GRAND SLAM USATrail Runs
Posted 21 July 2012 - 04:13 AM
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Posted 22 July 2012 - 05:27 AM
Posted 22 July 2012 - 03:48 PM
Turns out the three top Grand Slam contenders going into today’s Vermont 100 all know how to race, and they’re going to make sure whoever wins this year’s USA Ultra Running Grand Slam earns every mile of it.
I just spoke with Mike, home and hosed, and he was blown away by the intensity of the race he had with Jay Smithberger and Paul Terranova. After running the first 30 miles in a pack with Jay and Paul in the top 10 from the gun, he yo-yoed back and forth with Paul for the next eight hours, each passing the other and staying within eyeballing distance, with Mike finally passing him at the 95 mile mark to finish 8 minutes ahead of him in 3rd place overall in 16h11. The winner took it out in 14h55 (1 minute shy of the 2004 course record) and 2nd place was 16h00.
The fast racing between the three Slammers meant that both Mike and Paul beat the Grand Slam Record at Vermont of 16h33, set by overall Grand Slam record holder Neal Gorman in 2010.
While Mike had a vastly better day then Western States (the hot, humid conditions suiting him) he did suffer high weight-loss (7 lbs./3 kgs) and got a stern talking to from the medics. He was struggling to hold anything substantial down and left a vomitus trail from the half way mark, but still felt strong most of the way.
The upshot of both races is that Mike is now in first place overall in the Grand Slam standings, although we won’t know by how much until we see where Jay finished (Mike left the finish after 20 minutes and he hadn’t come in yet). Hopefully there will be a decent buffer going into the final two mountain races.
Crew Le Roux consisting of Ed & Laurie were conscientious and Mike wanted for nothing. Vermont local Chris Martin was a fantastic pacer – knowledgeable and with just the right level of ‘encouragement’ to keep him going. Thanks to all of them.
Mike said the course was fairly comparable to Glasshouse Mountains with fractionally more undulation, particularly in the last 10 miles (which hurt), but he enjoyed himself overall. There were the typical low points (most vomits I imagine) but finishing in the daylight helped a lot and he felt his crew checkpoints were seamless and fast. No altercations with any Clydesdales either.
The fruitarian Mike Arnstein who I mentioned in the last email, dropped out at 76 miles BUT I just found out that he raced the Badwater 135 on Monday, so he gets this week’s door prize for BACKING UP.
Ed & Laurie head back up north and Mike heads inland tomorrow to Colorado, where he’ll start his altitude acclimatization in earnest, ready for Leadville’s 14,000ft Hope Pass.
Thanks as always for your support, thoughts and interest. Until the 18th August then!
Kirsten Le Roux
MORE THAN THE FINISH LINE
MIKE LE ROUX
Posted 23 July 2012 - 10:12 AM
Posted 23 July 2012 - 01:11 PM
Edited by Long Arms, 23 July 2012 - 01:12 PM.
Posted 15 August 2012 - 08:42 AM
Posted 15 August 2012 - 08:53 AM
From 'Mrs. Le Roux'
Race #3 Leadville 100 Trail Run
'Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will' Mahatma Gandi
Dear Friends & Family,
Three weeks has gone in the blink of an eye and tomorrow I fly out to join Mike for the third race of the Grand Slam Series – the Leadville 100 Trail Run, this Saturday 18th August, 4am start.
Leadville was always going to be a key race and Mike goes into it in poll position on the Grand Slam leaderboard, 24 minutes ahead of Texan Paul Terranova and 1 hour and 15 minutes ahead of Ohion Jay Smithberger, in second and third respectively. Mike will have his work cut out for him as the racing heads into the mountains and high country.
Living in Pagosa Springs Colorado (at 7500ft) has been a good way to acclimitise and Mike’s been fortunate enough to travel to Leadville for a weekend and run parts of the course, experiencing the effects of the high altitude. Based on that trial he’s expecting a tough day out there.
The legendary "Race Across The Sky" is in it’s 29th year. One hundred miles of extreme Colorado Rockies terrain — from elevations of 9,200 to 12,600 feet (Hope Pass). It’s an out-and-back course
and the majority is on forest trails with some mountain roads. Pacers are allowed after the 50-mile point (the last two races they’ve only be allowed for the last 30 miles). Another unusual aspect of Leadville is that there’s a virtually uncapped number of entrants, and this year they will have over 1000 participants, which makes it tricky to get to crewing stations and driving on the windy mountain roads.
I’ll be crewing again with Pete Cross and Mandy Wong travelling from LA to help out and they’ll be pacing for Mike. It also sounds like it’ll be an opportunity to meet some of the high flyers of ultra running as it’s drawn a competitive entrants list.
To follow the action this weekend you can either keep an eye on the Results page at http://www.leadville...e-trail-100-run, or follow the twitter feed at www.mikeleroux.com.au or @MTTFL on Twitter #LT100 @LTRaceSeries
Will keep you posted, thanks as always for your interest and support.
Kirsten Le Roux
MORE THAN THE FINISH LINE
MIKE LE ROUX
Posted 21 August 2012 - 05:26 PM
Leadville 100 #3rd Grand Slam race over, last one to go
'Adversity is like a strong wind. It tears away from us all but the things that cannot be torn, so that we see ourselves as we really are.' ~Arthur Golden, Memoirs of a Geisha
Dear Friends & Family
It's been a mad few days of flights, jet lag, travelling, planning and racing - go, go, go - but now we've just arrived at Pagosa Springs and have a few days of recovery. Sorry if I sound breathless but truly the air at 10,200ft is so thin that I've felt lightheaded since Wednesday. Not sure how Mike ran in it.
The full experience of the Leadville 100 was fantastic, beyond our expectations, we made so many unreal contacts, new friends and cemented friendships, and loved the mountains and surrounds.
The racing wasn't much fun. It was a long hot day and an even longer cold night. We're still trying to decide what went wrong, but from speaking with many of the athletes that raced with nausea and vomiting we suspect that its eating at altitude while running that ultimately did it. MIke trained a lot in altitude over the past few weeks and was undoubtedly acclimated but what he didn't ever try on his runs (too short) was fuelling to how his body reacted to that, and to practice it.
Mike started feeling unwell and nauseous at mile 30, so for 70 miles we battled trying to keep calories in. Whilst he was incredibly determined and never wavered from his goal of finishing, we had to readjust our expectations and recognise that without the calories he had relatively little power or speed, only the resolve to put one foot in front of the other.
In saying that, while he was hoping for a faster finishing time, the perspective is that he still managed to finish in a respectable 23 hours and 37 minutes, earning himself one of the 80 coveted sub 25 hour 'gold' belt buckles and a top 50 spot. With only 380 finishers (45% of the field), that's an achievement, and given how uncomfortable he felt for most of the race, I know that he's proud of that result, and also learnt a lot about himself out there.
In terms of the Grand Slam standings, Jay Smithberger who was in third, also suffered nausea and finished an hour behind Mike, so he is still in third. Paul Terranova however had a great race and finished in 21 hours and 4 minutes, so even with the buffer of 24 minutes, Mike is now 2 hours and 9 minutes behind him going into the last race.
It's a big ask in some respects, but in other ways mountain races are fairly unpredictable and Mike has managed to keep his legs fresh given the lack of intensity (he's walking around today like nothing happened).
The attrition rate for finishing the Grand Slam is really high, so finishing all four races was always the focus, a place would just be a bonus. However, those of us that know Mike know that he has a will of steel and if there's any way he can reel in that time in the final race in Wasatch he will. I'm personally not discounting him just yet.
In the mean time we're working on some things nutrition wise as Wasatch does have some altitude (elevation gain is the bigger problem there). Wasatch is on a Friday (7th Sept) so we have just under three weeks to recover and refresh before the final 100 miler.
Thanks for the support and encouragement we both appreciate it so much. I'll send details for Wasatch the week before he races.
Kirsten Le Roux
MORE THAN THE FINISH LINE
Posted 21 August 2012 - 05:50 PM
Posted 30 August 2012 - 03:28 PM
Good luck for the next one.
Posted 30 August 2012 - 04:27 PM
Posted 06 September 2012 - 05:26 PM
The Grand Slam - Race #4 of 4
"The woods are lovely dark and deep, but I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep, and miles to go before I sleep." - Robert Frost
Dear Friends & Family (and welcome to new friends from our travels added to this race update newsletter),
This Friday (7th Sept) Mike will toe the line for the FINAL 100 mile race in the Grand Slam, the Wasatch Front 100 Mile Endurance Run, held in the Wasatch Mountains outside of Salt Lake City, Utah. I can share with you that he’s pinching himself for this reality to set in. Firstly that’s it only in a matter of days before he has to run ANOTHER 100 miles (when he’s barely washed the dirt off his ankles from Leadville), and secondly that everything he’s worked towards for this past year, and this mind-blowing adventure, will soon all be over.
The recovery time between the Leadville 100 and the Wasatch 100 is the shortestbetween any of the Grand Slam 100 milers, the irony being that they are at the end as well as the two hardest of them all – Slammed! In particular Wasatch, by all accounts it’s a dusi. We keep hearing reports that Wasatch is the smiling assassin of the four, breathtaking but deadly – touted as the second toughest in the USA only to Hardrock 100 but also the most scenic. There are very few sub 21/22 hour finishers and the cut off is an extended 36 hours.
Researching the race I understand that the course is a point to point that “traverses the heart of the central Wasatch Mountains” and provides 53,000 of elevation change, with the total ascent approx 26,882ft. Looking at the course elevation profile will make you seasick; there are about 6 major and 6 minor passes (as opposed to Western States and Leadville's one a piece).
The race has been described as “a study in contrasts: peaks and valley; trail and scree; heat and cold; wet and dry; summer and winter; day and night….” Seemingly the terrain presents challenges right from the start, with tracksgiven rousing names such as ‘Chinscraper Climb’ and ‘Desolation Pass’. The most notable is a 3000 climb from miles 5 to 8. Failing to pace yourself here can lead to significant difficulties even before you reach your crew and pacers for the first time at mile 40. Much of the course follows technical, rough single track trail with “stretches of sagebrush, scree, waist-high grass, 6 inches of fine bulldust and fist-sized cobblestones as well.” This becomes slow going particularly in the night section. The altitude isn’t a major factor like it was in Leadville but it’s certainly a consideration with the high point at 10,450ft, and Low point: 4,880ft. With some significant 9000ft ridge running and many of the passes above a comfortablealtitude line. And if the weather, distance, altitude or terrain doesn’t challenge you, then watch out for the wildlife. ”Runners have encountered deer, elk, moose, porcupines, rattlesnakes, bear, mountain lions, sheep andbadgers.” The weather report for Friday (so far) is fairly hot with day-time temps in the 90s, but milder evening temps.
Then there’s the Slam, with 15 Slammers left out of 25 in the starting line up. The ultimate goal of finishing the Grand Slam is within his grasp. Mike is currently in second place behind Paul Terranova from Texas with a deficit of 2 hours and 9 minutes, and he’s a couple of hours ahead of third and fourth. In 100 miling hours are just hours, and it’s a matter of how the day unfolds and how many of the variables and unknowns go his way this time…The Slam factor (backing up another race so soon) being fairly high on the list of unknowns.
A fantastic update for us is that Morgan Murri (Mike, and then my, gracious home stay host in Pagosa Springs Colorado) has agreed to be Mike’s pacer and flies in on Thursday. This is a huge relief but also a huge bonus as he’s an experienced runner and pacer and someone Mike has trained with a lot. He also grew up in Utah and has some invaluable intell and insights.
In terms of you following the race, there’s good news and bad news. There are only three Crew Access aid stations (Big Mountain 39.4 miles; Lambs Canyon 53.3 miles and Brighton 75.6 miles), so Mike will be using mainly drop bags this time, and best I pack a book. This means in terms of my ability to tweet updates I will have web access but I can only update on my three encounters and the finish.
The good news is that the race appears to have good communication via an athlete tracker at http://results2012.wasatch100.com/ and twitter activity has already started on hashtags (officially) #Wasatch100, plus #W100 and #WF100. The website is http://www.wasatch100.com/ I’ll tweet if I see uploads from the tracker too, so you can keep an eye on his website www.mikeleroux.com.au if Twitter still isn’t your thing. Mike’s bib number is 84 and it’s a 5am start this time round (a sleep in!) There is also a Facebook group called Wasatch Front 100 Mile Endurance Run where they’ll apparently have course and weather updates.
They say Fortune favours the brave, and these 100 miling folk are the bravest.
Thanks as always for your interest and support.
Kirsten Le Roux
Posted 06 September 2012 - 05:44 PM
Posted 06 September 2012 - 07:21 PM
Will be watching this weekend..
Posted 07 September 2012 - 11:40 AM
Posted 08 September 2012 - 08:31 PM
Have great race to finish.
Posted 09 September 2012 - 07:50 AM
"This morning signified my completion of the Grand Slam of Ultrrunning. It has been an amazing journey, filled with 1,000's of up's and down's.
I really have to thank my amazing wife Kirsten Le Roux for allowing me to follow this dream.
Also, I would like to thank everyone who commented, liked, emailed, followed and supported my journey. You guys rock."
Posted 09 September 2012 - 09:15 AM
Posted 09 September 2012 - 11:22 AM
Posted 10 September 2012 - 08:19 PM
Dear Family & Friends - Fitting to end the Grand Slam newsletter series with a quote from Superman, don't you think?
When Mike read my pre-Wasatch 100 update he said that perhaps I had a penchant for the dramatic, and although I has used actual quotes from actual race reports and web sites I wondered if I had romanticised this last one a little.
In fact (as I was told repeatedly at every aid station and the finish line) he had NO CONCEPT of how ridiculously tough this course was…apparently even the downhills went uphill. And! There were lots of wildlife sightings, even the winner Jeff Browning had to stop and wait for a Moose to move off the trail. Today we took a drive to Brighton Ski Lodge, because we were both there in the dark during the race, and Mike showed me the 10,000+ft peak that they climbed up over at 1 o'clock in the morning in freezing temperatures, all in the last quarter of the race. Mind-blowing, and I'm in awe.
Regardless of how many times out there Mike had to recalibrate his expectations and goals as the course and mountain weather battered him about, finishing the Grand Slam was always at the forefront of his mind, and finish he did. Let me proudly (and I can, as the wife) summarise his achievements:
The first Australian and first South African to complete the Grand Slam
Four 160km trail runs in under 11 weeks
In a combined time of 88 hours of continuous running (well sometimes there was continuous walking)
2nd overall in the 2012 Grand Slam (15 finishers from 25 starters)
An outright podium finish (3rd at Vermont 100)
The fastest Australian over the famous Western States 100 course (and the first to break 20 hours)
Three sub-24 hour finish times out of four (and a sub 30 hour buckle for Wasatch 100 for his time of 28hr41min)
Not a single injury
A lot more grey hair (seriously, its weird I know)
More new friends than he knows what to do with
Breathtaking scenery overload
I was a bit concerned when I arrived back in the States to find Mike was throwing out a pair of new running shoes already. As he explained to me - he knew he was running way too much in between races, but he lives with a philosophy of More Than The Finish Line, and part of that is not to miss out on opportunities, experiences and curb life because he's hung up on a finish line. When your passion in life is to run and you're living at the base of the San Juan Mountains; the Sierra Nevadas; at Apex on the Canadian Rockies; in Colorado with trails literally on your doorstep; and travelling through Moab's incredible desert - the adventure outdoor capital of the world, I suppose you can be forgiven for wanting to lace up your running shoes every 5 minutes. All part of the journey that makes up the sum of the experience into the Epic adventure that it was.
Mike has coined the phrase 'Ephi-scopic thinking' which I love. It's the almost spiritual epiphanies and detailed microscopic analytical navel-gazing that you do when you run (shuffle) in the dark (possibly to do with lack of food, oxygen and light), and you work out what's what. He's worked out that these past three months have been invaluable to him, a million miles wider than just the Grand Slam. Immersing himself in a rich and deep culture of ultra running in the States and enjoying the ease you feel amongst like-minded people (we met a man today who has completed SEVEN Grand Slams because his wife liked the t-shirt. The race director said if he made it to TEN they would pay for a life time of psychiatric care for him), cementing wonderful and important friendships and learning more about what he was capable of achieving.
When we originally planned for the Grand Slam's challenges we were most concerned about his legs and muscles and how they would recover, as well as his mental state and motivation for starting each race in such quick succession. What we didn't reckon on was his stomach's stubborn refusal to bounce back and digest on the hop copious amounts of food while running exposed to the elements continuously for over a day, four times. This was the biggest and most unexpected challenge for us, particularly in the last two races, and was disappointing as he mostly felt like going faster in his legs but didn't have the engine for it. Fortunately Endura has some great products that we were able to rely on, and Mike has a will of steel.
We fly back to Australia tomorrow and are looking forward to reuniting with friends again, and our little dog too who we have missed. Thank you to you all for your emails, texts and tweets of encouragement, it really all helps when the going gets tough, to rally and keep going, knowing that it matters to more than just us.
Coach Jeff www.coachjeff.com.au will be podcasting again soon so keep a look out for that, and Mike will work on a race report at an airport I hope.
Thanks again! Until the next epic adventure,
Kirsten Le Roux
Posted 11 September 2012 - 10:50 AM
Just finishing the Grand slam seems enough of an effort, but to place second in the Grand Slam, get a outright podium finish in one of the runs and push through what seems to be some tough times, makes it all so much more incredible.
Enjoy your time back home and look forward to reading about the next challenge.
Posted 18 September 2012 - 08:26 PM
Congrats Mike on the great achievement - what an achievement at that!