New Champions Crowned at LT100 MTB
“This was first time doing the Leadville Trail 100 (LT100) so I really wanted to take it conservatively. I knew I couldn’t dig too deep but at the same time I knew I had to go as fast as I could,” said yesterday’s top racer at the LT100 Mountain Bike Race, Howard Grotts of Durango, Colo. “I ended up winning by four minutes at the end but until that point, I had no idea if it was four minutes or one minute. I’m sure I’ll be back. The fans, the crew, the racers, the scenery, it’s all pretty special here.”
And with that victory, the LT100 crowned a new champion who was only one year old when the LT100 MTB started back in 1994, as 24-year old Grotts took top podium spot in yesterday’s “Race Across the Sky,” with a finish time of 6:15:54.
Seeing a dip in its usual 2,000 cyclists at the start line, yesterday – according to race officials – nearly 1,500 riders from all 50 states and 35 countries participated in the 24th Annual iconic event, challenging participants to ride 100 miles of challenging Colorado Rockies terrain at elevations ranging from 10,152 to 12,424 feet.
Rounding out the three top podium slots were three-time champion Todd Wells who finished in 6:18:24, and Payson McElveen taking third place with a 6:36:08 finish time, making the championship wins look like a Chamber of Commerce ad for fitness and endurance for the southwestern part of the state, as all three hail from Durango, Colo.
In the women’s race Larrissa Connors of Silverado, Calf. finished at 7:31:51, almost a half-hour ahead of her closest competitor, Andrea Dvorak of Charlottesville, Virg. who took second place in 7:58:18 with Anne Perry from Draper Utah clocking in at 8:18:53.
“There were a lot of strong women out there and I was terrified the whole time, so once I was in the lead I just panicked for the last seven hours of the ride,” said Connors. “I just rode panicked thinking how strong they were.”
Also this year, “One Arm Willie” Stewart and Andre Szucs raced to raise awareness and funds for the Challenged Athletes Foundation to help support people with physical challenges by providing access to sports and physical fitness. Both Stewart and Szucs are accomplished Paralympic athletes as Stewart lost one arm in a construction accident and Szucs was born without a lower right leg. Additionally, Stewart is vying to become the first Challenged Athlete to earn the title of Leadman. Each Leadman candidate must complete the Leadville Trail Marathon, Leadville Silver Rush 50-Mile Mountain Bike or Silver Rush 50-Mile Trail Run, Leadville Trail 100 MTB and the Leadville Trail 10K Run.
The inaugural Leadville 100 Mountain Bike event launched in 1994 with 113 finishers and now in its 24th year, endurance athletes worldwide make the pilgrimage to Leadville, Colo., with the single goal of competing in ‘The Race Across the Sky’.
“Congratulations to Howard and Larissa on their amazing wins today and to all competitors who had the guts and determination to cross the finish line—we welcome you with open arms into our Leadville family,” said Ken Chlouber, Founder of the Leadville Race Series. “After 24 years of being a part of the 100 MTB event, I never tire of seeing the spirit of Leadville instilled in everyone on course, pushing themselves to the brink to embody a healthy way of life.”
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The Leadville Race Series concludes next Saturday, Aug. 19, with nearly 700 participants running the Blueprint for Athletes Leadville Trail 100 Run presented by New Balance. The legendary “Race Across the Sky” 100-Mile Trail Run began in 1983 and still draws thousands of participants to Leadville each year for a demanding 100-mile out-and-back run course with total elevation range, or climb, of more than 18,000 feet.
Funds Raised for Leadville By Racing
It was a sold-out, standing room only crowd of over 200 movie-viewers at last Wednesday’s presentation of the award-winning documentary “Blood Road” at the Leadville Airport, even if attendees did have to bring their own chairs!
“It was a true success,” said Leadville Today Publisher Kathy Bedell who secured the exclusive rights to show the film, which features 4x LT100 MTB Champion Rebecca Rusch’s journey down the Ho Chi Minh trail in search of her father’s place crash. “The Leadville Today screening of this inspirational journey allowed us to raise $903.80 for the Lake County Veterans Memorial and the Mines Advisory Group.”
Taking in to consideration all already tapped-out summertime resource pool, the movie presentation was a streamlined event, turning Hangar One at North America’s Highest Airport into an old-school movie theater. While the number of participants was limited by permit, that didn’t stop people from showing up – even bringing their own chairs – to watch this very meaningful movie about cultural acceptance and forgiveness.
While Rusch could not be at the event personally because she was headed back to Laos to continue her brave efforts overseas, audience members were treated to a live Skype by Rusch who not only introduced the “Blood Road” film, but added a pep talk to many racers in attendance of the Leadville Today Screening. The movie which has been racking up the film festival awards as it’s criss-crossed the country in a series of red carpet events this summer, now goes on to international audiences in Australia, Vietnam, New Zealand and even India.
“Leadville will always have a special place in my heart,” said Rusch during the live Skype interview. “Those races catapulted my career to where it is today as a professional athlete. I remember the first time Merilee hung that medal around my neck and told me ‘You’re now part of the Leadville family.’ The Leadville races are very special.”
For Rebecca Rusch and racing fans who didn’t get a chance to attend the local screening, “Blood Road” is available for purchase and live streaming and is a must have for cyclists around the world.
“It’s a very meaningful movie, it’s not your average cycling film,” concluded Bedell. “Leadville Today was honored to bring it to a local audience and be able to raise money for the Lake County Veterans Memorial where Rusch’s father’s name – Stephen Rusch – was engraved on the granite wall in 2016 in tribute to his ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms.”
Hall Raises Funds for Legacy Foundation
In other fundraising news, Leadville’s own Ty Hall competed as Transamerica’s Go-Giver to help raise money for the Leadville Legacy Foundation. As the Go-Giver, Hall started at the back of the race and passed fellow mountain bike racers to raise awareness and funds to support the needs of the Leadville community. This year, Hall passed more than 1,300 riders during the race and raised more than $5,900 for the Leadville Legacy Foundation. Congratulations!