This Week In Running (Week of 8/22 & 8/23)

To the right is the first verse of “Where the Columbines Grow”, the song written by A.J. Flynn and adopted as the official state song of Colorado on May 8, 1915 by act of the Colorado General Assembly. It is actually one of two official state songs of Colorado. In the early to mid-2000s there was talk about replacing “Where the Columbines Grow” with either Merle Haggard’s “Colorado”, or another song (which in 2007 became the second official state song). Can you guess that second song ?

Leadville Trail 100 mile runIf you haven’t figured it out by now, this TWIR is all about what kicks off at 4:00 AM on August 22nd in Leadville, Colorado – the Leadville Traill 100. First run in 1983, LT100 is a difficult, challenging quest to survive 15,000+ feet of climbing at elevations ranging from between 9,200 and 12,600 feet at Hope Pass. The course is a 50-mile out-and-back in the midst of the Colorado Rockies, the majority of which is on forest trails with some mountain roads. LT100 was initially conceived by co-founder Ken Chlouber as an effort to bring fame and and influx of people to Leadville during tough economic times. When he was told that he was nuts and would kill someone with an event such as this, he responded, “Well, then we will be famous, won’t we?”

Matt Carpenter set the overall course record in 2005 with a time of 15:42:59. Ann Trason holds the female record of 18:06:24 which she set in 1994. Each and every year over 300 runners flock to Leadville and line up to start LT100, and each and every year less than 55% of them will see the finish line. Since 1993, of the 6,204 runners that have toed the LT100 starting line, only 2,883 have finished (a mere 46.47%). It is even more difficult to receive the coveted sub-25 hour gold and silver belt buckle. Only 679 runners have been given the opportunity to don such a piece of hardware, an incredibly low 23.55% of all finishers. Looking at it a different way, if you are standing at the starting line in 2009, dreaming of a sub-25 hour buckle, know that on average only 11% of all of the runners surrounding you will get one.

[Trail Goat Note: I’ll be one of those runners standing at Harrison and 6th Streets in downtown Leadville early Saturday morning hoping to carry myself back there by 5 a.m. Sunday morning. I’ll be wearing my hat, so cheer me on if you’re out there and see me!]

Colorado isn’t the only state hosting a 100-miler this weekend. The Lean Horse Hundred, Half Hundred and 50k takes place on Saturday and Sunday in Hot Springs, South Dakota, where the average daily temps for late August reach into the upper 80s. The 100-miler starts and finishes on the Hot Springs Freedom Trail bike path. The course follows the paved bike path through downtown Hot Springs, paralleling the Platte River to the north end of town. After about 1.6 miles of paved path, runners take a short 5 block detour through a residential neighborhood, followed by a .85 mile jaunt a cross an open meadow. After the open meadow, the course heads towards the Mickelson Trail which sits 11 miles away over a winding, hilly country road. After the 11-mile road section, it is off to the Mickelson Trail and about 34 miles of it before turning around to head back home. The entire 100-miler includes a scant 7,216 feet of climbing.

A challenging loop-type course starting at the Willamette Pass Ski Area (70 miles east of Eugene, Oregon) at elevation 5,210 feet, climbs up several mountains including Fuji, The Twins and Maiden Peak, and a 97% single-track trail course with some fairly remote sections and incredible views of Waldo Lake, awaits runners of the Where’s Waldo 100k. Make no mistake about it, this is “not a beginner-level ultra and participation in the race should not be taken lightly.” Once again, WW100 serves as the USATF 100km trail national championships and the first race in the 2009-10 Montrail Ultra Cup. (iRF summary of new MUC) As such, should play host to some serious competition this weekend. Getting back to the course a bit, like we said, it ain’t easy. There is over 11,000 feet of elevation gain, and an equal amount of loss. Three major climbs of more than 2,000 feet each, and two minor climbs of more than 1,000 feet each, will take runners to the top of Maiden Peak.

RD Craig Thornley has posted regarding the upcoming race and the competition that it will see.

Where’s Waldo 100k elevation profile

The Marquette Trail 50 Mile / 50 Kilometer takes place on Saturday in Tourist Park, Marquette, Wisconsin. This inaugural event consists of a 32 mile loop with an 18 mile out-and-back for the 50-milers. The course is mostly single-track trails, part of which run along Lake Superior. Most of the trail is easy running with a few significant climbs and technical areas. 13 hour cutoff. As of August 12, the 50-mile had 15 registered entrants, and the 50k had 29.

Malibu Creek State Park, Calabasas, California will be the site of the Bulldog 50k on Saturday. The course offers inspirational vistas of untamed terrain and sweeping ocean views. The challenging trail weaves through the mountains on single-track and fire roads. Aid stations are located about every 3 to 5 miles. Calabasas is a relatively “new” city in Los Angeles County, formally incorporated in 1991. Calabasas is home to the rock bank Incubus, the Kardashians, Olympic gold
medalist Bruce Jenner, and, its most recent addition, Britney Spears (she moved to the Prado De Los Suenos house in The Oaks Community, paying a cool $8.9 million for the pad).

GORE-TEX TransRockies RunFinally, we finish this week with a run that (and we cringe when we say this) is NOT considered an ultra running event by a certain not-to-be-named ultra running periodical (as none of the 6 stages of this event are longer than 26.2 miles), the TransRockies Run, even despite its 113 miles in length, nearly 25,000 feet of elevation gain, and altitudes reaching over 12,500 feet. This 6-day stage will feature up to 150 teams of two runners competing for $20,000 in prize money and the spectacular scenery of Colorado’s Rocky Mountains. iRunFar provided extensive coverage of the 2008 TransRockies Run.

The TransRockies Run course, running from Buena Vista to Beaver Creek, passing through the White River and San Isabel National Forests, consists primarily of a mix of single track and forest roads. Racers are housed in a tent city. Each morning, the racers will leave the race village en masse and tackle the day’s course before arriving at the particular stage finish where the race village has been rebuilt from the night before. The particular stages of this event are detailed on the Route and Stages page of the race web-site, but, route and stages listed are merely “offered as inspiration and a guide of what to expect,” as the final route remains top secret until just before start of the race. Although subject to change, the running elevations and surface types look like this:

Percent of distance at various elevations:

7,000′ to 8,000′ – 3%
8,000′ to 9,000′ – 31%
9,000′ to 10,000′ – 28%
10,000′ to 11,000′ – 27%
11,000′ to 12,000′ – 10%
12,000′ to 13,000′ – 1%

Percent of distance on various running surfaces:

Dirt and Gravel Roads – 37%
Non-Motorized Single and Double Trails – 33%
4-Wheel Drive and Motorized Trails – 18%
Paved Roads and Pathways – 12%

TransRockies elevation profile

And so, we have come to the end of another edition of This Week In Running. Yet, do not fear or fret – do not sit up late at night this weekend wondering what next week’s edition will hold… instead, head on out to one of the aforementioned (and the many other) ultra events taking place over this coming weekend, then head on back here next Wednesday for another edition of This Week In Running. Happy running.