No Leadville. As Usual.

Posted by on Feb 9, 2009 in Bike, Races | No Comments

I did not get into the Leadville 100. Of course, I did not apply, so not getting into the race is no surprise. Each year, I think about sending in an application. I see the pictures of massive groups of riders, the throngs of people cheering and the celebrity bike stars. And every year I think that at long last, I will apply for the race.

But I never do.

The idea of a lottery system has always turned me off. Especially the fact that for repeat racers, the lottery is no lottery. More and more racers are becoming grandfathered into the race, which leaves less and less room for first time riders. I don’t fault the riders. But if the lottery system is designed to promote diversity among the field, having the same racers year in and year out seems counter intuitive. It would seem that given this method of selection, at some point there will simply be no room for any first timers.

This is not meant to be an anti-Leadville diatribe. From all accounts the race looks fantastic. It is well run, and the town creates a real sense of event and accomplishment. I like that. And in fact that is one of the aspects of the race that is attractive to me. But, every December I grow cold to the process and neglect to send in an application. I can’t exactly say why. But each year I have the same internal argument. Eventually the desire to race at Leadville fades and I start to look into August alternatives.

I just don’t like the lottery system. And that dislike does not come from being rejected. I have never applied for the race. Maybe it is the random nature of the lottery. Perhaps it is the preferential treatment given to anyone that is deemed worthy of such treatment. Or, more accurately, maybe I am just a curmudgeon about the entire process. Perhaps I need to lighten up.

But I still don’t like lotteries.


  1. Aaron
    February 9, 2009

    I’m with you Adam. I’ve never applied for Leadville. Partially because of the lottery, and partially because I have a tendency to shy away from “rite of passage” races like Leadville and Lotoja. By the time I get around to doing Leadville, the spots will all be locked by returning racers. Oh well… at least we’ll see each other at AMC!

  2. Ski Bike Junkie
    February 9, 2009

    Here’s the thing about Leadville: the event is intended to boost the local economy by bringing in tourist dollars. Does it not make sense to reward those people who are loyal customers of the event by allowing them back? Moreover for the local merchants who have built relationships with loyal participants, should they not be entitled to repeat business? Perhaps putting it in economic terms makes the turnoff that much worse, but I don’t fault them for doing it that way. It’s like anything else–if you don’t like it, don’t participate. And if you do like it but can’t participate, then create a competitive offering.

  3. StupidBike
    February 10, 2009

    I’m with Aaron on the whole right of passage rides, I am going to start making stickers for every I Cup race I do, for my car. Then ones for the distances as well, you know like those 26.2 stickers, pretty soon I won’t be able to see out of my car windows.

    But seriously, the atmosphere of Leadville looks fun, but the course is all double track=not fun. I would rather spend the money on vanilla wafers

  4. dug
    February 11, 2009

    there is not a single stretch of leadville that is worth riding if it were not for the race itself. that is NOT the sign of a good course.

    and yet, the event, the town, the people. it’s cool.

    and the best thing? no car window stickers.

  5. Grizzly Adam
    February 13, 2009


    Good point. I think at this point the race would still be huge even with open registration. And I understand why they do the lottery, with the number of people that try to race each year. There has to be some method of capping the field.

    In 2007 I did find a competitive offering in the nearby VT125. Just 35 people set out on a 125 mile odyssey. It was incredible riding. 12k foot passes, the Colorado Trail, Monarch Crest Trail, etc.

    This is all not to say I will never do Leadville. I probably will at some point. But only if they start giving out window stickers. :p

  6. Fatty
    February 15, 2009

    it's of course fine to not like lotteries, but your reason for not liking them doesn't hold up for the leadville race. there are about 50 of us who are grandfathered in, because we've done the race 9+ times. but the field cap has grown by far more than this number in the years since it was even possible to have more than 9 races (this will be the 16th time the race has happened).

    in other words, the number of spots for new entrants has actually increased, not decreased, as a small minority (<10%) of us get in because we supported the event before a lottery was necessary.

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