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Leadville 100 Preview: Long Haul Racing Tactics

  • By Jason Sumner
  • Published Aug. 10, 2011
  • Updated Aug. 8, 2013 at 12:02 PM EDT


Chris Carmichael: Founder Carmichael Training Systems, sub-9-hour Leadville finisher

On the tactics at the front of the race

“I think we’ll see different tactics than the last few years,” says Carmichael, who will be chasing his third sub-9-hour belt buckle this year. “Recently it’s been really fast right from the beginning, but I think you’ll see a little more gamesmanship this year. I think you’ll see more guys together later in the race. But once you hit Powerline on the way back, it’s a big wake-up call because you’re four hours in and have at least two to go. The guys who have done Leadville before know that and will understand that you have to preserve for those last two hours. If you start too hard, you will pay the price at the end.”

Tactics for the fast mid-pack racer

“Even though it’s a 100-mile race, the start is really important, because if you fall too far back at the start you can end up losing precious time on St. Kevins because you get caught up in the masses and have to walk. So if you are gunning for that 9-hour time, you need to start fast enough to stay in front of the fray.”

“You also need to be in group to ride with from bottom of Powerline to the Twin Lakes aid station. There is a lot of flat and rolling terrain, so you don’t want to get caught out alone in the wind. If that happens, look back and see if anyone is coming. If there is a fairly large group and they are just a minute or so behind, I would probably sit up and wait for them. It will save a ton of energy if you follow wheels. That is really pivotal, because you want to be able to hit Columbine and have the energy to ride Columbine at a hard pace.”

On negative splits

“To go under nine hours you need to be around 4:30 at the top of Columbine (the race’s halfway point). Then if you negative split coming back, so 4:30 to the top and assume 15 minutes faster coming back, then that gives you an under-9 time with a little cushion. At the same time, if you hit Columbine at 4:40, don’t start sprinting because you’ll just blow yourself up. Ride within yourself, because even at 4:40 you still have a chance because you will negative split and come in right around 9.”

On making the 12-hour time cut

“You really want to be careful and meter your expenditures. Ride a consistent pace and be very consistent with your eating. Know in advance the number of calories you will be taking in, and in what form you’ll be taking them. So how many gels, how many bars, how much fluid. Understand what you need each hour. Also be dialed in with your aid station plan. Know exactly what you are going to want to eat and drink, and know how you are going to get it.”

“Also remember that the downhills are great, but chances are you don’t want to take big risks on downhills because the time made up is negligible – and you don’t want to crash. At the same time, take advantage of the momentum. You can tuck on the rollers on way back from Columbine. Make sure to grab all that free speed, and don’t be an inverted wedge riding down the road.”

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