Monday, November 7, 2011

You may be right... I may be crazy.

But it just may be the marathon I'm looking for!

We took a fantastic trip to Colorado last June, a few weeks out from the Flying Pig, when I was newly into that I-want-to-run-marathons-EVERYWHERE stage. The whitewater rafting outing included a 90 minute van ride through the small towns of the Colorado Mountains, complete with random mustached tour guide and kayak expert shouting out fun facts from his position half-asleep under the back seat. Yes, under. He was an interesting cat. One of the towns we passed through was called Leadville, which happens to be the highest incorporated city in the US. He told us some of the town's history, about how it was once the second most populated city in the state, but is now home to fewer than 3,000 people. It was a big gold mining town, and then the mining turned to Lead once the gold boom ended, hence "Leadville." My brain was still somewhat fuzzy at this point, since it wasn't even 6:00 in the morning yet, but then he started telling us about the Leadville Race Series, and I perked right up when I heard the word "marathon."

It turns out that there's a whole circuit of Leadville Races - a 100 Mile Bike Ride, 2 UltraMarathons (100 and 50 Miles), and a Marathon and a Half. It's not often you see a marathon in the "short race" part of a series. The slogan on the Leadville Ultra page is fitting - "Any Idiot Can Run a Marathon!" I'm lucky to be one of those idiots.

So yes, it's "only" a marathon. This isn't just any marathon, though. "The Leadville Trail Marathon is one of the most challenging marathons in the world as it combines beautiful and rugged terrain with extreme altitude changes, including the highest elevation of 13,185 feet."

You read that right - 13,185 feet, at Mosquito Pass. 26.2 miles out-and-back of rugged mountain trail. You can't even really call it a "race," since first-place finish times come in just under the 4-hour mark and there's an 8.5 hour course limit.

WHY would I want to put myself through that kind of punishment? First of all, every race recap I've seen puts it at the top of the list in terms of amazing experiences - I've seen nothing but great things about the trail, the community, and the organization. Second of all, views like this:

(photo courtesy of, since I obviously haven't been there, yet)

I thought about it and thought about it and thought about it some more - did some research on flat-landers running in high altitudes, considered how much harder I'd have to train on the big hills in Cincinnati to even have a prayer of making it up the mountain, worried over the fact that I've never done a trail run of any length, let alone marathon distance, talked to a few local running peeps who promptly declared me crazy, and then... signed up. Not only did I sign up, but I convinced the husband to sign up to run it with me. I think he's just as excited as I am. He's going to train for (and run) the Pig with me just to get the distance under his belt, and then we're going to head for Leadville with a sub-8-hour goal :)

So there you have it, my next great adventure. June 30 is right around the corner!

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