The Leadville 100
The Leadville 100 is a 100 mile epic mountain bike race within the high altitude mountains and valleys of Leadville , Colorado , created for only the most determined athletes looking to challenge themselves and impress the world. The majority is on back-country roads – treacherous Colorado rocky terrain – with some short sections of paved road. The entire course is 9,000 feet and climbs to 12,600 feet. In 2009 Lance Armstrong won the ultra-marathon race in a record time of 6:28:30.
Larry Linne, a friend and business associate of Lee’s developed through Strategic Coach, participated in this grueling annual feat that was held on August 13th, 2011. Not only did Larry riding to raise money for Bethel School for the Blind (he and his wife adopted their daughter from this orphanage in China – www.bethelchina.org ), but he also raced for Nick’s WACKY Warriors, too. He designed his own shirts combining the two – Samurai Wacky Warrior Against Cancer.
Here is an excerpt of Larry’s intention in his own words:
“My daughter (adopted from China two years ago) is 15 and blind. The entire race at Leadville, I will be thinking of her and Nick. My motivation will be how hard they could and would ride if their bodies would allow them to do so. Maybe what we raise will provide that opportunity for one of them or for others to be in a future race.”
As an interesting side note: First Descents, one of the charities that Wacky supports,was also at the Leadville 100, with a team of 20 participants and supporters.
Here is Lori Brower’s words about the event:
After watching Kelsey play a few games in the Summer Wind-up Tournament in Payson, Utah, I met up with Fairy Godmother, Denise, and off we drove to Vail, Colorado on Friday, August 19th. We picked up Lee at the Vail airport later that night (he had to fly in from Chicago).
Even though the official race start-time was 6:30 a.m., we chose to have breakfast in downtown Leadville first – I say “downtown” very loosely. We just happened to notice some young men carrying supplies with First Descent tee shirts on! FD had agreed to supply volunteers for the finish line tent (as well as a few along the route). We were able to meet several new FD friends; some that knew Nick (Nickname) and some that knew of him. It was great! After sending us off with new tee shirts of our own, we set off to meet up with the various observers near Twin Lakes around noon. Fortunately, Larry’s wonderful family had a tent set up (along with several other hundred families and sponsors). This was a planned pit stop for the racers, both for hydration and nourishment, as well as a timing area. We were fortunate enough to be there when Larry cruised on in for his refreshments. The real interesting part of the story is that Larry had taken a tumble on his bike a couple of weeks earlier and broke his arm in two places, his wrist, dislocated his shoulder and broke several ribs. He STILL rode in this race, taking a beating on the mountain terrain. Here is the link to the YouTube video:
After drying our eyes, we tried to catch up with the First Descents camp, but due to congestion and time issues, we headed back to the finish line. Soon (well, 11 hours after the start of the race) we started seeing some familiar faces cruise on in – Ryan Sutter, Mateo (I always have to look up what his real name is), Brad Ludden and then here came Larry with his family running along side him. Beautiful! Tears rolled as each FD participant rolled by on the red carpet.
Mateo met up with me after he rinsed off. He had worn the baci bracelet he received from his last week of camp (he was a counselor at the Vail camp) and he also wore it during the race. He took it off his wrist and tied it on to mine, signifying he raced for Nick. My original baci that I got at the First Descents Ball in April had just about worn through so the timing couldn’t have been more perfect. I remember Nick wearing the ribbons he received from each camp – all four of them (yes, he took them with him to the other side). More tears.
We finally were able to catch up with Brad Ludden, founder of FD, along with his favorite cheerleader, Stephanie. Brad had dedicated his race to Nick; here is an excerpt of his email to his friends and family:
I wanted to fill you in on the Leadville 100 as it is now over and all that remains are amazing memories, sore legs and an awesome belt buckle!
Throughout the race I developed a mantra to keep me positive. Anytime I started to fear a big climb or worry about my bike coming apart, I would just say, “Stay with me Nickname.” As many of you know, Nickname (aka Nick Raitt) was a dear friend and FD Alum who lost his life this summer to cancer at a young age. I did this race in his memory and that simple mantra seemed to work wonders. I can only imagine that he was busy watching over me and so many of his other friends that day.
I managed to finish the race in 11 hours and have to say it was the hardest 11 hours I’ve experienced in any kind of sporting event. I need to thank all of you for supporting me in this challenge. I couldn’t have done this without you behind me.
In addition to my goal of finishing this event, I set an equally tough goal of raising 10k and thanks to so many of you (you know who you are- THANK YOU!!!) I’m well on my way. However, even though the finish line is behind me, the challenge continues. I would be honored if you could dig deep just one more time to make any contribution you feel comfortable making to support me in my final push to the end of this challenge.
The link to donate is here: http://teamfd.firstdescents.org/2011/fd/leadville100/bradludden/
For every 1,000 dollars we raise, First Descents will send another young adult with cancer, just like Nickname, on a life-changing adventure. Thank you for making it all possible!
And, more tears… we were so humbled by the physical, emotional and mental commitment these racers displayed, above and beyond their own limits, to help someone else. CRAZY! 100 MILES, 11 ½ HOURS ON A MOUNTAIN BIKE, STARTING AT 10,000 FEET!
We had also brought out Nick’s kayaking gear to donate to First Descents. Brad had actually given Nick his kayak so it was only fitting to return it. But Nick also had a fairly new vest, kayak skirt, waterproof jacket and brand new, bright red toe shoes he had ordered two weeks before he died. Ever the optimist… Ya’ll know the drill by now – more tears.
Emotionally drained, yet with our hearts healed just a bit more, we headed home Sunday afternoon. Hard to say if my heart hurts because it is still so shattered by Nick’s death, or because it is bursting with love for those wonderful men that raced in the Leadville 100.
- Lori Brower