Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Leadville 100.. The Statement

Just 6 hours after my last post hit the inter-webs in regards to the Leadville 100, We finally got what we all have been waiting for. Josh Colley, The RD of the Leadville Run Series, finally broke his silence and offered up an official statement about the race. Better late then never I suppose, and the response we got was all the smoke and mirrors I could have asked for. I am happy, however, that something was finally said and Lifetime has finally admitted and recognized that there are issues. However, the statement they have given us.. still doesn't provide us with any answers. Just more talk..

You can read the statement in it's original form by going to the following link:

Before I get into my post, I want to bring another BIG statement that was made to your attention. This happened a day after Leadville's Statement, and I feel that it is as big a statement as Hard Rock removing Leadville as a qualifying 100 miler. Stan Jansen has been the curator of since May of 1995. Over the last nearly 20 years, Stan has kept an updated list of every 100 Mile Race in North America. His website has been a go to for information for many ultra runners in that time, and anyone who has ever googled anything ultra, is sure to have stumbled across his pages at least once. Stan made the following statement yesterday, 24 hours after Leadville's statement: "Sorry, but I'm removing the Leadville 100 from my web site. They're no longer a part of the sport of ultrarunning, but simply a business venture."

Some folks called my post, "A Letter on Leadville" destructive to the race. Quite honestly, I think Leadville has done quite enough destruction on itself.. Hard Rock and Stan are testament's to that fact. But now.. I'd like to share that letter with you here on my blog.. with my own personal commentary about what we're reading. Josh's Statements will be in Italics while my thoughts will be in Bold. Enjoy.

To our valued Athletes, Crewmembers and Spectators,
Since the launch of the legendary “Race Across the Sky,” we have always upheld a commitment to improve our quality of execution and the experiences we deliver to you. (No improvements have been made since you purchased the event, only changes that have regressed the event as a whole) 2014 will be no exception. Since August, we have implemented many changes and adjustments to the Leadville Trail 100 Run with the goal of further improving this historic event, (GREAT! Let's hear EXACTLY what those changes are!) while striving to serve the ever-growing demand of athletes and spectators alike. We truly are blessed to have the opportunity to serve so many after so many years.
With respect to growth, our number one priority is to address the dramatically increased participant numbers we experienced in 2013. In response, participant numbers will be reduced in 2014. (This is a great idea! But tell us.. what is the number of registered runners you intend to let in or how many starters EXACTLY will you have? Now that you're no longer a Hard Rock Qualifier, you're guaranteed to lose some there) We expect this change will significantly reduce the impact upon the course and aid station locations, (Depends on what you cap it at. It's going to be a dramatic decrease in the numbers for it to truly be "significant" and we're talking pre 2011 numbers) while allowing for improved crew access. (Again, you have to go back to pre 2011 numbers to accomplish this) In addition, professional parking and crowd control crews are scheduled to work the sections of trail with the highest traffic. (I'm happy to hear this.. hopefully the crews will have worked an event like this before. Are you saying that had you had this in 2013 the event would have been OK?)
With approval from the US Forest Service, (Do you HAVE approval?) the Winfield aid station area will see a new look in 2014. The proposed changes will make better use of the open land around Winfield and improve the flow of athletes and crews. Please note that only vehicles with ‘LT100 CREW’ tags will be allowed above the Sheephead gulch trailhead. ALL other spectators will be required to park below Sheephead gulch. (Ok.. but again, this lowered impact will only happen dependent on the number of runners you have in the event. Remember, the average runner has 1.5 crew vehicles at the race. So if you let 700 run, that's 1,050 vehicles heading out to Winfield.. that's not a reasonable number for that area. Pre 2010, that number would have been 597.. almost half as many!)
While Twin Lakes will continue to require all crews and spectators to park outside the city limits, bus and shuttle service will increase significantly in 2014. (Awesome!) With this, we expect improved travel times for crews and spectators from their vehicles to the course. (I'd also like to know if crews will be awarded the same complimentary sheriff's department drug search that was conducted in 2013. Where the dogs were sniffing under every car at Twin Lakes. That was a nice touch to the "valued"crew and spectator atmosphere.)
With increased event demand also comes more refuse. (Really?) With this in mind, plans have been made for an increase in trash receptacles at key points on course. (What key locations are we talking about? and why hadn't you considered this with over 900 runners on the course in 2013?) Moreover, 2014 will see increased LT100 Run staff and volunteers assigned to remove all trash and debris from the course immediately following the event. (OK... so you're going to remove a few hundred runners from the race, and add a few hundred staff members.. to go out on the course. You just negated the idea of a lower impact.)
Above all, the Leadville Trail 100 Run is committed to contribute positively to the future of Ultra running. (That's good.. because since Lifetime bought it.. you haven't contributed positively and you've been at it for 3 years now. I and many others are anxious to see the truly positive contribution you are about to offer.) While we aim to extend the historic tradition of the event, it is paramount that we implement these adjustments to maintain a superior athlete experience. (OK.. don't get mad now but.. WHAT ADJUSTMENTS? see below) Looking ahead, updates pertaining to the 2014 Leadville Trail 100 Run will be provided on our Facebook page and the Leadville Race Series website. (yes.. increased site traffic is important in this numbers game.)
As always, we are interested in your feedback and questions. (Ok.. now hold on. Here it comes. Ready?! You've been getting feedback and questions since August but you're just NOW acknowledging any of it. Oh that's right.. you used the word "interested" not.. "We Care About" or "We Welcome") We look forward to serving you, once again, (will you be serving US or your pockets?) on August 16, 2014, and wish you a safe, healthy and happy holiday season and New Year.
Best regards,
Josh Colley and the LT100 Run Staff
Begin Sherpa Commentary
Well there it is folks. Josh Colley and the LT100 Staff have finally spoken yet, they haven't said much. True, for the first time in 3 months they have acknowledged that there are problems.
  • The race is over-crowded
  • They need to reduce their impact
  • Litter is a real issue
  • Winfield is a Problem and they need a better plan
  • Parking and traffic is an issue on the course
  • Traffic and Parking in Twin Lakes is also an issue
  • They need more volunteers to cater to the hundreds of runners they have
They did indeed acknowledge these issues in their statement but.. they didn't offer any clear cut plan on how to fix them. Yes, there will be a smaller field of runners this year but they can't tell us how many will be allowed. Yes, their will be more garbage cans on the course, but we don't know where. Winfield will look different.. but they're STILL going to allow Crews to head in there and we don't yet know how many vehicles will indeed be allowed. It'll be easier to catch a shuttle in Twin Lakes.
Friends, we were just Mitt Romney'd. There is a plan, they just can't show us.
But here is what they missed in their statement:
  • Why there isn't a qualifier for those wishing to run in the event
  • They are going to reduce the number of runners but increase the number of "sweeps" on the course which will in effect, not truly alter the impact on the course.
  • No acknowledgement of the fragility of Hope Pass and it's surrounding environment from a foot traffic perspective
  • No statement in regards to the permit for Twin Lakes they failed to acquire in 2013 until just hours before the event.
  • No acknowledgment or apology for the running out of aid at imperative aid stations
  • No apology for anything at all really... yet they state that they want to contribute positively to the future of ultra running. PROVE IT.
For many of us, this statement has come as too little too late. The real lack of any transparent plan that acknowledges the LT100s commitment to SAFETY as well as the roots of our sport is astonishing to me. We can count on one thing, another round of prolonged silence now that they've finally said something. An increase in the entry fee to help off-set the "improvements" they're about to make and to offset the income from the number of runners they're about to cut. (Whatever that is).

So now is either an exciting time or a terrifying time for the Leadville 100. Where they go from here... what they decide on and roll out for 2014.. will tell us ALL where their mind, soul and heart is up there. We're anxious to find out more.. and god help the LT100 if they screw it up.

I'm headed for Big Horn.

PS.. to everyone on the inter-webs who thought I was crazy. Leadville finally broke it's silence. Why do you think that is? It's because the masses are getting louder.. we're not happy.. and we're not the only ones.

Sherpa John