The Leadville 100 MTB History

The Leadville Trail 100 MTB is the second oldest of the growing number of 100-mile (160 km) marathon mountain bike races held in the United States, the first being the Wilderness 101 in Central PA. The Leadville Trail 100 MTB was first run in 1994 and has become one of the best marketed, attended and known marathon events in mountain bike racing.

Entry to the event is controlled and restricted. Some entries are awarded by a random lottery, while other entries are awarded by finishing well in a series of qualifying events. The lottery entries are due by the end of December for the race that is run the second Saturday in August. The qualifying events are similar to the Leadville 100 race but shorter, typically around 100 km in length. These course typically cover similar paths (roads, dirt roads, gravel roads and mild trails) with similar vertical elevation gains (~100 feet per 1 mile).

History of the Race

The Leadville Trail 100 MTB race is an outgrowth of the Leadville Trail 100 footrace. Both races were begun by Ken Chlouber as part of an effort to spur the economy of the town of Leadville after a local mine that employed many residents closed the Climax mine. The mountain bike race was the idea of Tony Post, then a marketing vice president at the Rockport Company, sponsor of the event who arranged for television coverage for both races. The first mountain bike race drew just 150 entrants, while the 2009 edition allowed 1400 entrants. The race has continued to grow and expand its entrant base. In 2019, racer entries totaled 1,644.

Leadville Trail 100 MTB Course

The race is run on a 50-mile (80 km) out and back course, starting and finishing in downtown Leadville, Colorado, United States, at 10,200 ft (3,100 m) elevation. Major climbs include an over 3,000 feet (910 m) ascent from miles 40-50 to the Columbine mine, Powerline at mile 80, and St Kevins at mile 86. Total elevation gain is somewhere around 11,000 feet (3,400 m) when verified by GPS tracks of past competitors. [1] The actual length of the course is approximately 104 miles.

Leadville Trail 100 MTB Cutoff Times

Racers must checkout of aid stations prior to cutoff times. These times place limits on the amount of time racers have to finish a course leg. They are found in the Leadville Trail 100 MTB Athlete Guide and also in the event schedule on the website.

Leadville 100 MTB

Riders must check out of each aid station prior to the cut-off times. Failure do to so will end the racer’s competitive time and result in a did not finish (DNF) race result status. In the final leg toward the race finish, racers must finish prior too a 9-hour cutoff time to qualify for the “big buckle” and a 12-hour cutoff time for completion and to qualify for the “small buckle”.

Cutoff Times for the Leadville Trail 100

Course LegElapsed Race TimeActual Cutoff Time
Twin Lakes Outbound (40 miles)Elapsed time, 4 hoursActual Time 10:30am MST
Twin Lakes Return (60 miles)Elapsed time, 7 hours, 45 minutesActual Time 2:15pm MST
Pipeline Return (74 miles)Elapsed time, 8 hours, 45 minutesActual Time 3:15pm MST
Race Finish (100 miles)Elapsed time, 12 hours, 00 minutesActual Time 6:30pm MST

Past Leadville 100 MTB Winners

Between 2003 and 2008, David Wiens, a 2000 inductee to the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame, won the race each year. In 2007, Wiens broke the 7 hour mark for the first time at 6:58:46.while holding off Floyd Landis by just under 2 minutes. In 2008, Wiens won again beating Lance Armstrong by just under 2 minutes and setting a new course record of 6:45:45.

In 2009, Armstrong returned winning and establishing a new course record of 6:28:50.9. Armstrong’s involvement with the race has brought increased attention to the Leadville Trail 100 MTB, evidenced by the fact that race organizers offered a live webcast for purchase beginning in 2009. In 2010, Armstrong was unable to return due to injury, but his Team RadioShack teammate Levi Leipheimer, riding in his first mountain bike race, won and set a new course record of 6:16:37.

In the concurrent women’s race, two-time winner Rebecca Rusch also broke the course record, which had stood since 1997. In 2011, a conflict with the Tour of Utah kept Leipheimer away, but U.S. national cross-country bike champion Todd Wells turned in the second-fastest time ever to win, 6:23:38, while Rusch won the women’s race again and shaved over 15 minutes off her previous record, with 7:31:46.



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