Leadville 100 – Men’s Race Summary

Did you read the script for the 2013 men’s Leadville 100? It went something like this…

2011 winner, Ryan Sandes would return fired up for victory after missing Western States due to injury. Ryan, the outright favorite would be pushed by Ultra legend, Scott Jurek. Scott after a few years away from competitive running would return to the 100-mile distance and push for the win. Mike Aish, fast man from New Zealand would learn lessons from his 2012 blow up and contend for the podium. A race within the race would continue with Grand Slam leaders, Ian Sharman and Nick Clark would push each other to the limits racing the third 100 in seven weeks but due to added fatigue would not contend for the podium!

So how did I think the race would pan out? Well, I thought Aish would take the lead relatively early on. Using his natural speed he would gain a gap and then spend much of the first half of the race looking behind him…  Ryan Sandes and Scott Jurek would match each other stride for stride all the way to Hope Pass and then the race would start. They would pick up pacers and then Sandes would slowly move away, catch Aish, move past and then Jurek would pursue. In the process Aish would blow but not enough to stop the race. With Jurek in second place, Sharman and Clark would now pursue. They would both catch Aish and Clark would move away and reduce some of his time gap on Sharman and thus making the final race in the ‘Slam’ a really exciting nail biter. The podium would be Sandes, Jurek and Clark.

Well, you may as well rip that script up. The race is done and what a race. What initially appeared to be a race with very few surprises up at the front end, it actually turned into a really exciting nail biter and it just goes to show that the 100-mile distance and in particular, those that race the distance can never be counted on for being predictable.

The Race

With a 0400 start, the early pace was steady. However, at May Queen, mile 13.5 a lone Ian Sharman was in the lead by just under two minutes with all the main contenders chasing. Wasn’t Sharman supposed to be a little tired? This was his third 100n in seven weeks… either he knew something that we didn’t or he was on a suicide mission.

At mile 22 ‘Powerline’ we got back on script with Mike Aish taking the lead. He was alone and out in front. That’s more like it. We are back on prediction and this race is settling nicely.

Behind Aish the chasers had fragmented a little but we had no big surprises, well, no big surprises other than Scott Jurek was a little further back than expected, but with less than 25% of the race done, this was surely the experience of a master of his craft keeping calm.

Aish continued to push and at Twin Lakes he was 10 minutes inside Matt Carpenter’s CR split. Okay, we started to ask the question, how much had Aish learnt from his blow up in 2012 and were we about to witness and incredible performance? When second place arrived, Aish had an eighteen-minute lead. Wow, this was getting exciting.

It was early days but at 40-miles of the Leadville course covered and Aish having a commanding lead of approximately twenty minutes over Sandes, Sharman, Clark, Jurek, Catalano and so on, a counter move was going to need to come or Aish was going to need to slow.

At Hopeless Pass, mile 44.5 signs of fatigue started to show on Aish. Sandes, Clark and Sharman had closed to within fifteen minutes. The big news here came from Scott Jurek; he was thirty-four mins down on Aish and although in sixth place was obviously struggling. The pre race script was starting to be rewritten.

Winfield and the 50-mile turn point. A key moment in the race and an opportunity for runners to collect pacers. Of course, the other big advantage here is that you get an opportunity to look at the gaps between runners and also how they look. Sharman arrived in second place and had closed to within eleven minutes of Aish. Clark arrived five minutes after Sharman and the news came that Ryan Sandes was dropping from the race. He was in severe hip and back pain and took the wise choice to retire. It was a sad moment for Ryan, his 2012 season was incredible and 2013 has been plagued by problems. Ryan sent me a message; “I have had some bad luck the last few months. Never nice to DNF but was hobbling with my back …. Getting old;) thanks for all.” Of course, Ryan will be back and his decision to drop without doubt is the best long-term decision.

Scott Jurek was now in fifth place and just under thirty minutes behind Sharman. Were we going to witness a classic Jurek comeback?

Returning through Hopeless AS at mile 55.5, Sharman had closed to within six minutes of Aish. Was it really possible that Sharman and Clark racing the third 100 in seven weeks would contend the top slot at Leadville?

At mile 60, Aish and Sharman were together, Clark was third and Jurek was fourth fifty-five minutes back. The 2013 Leadville 100 was turning into an epic race and of course, we had the race within the race for the Grand Slam.

Returning to Half Pipe at mile 70, Sharman had taken the lead, Clark was second 16.5 minutes in arrears and Aish was third and obviously paying for his early efforts. We know had a scenario that in all reality, I had not anticipated. Of course Sharman and Clark had every possibility of winning Leadville but not during the Grand Slam with tired bodies. Would we really see these two battle it out?

At Half Pipe, Aish rested for fourteen minutes. Yes, fourteen minutes. I suppose the luxury of his time gap of Jurek allowed for this and the pace of Sharman and Clark made him realize he was fighting for third.

With twenty miles to go, Clark was just under seventeen minutes behind Sharman. It was all to play for… twenty miles is a long with eighty miles in tired legs.

May Queen, mile 86,5 and Clark had closed a little, the gap was just under fifteen minutes. Armed with the news, Sharman dug deep pushed, he later said on twitter, “Thank you everyone for all the messages. Overwhelmed by the responses about ‪#‎LT100. Hurt like hell at the end.”

At the finish, a victorious Ian Sharman crossed the line in 16:30. He had opened up his gap on Nick Clark by thirty-three minutes. Mike Aish most definitely had learnt from his 2012 experience and held on for third.

It was an incredible race and I need to give huge credit to Bryon Powell and the iRunFar team for providing the step-by-step action via twitter.

I wouldn’t normally write such a detailed account about a race that I had not attended, but the action that unfolded in Leadville may well turn out to be one of those iconic races we all remember. To see two runners, Sharman and Clark, perform at such a high level when so far into the Grand Slam is inspirational. In addition, it also provides a lesson for us all. A 100-miles is a long way, anything can happen and no matter how we think a race may unfold, every now and again, the book gets thrown out of the window and we are treated to an inspiring and iconic race. In addition, Mike Aish also showed that taking a break to recoup and recharge is no bad thing, his fourteen-minute break did him no harm and he still made the podium.

Many congratulations to all.

Attention now turns to final race in the Grand Slam, Wasatch. It will only take Ian Sharman to have a so, so day and for Nick to be flying… exciting!

I will be catching up with Nick for the next episode of Talk Ultra so make sure you check out Episode 42 out on Friday 23rd August.

What is the Grand Slam?

The Grand Slam of Ultrarunning award is recognition for those who complete four of the oldest 100 mile trail runs in the U.S. The “Slam” consists of officially finishing the Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run, the Vermont 100 Mile Endurance Run, the Leadville Trail 100 Mile Run and the Wasatch Front 100 Mile Endurance Run all in the same year. The Grand Slam of Ultrarunning Award was established in 1986, when Tom Green was the first finisher.

Results:

MEN

  1. Ian Sharman 16:30 (4th fastest time)
  2. Nick Clark 17:06
  3. Mike Aish 18:28
  4. Kyle Pietari 18:37
  5. Andrew Catalano 18:43
  6. Timo Meyer 19:04
  7. Eric Sullivan 19:17
  8. Scott Jurek 19:21
  9. Bob Africa 19:38
  10. Javier Montero 19:45

LADIES

  1. Ashley Arnold 20:25
  2. Saheen Sattar 22:42
  3. Keila Merino 22:47
  4. Katrin Silva 23:16
  5. Becca Hall 23:43
  6. Kara Henry 23:50
  7. Abby Mcqueeney Menamonte 24:06
  8. Maddy Hribar 24:24
  9. Nicole Struder 24:25
  10. Maggie Nelson 24:37

Leadville 100 2013 Race Preview

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Leadville 100 kicks off at 0400 on Saturday morning and although the field may not be ‘stacked’, what it does have is the return of Ryan Sandes, the 2011 winner and the return of ultra running legend, Scott Jurek.

If you had doubts about how exciting this race may be, take a read of what Scott Jurek said in my re race interview, “You bet! I am here to do whatever it takes to run my best time and ideally win this race. I have put in the training. I am mentally prepared. My goal is to win…”

So, there you have it. If nobody else turned up to race, a Sandes/ Jurek smack down would be an interesting prospect by any body’s standards.

The Leadville 100 course is a 50-mile out and back all undertaken at high altitude with Hope Pass being the highest point on the course. When a race is almost 2-miles above sea level, the one thing you need to be sure of is the ability to run and race at altitude. Pacers are allowed and importantly they are allowed to ‘mule’ for the runner, a homage to the old mining days.

So, how will this race unfold?

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Ryan Sandes is without doubt the number one favorite. After placing second at Western States last year, he was without doubt very excited at returning in 2013 and attempting to go one place higher. However, a sprained ankle in the build up ruled him out and he had no option to rest and recover. He refocused and placed his emphasis on Leadville. Ryan, like his teammate, Julien Chorier, does not do race after race. He focuses, prepares and turns up with the ‘A’ game switched on. Ryan is here to win Leadville and without doubt he is the hot tip for the race.

Image taken from scottjurek.com ©scottjurek

Image taken from scottjurek.com ©scottjurek

Scott Jurek has been away from competitive running for a few years. Many of us thought that his writing, love and promotion of vegetarian food and his work with Chris McDougall would keep him away from running competitively and therefore a new chapter in his life had started. Apparently not! For sure, he is in the latter years of his racing career and for many of us we had no real idea what his intentions would be. However in my pre race interview with him he made it apparently clear, he is here to race and win! Awesome. We are all excited to have Scott back on a 100-mile start line and it sounds as though Ryan and all the other contenders have a ‘race on’ with a legend of the sport. I can’t wait! To clarify, Scott can in this race, no doubt! Interview with Scott Jurek here

Ian Sharman training in La Palma ©iancorless.com

Ian Sharman training in La Palma ©iancorless.com

We have a race within a race at Leadville as Nick Clark and Ian Sharman line up for the third 100-miler in the four race ‘Grand Slam’. Now of course, if Nick or Ian were fresh, you would include them as potential winners of this race, particularly Nick who is used to the high altitude. Both of these guys are without doubt podium potential, of course, they are going to be little jaded and therefore this removes them from the top slot. However, you never know… it only needs other contenders to have a mediocre or bad day and Nick or Ian to have a great day.

Mike Aish ran Leadville in 2012 and was without doubt a dark horse. He was very clear pre race that he would run up front and see what happened. He warned it could go either way, victory or blow up. As it happened, he blew up! One year on he is wiser and older. He has changed his training and done more miles.

Michael Arnstein has ‘Sharmanesque’ speed on the flatter and faster courses. Leadville is a race suits him, he has experience with Leadville, eighth in 2012 and his best performance came in 2011 with fourth.  He will need to be in great shape and in fine form to make the podium.

Mike Le Roux ran the Grand Slam last year and that puts him in a good place for this year. With just one race to concentrate on, he will be able to focus and race fresh. He placed third at Vermont 100 last year and as mentioned, this was part of the ‘slam’, so he is what it takes to most definitely get in the top ten and if all goes well, claw at the podium.

Nick Pedatella is also racing the Grand Slam but is some way behind Nick and Ian. His 23rd at Vermont and 28th at Western States are solid performances, but with two 100’s in the legs, the third can only be a little more jaded. Having said that, he will probably place in the top twenty.

Other names to watch:

Timo Meyer was sixth at Tarawera earlier in 2013, Craig Howie placed top ten at Leadville in 2012 and Andrew Catalano placed sixth in 2012.

Leadville is the biggest ultra in the US and therefore with no qualification criteria, the 1200 start list can throw up a few surprises.

The ladies race is wide open. In many respects, like the men’s race we have a few clear favorites but then the front-end competition drops off quite quickly. Tina Lewis, the 2012 champion is undecided if she will run. She has had a foot injury and only yesterday she posted on social media, “Alright, I have about 30 minutes to make the call – Pikes Peak Marathon or Leadville 100!!! Leaning towards being a dreamer, hopeful and taking chances!!” I don’t need to tell you, Leadville and Pikes Peak are a world apart and this is not a great sign for Tina’s mental approach, so, if she decides to run her performance is unpredictable. However, she is the defending champ and therefore the nod goes in Tina’s direction.

*update on Tina – “I am healthy and rested just not perfectly trained for the distance. Don’t we do this because we love it and Leadville is in my heart. I can just go out and try my best, right? I will aim to be smart and stop if my foot hurts.”

Denise Bourassa placed eighth at the 2013 Western States and therefore she is my hot tip for the win. She has had consistently good performances and the only question mark may come if WSER has left Denise a little jaded.

Ashley Arnold placed third at Leadville in 2010 and so therefore she is a tip for the top of the podium. She has all the experience required to run well.

Who else? Well, to be honest, it is wide open. One or two names shine out as contenders for the top ten but as stated, in a field of 1200 I think we will see many ladies names that we have not seen before.

LINKS:

Leadville 100 website HERE

Athlete Tracking HERE