Chlouber To Be Inducted Into MTB Hall
The call came into the Leadville Today newsroom one week ago today: “Ken’s going to be inducted into the International Mountain Bike Hall of Fall next month.”
It was a message from former Leadville Trail 100 Race Director Merilee Maupin, spreading the good news about Leadville’s hometown hero and founder of the iconic race series. Congratulations, Ken!
The annual induction event will take place on September 21-22 at the Hall of Fame in Fairfax, Calf. The Mountain Bike Hall of Fame (MBHOF) was founded in 1988 to chronicle the history of mountain biking. Formerly located in Crested Butte, Colo., it relocated to Fairfax, California in 2014 and became part of the Marin Museum of Bicycling. The Hall has announced Chlouber’s other classmates. Here’s Leadville Today’s Salute to the King of the Mountain . . and Bike!
Ken Chlouber’s most successful and noteworthy sports accomplishment has to be as Founder and President of the Leadville Trail 100 (LT100). His “Race Across the Sky” vision was seen as a way to make Leadville famous and bring in visitors during a period of economic downturn. It was 1982 when the Climax Molybdenum Mine had suddenly shut down, taking with it the paycheck of nearly every able-bodied man in town, including shift boss Ken Chlouber. Overnight, Leadville had become the most jobless region in North America.
And while the boom and bust cycle of mining may have bankrupted many a miner, the colorful characters it created in the process had their own pie-in-the-sky ideas. And Chlouber was no different. Content to stay in Leadville if he could manage to carve out a living, he decided to start a 100-mile footrace through the mountains; an event sure to put Leadville on the map and help the local economy by bringing in the money-laden tourists to stay a night or two.
When he first told former fellow Lake County Commissioner Carl Miller about his idea, the now-legendary response has become a big part of the LT100 story. “You’re crazy! You’ll kill someone!” to which Ken responded, “Well, then we will be famous, won’t we?”
The rest – as is often said in Leadville – is history. What started out in the pre-dawn hours one late August morning in 1983 as the first-ever 100-mile ultra-endurance race has exploded into a series of running and mountain biking races that have exceeded the economic resuscitation goal, pumping millions of dollars into the Leadville community over the past 28 years.
But it’s here that Chlouber’s true mettle of going the extra mile shines through with the establishment of the LT100 Legacy, the non-profit arm of the races which has contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to the local community whether it’s for the Youth Basketball League, a new heater for the Cloud City Ski Hut or pitching in for the snow-cat groomer for Lake County’s Mineral Belt Trail. In addition, this year the Legacy will distributed tens of thousands of dollars in scholarships to LCHS graduating seniors to further their education.
There’s no doubt that the LT100 was put Leadville on the map.
And Chlouber’s vision has certainly put Leadville front and center on the international sports stage as well. The man and the races have been written about in every newspaper from New York to LA, every sports TV show from NBC to ESPN has filmed the races, and in 2009 and again in 2010, the LT100 was launched onto the big screen with the “Race Across The Sky” movie, which played across the country, as well as in Canada, Australia and parts of Europe as well. Closer to home, Chlouber was inducted into the Leadville/Lake County Sports Hall Fame in 2010
Chlouber himself is an avid cyclist, hunter, and mountaineer, having successfully summited Argentina’s 22,841 ft Mount Aconcagua, the highest mountain in the Americas. He is a bull rider, a donkey racer and a long-distance runner.
And while Chlouber’s accomplishments in the sports arena are impressive, many will also recall his 22 years of public service to Leadville as a County Commissioner, State Representative, and State Senator, as well as various other state and national appointments. All the while, continuing to promote Leadville through the LT100 races.
Perhaps in his own unique way, Chlouber has brought things full circle for Leadville. The crude roads and steep tracks that once delivered men to and from the remote mines, are now offering the extreme challenges for sporting competition today. As Chlouber is often heard to say, it’s the same grit, guts, and determination held by the hard rock miner that will get the LT100 athlete across the finish line. Dig Deep!
Thanks for making sure you always did, Ken, it’s an honor well-deserved!