A History of the Leadville 100 MTB race
The Leadville Trail 100 MTB race, often simply referred to as the “Leadville 100 MTB,” and also “The Race across the Sky,” is one of the most esteemed long-distance mountain biking events in the world. Set in the heart of the Colorado Rockies, this grueling race offers both immense challenge and inspiring scenery, running across high-altitude terrains with steep climbs and descents.
The Leadville 100 MTB race was first held in 1994 as a spin-off of the famous Leadville 100 ultramarathon. Ken Chlouber, a former miner and state legislator, created the race as a way to boost the local economy after the town’s main employer, the Climax molybdenum mine, shut down. Chlouber believed that hosting endurance events could help rejuvenate the community by drawing participants and spectators to the area.
This is an out and back course, beginning and ending in Leadville, elevation 10,152 ft. The course stretches a little over 100 miles. It’s a monster day on the bike. The course isn’t super technical for a seasoned mountain biker but there are some moments to pay attention, first among them the famed and dreaded “Powerline” descent and subsequent climb. Powerline can finish your day early on the descent because it’s usually very rutted from water erosion and quite sandy. Going back up it at mile 80 ruins many people’s day for a different reason: you are on empty. The high point of the course is Columbine Mine at a dizzying 12,424 feet. The elevation gain over the race is approximately 12,000 feet.
The race quickly gained recognition and became a must-do on many mountain bikers’ lists. Over the years, it attracted top professionals, as well as dedicated amateurs. Due to its increasing popularity, securing a spot in the race became highly competitive, with many slots determined by lottery or qualification through other Leadville Race Series events.
Economic Impact on Leadville
The race has had a significant economic impact on Leadville, revitalizing the town through tourism and transforming into a hub for endurance sports. Now, with the work-from-home thing, there has been a secondary real estate boom in Leadville.
The Leadville Trail 100 MTB is more than just a race; it’s a celebration of a revitalized mining town, endurance, willpower, and the beauty of the Colorado Rockies. Each year thousands of riders line up before dawn at 6th and Harrison in Leadville, inspired by the thousands before, all with the desire to go home with a belt buckles.
|2023||Keegan Swenson||5:43:31 (current record)|
|2015||Annika Langvad||6:59:24 (current record)|
|2023||Sofía Gómez Villafañ||7:09:48|