Sometimes referred to as the "Race Across the Sky," the Leadville Trail 100 race in Colorado has bikers climbing to elevations above 12,000 feet. Sally Bigham, an elete sponsored athlete, sends us greetings from the podium this weekend:
"At 6.30am on Saturday I started my 4th Leadville 100 – a race which starts at 3000m and takes riders up to almost 4000m at the highest point – the infamous Columbine. The sheer distance, extreme altitude, fluctuating temperatures (sometimes below zero degrees at the start and reaching high 20s mid-race) and speed make it a uniquely challenging race. With perfect conditions (little wind, no rain and a dry fast course) the aim of my teammate Alban Lakata was to break 6 hours and if the men were to go this fast then it'd mean the women's race would be fast too. There was a strong field of women coming from a range of back grounds including Danish 3-time world MTB marathon champion Annika Langvad, Katerina Nash World Cup XC winner, and multiple Ironman and Xterra World Champion Julie Dibens.
Racing at high altitude is a balancing act between going as fast as possible for the duration of the race, but not so fast that you dip too far into the red zone and pay dearly later in the race. It's a game of good pacing and knowing how your limits are affected by the thin air. At the top of the first climb I was 30 seconds ahead of my course record, but Annika was ahead of me. This was a critical point really because from here onwards its important to be in a group. For the women, this race is all about being in a group of fast men because drafting is key. Descending on the road alone I knew that I was losing time and weighing only 50kg I don't roll quite as fast as those heavier than me! Throughout the race I remained in second position, maintaining the pace that I'd planned to stick to. There are a number of long open sections and I was fortunate to not spend too much time alone. At all of the check points I was ahead of schedule but Annika was flying and I knew that unless she had over-paced her race there would be no catching her.
Arriving at the red carpet in 7 hours 7 mins and almost 10minutes faster than my course record is something I'm proud of. Annika was unbelievable, going just below 7 hours! Katerina Nash rounded the podium off in third position. So now I know it's possible for the women to break 7 hours. This is a new goal for me and one factor will definitely help: going in to this race I underestimated the benefit of aerodynamics, but at an average speed of 23-24km per hour it plays an important role. Annika optimised aerodynamics and this undoubtedly helped her break 7 hours, but no doubt her powerful engine helped to some extent too.
See you soon!
Update from Sponsored Athlete Sally Bigham, from Round 3 of the British XC Race Series May 16 in Wales:
"Trying to squeeze XCO races in our hectic schedule isn't always easy; the last one – a Midlands XC – was just over a year ago. This year I disappointingly missed the entry deadline for Sherwood Pines and was ill at the time of Newnham, but round 3 of the British XC Race series at Fforest Fields in Builth Wells, Wales, was perfect timing for a good, hard interval session; just what was needed at this point in my training.
An exciting mix of fast women on the start list meant I'd definitely get the interval session I was looking for! Sadly, Annie Last was ill and unable to start – a real shame because I've never had the opportunity to race with her. Nevertheless, top British riders Kerry MacPhee and Alice Barnes as well as South African star Mariske Strauss, amongst others, were there to provide a good battle.
As well as hard training I wanted to have some fun so I decided to use my Canyon Lux full suspension with Reverb dropper seatpost. Although it isn't as ultra light as my Grand Canyon hard tail, it would definitely be more fun on the descents. Also, being a little bit cautious about any abdomen and groin impacts after my surgery the Reverb is a good choice for me.
Gridded on the second row meant I needed to get into the first climb in a good position; 8th wasn't bad and allowed me to move up to 4th before the first descent. Entering the second lap I was able to move to the front, closely followed by Alice and Kerry. The Lux actually turned out to be a good choice – and, in hindsight, probably better than the hard tail – being super fast as well as fun! Initially, to be totally honest, the race wasn't really about winning, the aim: good, fast training and fun on the descents; but when the gap between Kerry and me started to grow I naturally embraced the opportunity for a win!
Racing in the UK is great; seeing all the people who I know from the beginning of my MTB career, plus all of the new faces and rising stars such as Isla Short and Lucy Grant is very motivational. The support I receive is awesome and I can't thank each and every one of you enough. Big thanks to the women who cleared the way for me out on the course, shouting their support when I came through – especially the lovely lady who told me she'd placed her bets on me for the win…that made me smile and gave me a few extra watts!
In the morning before the race I took an Elete Tablyte and then another immediately at the finish; ensuring I’m fully hydrated at the start and also afterwards to promote full and fast recovery. "
We recently received the following story from a member of our military. We share it with you with permission, but have withheld the name to preserve the security of the soldiers involved:
March 31, 2015
"We were deployed to the middle east and the weather was intolerably hot. Our team operated mostly on foot and conducted reconnaissance and surveillance to find hostile insurgent forces. We were about 20 miles from our base when we observed some suspicious activity. We moved in closer to begin our work. After about 2 hours we were noticed and the insurgents began shooting at us. We began moving away and 2 of our guys were shot. Their body armor saved them from any significant injuries, but their water containers were shredded. After about an hour of alternating running and jogging, we were all starting to get a little dehydrated. We started sharing what water we had. After about 10 miles, our two guys collapsed. One had serious cramps in his thighs and calves, and the other in his feet and thighs. Our senior officer pulled out the little squeeze bottle of elete and quickly added some to our water and gave it to the guys. Within 10 minutes the cramping had lessened severely and within 30 minutes, both guys were ready to get up and go. If we hadn't had the elete, we would have had to either carry them the remaining distance to the base, or call for a helicopter to come and pick us up. Elete prevented our guys from becoming seriously injured. Elete basically saved the military thousands of dollars by not having to send a helicopter to pickup guys who were down due to preventable injuries."
SSG —- (name redacted to protect those that serve us)
From the February / March 2015 issue of Total Sports Performance Magazine:
Electrolytes: much more than just salt in your sports drink
"We understand that electrolytes are important for endurance performance – why else would they be in sports drinks? But, what do they do and what do we need to know as athletes? Our electrolyte expert, David Thomas, explains."
Here is an update on Jeff Kerkove, an elete™ sponsored athlete, from the Topek-Ergon Racing Team Newsletter:
EAGLE OUTSIDE FESTIVAL – FIREBIRD XC
May 17, 2014
Eagle, Colorado, USA
The weekend of May 17-18 officially kicked off the mountain bike racing season in the high country of Colorado. Taking place at 6600 ft in Eagle, CO, the Eagle Outside Festival brought in over 30 bike industry vendors. In addition to the festival and demos, the event also offers the Firebird. What traditionally is a big 40-mile backcountry loop, was shortened to a 25-mile XC race due to snow on the higher elevations of the course. That did keep the field from swelling to over 90 riders in the Pro/Open field.
Racing in his home town and on his home trails, Jeff Kerkove toed the start line for Team Topeak-Ergon USA aboard his Canyon Lux CF. The start was violent, as over 90 men rolled out of the festival venue en route to the trails. Jeff, known as an endurance specialist, rode in the top 20 as the field made their way to the singletrack. "I knew the race would be hard with the rough trail late in the laps. I cannot start fast, so I need to warm up to the pace," stated Jeff following the race.
Jeff hit the trail in a good position and knowing the course very well began to pick off riders in front of him. The course is known to be smooth and fast, but with recent wet weather and cattle ranching near by, parts of the course became very very rough. "I was able to catch and pull away from my competition on the rough trails. No doubt, the Canyon Lux CF was an advantage on the course today."
Jeff rode at his limit for nearly 2 hours to go onto finish in 18th place. "This is the hardest I have ridden in this young season," said Jeff. Watching from the sidelines was Ergon photographer, Angel King. Following the race, Angel said, "You could see Jeff getting faster as the race went on. He just ran out of race course to better his position."
Next up for Jeff is the Ergon and SRAM sponsored 64-mile Gunnison Growler on May 25 in Gunnison, Colorado.
Jeff Kerkove, 18th, Pro/Open Men
Photos © Angel King / Ergon Bike
Jon Bernhard is an inspiration to all of us here at elete. A climber and cyclist with an uncureable lung disease, he works to push himself to new levels. Along the way, he helps youth with similar challenges by taking them on climbing adventures. Here is an update from him that we just received:
"We just returned and unpacked from our latest excursion to inspire and aid youth. We got to climb, teach, listen, & share lives with 12+ kids. Various volunteers pitched in to play an interactive role in kids lives and open new directions.
On our last "take the youth climbing" outing we got to piece together many great experiences for many climbers. Including some pediatric patients who got to make the journey to join us, some youth at risk kids learning to lead, & new friends we could lend some gear and shoes to.
So, you start the week off right. I met a couple of super excited college kids out in the Moab desert for the first time. Amped and ready for action they are ready to hit up multi-pitch routes after doinking around single pitch stuff. Not to be deterred, these resourceful young guns knew they were a bit short on gear but not short on enthusiasm. These fellows gladly borrowed the equipment they needed to head for their 3 pitch excursion. Shortly after sunset they made their way back to the cars with broad grins, funny tales, & psyched for another tower.
Up next bring in Caleb, aka Leb, once labeled as a true trouble maker who would fight, steal, & cheat. Ha, biggest mistake a school sytem could ever put on a kid. Graduated high school early, earned heaps of scholarships, and graduating college with honors. Not content to settle there, Leb cant wait to head for Yosemite after graduation so he brought his drive to achieve to the crags ready to learn to lead climb in preparation for long free routes in the Valley.
After a few easier routes placing gear on lead, Caleb quickly was leading 5.10s on gear. Learning from some old dawgs about setting anchors, rapelling, & thinking as a multi-pitch climber.
I’m personally looking forward to long routes in Yosemite with Caleb in a few months. I hope I can keep up. Ugh.
Bring in the quiet one, Izzy. From a troubled past to self-supporting in college, quiet on the outside, brave and ready for a challenge on the inside. In no time, Izzy was cruising the sustained 5.8 cracks of Moab area with never ever really climbing before.
Best for last, Nora, only 9 years old, prepares for her upcoming journey to Devil’s Tower, WY. Overcoming shyness and fear, Nora excelled at footwork and rope techniques during the day and asked endless questions about routes on Devil’s Tower around the campfire every night. All in all, a great week in the desert running our programs in support of youth in adventures."
Today (Feb 18) Tracy was awarded the United Nations UNESCO Fair Play Award. Since its foundation by UNESCO and a number of international sports governing bodies in Paris in 1963, the goal of the International Committee for Fair Play is the worldwide defense and promotion of fair play. In order to honor and directly recognize the acts of fair play performed either within or outside the sports world, the International Committee for Fair Play annually awards Fair Play Prizes to personalities who have proved to be excellent ambassadors of fair play. Tracy was given the Pierre de Coubertin World Trophy – for an athlete or team for an act of fair play. Pierre de Coubertin was the founder of International Olympic Committee and is consider the father of the modern Olympic Games. This award has been instrumental in promoting sportsmanship both on and off the field. It is a huge honor in sports to receive this award. Very few are given out annually. Here is what Tracy had to say in accepting this award:
“I think sportsmanship, which this award embraces, is a way for people to go beyond the playing field, or the ski course and recognize that there is more to sport than just a win. Sportsmanship is about creating champions, both on and off the field. And while I am not a champion in my sport, I do strive to be a good person and do the right thing. In sport there is winning and there is losing and sometimes in order to win you must lose or at least sacrifice the win. I didn’t go to the Olympics to compete, but I feel I have won. I had the most incredible experience of cheering my twin sister and best friend in the greatest sporting event in the world. And I couldn’t be more proud of her effort. In biathlon Lanny was not only my best friend, but my greatest competitor. And I’ve come to realize over the years that without your competition there is no sport. You have to show the same kind of respect to your competitors that you do to your teammates. That’s what makes you a good competitor both in life and in sport. I hope that my story will help to inspire people to do something good for the people they care about. Their friends, their family, their teammates, their competitors and their neighbors.
I for one have been surrounded by incredibly inspiring people my entire life and I have to say that their selflessness has rubbed off on me. Both my grandparents were in the army and air force and served their country. Our men and women in uniform are the ones who make the ultimate sacrifice, sometimes with their life so that we can enjoy our freedoms. Both my parents were school teachers and their selfless dedication to their students and that of all teachers continues to inspire me. And my older sister is a doctor and surgeon. Her dedication to helping others is a model I will continue to strive for in my life. So, if I may, I’d like to dedicate this to my family who have supported me and given me a purpose to live by and also to our men & women in uniform, our teachers, and our doctors who work to selflessly help others on a daily basis. May we all strive to dedicate ourselves to others so that we may enrich each others lives in sport and otherwise.
Thanks for seeing something in me that I may never have had the opportunity to see myself. Thanks to the International Fair Play Committee for this incredible honor and thank you to the US Olympic Committee for being such wonderful hosts.”
Congratulations to both Tracy and Lanny for their efforts, their achievements, and for their love of their sport and for each other. Here at elete, we have all been inspired by their story.
We have had some great feedback recently on Facebook. If you haven't done it already, please "Like" the elete Facebook page to keep up with some of the great success and motivational stories from our fans. We appreciate our social media community, and hope you will enjoy participating.
This week, we received an email from Tracy and Lanny Barnes telling us what has since become worldwide news:
"Sunday, I (Tracy) was named to the Olympic Team! I cannot think of any greater honor in the world, save one… Lanny fell ill during the trials and was unable to race enough of the races she needed to qualify for the Olympic Team. She is having a stellar year and I for one want to see where she can take it…what heights she can climb to. So, in honor of friendship, cooperation, and sacrifice I declined my spot on the Olympic Team. This freed up a spot so that Lanny could be named to the team."
We are honored to continue to sponsor Tracy and Lanny, providing elete Electrolyte products as they continue to push themselves "faster, higher and stronger." We invite you to follow their inspiring story with us as we cheer on Lanny in Sochi next month.