Part 1: Start to May Queen

  • May Queen (13.5m)
  • Outward Bound (23.5m)
  •  Halfmoon II (30.5m)
  • Twin Lakes (39.5m)
  • Winfield (50m)
  • Twin Lakes (60.5m)
  • Halfmoon II (69.5m)
  • Outward Bound (76.5m)
  • May Queen (86.5m)
Part One: Start to May Queen

Pre-race Feed and Hydration:  You can safely consume 400 calories 4 hours before the start ... keep it simple.  If you choose to eat later, the formula is 100 calories for each hour before the race ... if 'breakfast' is 2 hours before the start, then you can consume 200 calories.  Low fiber ... no dairy.  Coffee?  If you drink it everyday, then drink it on race morning too.  Go to the start line fully - but not overly - hydrated.  I recommend a quart of water on your bed stand.  Sip and finish the quart off over-night ... a multiple Leadville champ once said: "If you don't have to get up at night to use the bathroom, you are under hydrated."

Recommended Gear:

Start to May Queen (no poles):

Superbright Headlamp (a weak one will require an additional handheld flashlight to pick out the roots).  The Petzl Myo RXP is one example of a sufficiently powerful light.  ALWAYS carry a back-up source 'just in case'.  I recommend a micro torch (key chain LED) to adequately do the job.

2 hand held bottles w/ 100 calories of Perpetuem or HEED in each and 1 salt stick cap in each (remove the contents from the cap and pour into bottle).  Alternately, you can 'carry' the salt stick caps in a baggie attached to your water bottle or stuffed in your waist band, hat, etc.

4 gels rubber banded to the bottles (versus a fanny pack or such)

Notes:  At the start line, you'll see many people with enough gear on their back to go camping for a week.  Bad idea and totally unnecessary.  It's but 2 and 1/2 hours to MQ and you'll be working plenty hard (that's a 5 hr marathon pace which at Leadville feels more like a 4 hr 15 minute pace - on trails ... at night).  The section from the start to May Queen is a strong and steady run broken up only by the mini-powerline ascent to the lake and traffic jams in the conga line along the lake.  DO NOT haul ass in the first few miles trying to gain positions ... run reasonably and aerobically.  You have 5 miles or so to position yourself into a reasonable place.  Going out too fast - or too slow - costs you big time at Leadville ... you should simply relax and get into the flow ... YOUR pace ... comfortably running and breathing (huffing and puffing and sweating profusely are all a sign you are going too fast for your fitness level ... anybody can make a mistake, but those who will finish recognize their mistakes quickly and correct it fast).  Once you get to the lake and on the single track, your place in the pace line is your place in the pace line and you're basically stuck with it until May Queen.  The risk of passing is not worth it and will usually result in either a fall or a rolled ankle ... plus you aren't going anywhere anyway ... hundreds of people form that line in front of you.  Pay attention to the roots!  You'll also notice some people going off course following one of the many trails leading into the campgrounds ... pay attention and don't get frustrated if you are lead off the true path ... simply correct and get on with it.  Did I mention:  don't go out too fast?  :-)

If you haven't read this, please do ... note: the buckler pattern is the way to go (I wrote it years ago, but it is still applicable ... Leadville is still Leadville):

Dress appropriately:

Check and double check the weather report.  You want to warm waiting for the start, so either have your crew available to take your warm-up or wear some throw-away sweats to be tossed 5 minutes before the start.  You should be slightly cold in that 5 minute wait (if you are not then you are probably overdressed) ... you'll warm up quickly once underway.  9 times out of 10 at Leadville it's shorts, a long sleeve warm shirt (not cotton), perhaps a light vest, gloves and a hat.  That said, it can be pouring rain at the start and you'll need a whole different setup.


While it is nice to have them see you off, it is nicer for them to get to May Queen unhassled before there are 600 cars parked, have to walk 2 miles and possibly miss you.  Make sure they know the route to May Queen (make the drive the day before to practice).  I recommend saying the goodbyes 15 minutes before the start and then they head to MQ to get a good parking spot.

The crew should position themselves on the entry (versus exit) side of the aid station ... the little hill leading from the paved road to the tent should be a walk for the runner and thus makes it easy to spot the runner.  Upon seeing the runner, the crew can take the used bottles and walk over to the exit side of the tent and resupply the runner with the gear necessary for the May Queen to Outward Bound section.  This should all happen calmly and quickly.  Many runners get in a rush or dilly-dally ... both cost time and create mistakes.

While it is extremely unlikely that the crew misses you at MQ, it can happen.  If it happens, well, make do.  Use the aid station sports drink (which probably has next to no calories in it or water) to fill your bottles and grab 6 gels (600 calories for 2 hours to get up and over the powerline) ... eat some salty stuff ... off you go.