The small town of Leadville, Colorado, which boasts of being the “highest town in America” sits at 10,200 feet above sea level. Besides the ‘altitude factor’ (yes, the air is a bit thinner up there), there is a simple, gritty, wide-open feeling I get when I’m there. Leadville is surrounded by some of the tallest mountains in Colorado, and the Rockies for that matter. It is a beautiful and daunting place.
The LT100 was born out of the despair surrounding the Climax Mine closure that put most Leadville residents out of work in the early ’80s. For a real sense of what this race is about, I suggest this short 5 minute video featuring the winner of the race a couple years ago. If you’re even more interested: click here to go to the Unofficial website which has a map and profile of the race; here’s a great article about the experience as well; or find yourself a copy of the book Born to Run which features the LT100 and is a great adventure story.
But why run it?
There’s really not a definitive reason why. It’s not really rational, I know that. Here’s my best attempt at defining the Why:
Simply put, the LT100 represents the ultimate physical and mental challenge for me. Yes, I know Mom, I don’t have children. 🙂 Seeking out this type of challenge (running really long distances) has provided me with many things: time in nature; solitude to think and enjoy silence; a feeling of freedom and connectedness to the moment; a chance to test myself and push my physical and mental boundaries; whittle life down to the basics.
Really, it comes down to a question I was once asked, by an old fern–I mean friend. He was quoting a Mary Oliver poem:
“…Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”
One. Wild. Precious. Life.
Well? What will you do? I’ve continued to ask, and re-ask myself this over the course of the last ten years or so, and many times the answer is different. Some parts of the answer remain the same: To hold Kelsea’s hand. To sit in silence for a while. To be kind.
For the next while, I’m simply adding: To move. With purpose. To move with purpose over mountains. To give it everything. To expect nothing.