Thursday, September 1, 2016

Leadville 2016 - Part 4 - Lake County High

"Who needs a push?"

"You're almost there! Who needs a push?" shouts a race volunteer stationed at the Lake County High School hill. 

The Monster didn't respond. Not sure if she didn't want a push, or maybe she was just really focused on this last climb of a long day.

"She wants a push!" I announced. The volunteer obliged.

I've had a few of those pushes in the last 4 years, and that feeling is permanently etched in a quiet corner of my brain.

This hill is significant. At the top you can see the funnel formed by a welcoming crowd of friends, family, and loved ones. You can see that red line in the middle of 6th street. You can see the arch with Old Glory waving you in. You can see the timing mat that stops the clock on your day. You have a year to come back and trip it a little earlier, but on this day in August, it means you've completed a ridiculously difficult, breathtakingly beautiful, enormously satisfying thing.

You're allowed to breathe a sigh of relief. To rejoice. To rest. To cry.   

You're part of the family. 

I'm unsure what my 20 year old self was doing August of '86, but I'm 100% certain it wasn't entering ultra endurance mountain bike races, as a college student. The Monster has some strong positive influences in her life. She has done, and will go on to do more remarkable things.

Melisa, thanks so much for sharing your finish line with me. 

Official Time for Melisa 10:12:14 - for Don 10:13:35

We should all be so happy to finish.

The Monster and I
Left to Right: Elden, Melisa, Don, and Lisa
It would be remiss of me if I failed to acknowledge the monumental role that Mr. Dathan Atchison played in my 2016 Leadville race. In April of this year he allowed me to tag along to the Austin Rattler  where Dathan, by virtue of finish time, gained a Leadville entry. I was not as fortunate. In July, Dathan was the architect of our Tour of the West trip that included the Tahoe Trail 100k. It was in Tahoe that I gained entry to Leadville. 

Dathan is in street clothes for the finish line picture below because he had 1-1/2 hrs. to kill after he finished. This guy, my Team Kuat teammate, my friend, finished his first Leadville in 8hr:44m! Big buckle this guy! 

Dathan's finish time does not surprise me. He's a fierce competitor and genuine man. Thank you!

Myself and Dathan Atchison

I head home and look forward to Leadville 2017. 

I rest for FOUR long days and Friday, August 19th, head off to Lincoln, Nebraska for Gravel Worlds. 

I should write a blog about that trip.



  1. You're going to make me cry, again!! Thank you don! You made my first Leadville unforgettable, and I couldn't be happier to share my first finish with you! You did the story very much justice, by the way. I loved reading it all from your perspective. When you saw Elden and my mom on columbine, you must have just barely passed me too! I rode to the base of it with the two of them. Crazy to think we would end up finishing the race together! You're awesome don!
    -The Monster

    1. Melisa, fate is a crazy thing indeed. I wanted to be true to your story and mine. I appreciate your feedback. You're a beautiful young woman, mind, body, and spirit. I look forward to racing with you again next year.
      Much love.