Luck of The Draw
Every runner has their bucket list races, myself included. As an ultra-runner, unfortunately most of mine involve first qualifying and then entering a lottery for which the odds are not great. The process can be so daunting, difficult and disappointing that I actually had convinced myself that I didn’t care about doing any of these races. I felt content doing my own thing, not worrying about whether I had any qualifiers on my schedule or having to wait to see the results of a lottery before making my race schedule for the year.
August 2017 that all changed. A week after we moved across the country from Flourtown, Pennsylvania to Boulder, Colorado, we took a road trip to Leadville to spectate the infamous 100 mile race. Instantly after arriving at the race, my fire was lit. I knew I wanted to and had to run Leadville 100. Unfortunately there was no instant gratification. I couldn’t just hop online and register for Leadville, I had to wait and register for the lottery.
Fast forward to January 2019 when for the second year in a row, I was unlucky in the Leadville 100 lottery. Lucky for me, it was not as hard a pill to swallow as 2018 since I had already found out I did get accepted into CCC for 2019 in Chamonix, France. While incredibly excited to be going to CCC, I still couldn’t help feeling down about Leadville. Even though I could not have done CCC and Leadville both in 2019, Leadville offers the option to defer to the following year so I still very much wanted the lottery win so I would have it set for 2020. Over the next couple of months I attended several group runs and events where Leadville qualifiers were being given out but still no luck. Another option is to run one of the other races in the Leadville race series and either win your age group(not likely for me) or have your name put in the bucket for a mini lottery after the race. I opted for the Silver Rush 50 miler since it fit nicely into the training plan for CCC.
As race time neared, I became more and more nervous about making the time limit. Silver Rush has a 14 hour time limit which I could definitely make at sea level and probably now at Boulder level (5000-6000 feet) however this race never goes below 10000 feet, reaching 12000 feet 4 different times. And with a decent amount of climbing to do as well, I was worried. Since moving, I have done one race in this similar altitude range at Copper Mountain and I definitely struggled big time, taking over 9 hours for a 50K. I should also mention, I never did any mountain running prior to moving. It was actually a big reason I wasn’t as interested in trying to get into these lottery/bucket list races, I felt they were out of my scope. My wheelhouse was running flat 100s as fast I could, I even ran one on a track. So, yes, Silver Rush scared the crap out of me and I had the pressure of needing to make the 14 hours in order to put my name in the bucket.
As expected, the race was pretty hard. I didn’t struggle as much as Copper Mountain with the altitude but I still did struggle. I could feel it slowing me down, making me more tired than I normally would be and making my stomach weird. But, I kept moving, had fun, enjoyed the gorgeous views and finished with over an hour to spare! As happy as I was with my finish, all I could think was “ I really don’t know if I could do another 50 miles at this altitude?!” I literally was sitting there having anxiety over whether it was reasonable for me to consider Leadville 100 especially knowing it took me almost 13 hours for 50 miles and the 100 mile time limit is 30 hours plus you have to go over Hope Pass twice!! It’s hard for even me to believe now as I think about it because of how badly I have wanted a Leadville entry for 2 years but I really almost didn’t put my name in that bucket.
Thankfully I did. They were giving out 30 qualifiers and well over 100 people had put their names in the bucket. A little over halfway through, my number was called. I never moved so fast after an ultra. I leapt up and ran to Ken. It was an amazing feeling! All my anxiety and worry faded away because I knew winning that qualifier was meant to be. I know for a fact, I was not ready for Leadville last year. This year while I’ve had solid training and racing so far would have likely still been a huge undertaking after feeling what the 50 there was like. But now I have 13 months to get ready, to get stronger, to climb more mountains, to let the excitement build. It’s finally time.