Peek at the Leadville 100 Qualifier Courses

Now known is the whens and wheres; but what about the courses?

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Ever since Life Time Fitness, the new owner of the Leadville Trail 100 mountain bike race, announced that a qualifying series would be organized by sporting event giant AEG, the questions started to fly — when, where and, most importantly, what?

Road racer Levi Leipheimer leads mountain biker Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski up the Powerline Climb at the 2010 LT100. Photo by Dave McElwaine

The knowns were that each of the three races set for this summer would provide 100 qualifying spots to the LT100. Also known were that the spots would be allocated partially on the basis of age-group performance and partly by lottery among finishers. Finally, while vague, the races would be held in California, Colorado and in the Northeast.

Some of the unknowns where answered this week in a press relase: The race in the Northeast will be in the Wilmington/Whiteface 100K in Upstate New York on June 19. The California event will be the Lake Tahoe Trail 100K held July 10 in the Truckee-North Tahoe area and based at the ski resort Northstar-at-Tahoe. The Colorado race is the Crested Butte Alpine Odyssey out of the Crested Butte Mountain Resort on July 31.

And while the LT100 is a true 100-miler, the qualifiers are 100 km (62 miles) distances. What wasn’t spelled out in the Life Time Fitness release, however, were detailed course descriptions, although they’ve been vetted by Leadville Qualifying Series Technical Director Dave Wiens, a six-time LT 100 champion, according to the event’s owners.

For some of the venues, that vagueness was because permitting with land owners, such as the U.S. Forest Service, is still in the pipeline.

The Courses

The elevation profile of the Crested Butte Alpine Odyssey

Despite the closed lips, what learned is that the two of the three courses — Truckee-North Tahoe and Crested Butte — will favor those with climbing legs and less on technical mountain biking ability, which happens to be the knock against the Leadville Trail 100 by its detractors.

That said, the qualifying races won’t be easy. The Truckee-North Tahoe route will likely see two 30-mile loops with a total of about 8,000 feet of climbing, said Andy Buckley, director of Resort Skier Services at Northstar-at-Tahoe.

“The course will start and finish at Northstar-at-Tahoe, with final course routing currently being determined,” Buckley said on Wednesday. “Current plans feature a two-loop course of 50k each, with approximately 4,000 feet of elevation gain per lap. The course will be designed to appeal to mountain and road bike riders who favor endurance challenges by combining fire road and double track, so only a small portion — less than 6k per lap — will feature singletrack.”

The Crested Butte course is likewise more jeep road than singletrack trail — about 80-20, according to Andrew Cesati, Mountain Sports Division manager at Crested Butte Mountain Resort. The “roads,” however, will whack the lungs as riders will bag the 12,085-foot Gunsight Pass. The 62-miles will pack in more than 10,700 feet of climbing with the lowest elevation on the course 8,850 feet.

As far as the New York race, the event’s Facebook page says the race will start and finish at Whiteface Mountain and will cover jeep trails near Jay and Saddleback Mountains in the Adirondacks before climbing up the front of Whiteface Mountain, which was the site of the 1980 Olympic Winter Games downhill ski races.

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