Leadville 100 Trail Run: Why ask why?

by | Sep 1, 2000 | News Articles

September, 2000 Fit to be Tied Column

From the Pueblo Chieftain
by Gary Franchi

Leadville 100 Trail Run: Why ask why?

“Only those who go too far risk finding out how far they can go.” – T.S. Elliot

“Because it’s there” is not a good enough reason for wanting to tackle the Leadville 100-Mile Trail Run. After all, “it’s there” for me, too, and I have no desire to try such a monumental distance.

So what was the lure that caused Sue Gebhart of Penrose and Laura Schilf of Cañon City to run – and finish – the Leadville race last month?

You can’t say there’s something in the water in Fremont County that affects the brain cells, because these are two rational human beings who are enjoying very productive lives. Schilf teaches second graders at Harrison Elementary in Cañon City, while Gebhart, who came here from Minnesota as a quality test engineer for Sperry Corp., now does “odd jobs” that include tiling, landscaping or just about any other projects that come her way.

You can’t blame such a decision on a momentary lapse of reason, either. The hours and hours and miles and miles of training require a commitment that is captivating for several months. It’s no snap decision at a weak moment.

So why do it? The ladies offered a few thoughts:

Gebhart, 45, is a former high school cross country and track runner who used to be the typical sane-distance (5K, 10K, etc.) racer in this area until 1990, when she discovered the beauty of trail running.

“I found out that it was more fun to be able to come to a big hill and walk (instead of trying to race) up it,” Gebhart said with a laugh recently.

In a more serious vein, she noted that she simply enjoys the hills, the inherent gorgeous vistas and the other amenities that trail running offers. She was trying to break 25 hours in her third shot at the Leadville 100 after having finished in 28 hours and 24 minutes and 26:40 in her previous two attempts.

Schilf, meanwhile, was attempting her first ultra-distance event. Laura, 38, has become a fixture in area and regional races from the short 5Ks (3.1 miles) to half-marathons since moving to Cañon City from Chicago a few years ago.

She did her first marathon in 1986 when she ran the Chicago Marathon with her dad, Tom Schilf. But having training partners like Gebhart and Marv Bradley of Cañon City, among others, Schilf had been smitten with the itch to go beyond her previous limits.

“I just wanted to test myself,” Schilf said recently. “I had crewed and paced for others there and I’m a strong hiker, so I thought I could do it.”

She also pulled out her source of motivation, the quote from Elliot above. That helped get her through the training that reached a maximum of around 80 miles a week and included covering every inch of the Leadville 100 in separate, shorter chunks.

Gebhart and Schilf were part of just 175 of the 407 starters who finished the Leadville 100. The event started at 4 a.m. and included a cold rain at the start, warm to relatively hot daytime temperatures, snow at the higher elevations and rain off and on throughout the race.

Bothered by a pulled muscle in back of a knee, Gebhart missed her 25-hour goal but still finished in 26:44. Schilf had carefully plotted what time splits she wanted to hit at each aid station and hoped for a 29: 45 time. Instead, she finished in 29:05 with feet that were sore for days afterward.

Both women had pacers run with them the entire second half of the run (only runners 60 years of age and older can have pacers during the first 50 miles).

Laura’s pacers included Hector Leyba, Bradley, Orlando Trujillo, Steve Kirkman and her father, who is 66 years old and recently moved with his wife, Paula, to Cañon City. Dad ran with daughter the final emotional 13 miles. Gebhart had just four pacers, two of them being sisters who also have left the Midwest to settle in Colorado.

So, what’s next for the two women? Gebhart said she’s probably had enough of the Leadville 100 but will continue to do trail runs throughout the state. Schilf has no desire to do another “ultra,” but she is thinking about doing her first triathlon.

Note: Robert Santoyo also gave it a good shot at the Leadville 100 but had to drop out after completing 50 miles.

Running News

Congrats to Bradley and Kim Westerman of Pueblo West for recently finishing the Omaha (NE) Arts on the Green Marathon in 4:07 and 4:35, respectively … Pueblo’s Maddy Tormoen was the first female finisher and second overall in the 13K division of the Run for the Rock in Castle Rock with a time of 53:16. She finished just 16 seconds behind the top male finisher. Ex-Puebloan Stella Heffron of Elizabeth was second among females in the 5K division in 20:35, while ex-Puebloan Chris Borton of Castle Rock was second overall male in the 5K with a 16:36 time … Members of the Southern Colorado Runners will get a $5 discount on the River Trail Marathon and Half-Marathon on Oct. 8 if they meet the pre-registration deadline of Sept. 30.

Upcoming Area Races

* Sept. 16 – Autumn Color Run, Half-Marathon, 10K, 5K and 1M, 8 a.m., Buena Vista.
* Sept. 24 – Hot to Trot 5K, 8 a.m., Union Avenue District.
* Oct. 7 – HARP Riverwalk 5K Run & Walk, 8 a.m. Downtown Riverwalk.
* Oct. 8 – River Trail Marathon & Half-Marathon, 7 a.m., Pueblo West.
* Oct. 28 – Harvest Prediction Run, 5M, 5 p.m., Pueblo West.

Multi-sport News

Salida will be the site of the Tenderfoot Triathlon and Duathlon on Sept. 23. The triathlon consists of a 1K swim, 40K bike and 10K run. The duathlon includes the same bike and run distances without the swim. For information, call 719-539-6738 … Besides the results of “big boys” in the Boulder MS Triathlon reported last month, Brendan Dorsey-Spitz of Pueblo took first place in the 14-15 age division of the Boulder Peak Kids Triathlon held the previous day. His time was 21:52 for distances that included a 200-meter swim, 5.5K bike and 1.5K run.

See ya next month.

Send thoughts and comments to Gary Franchi via e-mail at csports@chieftain.com.