Sports

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.

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Woman at the Top: Larrissa Connors of Silverado, Calf. finished at 7:31:51 earning her the Lt100 MTB Champion for the ladies! Photo: Leadville Race Series Facebook.

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.

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Twenty-four time finisher Todd Murray (center) gets congratulated by LT100 Founder Ken Chlouber (right) and Merilee Maupin (left) as he crosses the finish line on Saturday. Photo Leadville Race Series Facebook.

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.”

For complete results visit www.athlinks.com.

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!

LeadvilleScreeingBloodRoad_poster_11x17_TDL copy“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.”

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Rebecca Rusch introduces her new movie “Blood Road” via Skype to a Leadville audience on August 9. The exclusive Leadville Today Screening at the Lake County Airport was a fundraiser for the Lake County Veterans Memorial

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!

A Pre-Race Cruise Down Leadville’s Harrison Avenue

Get Your Ass Up The Pass – It’s Leadville Boom Days!

When you consider Leadville’s rich heritage, it’s no wonder so many things can be traced right back here to The Cloud City. So if you’re in town for Leadville Boom Days this weekend, be sure to catch the official State Sport: Pack Burro Racing.

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If they can make it around that first course obstacle – The Manhattan Bar – then they usually have a pretty good chance of coming back home to Leadville. The Burro Races start at 11 a.m. sharp on Sunday, August 6.

In fact, the original of Colorado’s official athletic activity dates back to the 19th century when miners used burros to haul their mining tools and supplies across the Rocky Mountains.  And here’s where the Leadville connection comes in – legend has it that two miners panning up in California Gulch, found gold in the same location and raced each other back to town in order to be the first to stake the claim at the Assayer’s Office, thus giving them the legal rights to the find.

Since then, the activity became formalized as a way of keeping Leadville’s mining history alive, as well as having some good old-fashioned Wild West fun! So, thanks to Colorado State Representative Millie Hamner for formalizing Colorado’s love of these beasts of burden by carrying the legislation which became law on May 29, 2012, making Pack Burro racing the state’s official summer heritage sport! 

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It was State Representative Mille Hamner who made Pack Burro Racing Colorado’s Official State Sport in 2012. Photo: Leadville Today/Kathy Bedell.

Come and watch these beasts of burden, along with their runners in Leadville Today at the Leadville International Pack-Burro Race on Sunday, August 6.

While pack burros have been a Colorado workhorse for more than 100 years, racing pack burros has been part of the local scene since about 1949, with the first Leadville – Fairplay race. The Leadville – Fairplay race started in Leadville and ended 22 miles away in Fairplay. And from the very beginning, these pack-burro races were serious business. 

Leadville and Fairplay switched starting points each year, and eventually went their separate ways, creating two races instead of one. When Fairplay changed the courses in the early ’70s, the race was dubbed the World Champi­onship Pack Burro RaceCoupled with the Buena Vista Gold Rush Days Pack Burro Race next Saturday, the three races now make up the Triple Crown.As Pack Burro Racing continues to grow in popularity and noteriety, so does the field of competitors. Women started entering the races around 1951, and as the event grew in popularity, more races started to include separate categories for men and women. However this year, as a nod to political correctness, the burro race will just categorize things as the “long” and “short” course race, rather than separate and constrain by gender.
Burro race Map

The long course – which will start first – is 21 miles summiting at Mosquito Pass to the east side of Leadville. The short course loops around Ball Mountain and is 15 miles long. Runners and burros will all find their way back on to Harrison Avenue with fans cheering them on at the courthouse, often times with the human teammate pushing and pulling the stubborn beasts across the finish line. These last few feet of the compeition can be a real game changer. As a general rule, spectators can anticipate that the lead teams will be closing in on the finish line at about 1:30 p.m.

Boom Days organizers said that they anticipate a record number of entrants in today’s Leadville competition (Go Smokey and Action Jackson!). In addition, there was been a film crew in town shooting for an upcoming show highlighting the sport. So don’t miss out on all the action – It’s Leadville Boom Days! See you on the Avenue!