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.

Course Overview

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.

Leadville 100 MTB course and elevation profile.

Leadville 100 MTB course and elevation profile.

Growing Popularity

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.

Wrapping up

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.



1994John Stamstad7:52:53
1995Russell Worley7:27:55
1996Mike Volk7:22:02
1997Mike Volk7:05:45
1998Richard Feldman7:40:02
1999Richard Feldman7:10:33
2000Kevin Willson7:31:09
2001Bryson Perry7:30:01
2002Bryson Perry7:32:27
2003David Wiens7:07:44
2004David Wiens7:05:51
2005David Wiens7:17:47
2006David Wiens7:13:14
2007David Wiens6:58:46
2008David Wiens6:45:45
2009Lance Armstrong6:28:51
2010Levi Leipheimer6:16:37
2011Todd Wells6:23:38
2012Alban Lakata6:32:23
2013Alban Lakata6:04:01
2014Todd Wells6:16:27
2015Alban Lakata5:58:35
2016Todd Wells6:19:43
2017Howard Grotts6:15:00
2018Howard Grotts6:18:08
2019Howard Grotts6:19:18
2021Keegan Swenson6:11:26
2022Keegan Swenson6:00:01
2023Keegan Swenson5:43:31 (current record)


1994Laurie Brandt9:03:50
1995Laurie Brandt8:52:58
1996Tonia Ralston9:56:15
1997Laurie Brandt7:58:52
1998Laurie Brandt8:31:24
1999Cristina Begy8:55:12
2000Cristina Begy9:13:51
2001Joan Miller 9:11:30
2002Kim Raymond9:00:57
2003Carol Quinn9:19:49
2004Jilene Mecham9:37:18
2005Joan Miller8:51:26
2006Lisel Robert8:47:39
2007Gretchen Reeves8:05:29
2008Susan Williams8:40:55
2009Rebecca Rusch8:14:53
2010Rebecca Rusch7:47:35
2011Rebecca Rusch7:31:46
2012Rebecca Rusch 7:28:06
2013Sally Bigham7:17:01
2014Sally Bigham7:23:58
2015Annika Langvad6:59:24 (current record)
2016Sally Bigham7:05:47
2017Larissa Connors7:31:53
2018Larissa Connors7:40:13
2019Rose Grant7:36:06
2021Rose Grant7:23:57
2022Hannah Otto7:24:12
2023Sofía Gómez Villafañ7:09:48
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