Saturday, September 5, 2015

Leadville Trail draws local ties

Lesley Jones Cortright, 37 year old granddaughter of Don and Della Knutson ran in the  Leadville Trail 100 Mile Run on August 22, 2015 in Leadville, CO. 

She finished with a time of 28 hours and 23 minutes which earned her a prized silver belt buckle.  An honor only given to those whom finish under 30 hours. 
Cortright placed 26th out of 61 women finishers.

The Ultra-marathon is held annually on trails near Leadville, Colorado through the heart of the Rocky Mountains.  Runners climb and descend 22,000 feet, with elevations ranging between 9,200 feet to 12,620 feet. 

624 runners started the race and 319 finished.

The race began at 4:00 a.m. and ended in 30 hours or less in downtown Leadville, elevation 10,152 feet.  They ran on technical trails around Turquoise Lake up towards Hagerman Pass to Sugarloaf Mountain. 

They continue up and down a rugged, steep, and deep creviced power line trail in the dark. 
The run continued on trails and dirt roads in the tree line below Mt. Elbert, which then brought the runners in to the town of Twin Lakes, elevation 9,203 feet.  From Twin Lakes the race continued through a marsh and crossed Lake Creek before they start the climb up and over Hope Pass, elevation 12,620 feet.

Carefully climbing over shale and boulders, the runners ended up in the town of Winfield. 
Then they turned around and repeated the same course back into Leadville. 

They were allowed to have pacers once they hit the 50-mile mark in Winfield for the return to Leadville.

Quoted from Lesley:  “The past year of my life I have trained my mind to overcome a great deal of discomfort and fear.  I have trained my body to believe it can go on long after my mind has decided it can’t.  As it turns out all of this training was merely a 20-second, laughable preview of what my actual experience of running the Leadville Trail 100 would be. 

I have never felt so broken, so beaten and sure I wasn’t worthy of completing this journey…and that was at mile 45; on top of Hope Pass, elev. 12,620 feet, knowing I wasn’t even half way home.  But as it turns out, that’s just part of it; to understand the internal strength we each have deep down, I had to hit rock bottom emotionally.  And I had to be willing to see it through; see how I would come out on the other side. 

It was not until mile 99.5 that I knew that I’d actually be able to finally tell my two young daughters what I had been telling myself for the past 365 days.

Girls really can do hard things.  Like, insanely hard things.  And there is no amount of training that can prepare you to do these hard things. 

Sometimes you just have to have faith; faith to know you’ll feel like you’re going to fall into the depths of hell, but be willing to take the chance and see what your life will become when you rise from the ashes. 

I journeyed 100 miles.  I didn’t quit.  I put one foot in front of the other, just like Merilee Maupin (co-founder of the race) told me to and my life will never be the same.”

She also learned what race founder,  Ken Chlouber, said was true: “You’re better than you think you are, and you can do more than you think you can.”

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