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Yitka Winn Monday, 24 February 2014 10:17 TWEET COMMENTS 0

Saving Leadville - Page 2

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Racers cruise a long stretch of downhill early in the race. Photo by Scott Laudick.

It’s not hard to see how Leadville has entrenched itself in the minds, hearts and bucket lists of trail runners everywhere. All it takes is one encounter with Ken Chlouber, the former miner, politician and self-proclaimed cowboy who co-founded the LT100 with Colorado Ultra Club’s then-president Jim Butera; Chlouber’s passion for Leadville is as colossal as the mountains that surround it.

“Leadville is a historic mining community where success means never giving up,” he says. “Never quit. Dig deep. We encourage [runners of the LT100] to take that attitude home, make it part of their family, their job, their community.”

Leadville is also unique for its longevity, as one of the oldest ultramarathons in America. More than half of the 118 100-mile races in North America have cropped up in just the last five years. Unlike many other 100s, there are no barriers to entry into Leadville—no qualifying races, no lottery, no requirements other than willingness to shell out the entry fee.

And, from the beginning, Chlouber and longtime co-race-director Merilee Maupin have used the word “family” to describe what sets them apart from other ultras. At the finish line, every runner gets a hug from Maupin.

In its inaugural race in 1983, the race drew 45 runners. In 2013, it sold out its 1,200 spots months in advance.

“It used to be like a small family reunion where you could look forward to seeing the same family every year,” says Leadville resident Marge Hickman, who has entered every race since 1984 and has 14 finishes under her belt, including a win in 1985. “Now, everybody has discovered what we always knew and wants to be a part of this gigantic family.”



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