Monday, November 11, 2013

Leadville.. Answers

Last week I wrote a piece on the Leadville 100. Per the normal around here on Human Potential, my writing was taken with mixed reviews. I'm all for generating discussion. Those who have read this blog for the last decade now, will know that I'm all about offering up my non-sugarcoated opinions. Some respect that about me, others loathe it. I'm fine either way. But I'm not the only one with the thoughts and opinions that folks want to hear, and what they want to hear isn't being expressed. One of the common themes in our ultra community, one of the biggest points made about this whole Leadville fiasco, has been the lack of comment from the Race Director and/or Lifetime Fitness themselves. A lot has been said about Leadville and quite honestly, not a lot of it is good.

What good you can find on the internet, in regards to Leadville, comes from the first-time 100 mile runners/ (aka. fan boys) who don't know better, those who weren't a part of our sport half a decade ago before the corporate armageddon took place. Those who are speaking out, those who claim to have no reason to return to Leadville, no desire.. those are the runners who have been running ultras for a long time, who have stood on many starting lines and who truly know what our sport was built upon and is about. Those same runners who know that Leadville has jumped the shark and is the antithesis of the roots of our ultra culture.


That's right kids, I'm not the first to pee in the pool, and some of the names above can pee all they want in my opinion. But think about it, my last post "A Letter on Leadville" has received over 3600 views in just 7 days. That's more views then that of the next highest read post on my blog (All Time) by more than double.. and I've been blogging for over a decade. I didn't write the post to get traffic to my blog.. I wrote it to start the discussion and in some cases, keep it going. 3600+ people read that post... that's astounding.. and I guarantee you a majority of them feel much the same way as myself. If anything, it tells you that a lot of people feel passionately about the race and what is going on up there. Hell, even ESPN Commentary retweeted my Blog Post Tweet on Twitter.. yeah.. ESPN. Do you think they retweeted my commentary because they disagreed?

But it's what I experienced in a recent Facebook posting that has placed the last nail in the coffin for me in saying that.. I will NEVER return to run in the Leadville 100 so long as Lifetime owns it and runs it. And I will NEVER recommend that anyone else who wants a true Ultra Experience, do so either. Let me explain:

A gentleman (loosely) named Stephen friended me on Facebook for the soul purpose of getting me to reply on the comment thread associated with his Facebook post, where he provided a link to my previous blog post and asked others what they think. Some folks call this "Internet Trolling." The responses were all over the place, 80+ in total. Many supported Lifetime, others agreed with my thoughts, others echoed the "I'll never go back" sentiments. Others chose to call bull shit, question my experience as an ultra runner, questioned my experience as a race director, doubting that I've never done any trail work before.. and other truly entertaining stuff. But what shocked me.. was that we finally heard from the RD himself. Mr. Josh Colley.

Hundreds have commented on the severe Cluster F that was the Leadville 100 in 2013 and it should be noted.. the number is much larger then those who complained in 2011 and again in 2012. The masses are getting louder. Many more have said, "What surprises me most is that we've yet to hear from the race. Everyone is up in arms about the event and they've yet to answer anyones concerns, their questions.." Hell.. someone even pointed this out in the comments on my last post saying, "Maybe you will get a reply. So far I haven't heard of anyone getting a response from Lifetime."

Here it is.. the first any of us have heard publicly from Lifetime and it's from the RD himself.

First, I agree with Mr. Tawney. And that's why.. I haven't paid to run in Leadville the last two years.. and I would happily offer my services as Race Director.. FREE OF CHARGE. Why?! Because for year's I've stated on this blog, and others, that I don't think RD's should be getting a yearly salary of such sizable amounts to direct ANY races. Sure it's a lot of work, but 95% of them volunteered to do it. Josh signed up for this, knew he would be getting a salary for his work.. imagine if you were underperforming for your current employer and a mass of angry customers or colleagues in your field were looking for answers. Would you have a job tomorrow?  I'd love to do it my way, as I would: Bring back the old belt buckle design, embroider names and finish times on sweatshirts and hand them out with buckles at the awards dinner, ensure each and every aid station is fully stocked from open until every runner is accounted for, monitor the progress of each of the 900+ runners on the course and be able to provide a projected time into the next aid station for each (see Mike Dewey Circa 1990s). Oh yeah, I'd still cap the race at 500 starters.

Josh, our RD.. peers into the conversation and to my knowledge offers his first public response. It is professionally written, and to me sounds more like "there will be no cap on the number of runners," as he states "keeping this special achievement available to many athletes."

So someone calls Lifetime out, no knowing who Josh is because you can't find the RD's name anywhere on the Lifetime Leadville website. 

No Sara, until now, no one from Lifetime has responded. But Josh promises "coming soon." Coming Soon? What the hell is the hold up?! People have been griping about the race since mid August.. (actually since LifeTime Took Over) it's been 3 months and you're about a month and a half away from opening things up to registration for 2014 and all you can say is "Coming Soon" ?! When Josh? I'd like to make a prediction. You'll issue your statement after registration has opened (no refunds right?) and a few hundred runners have all ready signed up for 2014. No? Not then? Then when Josh? Now is a great time.. people are waiting and we're only getting angrier by your silence.

A friend of mine recently told me in an e-mail "My husband thinks this all boils down to the director of the race (and that Josh needs to be replaced).  After the meeting (Lake County Commission, Leadville City Council Meeting) Josh didn't even acknowledge what I had to say, or even my offer to help the race series.  We have a home in Leadville now, so we will be more involved in volunteering, and hopeful in how things are going to change for the better. Still waiting to hear on that."

The conversation carried on where folks were saying that the Jeep, motorcycle or ATV races that take place in Leadville have a bigger environmental impact on the area than the run. Which is true and I agree with that; but my point on environmental impact was in regards to HOPE PASS.. and how a few thousand runners take to the single track trail from the river to the other side near winfield and back on race day. Nearly 2000 heartbeats over an 8 hour span trudge up and over this area. The same area that is damn near a wilderness area, the same area that is part of the Continental Divide Trail. The same area.. that is not a Jeep or ATV road like the rest of the course. That area.. That impact...

But Josh.. Josh decided to be cute. Apparently now is a great time for the RD of Leadville to be cutesy, to be arrogant. When people are clearly looking for answers and a statement (See Sara and e-mail clip above), Josh decides to be cute. "Brent, I don't think he is joining our conversation." Well Josh.. I've joined the conversation and I've been a part of it since before you became Race Director, I've been a part of it since Lifetime bought it.. and I'm still having it.

Josh Colley is the RD of the Leadville running series, the voice of the race, the person all of us should be able to go to for answers to our questions and concerns. He has yet to publicly address the concerns of many ultra runners in regards to the 100 mile run. Lifetime has yet to offer a public statement. But Josh.. the voice of Leadville, the voice of Lifetime... felt that now is an appropriate be cute, to be a wise ass.

Thanks Josh. I'll stay home this year and watch it all destruct a little more. This isn't a joke. It's serious. The number of folks who have read these posts, who have commented, who have retweeted, who have posted on Facebook, who have clicked like and so on.. they're speaking.. even if without words of their own. They're trying to tell you they care. They're trying to tell you that they're waiting for answers and in return.. you're showing us your true colors and lack of professionalism as the Race Director for the second largest Ultramarathon in North America (sic JFK50). Cute Josh.. real cute.