My head has hurt since I started ascending St. Kevins as I headed towards the finish of Leadville Trail 100 Race Across the Sky. I have tried rehydrating and refueling but so far nothing has worked. Maybe it is because I can never sleep well the night before a big race and then it is hard to sleep the night after something long and hard like a century. Maybe it is something else though.
Our races went well. Karl had some cramping issues and a mechanical which caused him some time. Brad was happy with his race though he still has yet to get his sub ten. Going into it Chris had high expectations. He has been talking a sub-nine for my race goal for almost a year. I have always been skeptical, but never really voiced it. I would need to shave down 27 minutes. He had hopes of a sub eight which is a seven minute deficit from last year. He felt that was doable for him. At the pre-race dinner on Friday, Calvin predicted Chris would finish in the top 20 with a sub eight and that I would make the sub nine.
Against all forecasts that we could find, the rain came early in the day. There were some light sprinkles on the first climb, St. Kevins, and then Powerline was a nice steady drizzle. It continued to rain on me for almost two and half hours. Luckily I was dressed pretty warm so while I was wet I really was not that cold. There was some light hail on Columbine, but other than that the weather was really nice.
I saw Lance and Dave descend Columbine a little over three and half hours into my race. Lance had a gap on Dave. Alex Grant was not far behind Dave. At this point I was trying to remain optimistic. I had shaved off some time to the first aid station, Pipeline, but lost most of it by Twin Lakes. Chris said to expect this though as they added some single track between the two aid stations. I was hoping to get up to Columbine by four and half hours. It was looking good until I realized I was much further from the top than I had thought. I was a bit off my goal but undeterred. The volunteers were great at all the aid stations, but Columbine they seemed even more helpful. They were calling me by name, filling bottles, telling me where I was at overall, the works. By the time I was getting back on my bike eating a brownie, I told one of them he was my best friend. He was just great.
I continued to feel good back through Twin Lakes and Pipeline, until after ascending and descending Powerline on the return. Going back to St. Kevins and the finish was tough. I did not think I was going to make it within nine hours. I almost gave up the quest when a guy came behind me and we worked together--he did much more--on the flats. I just have no power especially when it is windy like it was. We got to the final little climb back into town. I pulled away from him (either Tom Covington or John Callahan according to the results). I just pushed and pushed as it continued to go up. I looked down and I had two minutes to get there in time. I could see that red carpet in the distance but had no idea if i could make it or not. As I approached the crowd seemed to roar. I crossed the line at 8:59:20. Just under an hour slower than Chris 19th place finish. Lance took first this year 28 minutes ahead of Dave Wiens.
Calvin was spot on. Too bad they were not taking bets on the Holley's in Vegas, he would have been the big winner. Results.