A week ago, Florida Caterpy Athlete Robert Sterba took on one of the most iconic ultramarathons in history: The Leadville 100. Held each August in Leadville, CO this race is unique and challenging not only because it's 100 miles long, but because the race starts at 10,500 feet and climbs to almost 13,000 feet.
It's 37 degrees out, and the race gun fires at 4:00 am on Saturday morning. Runners have 30 hours to complete the grueling course, where strict cutoffs are imposed. "Every step of the way you can feel the deadline cutoff time looming"
The culminating point of the race is at Hope Pass. At this point runners have traveled over 30 miles on foot, from here they see their crews and aid station volunteers and prepare for the next 25 miles solo. Runners traverse Hope Pass only to turn around at mile 50 and do it again. "This race is tough for every single runner, but coming from sea level altitude sickness, technical footing, and climbing were very real challenges to overcome," Robert says.
Upon returning from Hope Pass runners can pick up a pacer until the finish. There is still nearly 3,000 feet of climbing and 40 miles to complete, but even through the darkest (and snowiest) parts of the night, having a pacer makes the finish seem possible. "My legs came alive and the crew kept me moving swiftly until I crossed the line at 28 hr and 52 mins," Robert reflects.