The Leadville Trail 100 Run Event


The Leadville Trail 100 Run, known as the “Race Across the Sky,” is one of the most challenging and prestigious ultra-marathons in the world. This grueling 100-mile race takes place in the heart of the Colorado Rockies, with elevations ranging from 9,200 to 12,600 feet.


  • The Leadville Trail 100 Run is a significant event in the ultra-running community, attracting elite athletes and dedicated runners from around the world.
  • The course is known for its challenging high-altitude terrain, with the majority of the race taking place on forest trails and mountain roads.
  • Leadville, a former mining town, has a rich history and cultural significance that is intertwined with the race.

History and Evolution of the Leadville Trail 100 Run

The Life Time Leadville Trail 100 Run was first held in 1983, created by Ken Chlouber and Merilee Maupin as a way to bring tourism and economic growth to the struggling mining town of Leadville. Since then, the race has grown in popularity and prestige, attracting runners from all over the world along with sponsorship from outdoor brands such as La Sportiva.

Over the years, the Leadville Trail 100 Run has seen numerous milestones and records. In 2005, Matt Carpenter set the men’s course record with a time of 15:42:59, while Ann Trason holds the women’s record of 18:06:24, set in 1994.

Preparing for the Leadville Trail 100 Run

Training and conditioning for the Life Time Leadville Trail 100 Run requires a dedicated approach to high-altitude endurance trail running. Runners must focus on building their aerobic capacity, strength, and mental toughness to tackle the challenging course.

Acclimatization is crucial for success in Leadville. Many runners choose to arrive in the area several days or weeks before race day to allow their bodies to adapt to the high elevation. Proper nutrition and hydration are also essential, with runners needing to consume adequate calories and fluids to maintain energy levels throughout the race.

Navigating the Course

The Leadville Trail 100 Run course is an out-and-back route that starts and finishes in downtown Leadville. Runners will encounter a variety of terrain, including forest trails, mountain roads, and high-altitude passes. The course reaches a peak elevation of 12,600 feet at Hope Pass, covers portions of the Colorado Trail, and offers stunning Rocky Mountain views each step of the way.

There are 12 aid stations along the course, providing runners with food, water, and support. The race also allows pacers to accompany runners after the 50-mile mark, offering encouragement and assistance during the latter stages of the event.

The Runner’s Experience

Participating in the Leadville Trail 100 Run is a life-changing experience for many runners. Even if you’re a seasoned athlete, the physical and mental challenges of the race will push you to your limits, requiring grit, determination, and perseverance to cross the finish line.

Pacing and maintaining stamina are critical aspects of success in the Leadville Trail 100 Run. Runners must carefully manage their efforts throughout the race, balancing the desire to push hard with the need to conserve energy for the later stages.

Community and Cultural Impact

The Leadville community plays a vital role in supporting the Leadville Trail 100 Run. Volunteers, local businesses, and residents come together to create a welcoming and enthusiastic atmosphere for runners and spectators alike.

The race has a significant economic and social impact on Leadville and the surrounding areas, bringing in tourism and fostering a sense of pride and unity among the community. Race week is filled with cultural events and festivities, celebrating the spirit of endurance and the town’s rich history.

Spectator’s Guide to the Leadville 100 Run

Spectators play a crucial role in supporting runners during the Leadville Trail 100 Run. Friends and family can offer encouragement and assistance at designated aid stations and crew access points along the course.

The race provides online tracking, allowing spectators to follow the progress of their favorite runners throughout the event. Leadville also offers a variety of local attractions and activities for visitors to enjoy during race week, showcasing the town’s unique character and natural beauty.

Environmental and Health Considerations

The Leadville Trail 100 Run is committed to environmental stewardship and sustainability. The organizers at the Life Time Foundation work closely with local authorities and land managers to minimize the event’s impact on the natural surroundings and wildlife.

Health and safety are top priorities for the race, with medical staff and volunteers stationed throughout the course to assist runners in need. Participants are encouraged to prioritize their well-being and to withdraw from the race if they experience any severe health concerns.


What is the best way to train for the high altitude of the Leadville Trail 100 Run?

Training for the high altitude of the Leadville Trail 100 Run involves a combination of aerobic conditioning, strength training, and acclimatization. Runners should focus on gradually increasing their mileage and incorporating hill workouts to build endurance and leg strength. Spending time at higher elevations in the weeks leading up to race day can help the body adapt to the reduced oxygen levels and cope with the run’s steep elevation gain.

Can spectators access all parts of the course during the race?

Spectators can access designated aid stations and crew access points along the Leadville Trail 100 Run course. However, some sections of the route may be restricted to runners and race staff only. It is essential to review the official race information and follow the guidelines provided by the organizers to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for everyone involved.

Who are some notable competitors in the Leadville Trail 100?

Notable past competitors include Ian Sharman (winner of the race in 2013, 2015, 2016, and 2017), JP Giblin, Rob Krar, and Ann Trason (the current female record-holder for the race).

What are the qualifying requirements to enter the Leadville Trail 100 Run?

To enter the Leadville Trail 100 Run, runners must meet specific qualifying standards or gain entry through a lottery system. Qualifier events include other 100-mile races, as well as 50-mile and 100-kilometer races that meet certain criteria. The lottery system allows runners to enter a drawing for a chance to secure a spot in the race.

How does the Leadville Trail 100 Run impact the local community?

The Leadville Trail 100 Run has a significant impact on the local community, both economically and socially. The race brings in thousands of runners, spectators, and volunteers, providing a boost to local businesses and tourism. The event also fosters a sense of pride and unity among Leadville residents, who come together to support the runners and celebrate the town’s rich history and endurance spirit.

What are the environmental considerations taken by the race organizers?

The Leadville Trail 100 Run organizers prioritize environmental stewardship and sustainability. They work closely with local authorities and land managers to minimize the race’s impact on the natural surroundings and wildlife. This includes implementing leave-no-trace principles, educating runners and spectators about responsible outdoor practices, and coordinating with local conservation groups to protect and preserve the area’s unique ecological resources.


About the author

Ransom Patterson

My expertise in Colorado life extends beyond just residing here; it’s also about living actively within the community. I spend my time cycling through Denver’s trails, experimenting with local cuisines, and immersing myself in the local music scene. These activities give me a unique perspective on the cultural and outdoor offerings of Colorado. This hands-on approach allows me to provide insider tips and personal recommendations that resonate with both locals and visitors alike.