Exhausted.. My 2018 Leadville 100 story

Leadville, CO – 2 Jon Christley – 0

“You’re better than you think you are”. “I commit, I won’t quit”.

Ken Chlouber’s(founder of the Leadville Trail 100) words will sink deep into your psyche and core. These phrases will be played a million times over during this historic event. His words and inspirational talk will silence a packed gymnasium for an hour or more while he looks many straight in the eye, those he calls “Family”. The face of Leadville wants each and every one of his fellow brothers, mothers, fathers, sons and daughters who step up to toe that start line to finish this race and truly believes all of us can “dig deep” and find that untapped determination and grit to get the job done. Cutoffs are tight for this race and there is a 30 hour cutoff to get us to that famous Finish Line at 6th& Harrison.

For more on the race itself, the organization that supports the race series throughout the year, see their website. Lifetime Fitness has been a major sponsor up until very recently. We shall see how the Centurylink relationship unfolds. I’m hopeful the very core of what this race is about stays true. Each year, the # of participants inch up and the odds of getting in are lower. Witnessing the sheer amount of extra people at this year’s event and aid stations has me a tad concerned it’s gotten too “commercialized” compared to other ultra events out there. I heard numbers of 900+ registered and +/-720 starters for 2018.

Going into a race like this, I always have a “WHY” and a “WHO” I am racing for. I make sure to tell those close to me what these are and mention them again with the crew during our last pre race meetings. Selfishly, I did not review those with my team before this race. Perhaps deep down, I knew (based on weeks leading up to this event) my perfect race day was already handed to me on June 23rd in Squaw/Auburn for my Western States race. I wanted to hold those reasons a little closer to the vest and even still as I write this, feel some odd urge to suppress those reasons. Maybe by the end of reading this some will infer what these were :).

Having another run at the Finish line here to redeem my failed attempt in 2017 would have me evaluating all the usual strategies of what I could do better, how would I prepare, training, dealing with the altitude to mention a few. My 2017 experience was horrible and if you’d like more details you can read more here.. Part of me thought it couldn’t be as bad as 2017, right?!!?

To enter or not, based on X, Y and Z? I usually don’t have much luck “winning” things in life, lotteries or otherwise. December 1, 2017, I had already entered the lotto for Western States but had a decision to make as to putting in again for Leadville. The date for States would be Saturday, June 23rdand Leadville, Saturday, August 18th. Oh, and I would enter a UTMB race in Europe on Dec 15th, which would have been Friday, August 31st. It’s a really hard decision to make at the end of each year as crazy as it sounds. Yes, I’d love to do them all, but I DO really work a full-time job, have a family, run a local trail running group and try to stay healthy and not get injured due to over training.

“A” race? One you would put all focus, training and heart into. Tough call but, I would be successful in two lotteries. Leadville and Western States for 2018. CCC in Europe would have to wait another year. Yes, my A race would be Western States 100. Now, to start planning and execute…

jonyougotin

As I wrote in detail about my year leading up to Western, I would know there was an inherent risk in signing on for two epic races so close together. I rationalized it being “OK” with the build up for Western, having done 2 50 milers and a 100k as the year would progress towards June. But, found myself along the way asking; would doing States so close to Leadville be a good thing?? Heck, there are many that sign up for multiple hundos(100’s) in a row throughout the year, may would now sprinkle in 200 milers(aka, the “new 100 miler category).  54 days would separate my two Hundo’s. Having one week of “recovery” and the usual one to two week “taper” before Leadville really did not leave a lot of room. I had a lot of work to do.

 

LT100TrainingWeeks

Racing in Colorado has been going on for me just about every year since 2013. Each summer, we make a “runcation” out of it adding a few days or more in for touristy things. Most of our time is spent either in Silverton/Durango, Telluride and Leadville. The training each summer would include multiple runs up north in Flagstaff on Humphrey’s and surrounding mountains. With the fire restrictions this year, I panicked a tad thinking how this would affect my training. I’d have to alter my plans and find surrounding terrain for a couple of weekends. Add that and the predictable “monsoon” activity each mid day afternoon and the time window really narrows to get lengthy running in. I made the most out of each trip I made up with training partners and even solo runs here and there.

Heat training is supposed to have a comparable effect on the body as running at altitude from what the inter webs have told me. In the past, this has worked for me. Many miles and long runs were logged in triple digits during May, June and July this year. I did manage to borrow an altitude tent(Hypoxico Everest Summit II) from my good friends, Brian and Meghan for almost two weeks leading up to the race. I slept in that each night starting August 5thup until the day we left for ColoRADo(Tues, Aug 14th). Needless to say, I think it helped but my wife lost many hours of sleep during this “experimental period”. Sorry Tara! Sacrifices are endless for this sport I tell ya!

 

The plan was to leave Phoenix on Tuesday the 14th and arrive in Silverthorne where our VRBO was and have the crew meet up with us. The crew was mostly the same since States, Tara, Susie, Brad, Meghan and Brian. Susie was to pace me from Winfield(50mi mark) in to Outward Bound(77mi) but broke her arm in a race a couple of weeks ago(insert sad face emoji). Brad Person stepped into her spot leaving the remaining 24ish miles for Meghan. The dream team as I would say would be together again for this weekend’s festivities. There is a lot to do at Leadville with the parking situations, setting up crew stations, grabbing the shuttle at Twin Lakes. It’s honestly, hard work! They are awesome and very deserving of many of my gratitude’s and special things like race gear or local trinkets and things. That’s the least I can do for their dedication and commitment!!

For those not familiar with Leadville, CO the area and such, a quick glance below can give you an idea of the Leadville course profile and map of the surrounding towns… Although my preference for a longer ultra is a point to point race, this out and back is mostly manageable due to the large forest service roads and open trails, oh and some never-ending beautiful mountain and lake views, you know, your typical pristine Colorado majesty. Some single track on the Colorado trail and up and down Hope Pass make it interesting for two-way traffic especially when most everyone is using trekking poles up and over Hope(2x mind you)!

LT100 Course Profile

LT100courseMapJonsResults

My Garmin watch data shows my route from downtown Leadville out to Winfield and back.

We spent the two days prior to the race getting the last few things together, hitting the local coffee shops, taking a quick jaunt up to Loveland Pass for some slow walking and allowing Brian and Meghan to bag a couple 13’rs while we were up there. Friday, we went down to Leadville. The drive from Silverthorne to Leadville on a good day is 30min. Not bad at all and the drive is absolutely beautiful going through Independence Pass. Again, that ColoRADo landscape. Ahhhhh…..

LovelandPass

At the Loveland Pass parking area. The mountains behind us are to the south looking towards Arapahoe Basin Ski Resort & Grizzly Peak.

The Leadville race crew has the event and the going’s on down pat. They’ve had some experience doing this over the years. The entire town booms from their events from June all the way through August. Great amounts of people flock to this historic small town for multiple activities. Hat’s off to them for handling all that comes their way!

We really didn’t want to spend the entire day down there but had to wait until 3pm to do the aid station bag drops. Tara and I hit Tennessee Pass for lunch in between check-ins, Ken and Merilee’s Meeting at the Lake County High School Gym and the 3pm bag drop at the Courthouse. All of this was within walking distance from either other. The entire walk through town can be accomplished in about 15min. Needless to say, Tennessee Pass food was on point and Susie recommended this place! Go there! Trust me, it’s good.

LT100-HQ

A quick check in and a stop in the store to check out the goods, and get crew “things”.

The night before, we went through the last-minute race day logistics, reviewed my gear with the team, ate an awesome Bison and Quinoa meal that Brian and Tara made and called it a night around 7pm. That 4am start time meant going to bed EARLY and leaving the VRBO EARLY. My alarm was set for 1:30am. Yep, that’s right!

We rolled into town around 3:10am. Cars were starting to pile in. A steady stream of people flowing through this tiny town from every direction. Parking is very limited close to the start line. It was cold at around 44 degrees. I had a chance to hit the restroom, walk around a bit and we got some good start line pics.

Race day strategy: Run strong, be happy, stay focused. After all, I had a job to finish this year!! Start near the front of the pack. This would help with getting out of town, down the dirt road and over to the single track around Turquoise Lake. 700+ starters can get create congestion quickly. The other plan I had was to stay light in terms of gear whenever possible. Lugging my 178lbs up and down mountains is quite the haul! Why carry extra pounds of water and gear if it’s not needed? Also, try to not introduce too many variables to complicate digestion. Again, a reminder of why 2017 was rough on me. Over hydrating is dangerous for many reasons. I was trying to be conservative in this department. I would stick mostly with the same nutrition as always: Tailwind, Honey Stinger gels and waffles, Fruit Sticks, Apple Sauce, Sweet Potato puree. The only new introduction this time around was Spring Energy Products. I had already trained with them and they were great and worked well with me. The longest stretch between aid stations was our 1st at May Queen and Last for a stretch of about 13mi. Other than that, the usual 5-10mi between each aid station thereafter.

Weather: As with most summer months, there is always a threat of rain, thunderstorms and the like.. Last year, we crested Hope Pass and a storm came out of nowhere with freezing rain, thunder, and some hail. The forecast did call for 50-60% chance of rain on this day as well as temps hovering no higher than mid 60’s. I despise being cold and wet during a race. I think it severely hampers the body’s ability to perform. Sometimes, I get uncontrollable shivers and as I get older, it doesn’t take much for this to happen. I was a little concerned about this to be honest.

Ken Chlouber fired off the shotgun: 4am. Tara, Meghan, Brian saw me off.. Brad and Susie would come later and meet them at Outward Bound, my estimated arrival there was around 9:30-10am.

Start Line to May Queen (12.6 mi, est arrival time 6:15a, actual arrival 6:13a) – The start was as expected. Congested and up-beat! You could hear the various conversations going on with fellow runners as we made our way towards Turquoise Lake, “where ya from”?, “first time to Leadville”?, “first hundred”?… Headlamps were on and our breath could be seen for the entire stretch over to the first aid station. I started with a Handhelds, my Honey Stinger Tank and arm sleeves since the rain was forecast for 9a I knew I had a little breathing room. A quick pee stop about 2mi in was the only stop I made on this stretch. I was feeling good but knew deep down, I would need one more stop off when I got there to take care of some “other” business.. Feeling good at this point. NO issues.

May Queen to Outward Bound (10.9mi, est arrival time 8:30a, actual arrival 8:52a) – This section has single track again leaving the aid station for a couple of miles and then we pop out onto Hagerman Road to Sugar Loaf Pass road. This would be a good time to spread out amongst the runner packs and run/jog/powerhike up. We had some climbing to do(up to 11,100’). Follow this with miles of crushing downhill on Powerline road and then we’d pop out on paved roads to get us over past the Fish Hatchery to Outward Bound aid. The downhill from Powerline would remind me of how running downhill is not my strength. I tend to “brake” on steep descents and this can cause binding up on the quads and contribute to joint pain as well. Since the sun came up, it would now give us a chance to glance around at the impending and dark clouds rolling in. Cold weather already, now an imminent threat of rain. I was not feeling 100% when I got into the aid station but optimistic. I knew I didn’t have a lot of climbing for quite some time. I quick grabbed new bottles, threw down some chicken bone broth and was about to push on. I was reminded from Brian I may want to just wear my Ultimate Direction rain jacket just in case.. That was an epic crew WIN!! Not even one minute after I left, the misty light rain started coming down. Temps still in the low 40’s at this point.

JonComingIntoOutward

Just about to hit Outward Bound aid station at mile 23.5. pc: Meghan Slavin

Maybe I should mention at this point: My “A” goal for this race: FINISH the damn race. FINISH what I couldn’t finish in 2017. It was time for redemption! I couldn’t face another defeat! I have a great track record of finishes and this was my absolute #1 goal. Surely I “could” within 30 hours worse case, correct?

Outward Bound to Half Pipe (5.8mi, est arrival time 9:45a, actual arrival 10:16a) So.. there was a theme starting and it was a 30min time-lapse on the last two aid stations. I wasn’t overly concerned with the time as much as I was my quad pain starting to set in. This stretch allowed me to stop quickly at an alternate crew zone and see the crew and have Meghan work on my quads for a tad and stretch a little. We added “Some Like it Hot” rub from Runner’s High Herbals to both quads. I didn’t spend much time there, ditched the handhelds, grabbed my pack and I was out.. The rain was coming down pretty steady. I feel this was probably my best stretch over to Half Pipe. I was able to run most of it and there were breaks in the rain action for a while.

QuadWork

“owie” in a BIG way! Quads were binding up real bad. It’s great to know a PT. Meghan worked on me for a few minutes. RHH Some like it Hot! was liberally applied here!

JonThoseQuads

Alternate Crew Zone.. Trying to get those quads stretched out! Oh and the rain, the freezing @ss rain.. pc: Meghan Slavin

Half Pipe to Twin Lakes (8.6mi, est arrival time 11:45a, actual arrival 12:25a) This aid station is MEGA! SO many people here! The crowds are awesome, Michael Miller was at the front taking pics, Travis Swaim was just past the arch giving me high fives, high praises and such.. I had a quick stop in the JJon here, grabbed my trekking poles, grabbed my favorite Headsweats Colorado Buffalo Trucker hat, some more broth and some warm weather gear for Hope Pass. My goal for getting to Winfield at the 50mi mark was by 4:00pm to get Brad. I knew from last year, 4hrs would be about right for this section. The lowest point on the course would be at the river crossings at the far end of Twin Lakes (+/- 9200’) and the highest point at Hope Pass is at around +/-12,600’.

SunJustCameOut

Even though we had light drizzly cold rain just prior to this, the clouds broke and sun came out! It was epic and had to stop for a pic! This was just after leaving Half Pipe looking towards Hope Pass (Rinker Peak).

Twin Lakes to Winfield (12.3mi, est arrival time 4:00p, actual arrival 4:38p) Grabbing the poles at Twin Lakes was a must. The front side of Hope Pass is riddled with relentless steep ascents, rocks and tree roots. My running pace from Twin Lakes out to the base of Hope was around 10-12 min/mile and I was feeling pretty good. The sun was out now in full force. I had been wearing my XOSKIN sleeveless since ACZ which was working phenom for the conditions. The crew lined me up with the cold weather gear for the top of Hope as I knew anything could change at a moment’s notice. As the conga lines were forming going up, the leader was coming down.. It was amazing to see Rob Krar crushing down this side of the course. It was around 1:30 when I saw him.. He would charge on to the Finish in an amazing 15:51:57 a new PR for him on this course and just fresh off the Leadville 100 MTB race the weekend prior! Back to my getting up Hope and down in a fastidious manner would boost my confidence for the remaining 50mi. The pace was steady to the top were Hope aid station was. Oh, and the Llamas.. A girl who helped me with my pack snapped a quick pic of us. I asked her if any “spitting” had occurred yet.. She said she wasn’t aware of any. Once you get to the aid station the tree line there stops and the switchbacks start. It’s a slow slog up those to the saddle where the timing mat was.. Arrived there at 2:47p. I was starting to see the two-way traffic of runners coming back from the Winfield 50mi turnaround. The section dropping down from the saddle is very steep and single track.. Navigating this takes some care and it is not runnable.. I have never seen anyone “running” this section. At the bottom of Hope on the Winfield side, the trail takes a turn to the west towards Winfield which does have some runnable sections. I was getting more stoked to see the crew and pick up Brad.. Taking in a little more nutrition at this point knowing I needed the most energy possible to make the climb immediately back up what I just came down.. Tailwind(Naked flavor) was going down OK but not the best and I got in a Spring Energy(Long Haul) gel as well. I was thinking what I may grab from the aid station at Winfield if anything.

Llamas

“Want me to take your picture”? she said. To which I said, “sure, as long you get the Llamas in the background”. 🙂

HopePassSaddle

The saddle at Hope Pass looking south towards Huron Peak and Mt. Belford. Elevation 12,436′

TheCrew

The #dreamteam. L to R. Brian Slavin(I believe he is looking up to Hope Pass), Brad Person, Susie Kramer, Meghan Slavin . Anxiously and patiently awaiting my arrival at Winfield.

Winfield to Twin Lakes (12.3mi, est arrival time 8:00p, actual arrival 9:39p) About the only phrase I can think of for this section would be “Death March”. One in which you are not running, not feeling great at all, experiencing pain in many areas and essentially putting one foot in front of another.. No ability to run, pick up the pace, nothing.. If you’ve seen movies of Everest climbing, you’ve seen those folks taking the tiniest of steps as they ascend to 32k feet. What seems like a snail’s pace, actually is.. I found myself suffering so much, I could barely get up the steep 2300’ ascent and felt VERY low on energy. Something was a miss when I came into Winfield.. I felt OK going up Hope but something “happened” or caught up to me eventually I guess. I felt I was taking shallow breaths and my appetite was not even there. I didn’t even feel the need to drink water which isn’t good either.. Was this an EPIC bonk? I had never experienced this before. The overwhelming feeling of exhaustion from head to toe and deep into the core came over me. I literally began working through my “huddle speech” I would give to my crew and wife at Twin Lakes. There was really no relief knowing Brad and I would crest the saddle and have some serious downhill in front of us.

Brad Person for those not aware paced me at Western States and is a very determined person. He has one direction and one focus.. Move Forward! He was extremely helpful and accommodating in every way. He would fill up my water for me so we could leave the aid station right away. He was in front of me setting a pace that I just couldn’t keep up for the life of me. No energy, fatigue, lack of hope and waning feeling of disappointment was coming over me. Even though we crested the saddle at 7:30p, it had been 3hrs since we left Winfield and we had 2.5hrs to get to Twin Lakes for the cutoff at 10:00p. A swift powerwalk would make it. I feared a trot or any jogging downhill with technical terrain, tree roots, rocks and now darkness setting in was too much of a risk of a fall or twisted ankle or worse.

When things start going south, every little nuance, every thought races through your mind, the guilt, the sacrifices you make to get to this day, the plans you made, the targets you set.. all of it piles right smack on top of your pain. Now, I’ve turned into being proud of being here, enjoying this race to “surviving” what lies ahead without throwing in the towel. After all, I made it to mile 71 last year and was having major lower GI issues. How could I cut this one shorter than last year? Mentally, I was ready to. Brad had no part of it. He was good with keeping me moving and focused on getting me out of Twin Lakes, the next aid station quickly.

Twin Lakes aid station is massive. The size of the crowds, the cheering, the police keeping traffic and parking in order, it’s truly amazing! This was the case on the “outbound” side of the course earlier around noon when I came through. There was a stark contrast now coming in with little time to go, darkness and a cutoff looming. Sometimes, people, crowds, quirky signs all lift you up in the darkest of hours. I was very happy to hear the remnants of those who were left and my crew. My crew who set up glow sticks and were very anxious to get me re started and kick me the heck out of that aid station. In 2017, I would spend almost 45 minutes here re grouping, eating, changing clothes and getting out.. I think I made it out of here within 15 minutes tops. Since we had to cross the river a couple of times feeding into Twin Lakes, we changed my shoes and socks to get me through the next stretch. I had a brief breakdown and told my crew I was “done”. I didn’t want to continue on this cutoff chasing and suffering anymore. They rallied and got me standing, and pushed me out. To this day and forever, I will be grateful for that!! After all, I stood up in that gym with everyone else in that gym the day prior with Ken Chlouber and shouted “I commit, I won’t quit”.

Twin Lakes to Half Pipe (8.6mi, est arrival time 10:30p, actual arrival 12:45a) The hill immediately leaving Twin Lakes is a serious grind up a wide jeep road. I was dreading this. I got Caffeinated Tailwind at Winfield and espresso beans and a little bit of a Rebbl Cold brew at Twin Lakes which I feel really gave me the short-lived boost I needed for this section. Fewer and fewer runners were leaving Twin Lakes due to cutoffs and drops and the darkness was “dark”.. After the climb, the Colorado Trail takes us almost due north for about 4miles towards Mt. Elbert before turning down towards Half Pipe. Brad kept me motivated and we trotted for a lot of this route. My 100% goal (again from a 2017 miss) was to get to Half Pipe before 1:15a. We would arrive at 12:45a.. However, off in the distance as we approached Half Pipe was a sound of Thunder. I thought “oh great, here we go”. Add cold, misty rain (temps were hovering at this point in the low 40’s) on TOP of everything else I was already dealing with. Again, demoralizing and yet another reason for pulling the plug on this sufferfest. Brad and I were discussing strategy for the aid station.. He would get my drop bags and I would go for hot chicken broth, potatoes, some lube of some sort(yep, chafing was happening too) well, anything that looked good.

Half Pipe to Outward Bound with a quick stop at Alternate Crew Zone (5.8mi, est arrival time Midnight, actual arrival 2:45a). Rain. Cold @ss rain. My body was beginning to revolt. I was shivering so, Brad txt ahead to the crew and had dry clothes and a warm truck on the ready. As we tried to get a run, a jog, anything that resembled a pace faster than 15 min/mi pace, it was just.not.happening. I could not run. I was trying my best to take in water along the way, which was never really a huge issue since I was making regular pee breaks and trying to get some Tailwind down. I knew what lay ahead with the every daunting and dreadful powerline climb up out of outward bound past the Fish Hatchery and some running on the road. I was switching from Brad now at this point and we had Meghan step in for pacing. She was ready last year at Half Pipe but didn’t get the opportunity to due to my missing the cutoff.

The next section was virtually flat and unappealing actually.. It’s a half road over to a paved county road 11. We were really trying to jog at this point. After changing into XOSKIN compression shorts, running tights and some new socks at the ACZ, I ditched the Nathan pack since I knew it was only another 3 miles to the aid station. I still couldn’t really run at all.. The pain, the stiffness and the body just wasn’t having it. We turned sharply left off the CR11 and ran through a grassy field where you had to watch your step as gopher holes were everywhere and small rocks.. I really didn’t care for this section at this point nor during the day.. There is so much single track and other areas to run, I am just in awe as to why this section is part of the course. Our target was to get to Outward Bound by 3:00a. It was in sight and barely doable with a few minutes to spare. Meghan txt Tara to have new socks ready since the dry ones I just put on where just not cutting it. They kept slipping down into my wet shoe.

Outward Bound to May Queen (Jon’s final stretch. Mile 77. 10.9 mi, est arrival time 2:00am) I grabbed my pack from the crew. It was getting colder. As we left the crew, the conversation was short, there were hardly any cars left here and most of the aid station was packed up in anticipation of small runner crowds. I have NEVER been in this position. The feeling of being a back of the packer (so far back, the sweepers catch up to you) was not a great feeling for me. We got onto the pavement again for the jaunt past the Fish Hatchery and over to the Powerline climb. Fog was setting in, a trot here and there and we were already here at the base of this massive climb to 11,100’ to Sugarloaf Pass. I was trying to conserve enough energy to make it slowly up this massive hill. The sounds of the final runners coming faint headlamps in the distance and a never-ending death climb up this hill. I know at this point Meghan was keeping a close eye on our times. She’s really great with #’s, mileage, pace and all of that. An excellent pacer that I’ve used time and time again. The only factor here was she was only familiar with a small section of this road from some prior recon we did up her two summers ago.

It was a good thing I had my trekking poles getting up this beast. Many times, stopping and resting and trying to get air into my lungs. Resting on the poles on this vertical incline was nice except at times I was teetering trying not to fall over. Relentless climbing went on for about an hour longer while we got to some sections with a little relief. Still climbing but not as steep.. The pain from a sore Achilles/left calf from much earlier was rearing its ugly head again. We had rubbed more RHH salves on it but I told Meghan I need to stop and have her work on it for a second and a little quad action as well.. Complete binding up of the quads and the posterior tibialis was causing a cramping sensation about every 12 steps I took. A total of 2 hours will have passed to crest the top of the hill at 11,190’. At the top, we came across a make shift aid station with some folks still awake and having a good time.. They cheered us as we passed and the rather unique setup they had really lifted my spirits a tad.. Glow sticks everywhere, blow up alien figures, I had wondered at first if I was hallucinating but things weren’t that bad yet!

Sunrise during ultras can often give runners a second wind. The body wakes up and often a second wind will occur. It’s been a good thing for me in the past. Even thought the faint hue of blues were coming into view from the east, the clock was ticking towards a sunrise hour, this time was different. There was no second wind for me. Nothing.  Running on Empty at this point. The climb we just conquered absolutely sapped what I had left. The May Queen aid station in sight at mile 87.8 gave me some relief and a sense of calm. I was done. With a few miles still to go and time running out, it was eminent. 26+ hours into this event now. Turquoise Lake in the distance below with a glass like top and I should mention the wind was whirling up here. Temps probably hovering in the low 30’s. My race was over. Stop on my watch. 85.13miles, 26:24:14 elapsed time.

The safety patrol sweeper UTV was approaching. Red and Blue cop like lights going. A couple of very nice older gentlemen asking if we’d like a ride. With pride at stake, we said “no thanks, we will have our crew come meet us”. Again, in that moment, logic does not prevail. We were both tired and very very cold. The UTV picked up two other runners close to us. They went on, passed up the hill to turn around and came back. Since we had no reception and no way of knowing when they would come for us, we flagged the UTV down on the way back down. We jumped in and rode back with them to May Queen.. So tired in that seat, I passed out cold for a few seconds and almost fell out the side of the UTV. The guy sitting next to me had to hold onto me so I wouldn’t fall out. Wouldn’t that be a funny story if I made it through the grinds of the race to mile 85 and then fell out of the UTV and had a serious injury?

The hum of the UTV motor and the silence of the morning eased my pain. The chatter of Meghan and the two older gents in the front weren’t even registering with me. I wasn’t even sure I had the words together yet for what I was about to say to the crew and to Tara, my wife who I would be seeing in a few minutes.

Leadville – 2. Jon – 0. Agonizing defeat. Disappointment. If I focus on these two things alone, I will never ever come back to Leadville. If I try to learn from both of my experiences, if I look ahead instead of behind me for those reasons to come back, I will prevail! For miles over the weekend, I told myself I was done with Leadville. As I write this, I am already thinking of next year. My team is strong. My wife is there for me every.damn.time. So much was sacrificed in the making of 2018 Leadville Trail 100. I had a great year with Western States and 3 other tough ultras behind me during the first part of this year. I had a community supporting me along my journey in every way possible, videos, messages, calls and posts from friends. It was amazing!

PostBeerPizza

Post race beer and Pizza. I went without alcohol for 8 months! It was time…

The rest of 2018 will be spent recovering and having some down time and thinking about 2019. I need it. We’ll volunteer at races, focus on my group(AZ TraiLeggers), do more with family and all of those things that help create balance in life.

To my team who stuck with me throughout the entire year, my TraiLeggers, my awesome coach Cheryl Miller and my wife who dedicates SO much to chasing my dreams, I couldn’t have done it without you guys!

Thank you all for your support!

 

 

 

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