Six key takeaways from the 2022 Leadville 100
Adrian Macdonald wins the Leadville 100 in the third-fastest time in race history. (Photos courtesy of Life Time)
By Henry Howard
There was no Anton Krupicka this year, but the Leadville 100 still had its share of excitement, inspiring achievements and other takeaways. Chief among them were the repeat victory for Adrian Macdonald and Clare Gallagher’s second career win in two attempts.
Without a doubt there were many stories of inspiration, heartache, joy and everything in between throughout the race. Here are my six takeaways from this year’s race.
1. Back to back: Macdonald finished in 16:05:44, an improvement by about 15 minutes from his time in the 2021 race. Matt Carpenter’s record from 2005 of 15:42:59 still stands but for how much longer if Macdonald returns? Carpenter’s record withstood Rob Krar’s performance in 2018 when he won in 15:51:57. But it will be interesting to see if Macdonald chases the record and/or the four consecutive Leadville victories by Steve Peterson. Ian Sharman is the only other runner to have won Leadville in three consecutive years.
2. A shining example: Gallagher won in 19:37:57, about 90 minutes ahead of second-place finisher Mickey Davis. In 2016, the only other time she has raced the 100-miler, Gallagher also was victorious with a time just over 19 hours even. This year, she also won Black Canyons and finished second at the San Juan Solstice 50. I admire Gallagher not just for her athleticism but for her commitment to advocating for the environment and leading by example. For more on her advocacy, please check out our previous interview.
3. Three hours faster: I had the opportunity to interview speedster Tyler Andrews after he won and set a course record at the Leadville Marathon earlier this summer. At the time, he was clear that his focus was on winning the 100-mile race. His fourth-place finish was impressive and a nearly three-hour improvement over his 21:34:19, 15th-place performance the previous year. At 32, Andrews still has a lot of speed left in those legs. He’ll be one to watch going forward, assuming winning Leadville remains a goal for him.
4. Inspiring Ian: A model of consistency, Ian Sharman won Leadville in 2013 and three-peated in 2015-17. He finished fourth in 2021 and returned to the race this year. Unfortunately, he was forced to make the wise decision to end his day at mile 23 due to “coughing, low energy and sore muscles.” He expressed gratitude on social media later, tweeting, “Just because it was an obvious decision still feels crappy. But I’m still in Leadville and there’s a great battle going on in both the men’s and women’s races.” Rooting for Sharman to get healthy and compete once again at Leadville.
5. A different focus: Sally McRae is an elite athlete who has won some of the most challenging races, including last year’s Badwater 135. This year, her focus is on supporting the Choose Strong Project and dedicating her races to the memory of her mother. It’s her story, so I’ll let her words do the talking; check out her inspiring Instagram post the day before the race.
6. Finishers rate: It’s difficult enough just to breathe at 10,000 feet of elevation. These athletes are running, hiking and walking 100 miles with challenging cutoffs at that elevation and higher. Congratulations to all the finishers and a sincere bravo to all of those who were unable to complete the race. Don’t dwell on what might have been. This represents an opportunity to learn from the race, regroup for the next big challenge, and know that it is part of your overall journey and there are other epic goals awaiting you.
The 2022 race is now in the books. Next year a new group of athletes will face the same challenges of past participants. In any case, it’s heartwarming to see that Leadville is back once again after having to cancel in 2020 due to the pandemic.
In 2021, the race was a welcome relief for the beautiful mountain town of Leadville, Colo., which featured the return and third-place finish for Krupicka. His thrilling race was among my top seven takeaways from last year. In an Instagram post the day before the race’s start, Krupicka wrote about why he didn’t run this year.
Looking forward, let’s hope that Krupicka returns to racing, whether that be in Leadville or elsewhere. Best wishes to him on his continued exploration, and best wishes to you in your trail and running adventures.
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