Congrats to this year’s Runners Roost Leadville 100 Golden Ticket winner, Mathieu Shields! Matheiu was kind enough to share a recap of the race with us.
The Leadville 100 was something that I will never forget. It’s everything they say it is, and more. There were certainly highs and lows, but there was so much positivity continuously pushing me toward that finish line! First of all Leadville is magical! Being there and being a part of something so incredible fills you with this amazing energy. The pre-race meeting got me very excited, hearing the iconic speeches from Marilee, Ken, and Cole, it was like being in a dream state. “We are really doing this! This is all real! We are running the Leadville 100!”
Race morning was perfect! I barely slept, and the cool morning air was actually warmer than I expected, which brought with it a sensation comfort. The starting line had this incredible vibe, where everything was chill, but you knew everyone was about to explode with the overwhelming amount of energy! We had all worked so hard in preparation for that very moment and now we were in it! When the gun went off, Boom! Running the Leadville 100, baby! It’s honestly hard to go too slow at the start, it’s so exciting and downhill, I just had to float in the bliss for a little bit. There was plenty of miles left to slow down and settle in.
My buddy took my father and sister to every aid station! Honestly, this kind of support was crucial to my race. Having such and amazing team supporting me made my race possible. I also got to see my wife and children both times at Twin Lakes, along with my mother, sister, brother, and nephew! I can’t tell you how amazing it was seeing all their smiling faces – it gave me life. My lowest point was coming over Hope Pass for the second time – l knew I had to keep pushing.
At Twin Lakes inbound, I picked up my first pacer and I was finally able to eat after descending the max elevation of the course. After hugging my entire crew and filling my belly, we were off! I was able to see the Runners Roost crew on our way out, which really boosted my spirits on our way to Inward Bound. Rain made things interesting as the temperature dropped after dark, but that’s all part of the experience. It wasn’t meant to be easy and comfortable. We kept moving and laughing along the way.
At Inward Bound, I picked up my final pacer. At this point, I knew I was going to finish and I was going to be happy with whatever the time, but still wanted to push for sub 25 hours. It was going to be close. My pacer pulled every last drop of energy I had left. He made me run when I felt like I couldn’t. We pushed and pushed and pushed. My body was tired, I had pushed it further than it had ever gone before, gone harder than I ever thought possible.
With three miles left to go, the math just didn’t add up. I was not able to go fast enough to finish in under 25 hours. But, there was no disappointment. We gave it everything we had, my tank was empty, but my spirits were high, I was going to finish the Leadville 100! Everyone racing that day gave everything they had to give in an effort to cross that finish line. Knowing that I was a part of that, that my commitment to cross that line was going to get me there, that was everything. All the months of training, the support from my friends and family, all the time and love that went into it, all of it, was worth it for being right there. Giving my very best was the best that I could ask for.
We hiked the last climb back to Leadville. I crossed the finish line my wife, kids, family, friends in 25 hours and 28 minutes. I cried. I was so happy! We did it!
Thank you, Runners Roost, for giving me this amazing opportunity, for inviting me into the Leadville family, and forever changing who I am and what I believe is possible.