The Leadville Race Series is back, whether or not Mother Nature is ready for it.
This Saturday, the Leadville Trail Marathon and Heavy Half kick off the famed ultra-endurance event season at 10,200 feet in Leadville, according to a release from series organizers Life Time.
But first, there's about 7 feet of snow spread across several miles of high-alpine terrain to clear. Due to substantial late-spring snowfall in the Rocky Mountains — remember when Summit County saw more than 2 feet in mid-May? — the Leadville Race Series crew has been prepping the course and working to clear snow drifts from the course, which takes runners to the summit of Mosquito Pass at 13,185 feet.
"With the May storms this year, we've received a considerable amount of late-season snow in Leadville," said Ken Chlouber, founder of the Leadville Race Series. "Our team has been working hard shoveling and clearing the snow away for our participants to give them the great race experience Leadville is known for."
MARATHON AND 'HEAVY HALF'
The Leadville Trail Marathon and 15.5-mile Heavy Half Marathon kick off the Colorado portion of the Leadville Race Series. The marathon is a qualifier for the prestigious Leadville Trail 100 (held this year on Aug. 19), but the courses also offer a perfect introduction for those looking to attempt other ultra-endurance events like the Silver Rush 50 on July 9. The marathon is the first event in the famed Leadman/Leadwoman competition, during which athletes participate in five Leadville Race Series events throughout the summer to be crowned overall ultra-endurance champion (not to mention king and queen of the masochists.)
The marathon and heavy half share similar courses, beginning with a run through the historic mining district of Leadville before climbing to 13,185 feet at Mosquito Pass. The challenging, 3-mile pass ascent includes rocky terrain and switchbacks. Once at the summit, athletes are rewarded with breathtaking views of Turquoise Lake and the Mosquito and Sawatch mountain ranges, including Mount Elbert, the highest peak in Colorado at 14,439 feet. The remainder of both courses is split between old mining roads and double-track trails.
Both races begin on Saturday at 8 a.m. in downtown Leadville. To register and find more info, see at LeadvilleRaceSeries.com.
If running 26.2 miles above 10,000 feet isn't your cup of tea, stay in touch with the run series, mountain bike series and trail 100, dubbed "the Race Across the Sky," on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.