Friday, July 1, 2011

Leadville Silver Rush Race Plan/Strategy

Fun Stats

  • General estimates indicate that the Silver Rush is about 7,750 feet of climbing
  • Estimates suggest 40 of the 50 miles are runnable by most accomplished runners
  • The race varies between 10,000 and 12,000 feet (touching 12K four times)
  • A reasonable prediction is that a 50 mile run should take 2x your marathon time plus 2 hours, or about 10 hours for me.
  • A more conservative prediction is that you should triple your current marathon time (when converting from road to trail running), or about 10.5 hours for me.
  • It will take approximately 8,500 calories for me to complete the event
  • I need to consume approximately 4000 calories to complete the event (250 - 400 cals/hr)
  • I need to consume at least 400 - 800 mg of Sodium per hour, closer to 800 if it is hot.

Training Plans

I have found two training plans that I like: Hal Higdon's and Runner's World. Frankly they are pretty similar with the exception of one (the Higdon plan) starting earlier. But those first 8 weeks on Higdon are just basing weeks. While there are some subtle differences -- like the number of speed workouts -- they are on the whole the same. The design of both is to mimic running 50 miles by doing long runs on both Saturday and Sunday. At this point, I think I will follow the plan from Runner's World (RW) because I am going to run the Steamboat Marathon in June and it fits better in that schedule. RW has a cut back week after the Steamboat Marathon and then the two peak weeks. On occasion I may deviate from the plan to run some MLRs or something that interests me more than just an average 8 mile run every day.
If you are interested, you can follow my daily training on the DailyMile.

Update Toward the end of my training I discovered a wonderful book called Relentless Forward Progress which included several training plans. I found myself slowly gravitating toward those plans and away from my original plans. The biggest update here is that he does not feel it is necessary to run many Back-to-Back long runs (B2B) for a 50 miler. I was planning to do 5 of them and stuck with that portion of my original plan. I have negative split every race this year, so I think it helps!

Equipment and Food


I bought a Nathan Hydration pack early in training and I plan to use it for the race. Estimates suggest I should drink as many as 250 oz of fluid, or 4 of the 2L bladders, in a 50 mile run. I have trained with a variety of electrolyte beverages and I would say that GU is my favorite. Fortunately that is also what they serve on race day. However, there is not enough Sodium in traditional electrolyte beverages so I need to find ways to increase my sodium intake (I sweat a lot!). On trick will be to mix in some water with electrolyte pills, which are 40 mg of sodium each. If conditions get extreme (hot and sunny), I will likely mix in some Pedialyte. Pedialyte is an electrolyte monster -- nearly triple the sodium of a typical sports drink. It doesn't have much in calories, so I would have to make up he differential in eating more.

Garmin 305

I purchased a Garmin 305 for Xmas and I love it. However, the battery is unlikely to last my whole run. Perhaps one of my DailyMile friends has a unit that will last 12 hours that they can lend me?


I have been training with the Columbia Ravenous as my trail shoe. I have now put more than 200 miles on them and comfortably finished distances longer 20 miles at least three times. I just purchased a pair of Newbalance MT101 and may experiment with them race week. If the fit is good and I can break them in, I may go with them on race day. My Columbia's will definitely be part of my race day plan and probably will be my main shoe depending on how the Newbalance break in. My third option will be my Asics GT2150 (road shoe) that I have doing many of my long runs in because they have good cushioning and support. No matter what I will have two pairs of shoes and three or four pair of the my Baleage moisture wicking socks.


I have been working hard the past month on my food. The good news is that under the right conditions I have found I can tolerate most things. I really like the Bonk Breaker bars when I need some protein and fat in my system. For lighter, more traditional products, I have had good luck with Honey Stinger chews and GU shots. (GU is served at Leadville). The aid stations will have a lot of "normal" food likey PB&J, fruit, pretzels, chips, and even pizza! During the Leadville Marathon I found fruit to be a very wonderful hunger quencher. Finally, I have some left over EFS Liquid Shots from training. They are calorie dense (400 cals) and full of electrolytes, but they are hard on the stomach if consumed too quickly. The real key is not necessarily in what I eat, but to eat enough early in the race to avoid bonking. I might also need to substitute in some products that have extra sodium to make up for the beverage short-comings. I will likely load up at REI before race day and carry as much as I can fit in my Nathan. Useful food tips
  • In general, you should shoot for between 250 and 400 calories an hour.
  • The proportions of what you eat and when (drinks versus solids, all at once or spread out) are runner specific
  • Most of your calories come from carbohydrates. (sports drinks, energy gels, and energy chews) as these calories are easily digested.
  • consume a mix of both simple and complex carbohydrates to provide a blend of quick and more sustained energy.
  • Drink at least half a cup of water (or more if it’s a sugar-based drink) for each energy gel or 100 calories of energy chews you consume.
  • Limit your protein consumption to no more than 20 percent of your caloric intake on a run.
  • After hours of eating even large quantities of carbohydrates, it’s common for one’s stomach to start rumbling. Fat takes care of that.

Race Day Food List
  • Pedialyte (2 bottles)
  • Gatorade (2 bottles)
  • Electrolyte Pills
  • Stinger chews, Margarita Bloks, Bonk Breaker Bar, GU shots
  • EFS First Endurance (at least 2) - 400 cals each
  • Red Bull (4 - 6)
  • Tums
  • Immodium AD
  • NSAID (Advil or Excedrin) for sore muscles in the last 10 miles
  • Candided Ginger (for upset tummy)


Excedrin, which combines acetaminophen, aspirin, and caffeine. I hold off on using NSAIDs until the second half of a race. If there’s a particularly nasty descent late in the race, I’ll often take a dose 30 to 60 minutes before I begin it.

Drop Bag (at mile 25)

Your drop bag(s) should include solid fuel (your favorite energy bars, candy bars, or gels), sunscreen, long-sleeve T-shirt and/or nylon windbreaker, clean socks and an alternate pair of shoes, and Vaseline or skin lube, tape (for feet) and powder, NSAID. Since I have a crew, I probably won't have a drop bag. Instead, I will have all these items with them when I see them at the 1/4 (Printer Boy Out), 1/2 (Stumptown), and 3/4 (Printer Boy In) parts of the course.

Race Day Strategy and Plan

Times are currently VERY ROUGH estimates based on what others have done and the course. I expect my pace to fall off as I get tired. All times are cumulative. Course Map

Segment 1 of 8 - To Black Cloud Aid Station ~7 miles

This section of the course is almost entirely ascending, but it's mostly gentle. It covers less than 1000 feet by the first aid station. Goal time is 1 hour and 20 minutes.

Segment 2 of 8 - To Printer Boy Aid Station ~6.5 miles (14 Total Miles)

This first half of this segment is marked with a steepening grade (maxing out at 12,000 ft). The remaining three miles are a descent down a dirt road to aid station. Goal time is 2 hours and 30 minutes total.

Segment 3 of 8 - To Venir Aid Station ~4.5 miles (18 Total Miles)

The first mile of this section remains in descent until a trough of about 10,800 feet. Then climbing resumes toward to the aid station, with the grade steeping as the miles go by. Goal time 3 hours and 30 minutes total.

Segment 4 of 8 - To Stumpftown Aid Station ~6 miles (23.5 Total Miles)

The first portion of this section (2.5 - 3 miles) is a saddle back ranging between 11,600 and 12,000 feet. The remaining 4 miles are a descent into the aid station at about 11,000 feet. Goal time is 4 hours and 30 minutes total.

Segment 5 of 8 - Return To Venir Aid Station ~6 miles (29 Total Miles)

The first 4 miles after the turnaround are a fairly steep climb (about 1,000 ft), once again returning to 12,000 feet. The next 2.5 to 3 miles are back through the saddle back. You are in descent when you reach the aid station. Goal time 5 hours and 45 minutes total.

Segment 6 of 8 - Return To Printer Boy Aid Station ~4.5 miles (33.5 Total Miles)

The descent continues for the first couple of miles on this return leg. Then the climb back toward 12,000 feet starts a little after mile 30. Goal time is 6 hours and 45 minutes total.

Segment 7 of 8 - Return To Black Cloud Aid Station ~6.5 miles (40 Total Miles)

The first three miles are in steep ascent to 12,000 feet (for the last time). The final three miles (starting about mile 37) begin the descent back home and toward 10,000 feet. Goal time 8 hours and 00 minutes total.

Segment 8 of 8 - To The Finish ~7 miles (47 Total Miles)

The remaining miles are downhill returning to 10,000 feet in Leadville. Goal time is 10 hours total.

Others' Blogs

Other good sites

Pre-Race Check Lists


  • Shake-out run
  • Look at gel selection


  • Grocery and last-minute supply shopping
  • Charge GPS unit
  • Pack post-race bag
  • Empty cooler
  • Empty unnecessary stuff from car
  • Pack gear
  • Shower and shave before bed

Race Morning

  • Pack iPod Shuffle and preferred headphones
  • Hydrate
  • Apply sunblock
  • Apply Bodyglide to inner thighs
  • Apply nipple Band-Aids


My crew will consist of my amazing family! My wife, daugther, son, and my sister. I am super excited to have them share in this journey. Attention: Crew for Racers! In order to ensure the safety of the Silver Rush racers we allow crew to drive up to Printer Boy and Stumptown Aid Stations. Please be sure to clock your mileage with these directions.

Directions to Printer Boy: Take Highway 24 north back toward downtown Leadville. Past the curve in the highway (right before hitting the historic downtown district) make the first right hand turn on to Monroe Street. Head up to the top of the Street and turn right onto Toledo which turns into County Road 2, otherwise known as California Gulch. Continue up California Gulch for 3.5 miles and you will see aid station. BE CAUTIOUS as the California Gulch road does intersect with the race course (at 2.5 mile from Harrison Ave turn off). RACERS HAVE THE RIGHT OF WAY!!

Goal is to be at this aid station around between 2:30 and 3:00 hours outbound and 6:45 to 7:15 inbound.

Directions to Stumptown: Take Highway 24 north back toward downtown Leadville. Turn right at 7th Street (one block past stoplight). Head up 7th Street which will bring you up through the Mining District. Veer right off onto County Road 38 (2.7 mile from Harrison Ave.). This is a VERY rough, dusty road, please drive with caution. Another .6 mile to Stumptown Aid Station
Goal is to be at this aid station around between 4:30 and 5:00.

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