RESPECT - Faces of the Leadville 100 MTB

August 13, 2014  •  7 Comments

RESPECT - Faces of the Leadville 100 MTB

The Leadville 100 MTB known as the "Race Across the Sky" certainly holds a deep admiration by those who have ridden it.  The racers, the terrain, and the race itself hold a profound spot in people's soul. Ken Chlouber, the race's co-founder, refers to the racers as the "Race Across the Sky" family. The racers refer to themselves as belonging to the "Race Across the Sky" family. Undoubtedly, there must be something to this idea. The concept of belonging to this family is what drives people from all over the world to spend countless hours training and sacrificing a great deal, at times, that's precious family time. Spouse and partners may or may not understand the obsession to this race. For those that have not ridden the race they're captivated by the sheer magnitude of the task. Then there is always to proverbial WHY?   

There are probably just as many different reasons and motivators to do the race as there are racers. One commonality is that, at some point, the race will strip all of the racers of their ego. They will be left draped across the handlebars with only their true essence. It maybe cliche, but true, that the circumstances don't define us, it's how we respond to the circumstances that define us. One of Ken's coined phrases is "Dig deep into the inexhaustible well of grit, guts, and determination." The willingness to shed the ego will allow the "digging deep" journey to begin. Knowing that you are among others going through the same breaking and rebuilding process promotes a kinship.

This race is won with guts and worn with pride regardless the color of the belt buckle. Or even if don't got a belt buckle. Everyone gets the pleasure of getting naked and re-dressed, so it doesn't matter whether you've won world cup races, wear a national jersey or ride the race on the same bike you rode in your first "Race Across the Sky" 21 years prior, everyone has to pedal the same course and go through the same exercise. 

The race is a human equalizer.

Photographers often get asked, "did you get the shot." The usual response is we'll see. This image is one of those, at first glance not a bad image of Alban Lakata, 2X winner and LT100 Course record holder, coming through the aid station at bottom of Columbine climb pressing hard toward the finish line for hopefully another win. At a second glance, the guy on the right going in the opposite direction is Ricky McDonald, going through the same aid station except he's heading up the Columbine climb. This will be his 21st LT100 and I might add he's riding the same bike he on his first LT100.   Finish times - Alban Lakata 6:29:51 Ricky McDonald 11:26:51. These guys are brothers in the "Race Across the Sky" family.


The following images are of LT100 racers. I believe any racer will recognize themselves in them whether it is a photo of them or not. 

Dave Wiens 6x winner and ambassador for the LT100 greeting riding pre start at 5:45am.

Brett Donnelson is in deep thought about what lies ahead. Finishing Time: 8:28:42

Jennifer Smith - StansNoTubes is smiling all the way to the start arena in hopes of a great race. She finished 2nd with a time of 8:06:27

A sea of humanity is coming up behind this from row of racers. Heading off to battle the LT100.

The drone gets a bird's eye view of the racers below battling it out on the dusty, straight, and narrow section off of Powerline.

The LT10 is not all punishing it does have some fun, fast, and gorgeous sections. Rebecca Rusch 4x LT100 is not racing for herself this year she is pacing a friend to hopefully a new best PR under 9 hrs. Success Lisa Nelson crushed her previous time and is now a proud owner of a large, gold belt buckle. Finishing time of 8:39:38

Luck was not on Christoph Sausser's side this year. He flatted once and got lost once which he says, "I promise it is not easy to keep up the concentration in this thin air!"

This racer checking in with himself before heading back up Powerline - digging deeper is about to happen.

Mark Webber and Patrick Clark are in the same outdoor space at the moment. It doesn't matter what you have accomplished before.  These two guys are managing their own pain and stuck with it. Finishing times: Mark Webber 8:31:56 Patrick Clark 8:32:51

Catherine Williason staying as compact as she can as she climbs back up Powlerline. She cam over form the UK to race LT100 and BreckEpic  Finishing time: 831:34 Double OUCH 

Selene Yeager looking up the Powerline climb accessing the distance and figuring out how to get up there. This was Selene's first time racing LT100. She came out to the thin air of Leadville to support, her friend, Rebecca Rusch during the "Rusch to Glory" book launch. She had her reservations about the race. Selene recently posted the following on her blog: "I was wrong. Really wrong. Leadville is actually all that it’s hyped to be and maybe then some—brutally hard, amazingly beautiful, very humbling, a bit of a road race, more of a mountain bike race than you think, and the kind of experience that seeps under your skin and becomes a little (or for some folks a big) part of you."  Finishing time: 8:39:19

Get the party started. All of the racers are in it together. Powerline is testing everyone of them. 

Sally Bigham wins another LT100. She takes a moment in the finish area before facing the press to let out a sigh of relief, take in a few extra breaths and perhaps pays a bit of respect to the LT100 course. Finishing time: 7:23:58

Mark Webber comes through the finish line with tons of respect. This is what he posted after the race: Leadville Trail 100 - 165km mountain bike marathon, 3,450m elevation gain, climbing up to 3,786m in 8.5hrs, finishing 163rd out of 1283 entries - sore but still smiling #AussieGrit

Anthony Rice from Australia elated to has his son cross the finish line with him. Something tells me that this little guy may do the race some day. Finishing time: 8:14:55

The embrace is worth all of the trials out there.

For Scott Kelley it's all about personal family, race family and the satisfaction of a finishing time of 8:39:08.

Dave Wiens is in the finish area passing out hugs because he knows the importance of that human connection after a tough individual struggle. 

All of the racers are rockstars regardless whether that's real life or just for finishing the LT100. Greg Martin, Tim Commerford, Rebecca Rusch, Ben Bostrom, Dave Zabriskie

The phrase may be "Pain is temporary, quitting lasts forever"  but I'd like to change that up a bit  to "Pain is temporary, the smiles last forever." In the finish area there are a lot of glazed looks but racers are quick to smile. Lisa Nelson (the Hammer) Elden Nelson (fat cyclist)




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