5 Things That Were Different at Leadville This Year, and One That Stayed the Same
After a controversial 2013 Leadville Trail 100, Lifetime Fitness said they'd drastically improve this year's race. Did they make good on their promise?
Rob Krar leads the way of the 2014 Leadville Trail 100 over Hope Pass, the race's high point at 12,600 feet. Photo by Matt Trappe.
Last year, I ran the Leadville Trail 100 (LT100) and wrote a story for Trail Runner called, “Saving Leadville: The growing pains of Colorado’s legendary ‘Race Across the Sky.’” In it, I tried to offer a balanced perspective on what happened at last year’s race, including challenges wrought by an unprecedented number of runners on the course.
This year, I returned not as a full LT100 runner, but to pace a friend running Leadville for his third time. I was eager to see whether the improvements that race director Josh Colley and race organizing company Lifetime Fitness had promised actually came to fruition.
Here are five major changes I noticed at Leadville this year, as well as one thing that didn’t change at all.
1. Significantly fewer runners.
Last year, based on a 30-year history of no-show percentages, the race admitted 1,200 runners. 943 of them showed up to toe the start line, a higher percentage than expected. The race's Forest Service permit allows for only 850 runners.
I spoke with race director Josh Colley, a Leadville resident himself, after last year’s race. He said, “The numbers were over the top. We were out there with everyone else, and I’m pretty convinced after seeing the course this year, we’ll keep numbers closer to 750 next year.”
Colley kept to his word, and then some: this year, 856 runners were admitted, with fewer than 700 starting—fewer than in 2013 or even in 2012, when 795 started. This change alone made a tremendous difference. For runners, it meant a little more solitude here and there during the race, less of what I described last year as a “shuffling conga line” and a far more manageable time getting supplies and drop bags at aid stations.
For crews, it meant fewer traffic jams navigating between aid stations.