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303Cycling busted out the down coats and winter hats to head up to Leadville for the chilly start of the 2010 Race Across the Sky. With 1,568 signed up for the challenge, the charge up 6th Avenue was a sight to see. The film crew helicopters overhead and Levi Leiphemier and Jermey Horgan-Kobelski (JHK) leading the racers out, it made it all the more exciting.
While weather was not going to be a factor this year, the talk in the crowd was all about the altitude. Crews for racers from the Springs to Connecticut were concerned about how long before the mountain conditions would affect their riders. At least one member of the 303Cycling crew felt the 5,000 ft difference on the way to coffee and our next stop "The Powerline"!
This section of the race is equally famous for it's decent an hour into the race as it is for it's ascent hours later and the final significant climb. It was not only amazing to see the likes of JHK, who lead the decent, Todd Wells, Leipheimer, Dave Weins, and Jeremiah Bishop, but to see the crowd that lined the course. There were cheers and cowbells for these racers for at least the last mile and a half of this section. It was a great place for photos with nearly every racer excited and/or relieved about making it down!
Unfortunately one racer went down before The Powerline and as noted in the past, some parts of this course can be remote. We heard later in the crowd that four racers sacrificed their possibility of finishing in the 12 hour cut off to wait for the helicopter that finally lifted out the injured racer.
The next spot we caught the race was at Pipeline. This section follows the steepest climb of the course and is completely on the road. We didn't want to miss seeing a Tour de France podium finisher, even on an MTB, in his element. Leipheimer and JHK were working together to increase their lead over Wells and were on target to beat Lance Armstrong's 2009 course record.
At this point in the race, there was about a ten minute gap between the two leaders and the rest of the top 5. We headed to the finish, to get our spot for what would prove to be a record breaking day for both the Men and Women. Again, the crowds were remarkable, even without cycling's most famous participant. Spectators started lining up a good hour before anyone crossed the line. With 45 minutes to go, if you weren't on the rail, you were out of luck.
Levi Leipheimer came across the line in 6:16:37, beating the 2009 record by over 10 minutes. Exciting to say, Boulder's own JHK, coming in second at 6:25:21also beat the record by 2 minutes. The top five Men was rounded out by Todd Wells in third, Dave Weins in fourth, and Jeremiah Bishop a very close fifth.
The Women's record was also broken yesterday with Rebecca Rusch finishing in 7:47:35 beating the record set in 1997 by over 10 minutes. The top five Women were rounded out by Amanda Carey at 8:12:54 in second, Anne Gonzales in third, Nathasha Hernday in fourth and Lisa Isom in fifth.
Other notables for the day, one of 303Cycling's crew got to inspect Levi's bike. And there was a lot of talk amongst the top racers about front vs full suspension and 26er vs 29er. The winner used full suspension and 26er. He said that although some of his MTB rider competition didn't consider the course technical enough for full, he was more comfortable with it.
From it's inaugural run in 1994 to the race we saw yesterday, the course has only changed modestly. The level of competition however continues to rise. We look forward to watching the Leadville Trail 100 long into the future.
Here is a video from Outside All Day