Monday Morning Motivation: Running the Leadville 100

Still from Moments at Elevation

The Leadville 100 is an iconic race for ultrarunners. Moments at Elevation, from filmmaker Isaiah Jay, explores the spirit, struggle, and magic that empowers hopefuls across the finish line. Isaiah follows four endurance athletes from Colorado’s Adrenalin Project.


Athletes: Maggie Walsh, Luke Jay, Casey Hill, Jason Michalak



Just being able to have no commitments, nothing to do, it’s just all I’m here to do is run.
Just having to go that long and that far you just never know what’s gonna happen.
It is hard. Like when you get to that point and it’s dark and you have nothing left and you’re all by yourself and it’s just hard to convince yourself to keep moving. Even though I’ve gone through it I don’t how many times.
It’s like you’re gonna encounter some bumps and, you know, it’s up to you whether or not you want to fight for the next day or you know quit.
“You know just for them, I’m so excited. I just wish I was in there with a number on, heading that way!”
“It’s a great, great day. A great day for Leadville”.
Luke Jay: This will be my fourth 100-mile race and my second time running the Leadville 100.
Maggie Walsh: Coming into this race I’m probably in the best shape of my life for a hundred, so I feel pretty good.
Casey Hill: Everyone knows about Leadville and I want to know what it takes to finish Leadville.
Jason Michalak: As simple as it is just going uphill, anything uphill, running uphill, biking uphill, moving uphill – that is definitely my strength.
In my mind, the hardest part of the race is signing up, making the commitment.
I’ve been known to cry, but I think it’s just like a reaction for my body. It’s not like I’m like crying for any real reason, it’s just what I do.
Hope Pass is kind of the highlight of the course. Whether you love it or hate it.
It’s at a big point in the race.
You think you’re there then that’s when you can kind of hear the sounds of the aid station and then you come out and it’s like this…
…beautiful alpine meadows and the views are just amazing and you can see North, you know all the way to Leadville.
Hope Pass is hard. I like to power hike, but then coming down the backside it gets very steep but I like it.
It’s windy and you can see the prayer flags moving and, I mean, the views when you hit The Saddles, you know you’ve made it.
Knowing what a realistic pace is, so you have to convince yourself at the beginning not to go out too fast –  at least I do. That was my problem,  the first one.
But there’s a multitude of issues, there’s GI issues and there’s nausea issues and salt issues and there’s downhill issues and toe issues and ankle issues and the issues and headache issue. It’s like there’s every issue you can imagine in the 24 hours.
I think one of the harshest facts about doing one of these hundred mile races is the amount of people that don’t even get the chance to cross the finish line. This distance doesn’t care if you’re an elite professional or pushing time cut-offs towards the back, a hundred miles will break anyone down. Roughly half the starters won’t even finish.
It’s not about seconds, minutes or even hours. Just crossing the finish line is the goal.

Maggie Walsh. 2nd place female. 16th overall. Time 21:00:08
Luke Jay. 3rd place overall. 18:31:22.
Jason Michalak. After battling painful tendonitis, he was unable to continue at mile 71.
Casey Hill. Pulled out of the race at mile 60 due to severe dehydration.

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