Saving Leadville - Page 5
Arriving at Twin Lakes, mile 60. Photo by Scott Laudick.
On the other side of the coin are runners like Travis Macy, who this year snagged the “Leadman” title for completing five Leadville Race Series races—including both the 100-mile mountain-bike race and the LT100—in the fastest combined time. Leadville is in his blood; he watched his dad, Mark Macy, run it for the first time in 1988, and many times after that. Several other members of his family have also run it.
Though Macy acknowledges that the race’s atmosphere has changed over the years, he sees no problem with the unprecedented numbers of runners. “Despite whatever challenges or overcrowding,” he says, “more people are out there doing something that pushes their limits and changes them as human beings. I think that’s awesome.”
The climb from Twin Lakes, at mile 40, up and over 12,600-foot Hope Pass was exhilarating. Rocky, steep terrain buried in thick forest forced me to pay close attention to my footfalls. It was the kind of technical terrain I loved most. My lungs seared as I climbed into thinner and thinner air, and the sight of Twin Lakes, glittering in the beaming afternoon sun, slowly fell away below me. The woods were—as Robert Frost once wrote—lovely, dark and deep.
Early into my climb, the first frontrunners and their pacers came tearing down the trail in the opposite direction. I cheered for each of them—Ian Sharman, Michael Aish, Nick Clark, Scott Jurek—as they crashed gracefully past me, each grinning with the bliss of surrendering to gravity.
Just below the windy saddle of Hope Pass lies Hopeless Aid Station. It’s an inaccurate name for what is, in fact, a gleaming icon of joy amid the race’s most grueling climb. Kids volunteering at the aid station rushed out to us as we approached, cheering and whooping, asking what we needed and sprinting back toward the aid station with the dedication of a NASCAR pit crew. Llamas—who shuttle in the aid station supplies at Hopeless—lounged nearby in the sunny grass. It was a good excuse to look back down the valley, the town of Leadville merely a speck in the distance, and see just how far I’d come.