I took the plunge on December 30th and signed up for my 2nd 100 miler, Bear 100 on September 26th, 2014. The race is nearly 10 months away, so the wave of emotions isn't quite the same as it was for Leadville two year ago. Other than the fact that I am running with a couple of good friends, I don't know too much about what the race experience and training journey will be like. If you ask me now, the journey is about enjoying a tremendous race, returning to health, and qualifying for Western States 100. Ask me after a few months of good training and the answer might be different.
I have already begun to break down the race. There are a few things that stand out right away. The first is that the race is harder than Leadville (my only other 100), by about 8% or probably one to two hours of running time all things equal. It is a totally different race than Leadville in that the altitude is not as much of a factor. The majority of the race is from 6000 to 8500 in elevation, with an average in the low 7000 range. Considering that I live at 6500 feet and train mostly between 6500 and 8000, that is a great thing for me; I don't need to seek out high elevation training runs. Rumor is that eating is easier at lower elevations. I sure hope that is true for me.
The other big difference is that Leadville is more of a running race and Bear is more of a climbing race. Bear has roughly four thousand feet more of vertical than Leadville. And, the vertical comes in the form of more climbs that are generally more steady. Leadville really has five climbs that get your attention, but two of them comprise the majority of the vertical in the race (Hope Pass). Bear doesn't have anything as steep as Hope Pass, but lots of climbing between 5 and 10% grade. I count double the number of climbs that are in Leadville. The short story here is that this is also a benefit for me as there are more hills around that are 8% grade than 15%! It will be easier to specifically train for the elements of Bear, even if it is a harder race.
This race comes highly recommended and have high expectations for a great time!