After last year’s cancellation due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Leadville Race Series is returning this summer, but it will look different than it has in the past.
“This year is more about the athletes and not so much the fans,” said Leadville Race Series (LRS) Event Manager Tim Brosious. “We’re excited to put on the event this year, but we have to keep everyone safe.”
Like most Lake County entities organizing an event in 2021, LRS has undergone a vetting process with several government organizations, including Lake County Public Health Agency, Lake County Building and Land Use, Leadville City Council and the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC). Plans and guidelines for the summer races were approved by City Council and BOCC earlier this month.
With the exception of the Leadville Trail 100 Run and the Leadville Trail 100 MTB events, all other races have been capped at about 40 percent capacity, meaning there are significantly fewer athletes registered to compete this year. Brosious said this was an intentional move to limit crowding during events.
In addition, all athletes will be required to wear a mask at the start and finish lines of each race. Instead of a mass start, athletes will begin races in prescribed waves to limit pinch points along the way. Crews will also be limited to two individuals and one vehicle per racer. Some aid stations, like the one in Winfield during the 100-mile run, are not allowing crews, and all aid stations will take precautions to limit crowding.
This year’s athlete meeting and rally, which usually takes place in person before the events, might not happen. Brosious said it is too early to make a call and that outdoor options are being explored by event organizers. All pre-event meetings will be streamed, recorded and distributed to participants virtually.
Brosious said his team is using a multipronged approach to communicate guidelines for this year’s events. That includes the LRS website, social media sites and emails. Brosious added that the race series may even utilize headboards at the north and south ends of Leadville to convey guidelines for the event.
“We’re trying to tell athletes to rely on themselves this year,” said Brosious. “That means taking advantage of aid stations and not having spectators near the course.”
Brosious said event crews will staff races to discourage spectator crowding and to keep the public away from the courses. Unlike in the past, there will be no bleachers at the start and finish lines. To enforce mandates, LRS will disqualify any athlete who does not comply or whose party does not complying.
This year’s international pool of athletes is much smaller than in the past. Although most LRS competitors are Coloradans, Brosious said there are normally hundreds of athletes who travel internationally for the races. That population is limited to non-existent this year, Brodious said.
For the cycling races, the Silver Rush 50 MTB race starts July 11; the Leadville Stage Race will be from July 30 to August 1; and the Leadville Trail 100 MTB race begins August 14.
For the running races, the Leadville Trail Marathon and Heavy Half is June 19; the Silver Rush 50 Run is July 10; the Leadville 10K Run is August 15; and the Leadville Trail 100 Run starts August 21.
Brosious encourages participants to check the LRS website for updates regarding guidelines for the events this summer.