Monday, August 23, 2010

Local Knowledge

The fact that I was in Leadville one whole week before the gun went off for the start of my race gave me a huge advantage. I was able to surround myself with locals who gave me all sorts of insider tips for racing in Leadville and surrounding mountains. The week before my actual race I spent some quality time with a local racing legend named Smokey. You see, Smokey was clearly a celebrity in Leadville due to his amazing racing speed and longevity. Smokey raced over and over again in the legends burro races and you guessed it, he smoked the field. Even when Smokey wasn't at the front of the pack, he still got the most cheers from the crowd. I had a few moments to pick his brain and get his secret formula for successfully crossing the line in Leadville.

Smokey Sharing Wisdom

The most valuable tips that I got from Smokey, in no particular order are:

1) Always, no matter what, move forward. You have already seen what is behind you and going backwards just adds distance.

2) Being last ass over the pass is not a bad thing, better than being the ass that didn't get over the pass. Don't worry about your position in the long line of asses, just refer to #1.

3) If you are going to stop dead in your tracks you will lose all momentum and will require someone to give you a good tug or whipping to get you going. A merciless crew is key, and a big whip!

4) Once you are in sight of the finish line, it is important you let everyone know you are coming and BRAY loudly and often.

5) Sometimes, you just need to take a nature break, amazing how much faster you can move once the load is lightened.

6) The lighter your pack, the faster you can move (Pierce, I am sharing that tip with you for next year!).

7) Crowd support makes all the difference in the world. Make sure you are feeling the love.

The short in town burro races were referred to as the celebrity races, I think that Smokey was really the only 'celebrity' in attendance. At the same time the open race was taking place. It was a 22 mile race with a burro carrying a 35 pound pack and went up over 13,000ft. There was only one woman in the open class race and she won. (By the way, they didn't get to ride their burros they had to pull, push and coerce them along to the finish line) She annihilated the field is more accurate. I waited over 20 minutes for the first man to finish after her and then gave up waiting!

Starting Line for Celebrity Races

I didn't only get insider knowledge on racing, I also observed some of the local eating habits. I was particularly fascinated by one culinary treat that seemed to be the favorite. I wanted to know the nutritional value that it offered. I asked one of the many foodies in line waiting for this delicacy what it was and other details. He replied 'who cares what its made of, it tastes great!'. I honestly should have gotten a clue from looking at him that he didn't have a fine dining palate or that he was particular about what he put in his mouth.

Local Delicacies

The proprietor of this establishment informed me that they weren't actual Monkey Testes but were meatballs made out of pork. All I know is that even if they would have made me go sub 9 for a big buckle, there is no way I was eating those! Not once during the actual Leadville Trail 100 did I think, 'If I had just eaten some Monkey Balls!'. I think those Leadville locals weren't completely forthcoming in all of their local knowledge and might have been trying to throw us out of towners off the true secrets with this 'local delicacy'. I sure the heck didn't see Smokey standing in line to get him some Monkey Balls:)

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