Presidental Candidate: “I Commit! I Won’t Quit!”
By Kathy Bedell © Leadville Today
For most Leadvillites, the crossover of sports into politics is not such a foreign concept. After all, Founder of the Leadville Trail 100 (LT100) Ken Chlouber was immersed in Colorado politics as a State Representative and then, Senator for most of the formulative years of the races.
So, it should come as no surprise that Leadville has a tie to one of the leading presidential candidates. And as usual, it has a connection with the LT100. Can you guess who it is?
Donald Trump? Did he ever race in the LT100? Nope, while he claims to have the stamina to go the distance, most would doubt he could ever take on the Columbine climb, successfully.
Clinton? Does she run marathons? While Hillary’s health has recently been called into question, no one has even seen a picture of her pedaling along the campaign trail on a bicycle or lacing up her running shoes, much like her husband former President Bill Clinton was known to do.
But right below those two front runners, on the presidential ballot in all 50 states is Libertarian Presidential Candidate Gary Johnson. And while political animals make note of Johnson’s two-terms as New Mexico’s Governor (1994-2003), and as the presidential candidate for the Libertarian Party in 2012 and now again in 2016, for diehard LT100 racers, it’s all about a different set of numbers and dates.
A lifelong athlete, Johnson’s passion for extreme, endurance sports eventually found him at the start line of the LT100 “Race Across the Sky” Run for the first time back in 1989. While dangerously close to the 30 hour cut-off time, Johnson did finish the grueling 100-mile foot race in 29 hours, 45 minutes, 9 seconds. Like many, that first Leadville experience was the hook, and Johnson has been back many times since then.
His most recent attempt came in 2012 at the internationally renowned LT100 Mountain Bike Race. For Johnson, the 100-mile course through some of the Colorado Rockies most challenging terrain was considered a break from the campaign trail during his first run as the Libertarian Party’s presidential nominee in the 2012 Election.
Of course, for those keeping track, 2012 race was also the year that saw the top two podium places for the LT100 MTB secured by Europeans Alban Lakata (6:32:22.94) and Christoph Signwil (6:34:50.29).
Fortunately, the good old USA was represented well in the women’s field, as one of the top female endurance athletes in the world, Rebecca Rusch from Ketchum, Idaho took top honors with a time of 7:28:05.60, smashing her own personal record by nearly 15 minutes! It was a year for the record books.
But what about Presidential Candidate Gary Johnson? Did he take Chlouber’s fire and brimstone pre-race speech to heart? Did he realize that he IS better than he thinks he is, that he CAN do more than he thinks he can?
Most voters would like to think that a person seeking the highest office in the land would be able to “Dig Deep,” as Chlouber would say. But in recent weeks Johnson’s mishaps along the campaign trail – much like the racer’s LT100 trail experience – has offered up some low points.
First, there was that MSNBC interview a few weeks back when Johnson was asked what he would do about Aleppo if elected President, to which he replied, “And what is Aleppo?” Next, came his struggle to name one world leader he respects, unable to provide an answer to a relatively simple question for a presidential candidate. This past week, the heat was turned up a notch, as political pundits and major-party leaders were calling for his team to pull out of the race, to concede.
In an interview with The Denver Post before the start of the 2012 LT100 MTB race, Johnson said, “I’m not going to quit. I’m fit and I’m going to finish . . . And in running for office, I’m not going to quit. The message is so important; it’s part of the journey. If you set out and it’s all about winning the race, you are going to be sorely disappointed. Is winning actually about getting more votes?”
No doubt, it will be voters who make that call on November 8 in the Presidential Election, because for now, Johnson doesn’t have any intention of waving the white flag on the campaign trail. He is on the ballot in all 50 states and is determined to give voters another option.
But what about that 2012 bike race? How did Johnson fare? Unfortunately, #1783 DNF’d and was pulled from the race after only 2 hours, 28 minutes and 42 seconds.
Voters can only hope, that for the sake of Democracy, for the sake of choice, that the 3rd party candidate has taken a page from another politician’s play book: “I commit, I will not quit!”
Happy (campaign) trails, Governor! Keep ‘em spinning!
Publishers note: For those keeping track, Johnson did the foot race in 1989 and garnered a small buckle with a time of 29 hours, 45 minutes, 9 second, and in 2011 it was his time of 11:12:36 in the LT100 MTB that earned him a small buckle in the bike. That’s what Leadville Today has been able to confirm through Leadville Race Series online records, however Johnson boasts several victories dating back to the early 1990s. – KB
Kathy Bedell owns of The Great Pumpkin LLC, a digital media company located in Leadville, Colo., which publishes two online news websites: LeadvilleToday.com and SaguacheToday.com. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org