Leadville Trail 100 – Crew Report 2012

2011 2010

I’ve spent the past two weeks reading about 208 LT100 race reports. Guess it’s my time to recap. Let’s start with the outfit.

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Goal – Be easy for Brandon to find us. Done. I decided on bright ass neon yellow shirts, bandanas and (my) fuchsia outerwear. We were ready!

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Stepping back a bit… we attended the pre-race briefing on Friday hoping to get our annual Ken Chlouber motivational speech. It’s almost as necessary at this event as running shoes. Unfortunately due to a sad family matter, Ken wasn’t in attendance. His son, Cole, stepped up to the plate and did a very good job filling his Dad’s big shoes. I really was impressed with how Cole presented himself to the crowd. I imagine its intimidating to give a pep talk to a (small) gymnasium filled with eager runners from all over the world thinking they will out last and out run Forest Gump the next day. Cole had heart and made me proud to be a LT100 family member.

We left the briefing and headed back to the cabin for our own briefing. Except my second in command, EJ, left with the velociraptor-legged-fried-food-eater for dinner. A dinner that would haunt him the entire following day. How do you tell someone you don’t know very well, “Uh, please don’t shit yourself while in my presence tomorrow. Crew Chief doesn’t cover that.”

After the Team Shart briefing between B and myself, I loaded the car and was ready for some shut eye. I slept surprisingly well. I think there was some strange magical energy that kept me very calm for this race. I’d been there twice before, so it was like 2nd nature. We woke up at 3am, got our runner ready and dropped off on 6th street by 3:45. Over 800 people did the medical check in this year, so I was excited to see the stream of headlamps crest the hill at the base of 6th. Using JP’s signature observation spot, we watched the flood of lights pass us to the Boulevard. Also, since I had zero worry of getting to any aid stations, we stopped at the start of the Turquoise Lake trail to surprise our runner and give him a little reminder of his 2:10 goal pace to MQ. No 1:48 for us this year.

Mayqueen (Out): This aid station is usually a zoo. They did it right this year by not allowing crew access until after the tent section. Which left less room for us to set up shop, but it was so much better for the runners. I did hear though that the volunteers were not alerting runners to the tents so a few just blew by not knowing they were there. B rolled in at 2:05 and immediately went into the tent and started shoving food in his mouth. It was a great sight that I was not used to. Routine pit stop for us with our new strategy of 1 water bottle all day.

Fish Hatch (Out): We got to Fish just as the leaders came blazing through. They were on a hot pace! But luckily B was not and sticking to his pace chart. I ran up the hill to run in with him and get the low down on what was needed. What was needed, was a port-o-jon. He said his gut wasn’t emptying. The image of him eating a full bagel 18 hours prior had me worried. Kim was trying to get to this aid station, but the cars were backing up, so I directed her to just go to Pipeline and get us a good spot. We also picked up NP, our Winfield pacer, at Fish. B wanted no shirt, so I sprayed him with sunscreen, filled his shorts with crap and he was off. But without his water bottle. Shit! It was only 4 miles til I’d see him again, but I didn’t want him on this sun exposed road section without fluids. I think I ran about a 4 minute mile pace to grab it and get it back to him a few hundred yards away.

Leadville Trail 100 2012

Treeline (Out): My young crew members arrived dressed and ready to help out!

Leadville Trail 100 2012

Crewing from the back of the H2 is so nice! Even gave B a spot to stretch. Quick stop here but enough time to hug all his ladies and get back on the course.

Twin Lakes (Out): B rolled into Twin 15 minutes over his goal split time. This did not bother me as I wasn’t a big fan of the aggressive 23 hour overall time he was wanting to achieve. (He was never made aware of this fact, so… surprise B!) I was going to be happy with 24:45, even 24:59 if it had to be. I was ready with a shoe change and wet rags to cool him off. It was getting hot! B wanted to stretch his quads, so he got down to squat. I reached in and started the massage.

Leadville Trail 100 2012

Then Kim reminded me that we needed our awkward brother-sister-thats-not-normal photo. Done.

Leadville Trail 100 2012

Something new for this year was the parking patrol. The cops in this 2 house town didn’t like all the cars parked on the highway so they were driving up and down the dirt street where the crews were, yelling “If you car is parked over the white line, you will be ticketed or towed.” The H2 doesn’t fit well on the tiny shoulders of HWY24 and I didn’t want to tell B “Yeah, I just got your car towed.” I was able to nudge it in a bit to comply with the white line request and get back in time to crew for B. NP found a guy that needed a ride to Winfield since this dude was pacing Darcy Africa. She’s a monster female runner who was well ahead of B pace. For the first time, I was anxious to get to the next aid station to ensure he didn’t miss her making the turn.

Winfield: Up to this point, I was feeling good about what B was getting done out there, but knew Hope Pass was standing in our way. Twice. And there was a new piece of the course on this section that we hadn’t experienced before. All of these things combined started to put a damper on B’s day. He came into the halfway mark over an hour late. Hope had her way with him. He looked a little down in the dumps. We tried to cool him off and get perspective on how his day was going. NP was charged up and ready to run. Actually, he was more looking forward to eating at the aid stations while being a Pacer. Regardless, I was glad he’d be out on the course with Brandon this year. But before NP left, he found another guy that needed a ride! Unfortunately it was a ride for a runner, Scott Jaime, who was calling it a day. He was in great spirits but his hips were done. I offered my witch doctor acupuncture experience as an option to try. Sucks when your head is ready to go but the body doesn’t feel the same. Really cool guy but not his day.

Twin Lakes (In): We met up with another one of our pacers this year at Twin. He showed up and asked to use our wagon if we didn’t need it just yet. For what?

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That’s how JT rolls! Dude ran the Pikes Ascent, grabbed some nutrition to stock up for his Fish-Mayqueen section with B, and settled in to watch the runners make their way back over this gorgeous landscape.

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This is the point in the race I start doing math on splits. B wanted the Twin-Win section done in 3 hours. His outbound trip was 4. I knew the 2nd time over Hope wasn’t going to be any faster. Even though I knew he wouldn’t be there at 6:30pm, I set up shop like he was just around the corner. I left some of the crew a few hundred yards down the course. They were going to text me when he showed up so I could be alert and ready.

Leadville Trail 100 2012

He rolled in with another 4 hour split. His 23 hour goal was totally shot. He was starting to develop a blister, so we taped it and got him back in the Hokas. We loaded NP up with all his warm gear and night time accessories. I was hoping NP could help him get some momentum for the next leg so we could possibly hit the 25 hour goal I had for him. He needed to start shaving some minutes off. Since NP’s pacing duties would be done at our next stop, I warned EJ, the next pacer “If he gets things moving, and NP says they have been clicking off like 10 minute miles, you have to be ready to keep the charge or let NP continue with him.”

Treeline (In): Using my scribbled mess of a pace chart, I predicted B would roll in just after 10pm.

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Pipeline at night is dark and it’s hard for your runner to find you. Even with a lit up H2. So I brought glow necklaces that my nieces could use to decorate the truck in addition to the red hot poker sticks from WS100 hanging on the back. He was sure to find us! Which he did around 10:40 pm. Suck. We were losing time fast. We swapped out NP for EJ for the 4 mile road section that leads to Fish. EJ being a newbie to running was excited for this opportunity. I, however, wasn’t sure how this experience was going to go. After watching EJ use the bathroom about 12 times during the course of the day, I was pretty sure he wasn’t going to lead a big charge for B.

Fish (In): With NP’s job done, he was ready for some food! I still had the pizza in the truck and it made a nice snack for his drive back home. Dropping NP off at Fish, JT met back up with me and was suited up for his pacing stint. He had the arduous task of getting B up Powerline at midnight without him turning into a cowering pile of girly-ness. I guess there is no one better than your arch rival to do that for you! Can’t show that guy any behavior like that! B and EJ rolled into Fish over an hour later. Really guys?! EJ was close to shitting himself needing bathroom stop #13 but I had a different plan. I needed crew help first. EJ kinda missed the #1 rule of the day, the runner always comes first! JT and B headed out just before midnight. We got B another warm shirt but he wanted to stay in the shorty shorts. I didn’t like that, but wasn’t in the mood to argue with him about it. He’d have to take them at Mayqueen no matter what. I’m allowed to do that as Crew Chief.

Mayqueen (In): The crew was back to just me and EJ at this point. While driving to MQ, EJ asks what the house code is. I tell him then kindly ask “Why are you asking that?” He says “Once you get on the road with Brandon, I figure I have a couple of hours, so I’m going to go back to the house and clean up.” Hell no you aren’t! To the common person, I get that this sounds like a perfectly fine plan. But when you’ve been up for 24 hours a hot shower and clean clothes are going to make your body and mind say good night. I sternly expressed my distaste for his idea. I told him if he chooses to do that, that’s on him to ensure he’s at the finish to pick us up or worse case, something goes bad and we aren’t going to finish, we will need a ride in that case too. I advised him to not sit on a couch, on a bed, or on a chair to even put on a sock, if he chooses to go home. He will be asleep before he knows it. 

It became clear that he didn’t like a 34 year old girl telling him what to do. (We joke about this now…) His come back was “I’m a 31 year old grown man with a doctorate degree, I can handle…” Before he could get another word out, I yelled, “I don’t give a fuck about your doctorate degree. This has nothing to do with education and everything to do with having experience out here. You have never done this before.” He didn’t talk to me for over 2 hours after that. Great memories.

I spent that time doing my pace chart for the last leg of the course. While I knew 25 hours was not in the cards, I still calculated it hoping it was give some good mojo to B.

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We were parked on the road between the aid station and Timberline, a plan that B and I had discussed the night before. We’d just crew from the truck if possible. I saw JT’s green light appear at 2:51 am. B was cold and actually asked for the pants. Good! I thanked JT for getting my brother to me in one piece and took over the pacing duties. We had 13.5 long miles to go.

B had a steady walk going to the final aid station. I tried to get him some more food but he was over it at this point. Basically on autopilot to just finish. I filled our water packs and we headed out. I had stashed a bag of Cheerios in my pocket, so he would be eating when I told him too along Turquoise Lake. I knew he wasn’t having the day he wanted so I really didn’t know what to say to try to motivate him. I shared random stories from the day about every 20 minutes just to make sure he was still awake and not a walking zombie. About every 40 minutes I shoved the bag of Cheerios at him. That worked 3 times. The 4th time, he said no so I threw some Cheerios at his face instead. His tongue was shot from all the sugar. I had Listerine with me all day and we never used it!

I wanted to pick up the pace, but he was having none of that either. I decided it was best to not zap all his energy with a late surge and have a blow up at 5 am that would cause us to DNF. Who knew where the F EJ was anyway 🙂  So I kept our 18 minute pace as the sun rose. B would stop for a few seconds every now and then just to stop. I think he was recharging himself to keep moving. He kept saying, “Can’t we just be done yet?!” Nope, not til 6 th street.

We crossed the finish line at 7:29 am, 27 hours and 29 minutes. Over an hour better than 2 years ago. B didn’t shed a tear but I did. I was bummed for my brother. There is so much time and effort put into training and preparing for these events. To a point, you do feel like it was all for nothing when you don’t get your goal. But Brandon should not feel that way at all. He had an epic race at WS100 just 2 months ago and this is just his 4th hundred miler ever. EVER. He has SO much to be proud of on what he did out there. Any LT100 finish is remarkable. At 30+ hrs or -17 hrs like the winners, I don’t care. On the last miles of the course he swore off this race. I told him to shut it. He’ll be back. We all know he will. And I’ll be there with him.

  • Thanks again for the sacrifices you make to support my hobby. That race and I are not finished.

  • Glenn

    All ultra runners should have such a great crew

  • I’ll give you the literary latitude.

  • Jim P.

    My favorite part was when the Team Shart crew chief shoved crap in the runner’s shorts.
    Seriously…every runner should have such a dedicated (and loving) crew chief! Well done.

  • nataleejean

    Brotherly love at its finest!

  • nataleejean

    Happy to crew for you at your next ultra! I know you have another in you!!

  • nataleejean

    You’ll not be finished until you can serve Thanksgiving turkey on your 1,000 mile buckle platter while Syd wears her buckle to dinner! And I’ll be there for her adventures too.

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