Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Up Next: Leadville Marathon

I signed up for Leadville Marathon on the day that registration opened. I truly didn't know if this was an event that sold out like the 100-miler and I really wanted to get in. Part of the TransRockies Run course goes on the Leadville series trails and since I don't want to wear myself out with a 50-miler, I signed up for the marathon to check it out.

While I had heard it was a hard marathon, I never really realized how hard. As race day approaches, I started looking into it and started by looking at last year's results (HERE) and realized what I was up against. The fastest female ran it 4h40m last year which is an average of 10:40 mins/mile. This just means one thing. This marathon is not only hard. It's BRUTAL.

Not beginner-friendly course. 
I continued on by reading multiple race reports from previous years and they all seemed to agree on one thing: this is the hardest marathon they've ever done (some say, it's the second hardest in the country with the first one being Pikes Peak Marathon). After reading and researching, I finally came up with my very own goals/strategy. I know... you may say I'm crazy and I should just aim to finish, but I need to have something to shoot for.

Here's what I came up with:

I have divided the race as follows (see map below as reference) which seems to break down to very doable distances if tackled one at a time:
1. Start to Aid #1 (A) - 3.8 miles. Slightly uphill (partly paved).
2. Aid #1 (A) to Aid #2 (A) - 3.3 miles. Loop around Ball Mountain.
3. Aid #2 (A) to Aid #3 (B) - 2.7 miles. Downhill to the base of Mosquito Pass.
4. Aid #3 (B) to Aid #4 (C) - 3.3 miles. Up to summit of Mosquito Pass.
5. Aid #4 (C) to Aid #5 (B) - 3.3 miles. Downhill to base of Mosquito Pass.
6. Aid #5 (B) to Aid #6 (A) - 2.7 miles. Slightly uphill.
7. Aid #6 (A) to Aid #7 (A) - 3.3 miles. Loop backwards around Ball Mountain
8. Aid #7 (A) to Finish - 3.8 miles. All downhill from here!

Marathon follows the blue line only. It's an out and back and we go through Aid "A" 4 times. 
Now on to the details of each of the 8 legs:

Leg 1 - With 1,500ft of gain in just 3.8 miles. I am aiming to get to aid 1 in 60 minutes.
Leg 2 - The Loop around Ball seems to be half up, half down. With that in mind, I plan to run 3.3 miles in 45 minutes.
Leg 3 - As the downhill continues and the one and only flat section of he course makes an appearance, I plan on running at a steady pace the whole way to Aid B and get there within 30 minutes.
Leg 4 - Up to Mosquito Pass. This will be a hike! With 3.3 miles to the top, my goal is to summit in 1h15m.
Leg 5 - Downhill from the summit! While I don't plan on blowing up my quads, I would definitely want to give it a good shot at catching up. 45 minutes for the descent (I've heard it's technical).
Leg 6 - Again the shortest leg of the course, but a flat that turns to up. Hopefully not too steep so I can push through most of it and get back to Aid A in 40 minutes.
Leg 7 - Another Loop around Ball giving myself an extra 15 minutes from the first time since I'll most likely be tired. 60 minutes for this loop.
Leg 8 - With 3.8 downhill miles to go, I will aim to cautiously run them in 45 minutes.

This adds up to a finish time of 6 hours and 40 minutes which is an average pace of 15:23 min/mile. But the big picture analysis tells me, I should conservatively aim for a sub 7h finish. Anything between 6h40m and 7h is completely acceptable while anything below it is an above-and-beyond, killer performance.

Off to walk the pup... :)


  1. Best of luck to you! I had to withdraw due to Achilles issues. I really want to run this, but with SJS50M the following weekend it's not the smart play.

    1. Yeah... focus on the big picture. I'll certainly miss you!! We should hang out soon though (but not for a run... I can't keep up with you). Hope you recover soon, although looks like you're well on your way... :)