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Three weeks until the Leadville Trail 100, advice for the first timer

Leadville Trail 100 at Turquoise Lake
Leadville Trail 100 at Turquoise Lake
Steve Krull / S. W. Krull Imaging

Only three weeks until the premier ultra marathon event in Colorado, the Leadville Trail 100 Mile Race Across the Sky. The way you spend your last three weeks can make or break your race. Push too hard and you will take the edge off your strength in the race. Back off your training too much and you will do the same.

The most important thing you could do to prepare for this race in the last three weeks is get up to Historic Leadville, Colorado and hang out for a week or two. There is no substitute for acclimating to the two mile high elevation of the town. You have spent an entire year preparing for this race so why not treat yourself to a one or two week vacation in the old west atmosphere of the quaint mining town? Many veteran runners will already be there, camping in the campgrounds visiting the restaurants and gathering for morning coffee. There is much for the race crew to do and assistance is welcome. Trails need to be marked, supplies lugged in and aid stations set up.

Some recommend that you stop your long runs three weeks out. I recommend a two week rest from the marathon distance training runs with a slow half marathon distance trail run the weekend before the race. Keep up a six to ten mile core regimen until the last couple of days. Take in plenty of protein and carbohydrates in the last week to prepare your muscles for the rigors of thirty hours of abuse. Be sure to attend the race dinner and partake of a healthy share of pasta. However carbo loading for a hundred mile run can't be done all in one day so don't overdo it on the last day. Be careful with those artificial carbo loading substances, especially on the last day. They may end up making you sick and you don't want to spend precious time during your race in a porta potty or throwing up beside the trail. Stick to natural food and drink that your body will recognize and readily utilize.

Be sure to get plenty of sleep in the days and nights leading up to the race and be sure to get in some good nap time. The rest will help you recover from the long year of hard training and you are going to need every ounce of strength you can muster for race day. Be sure to bring along a white noise machine, especially if you are staying in the downtown hotel. Leadville is a busy place on weekends and the white noise will help sooth the fear and loathing of the next morning and block out the street noise so you can get a couple hours sleep before the action on race day.

On the morning of the race wake up early and eat a good meal at the Golden Burro. Everyone else will be there and it is a great way to start out a long day. Don't be running up and down the street an hour before the race warming up. The race is long and the pain great. When asked about a race strategy, one runner said he planned to start out slow and then slow down. There is plenty of time to get warmed up on the course. You can't afford to waste any of your energy on the street before the shotgun blast sounds.