The marathon distance of 26.2 miles used to be the ultimate race distance and challenge to complete for many recreational runners. But the running & racing community has evolved substantially in the past few decades. Now, ultramarathons, Ironman triathlons, and adventure racing have taken running competitions to the next level. The Leadville 100, also know as "the race across the sky", is one of those races. This race is not just about running 100 miles, it's about surviving 14,000 feet of elevation gain at an average altitude of 10,000ft+ and doing it all before the 30 hour cut-off. The race starts at an elevation of 10,151 feet in downtown Leadville, Colorado, a quaint mountain town west of Denver in the Rocky Mountains.
Trail/route stats of the Leadville 100.
4 Ways to Get A Spot in the Race
The Leadville 100 is one of the most popular ultra marathons in the United States which means it takes a bit of planning or luck to secure a spot.
Get lucky by via the lottery system held December the year prior to the race
Secure a spot by placing high in one of three qualifying races: Austin Rattler Run, Leadville Trail Marathon, or Silver Rush 50 Run
Partner with one of the charity partners,
Volunteer this year to secure a spot for next year
Purchase a coaching + entry package through Boundless Coaching
Purchase and participate in a camp + entry package
Research the details here.
Training as a Racer vs. a Pacer
I am honored to be asked to take on the role of pacer for 26 important miles of the Leadville 100. I have done many trail races, marathons, half marathons, and triathlons. But nothing like a 100 mile, overnight, trail race in the mountains!
My runner completed this race 10 years ago and has remained an avid runner, hiker, and mountain biker. His training has been thurough and intense via training 3-6 hour run/hikes, participating in a coaching camp at altitude, and doing serious reconnaissance on much of the race trail.
The race official race guide indicates a pacer doesn't necessarily have to be a strong runner, but must be at least be a strong hiker. My runner gave me about 6 weeks notice for my pacing job…an ideal time line would be closer to 3 months! To make the most of my 6 weeks, I have been interval incline training on the treadmill @ 12-15%, addressing an ongoing left knee niggle after an awkward fall while skiing closing day at Vail this spring, and a reconnaissance trail run over Sugarloaf Pass.
Gear Prep for Pacing Twin Lakes to MayQueen
I love gear! In Alaska, the popular saying is "there's no bad weather, just bad gear". My 26 miles of pacing duties will be over-night with the highest elevation at 11,100 ft over Sugarloaf pass. The current weather prediction is a low of 39deg with 60% chance of rain.
Light weight Gore-Tex North Face rain jacket
Heavy weight Gore-Tex Mammut rain jacket
Patagonia Down Sweater Jacket
Arcteryx Atom Light puffy
North Face winter hat
Lululemon running crops
Marmot Gore-Tex rain pants
Brooks Cascadia trail shoes
Oiselle long sleeve merino wool shirt
Lululemon short sleeve T
Mount Marathon Buff
Black Diamond headlamp
Garmin Fenix 5s
Mini first aid kit
I've completed 3 marathons, 3 Xterra triathlons, and countless other half marathons, 10ks, and sprint triathlons. It took me years to figure out my nutrition. It all come to a head at mile 23 at NYC marathon in 2018 when I was puking in the bushes in Central Park causing me to miss goal of qualifying for Boston.
In my pack at all times:
Optimal Nutrition electrolytes (powder)
Jelly Belly gummies (caffeine and non-caffeine)
Scratch gummies (caffeine and non-caffeine)
Nutrition at the aid stations:
Peanut Butter and jelly sandwiches
The Leadville 29 hour Plan
My main job is to take care of my runner: make sure he eats, drinks, stays awake, and doesn't get lost. My secondary job is to use my math skills to ensure we are not only making cut off times but on track to finish ~29 hours. The race starts at 4am on Sat, Aug 20th in downtown Leadville which starts a 100 mile out and back course. After running 60 miles (and over Hope Pass at 12,508ft twice), runners can pick up their first pacer at Twin Lakes, CO. Two more smaller peaks ensue on the route to Half Pipe, Outward Bound, MayQueen and back into downtown Leadville.
I will join my racer at Twin Lakes, lead him immediately up ~ 1200 ft of elevation, into Half Pipe and then Outward Bound, up powerline trail to the top of Sugarloaf pass, and drop him off to his second pacer in MayQueen. At that point, they will have another 12.2 miles to go around the north side of Turquoise Lake on their way back into Leadville (hopefully in ~ 29 hours!).
Come to Leadville the weekend of August 20-22, 2022 to cheer on the runners, hike part of the trail, or enjoy the quaint mountain town.
Dr Jessica Klain PT, DPT, COMT, CSCS, OCS, CNPT
Board Certified Orthopedic Clinical Specialist (OCS)
Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS)
Certified Orthopedic Manual Therapist (COMT)
Certified Nutritional Physical Therapist (CNPT)
Certified Vestibular Specialist
Certified Concussion Specialist
Trigger Point Dry Needling Certified, Level 1&2
Certified Yoga Teacher
University of Florida, Doctorate in Physical Therapy (2009)
The Ohio State University, Bachelor of Science in Biology (2006)