This year I didn't have the Grand Slam to deal with so I was able to fit in the Badwater pacing on the adjusted, non-Death Valley route (see write-up by Eric Spencer here) plus the San Francisco marathon three weeks prior to Leadville race day. That marathon is a race I love, especially with the section running over the Golden Gate Bridge and back. In addition, the local ultra community was out in force with some good banter on the start line with the likes of Alex Varner, Jorge Maravilla and Devon Yanko. A quick summary - I had a head cold but wanted to move my legs a bit faster than any time since Western States, so I ran a 2:43 negative split (1:22/1:21). Much more encouraging than my fitness pre-Leadville last year where I felt worn down with no speed at all. At a guess I'd say I could have run a marathon just under three hours at Leadville last year, so that seems like an improvement.
For the past week I've been staying in Leadville for the period pre-race (10,150ft), compared to Durango (6,700ft). I did get up higher for a few days last time, but this year I've already summited three 14ers at Mt Elbert, Mt Massive and Mt Sherman (see photos below). I also had a few days at 6,200ft at Lake Tahoe before coming to Colorado.
So on paper my preparation is better and I feel stronger and better adapted to altitude already, with another week left. Who know if that'll translate to a better run, but it feels good to be ready. A last minute addition to the field of Rob Krar means the course record is certainly under threat, plus Mike Aish has the potential to run around that time if he can nail a race this long and Zeke Tiernan returns after previously running one of the six sub-17hr times ever run on the course. The field may not be as deep as somewhere like Western States but at least one guy will nail it and run a very fast time.
Some photos from the past few weeks:
|Sunrise over Emerald Bay, Tahoe|
|Tahoe sunrise at Emerald Bay|
|View from Mt Tallac looking away from Tahoe|
|Echo Lakes, Tahoe|
|First day in Colorado, near Leadville at 12,000ft|
|Mt Elbert (tallest mt in Colorado) with Dana Kracaw and Alberto Rossi|
|Mt Massive from Mt Elbert|
|Twin Lakes on the Leadville course|
|Looking down at Leadville from Mt Sherman|
|On the way up to Mt Massive|
|Selfie on top of Mt Massive|
|View from Mt Massive|
|Telluride Valley from above|
|Bridal Veil Falls, Telluride|
|We're in an ultra boom right now. Even the construction industry knows it.|