One foot at a time | One sole at a time | One hell of a good time


Thursday, August 26, 2010

2010 Leadville 100 Trail Race Report

At the start: Greg Labbe, Cabro & Me

 Feeling great after 100 miles in the Rockies.

My fourth summer in a row visit to Leadville, Colorado and my third completion of the Leadville 100 Mile Trail Race...what an experience.  Deep gratitude for good friends and a strong body.


This year's race was to be my second attempt at running the entire course barefoot and with my own Luna Sandals.  Two years ago, I started with sandals, but had to change into VFFs KSOs at the top of Hope Pass in order to complete the race due to horrible weather conditions.  This year I was able to run the entire race with my sandals (see and in bare feet...a pure joy fest.

At the finish line carpet, McDougall at my side.

I spent the week before the race acclimatizing in Leadville staying at the Labbe Family Compound behind the famous Tabor Opera House.  The week leading up to the race included lots of great reunions with old friends along with a couple high mountain hikes.  I have thankfully not suffered from any serious altitude problems while participating in the race...which I believe is connected to my practice of deep nose breathing throughout the week and throughout the run.

Pacers Jules and Bookis Smuin and me - Post Race in Proven Grounds

This year, Mas Loco veteran Chris Labbe, aka Cabro, came up with a terrific strategy.  Both he and I had not really been training hard in preparation for the race.  In his case, he just didn't have time.  In my case, I have been purposely finding out what the lowest amount of training is necessary to complete the race well.  For me, that meant averaging less that 15 miles per week throughout the year, completing a marathon in May (Copenhagen Marathon - barefoot), a 50K in June (Vashon Island 50k in Luna Sandals) and a 50 miler in July (White River 50 Mile Trail Race - barefoot & Lunas),...and concentrating on running gracefully and joyfully everyday.

I also want to add that I spent one week in West Virginia in July training with Erwan Le Corre and practicing MovNat.  Now that added something to my overall fitness for sure.

Matt Mahoney and me pre race.

So Cabro's plan seemed genius: we would run to Winfield (the 50 mile point) in 12 hours and 30 minutes and come back in the same amount of time...thus getting in at or under 25 hours...and getting the big belt buckle prize.  Sounded good to me.

The key to this strategy was going be avoiding trying to go too a matter of fact, we were going to have to go slow...slower than our bodies craved when fresh, slower than most everyone else on the course.  No easy feat.

However, I bought in to his plan, mostly because it meant I could take it easy and just enjoy the run through the and in my sandals...and focus on staying focused and smooth and graceful and happy.   I think I succeeded.

Me and Cabro entering Mayqueen outbound | Photo Matt Mahoney

All was going according to plan until we started climbing outbound Hope Pass.  Cabro just could not keep his speed down.  Up he went, passing one runner after another...even though we had already tested the idea of keeping the intensity down on this climb.  I tried to stick to the plan, but was sad to see him go, for I was relying on his knowledge of the course and the splits we needed to maintain in order to get under 25.

On my way outbound to Hagerman Pass | Photo Matt Mahoney

By the time I got over to Winfield, I was pretty tired.  It's amazing how much energy one must have in order to run 50 miles and still have enough energy to run 50 more.  Once into Winfield, I met up with my first pacer, Dennis Shaver, and was given some homemade burritos (thanks Joey!) that really tasted great after having basically been living off of gels for the last 12 hours.  Dennis' job was to get me up and over Hope Pass a second time...not easy even with fresh legs, but we did it and found ourselves in Twin Lakes for the second time...and me really starting to feel good.

Matt Mahoney captured this shot of me on my way towards the Hope climb

In Twin Lakes I picked up my second pacer, Luna Sandal wearing Jules Smuin.  Jules was in for a treat.  As we left Twin Lakes and started our 9 mile journey to Half Moon, I started to feel stronger and stronger.  About half way to Half Moon, I started passing runners and would continue to do so for most of the rest of the race.  Note:  it is a delight to be strong during the last half of a 100 mile race.  While others have spent the day running in the heat to gain position, I was able to preserve myself.  Running at night is easier, primarily because it is cooler.  And with headlights to chase in the distance, one has something to follow and aim for...persistence hunting ones way to the finish.

Crossing river out of Twin Lakes | Photo Matt Mahoney

At the Fish Hatchery I picked up my third pacer, Bookis Smuin sporting sandals too.  He paced me up and over Powerline and down to Mayqueen.  We were amazed at the power of my newest light, a Fenix PD30 - the brightest light you could ever hope for, small, lightweight, a dream...making it possible for me to run sections of the trail that proved impossible last year without good light.

Tracy Thomas and me, day before race.

Upon arriving in Mayqueen inbound, I picked up my final pacer, Born to Run author Christopher McDougall and he too was wearing sandals.  Now, I truly did have a lot of juice left in me, but I was not about to just run without talking to Mr. Oso.  We turned the last 3 1/2 hours into a time for catching up...hearing about all the exciting things happening including a possible film adaptation of BTR.  Very cool stuff.

Outbound at Powerline

We finally arrived at the finish line at 7:16am...27 hours after I had left.  Me feeling great.  Feet feeling great.  It is great to be alive.


Sponsors:  I want to thank the following folks for providing materials necessary for the success of my run: Chocolate #9 of Seattle, ProBar of Utah, Amanda McIntosh and Hammer Gels, Extreme Outfitters of North Carolina and Vibram USA and of course the Luna Sandal Company of Seattle :-)

Cabro & me entering Treeline outbound

PS.  My recovery seems complete less than 4 days after the race.  I am stunned and amazed by the body and its capacities...if treated well.  Moral of the story: treat it well.

Video of me coming into the finish with McDougall at my side and my trusty stick :-)


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Monday, August 16, 2010

Summer Monkey Business

Running barefoot with sandals in hand at the White River 50
photo by Glenn Tachiyama

What's EL MONO doing, you ask?

Well, I am working on my third summer preparing for the Leadville 100 Trail Race in Leadville, Colorado coming up on August 21.  Leadville is becoming a summer mecca spot for me.

My training is not as extensive as most seem to require.  Overall fitness and lots of easy running is key for me.  This year my training for the Leadville 100, apart from my little daily runs with the dogs in Volunteer Park, is thus:  In May, the Copenhagen Marathon.  In June the Vashon Island Ultra Marathon.  In July, the White River 50.  That's it...and should be enough.

At the top of Hope Pass...acclimatizing

So, in this year's Leadville 100, I hope to do the race in my newest Luna Sandal model dubbed the LEADVILLE (see below):

Prototype dubbed LEADVILLE before 50 mile trail run

So far, my tests with this new sandal have given me the confidence to believe that they are ready for a full 100 mile tough trail long as it doesn't get too muddy.  So stay tuned, by this time next week I will have a report to share...and it should be interesting ;-)

 Prototype dubbed LEADVILLE after 50 mile trail run


PS.  The new LEADVILLE model will start being available for sale online starting August 25th.  If you are lucky enough to be in Leadville this week, we will be offering them for sale in town.

PSS.  I am staying in veteran Mas Loco runner Chris Labbe's Family's house behind the Tabor Opera House in Leadville...feel free to drop by and say howdy.

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Monday, August 31, 2009

Leadville Trail 100 - 2009

What an amazing experience...running 100 miles in 25 hours and 54 minutes up in the Colorado Rockies in the town of Leadville, Colorado, 10,000 feet above sea level (how many meters is that?)

From my point of view, this year's race was blessed from the beginning...sporting my new Vibram FiveFinger KSO Treks (to be released this month)...and some sponsorship money to pay for the race and some travel...thank you Vibram...I was also blessed with a fantastic crew and pacers...a luxury I did not have last year...made all the difference being part of a team! Thanks!

(Please click on image to right to read Michael Sandler's excellent report on the race.)
Boulder Barefoot Running Club Report
This was my third summer in Leadville: 2007 crewed Caballo Blanco and paced Chris Labbe from Mayqueen to Tabor. 2008 my first LT 100 in 28:33. Each year I stayed part of the time at the (in)famous Labbe Compound...Mas Loco Chris "Cabro" Labbe's family's Leadville vacation house. Lots of stories being made and shared there. Thank you!

My crew was headed up by Dave "Rem" Remy of Mercer Island, WA. Dave was one of my Introduction to Barefoot Running clients who got the itch to see what an ultramarathon looks like. When he asked me if he could help, my first inclination was to say no, just seemed to logistics oriented and more trouble than it would be worth, but I thought about it for a moment and realized that it would be an excellent way to share my experience...expanding all our boundaries...for the better. So, I agreed to have him crew. Did he know what he was getting into?

I left Seattle on the 14th and headed to Boulder. Michael Sandler of the Boulder Barefoot Running Club picked me up at the airport. He hosted me on Friday and on Saturday morning I Nick Lang and BFT on Hope Passhad a blast giving a on-the-fly barefoot running workshop to the members of the club. At this meeting, I was lucky enough to meet a bunch of great folks and share what I had learned about barefooting. The next day, Sunday, a group of us headed for Leadville and a day hike up the famous Hope! What an experience...and great training.

(Click image to left to see my Facebook race report entry. Image on right is me with Nick Lang on Hope Pass)

Lucky for me, several of the hikers up Hope decided to come back to Leadville the following week to pace and crew with Dave. Wow!

I spent the week hanging out at the Labbe Compound and acclimatizing...eating Buffalo burgers (you heard me range, grass fed, live-free-until-the-end critters...thank you!) and making sandals.

Dave showed up on Thursday, took a tour of the course with Senor Labbe on Friday and was ready to play by 4am on Saturday morning, start of the race. Thanks to Cabro, I had a spreadsheet with all the cutoff times at all the aid stations that I would need to get to in order to run under 25 hours and get a big silver buckle :) Thanks Cabro! I really wasn't training for speed or anything...just trying to maintain good overall fitness...and running well within myself and with excellent form. Perfect practice makes perfect.

Boulder Barefoot Running Club Members Scott, Dennis and Joey joined Dave on Saturday to divide up crew duties and get ready to start pacing me after the 50 mile point at Winfield. We agreed to have Dennis take me back over Hope Pass and Scott to take me to wherever it would be that Michael would catch up after giving a book presentation in Boulder. The race was on.

Started out by chatting with Ladislav Lettovsky who happened to be THE last out of Winfield last year who made it to the finish in time...after me. It was a coincidence that he had just read "Born to Run" so we had a great conversation.

Met my crew for the first time at Hagerman, and was running a bit too fast...after all I saw Cabro there...and he should have been way ahead, so I walked up Sugarloaf and took it fairly easy coming down. Was about 15 minutes ahead of schedule at Powerline, but the heat was starting.

Got to Treeline in good form, got my cap and bandana and headed out through the new course section heading to Box Canyon instead of Half Moon due to a military helicopter crash. It was a hot section and I found myself filling up my bottles in streams as I found them.

Got into Twin Lakes feeling good and ready for my big climb. Felt good to "baptize" myself in the river crossing. Headed up Hope Pass with just one bottle with the idea of filling it up in the streams as I went...a great plan until the bottom of the other side where I had to run the entire 3 mile dusty road, in the heat, with just a swiggle left in my bottle and no streams. Ouch! This was a mistake that I would pay a little upon my return climb...feeling a little dehydrated.

Got into Winfield in good time, still on schedule and left with Dennis as my pacer/mule. Dennis tried to keep me amused climbing the backside of Hope, but it was taking a lot out of me and I could only answer with forced and not very energetic one-word grunts. But we finally got to the top and started running down. Dennis stuck it out and helped me a bunch. Great experience.

Got into Twin Lakes inbound feeling ready to run 40 more miles. Picked up my pacer Scott who was sporting red VFF Sprints...and off we went. Just before we took off, I downed a Chili Chocolate Mocha from Proven Grounds in was delicious...but it didn't mix well with the other stuff I crammed down my throat, so Scott's first taste of ultra nastiness was me upchucking the coffee just after climbing out of Twin Peaks. Vomiting while walking-running is a ultramarathon skill. Scott was a bit taken aback, but we soon got in stride making our way to the finish.

Scott ended up staying with me all the way to Powerline...25 plus miles on his first pacing adventure. What an amazing job. Excellent company the whole way. Thank you!

At Powerline I picked up Michael who had spent the afternoon in Boulder giving a presentation on Adult Attention Deficit Disorder...only to follow it with a run/walk into the night of the last 25 miles of the Leadville 100. Tragedy struck us after we reached the top of Sugarloaf...ready to run down the steep, rocky backside...our lights were dimming...and we did not have backups with us.

The aburdity of not having enough lights is big...I had been sent 20! lights from Princeton Tec...all excellent, bright lights, but we only had dying, one dim...and it really hit me like a ton of bricks...I was not going to be able to run down...and I was most likely, therefore, not going to make the 25 hour, big-silver-buckle cutoff. Crap! Took me a bit of time to adjust to the new reality. It is amazing how hope can keep wind in sails...and hopeless...not so much.

After getting to Mayqueen and pretty much resigned to my over 25 hour destiny, Michael and I had 3+ hours to hobble our way to the finish...and having Michael there started paying off. He is a very interesting person with a lot of great stories and we shared and walked and hobbled our way to the never ending finishing line....which seemed so far away...the last 12 miles.

Finally we found ourselves climbing the last stretch of the rocky "Boulevard"...two miles that seems more like 6 at this stage of the race, but alas the asphalt road leading to the finish came into view...1 mile to go...uphill.

As we ran the final stretch, Michael had the presence of mind to suggest I pick up the pace to finish under 26 hours. He stretched the truth a little when he said there were 7 minutes left and I had to pick it up. There actually were 9+ minutes. And I picked up the pace big time...running the last 1/4 mile and finishing in 25 hours and 54 minutes. Wow!

Ended up in the medical tent getting checked and souped up on chicken noodle soup! Did I mention how AWESOME the volunteers in the race are...well they are!

All said and done a big team effort...a success.

Barefoot Ted

PS. I want to thank ProBar for sending me some of their latest organic fruit bars that have both black and white chia seeds in them. They definitely helped. Also, thanks to Amanda McIntosh for sending me Hammer Gels...I love them too. When I ran out, it sucked sucking on the PowerBar gels...YUCK! Can't handle sweet like that. Also, thanks to Princeton Tec and Extreme Outfitters for providing me with lights...if I had only had some extra with me at the top of Sugarloaf. Next year!

WE made it!
My crew: Dennis, Joey, Rem, me, Scott, Michael and Jessie! Thank you!

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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

2008 Leadville Trail 100 - 28:33

Photo by Lorraine Gersitz, leaving Winfield

I did it! I may have set a record for lateness leaving Winfield and time back to finish. I actually had one of the 13th best Looking forward to getting the data (Note: check out Chris Labbe's website on Leadville statistics for some very interesting data and charts, LT 100 Data Project).
Actually, the data is now available here.

Ran most of the course in Vibram FiveFingers, some with huaraches and quite a bit barefoot!



1. Spending a week in Leadville acclimatizing and meeting old and new friends.

2. Doing the entire race carrying all my own gear from start to finish except for food which I had in drop-bags at the various aid stations.

3. Running over half of the trail from Half Moon to Twin Lakes barefoot and going up to Hope Pass aid station barefoot...just too muddy for shoes and finding a great hiking stick somewhere along the way.

4. Dealing just fine with freezing cold wind, slippery mud, icy rain, hail so thick the trail was unseeable and snow. Crazy.

5. Being treated like a king by the best volunteers ever at each and every aid station. Thank you!

6. Feeling strongest while leaving Half Moon on the way back, running and running and running.

7. The joy of putting on my VFF KSOs after running and hiking for so long barefoot.

8. Staying consistent with my nutrition all the way through the race. Every aid station I would mix up my sports drink (maltodextrin, hemp protein, green magma, rehydration salt), chewed two Clif blocks and slurped some of my Hammer Gel with shelled hemp seeds. Never felt nausea, never felt low energy.

9. Realization that huaraches DO NOT work well in mud and rain!

10. Seeing the finish line after 28+ hours of adventure.


A huge thank you to Vibram Five Fingers for getting me through this race. Five Fingers are the ultimate footwear for those who want to learn to run with the trail. It is not about beating oneself up or enduring more pain, no, not at all. Rather, it is about learning to run gently and thoughtfully through a rugged environment. Learning how to feel the trail and respond to it. It is about subtle balance that the toes need to be part of. It is about freedom and elegance and simplicity. Give them a try.

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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Prerace Interview with Dru Pashley - Leadville 100 2008

Was lucky enough to run into Dru Pashley over at the Provin Grounds Coffee shop in Leadville the other day. Dru is a local runner who will be attempting his first 100 on Saturday.

Dru works at High Mountain Pies, a pizza shop that makes the best pizza in Leadville. He has trained extensively on and around the course for the last year and a half. This fellow is fit and fully prepared for his first Leadville 100.

I predict (based on what I have seen and heard) that this guy is going to do VERY well. Enjoy.



Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Leadville 100 - Crewing and Pacing

Nearly 600 Starters, ONLY 210 Finishers

Caballo Blanco's (Micah True) Crew for Leadville 100 in 2007
Deborah (Cebolla), Adrian (Brocoli), Caballo, Ona (Monocita) and BFT (El Mono).

My interviews with Caballo Blanco Pre- & Post- Race

Club Mas Loco member Chris Labbe, aka Cabro,
finishes in under 25 hours
Paced from Haggerman Pass Rd. to the Dam
wearing Vibram FiveFingers Sprints

Leadville Trail 100, August 18-19, Leadville, Colorado

Elevation: 10,152 feet (3094 meters) from Wikipedia:

The historic City of Leadville is a Statutory City that is the county seat of Lake County, Colorado, United States. Leadville is a former silver mining camp that lies near the headwaters of the Arkansas River in the heart of the Rocky Mountains. The city's central district has an elevation of 10,152 feet (3094 meters), making Leadville the highest city in North America. The federally designated Leadville National Historic District includes many historic structures and sites from Leadville's dynamic mining era. The United States Census Bureau estimates that the city population was 2,688 in 2005.


Many people have told me that Leadville indeed may be barefootable, i.e. doable by one conditioned and well practiced in the art of barefoot trail running.

One question I hoped to answer during my trip to Leadville this year was whether or not one could finish the course unassisted by footwear within the 30 hour cuttoff.

This question remains open.

While crewing and preparing to pace Caballo, I got a good overall picture of the course, but not much of the trails.

While pacing for Mas Loco member Cabro (Chris Labbe), I wore my FiveFingers Sprints.

Why not barefoot?

Well, it was not my place to experiment on a rocky portion of the course during the last 15 miles of a race at 3am in the morning in the dark on an unfamiliar trail with a runner who is close to breaking 25 hours.

The FiveFinger Sprints performed quite well in this section of the trail that I ran. It would have been much trickier to handle this territory at night barefoot during the last 14 miles of a 100 mile race..., but POSSIBLE in my estimation.

Perhaps I will give it a try next year.


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