The best races in the world tend to share some of the same qualities – great courses, memorable experiences, and personal challenges. We seek these experiences out in the hopes of finding the self-satisfaction that accomplishing a great feat brings us. The Leadville Race Series, a series of races which take place each summer in the United States’ highest incorporated city, bring just that.
But the views, the elevation gains, and the distances aren’t what makes the Leadville Race Series so special. There’s a certain type of magic that runs through this Colorado mountain town. Here are the top reasons you should come to Leadville:
In the words of race founder, Ken Chlouber: “It was cold, near midnight, the pickup heading down the mountain for the last time, an hour before I was about to begin an eight-hour shift underground. Then I was told the mine was closing. All jobs were lost! Now I had to go home and tell Mama and my baby boy that daddy didn’t have a job anymore. Leadville, overnight, became the town of highest unemployment in the Nation.
That fueled the fire for the start of the Leadville Trail 100. Nothing second rate. Nothing second class. No shortcuts. A one-hundred-mile challenge second to none. We would share Leadville’s grit, guts and determination with the world.”
Located in the heart of the Rocky Mountains alongside the Arkansas River, Leadville, Colorado is the nation’s highest incorporated city. Situated at 10,200 ft, the city is full of historic mining sites and sweeping views. It is easy to reach, located less than 2 hours from Denver, CO. Beyond the mountain backdrops on the outskirts of town, downtown Historic Leadville is lined with locally-owned shops and restaurants in original worn brick buildings. Every dollar shelled out over race weekend directly benefits the community, something the race series is very proud to bring to their home base.
The most memorable of races are often accompanied by the most beautiful of courses. Each race in the Leadville Race Series bring you to places not often traveled to and the views will leave you breathless, if the altitude didn’t already! Spectators and volunteers line the trails across miles and miles, wildlife graze on the mountainous terrain, and gritty inclines lead to sweeping views above treeline.
The town of Leadville is said to be a complete family atmosphere. Each week there is a race, the people of Leadville opens their arms, and local businesses, to the athletes who are visiting, and for that brief visit you become one of their own. The founders of the Leadville Race Series also had the mentality that success would come from treating each athlete like family. The staff knows the athletes’ names, recognizes their faces, and engages with them on a personal level.
The races in Leadville are tough, invigorating, and no doubt grueling. It’s deep in those miles when athletes start to feel a little doubt. But the comradery amongst the field in second-to-none. From handshakes at the top of a steep climb, to singing songs together at mile 60 in the dead of night, to high-fiving and encouraging along the way, a unique mindset happens out there in the trails and it’s contagious.
We don’t need to say it. But we will. The courses are TOUGH. At elevations ranging from 10,000 to 13,500 ft, oxygen is far-and-few between. There are climbs so steep that a slow walk is the best way up. When throwing your bike over your shoulder is your only option. But these challenges are what make crossing the finish line so special to folks. The challenge is what makes it all worthwhile. It is what finishers have said changed who they are as people.
The Versatile Race Distances
Most famously known for the Leadville Trail 100 Run and MTB races, the Leadville Race Series actually offers a variety of events and distances for all levels of athlete. On the run side, the series offers distances as short as 10k, along with a half-marathon and marathon, great segways into trail running at altitude, and a 50-mile race, a very gritty and tough ultra race. On the mountain bike side, riders can test the waters at the Silver Rush 50-mile MTB race or see the whole 100-miles over the course of 3 days at the Leadville Stage Race!
Llamas are in the fields, cheering you on with their curious stares. Belt buckles as big as your face are your finisher item! Our very own cowboy Ken Chlouber turning up in the most curious places along the course to provide you with a little extra motivation. Crumbling, historic mining sites throughout the inclines and valleys. And, of course, you just never know what kind of weather will blow in at the most random of times (yes, this includes snow storms atop a mountain in August!).
There ya have it, ya’ll. This race series is unlike any other. Check out the schedule , mark your calendars, and join us in Leadville this summer!