishing just ahead of the 30-hour time limit in 2010 before running 21:53 to take fifth last year.
Perhaps the most intriguing women’s entry is Kerrie Bruxvoort (Salomon), who’s never finished a race longer than 50k. Kerrie has crushed four 50ks in recent months, winning three in eye-opening times before placing second to Anna Frost at the Speedgoat 50k a few weeks ago.
Other women who’ll be in contention include: Susan Brozik, Kara Henry, Alyssa Wlideboer, and, if she can overcome some setbacks, Jen Segger.
Becky Wheeler is on the entrants list, but is not racing this weekend.
Men’s Preview – 2012 Leadville 100
There’s undoubtedly a big four in the men’s race at this year’s Leadville 100: Anton Krupicka (New Balance), Nick Clark (Pearl Izumi), Thomas Lorblanchet (Salomon), and Mike Aish.
Can anyone remember Anton’s ever going into Leadville without being the favorite? I didn’t think so. I’ll admit I kind of think of Leadville as Tony’s race, but he’s not won the event since his back-to-back wins in 2006 and 2007. His 16:14 in his second go at Leadville certainly sparked his interest in breaking Matt Carpenter’s course record, and he’s DNFed in his couple attempts (’09 & ’10) since then. Until a few weeks ago, he spent a year and a half away from racing due to injury, but a steady diet of mountain adventures during that time has him in the best endurance shape of his life. We’ll see how he fares on the very runnable Leadville course. [Added: Here’s our pre-2012 Leadville 100 Anton Krupicka interview.]
I’ve already said it a few times since arriving in Leadville – never bet against Nick Clark in a 100. Clarky is a mountain tiger when it comes to the distance as witnessed by his dual third place finishes two weeks apart at last year’s Western States and Hardrock 100s followed by an even faster third place finish at Western States this year. Question: Who’s the only person to twice break 16 hours at Western States? Answer: Nick Clark! [Added: Nick Clark’s pre-2012 Leadville 100 interview with iRunFar.]
Thomas Lorblanchet is a methodical French racer who won the World Trail Championships back in 2009. He also took fifth at Speedgoat, one place behind Anton. One thing we’ve learned Stateside over the past two years -always pay attention to Salomon’s big guns at a big time race.
Mike Aish is the dark horse of the field. He’s a two-time Olympian for New Zealand (5,000m in ’00 & 10,000m in ’04). He ran a 2:13 marathon back in 2008. So it’d be tough to say Mike’s not the most talented runner in the field. As far as we know, he’s only run one ultra, the Silver Rush 50 miler in Leadville in mid-July, which he won and came within four minutes of Duncan Callahan’s course record. According to folks who were there, he looked quite fresh at the finish. The big question mark is how will he fare in the following 50 miles and 9+ hours of running. Find out more about Mike and his quest to tackle 100 miles in Crushing Hope, a video worth watching. [Added: iRunFar’s Mike Aish pre-2012 Leadville 100 interview.]
The next tier of competition couldn’t be much more diverse. Zeke Tiernan finished sixth at this year’s Western States on the heels of third (’10) and second (’11) place finishes at Leadville. That history suggests he’s a good bet to podium with the carnage typical at a 100. However, his two LT100 finishes are 18:30 plus or minus 8 minutes, and that’s not going to be good enough to get him near the win. Since the middle of last October, Utah’s Jay Aldous has run four 100 milers in 15:20 or faster, including 13:52 for a 100 miles during a 24-hour event. Last month, Jay showed his chops for tackling technical trail when he set a course record at the Devil’s Backbone 50 in Montana. Michael Arnstein gets mention because one of these days he could really nail a mountain 100 miler, as shown by his fourth place (17:56 at last year’s Leadville). However, that’s not going to be this year as in the middle of July he ran the Badwater 135… and then ran the Vermont 100, a race he won in 15:26 in 2011, a few days later.
And, then, you have a slew of talented Coloradans who’ll pack the top 10. Among those are the likes of Charles Corfield, Harry Harcrow, Troy Howard, Scott Jaime (Pearl Izumi), Jason Koop, Tim Waggoner, and Brooks Williams. There are surely another five runners who will mix it up with Fast Eddy, Koop, Lucho, et al. Coming up from Flagstaff, Arizona are Brian Tinder and Ian Torrence (Pearl Izumi). Another runner who could perform well, if he’s not tired from Western States (bad day) and Vermont (4th, 16:19) is Austin, Texas’s Paul Terranova who’s attempting the Grand Slam of Ultrarunning along with Kona Ironman this year.
Call for Comments
- Who do you think will win the men’s and women’s races?
- What will be the winning time for both the men and the women?
- Who’ll be the biggest surprises?
- Who’ve we missed in our preview?