I love coming to Leadville every year. Part of it’s the race, sure. A big part. A really big part.
But certainly, not the only part.
As much as — maybe even more than — the race is what comes before the race. I love walking around the town. I love going on the little day-before ride.
I love the fact that the Delaware Hotel manager, Linda, knows me by name.
Every year when I get here, she comes around from behind the counter and gives me a hug, then tells me that this year I am going to get that blasted sub-nine finish.
Unfortunately, I have another tradition at Leadville: to have high hopes for finishing fast, and then to finish…well…not so fast.
“You interested in owning that S-Works Stumpjumper 29er?” Nic asked.
“Of course I am,” I replied. “What’s it going to take for me to keep it?”
“How about a sub-9?” Nic said.
At which point I had to pull over and put my head between my knees for a moment, so as to avoid swooning.
“Seriously?” I asked. “I get sub nine, and the Stumpy is mine?”
“Yep,” Nic said. “How’s that for a reason to ride fast?”
Well, OK. I’d say that’s a pretty good reason.
I believe I will turn myself inside out tomorrow.
So, that particular break from tradition would definitely be a good thing. Not all changes, however, are quite as awesome.
And there do seem to be some decidedly non-awesome changes to the Leadville race this year.
Up ’til this year, we’ve always gotten a really nice tote bag or backpack as a swag bag. This year, the swag bag is a grocery bag.
Up ’til this year, we’ve always gotten a poster commemorating the race. This year, we have to pay $5.00 for that poster.
But you know, neither of those changes would amount to much if it weren’t for one really substantial change: This year, for the first time ever, finishers will not be given a personalized sweatshirt with their name and finishing time screened onto the sleeve.
And that change bums me out. For one thing, if I finish with a sub-9-hour time, I’d probably wear that sweatshirt everywhere, all the time.
More importantly, though, it’s a break from tradition.
In the end, of course, what matters is not posters and tote bags and sweatshirts. But when Life Time Fitness buys a race I care deeply about, then immediately brings changes like this, well, it doesn’t exactly make me want to buy a gym membership from them.
Follow My Race
If you would like to follow how I am doing, go to the Leadville Race Series website, and click on the Real-Time Race Tracking button. You can search on my race number (555) to see how I’m doing. And be sure to track The Hammer, too. Her race number is 933.
The race starts at 6:30am MT and my hoped-for splits are as follows:
- Pipeline 1: 2:00
- Twin Lakes 1: 2:45
- Columbine Mine: 4:25
- Twin Lakes 2: 5:00
- Pipeline 2: 5:50
- Finish Line: 8:45
So there. We’ll see how closely reality reflects the plan.