2011 Leadville Silver Rush 50 Run

This past Sunday I finished the Leadville Silver Rush 50 Run. Before the race I couldn’t find many writeups about it, so I thought I would contribute a brief summary.

At 6am, the starter blasted a shotgun into the air, and we started up an extremely steep and rocky hill. The first up received a prize, but I walked, along with nearly everybody else. At the top, I caught my breath and started jogging. The first 5 or 6 miles were generally flat and rolling. I averaged about 12 min/mile. We passed a mini-aid station that had some bottled water, but it seemed that most people skipped it.

The next 4 miles were a fairly strenuous climb. The trail was rocky and there were a few minor streams to hop across. I walked and jogged this segment, averaging roughly 15.5 min/mile. When I finally reached the top, around mile 11.5, I remember thinking “wow, this is pretty though, and we have 38 miles to go.” The day was just starting.

The next 3.5 miles was down a long dirt road. It felt great to be going down hill. I ran the whole way until coming upon the first major aid station. My water bottles had just emptied, so I was happy to see it. There was a nice crowd of people there watching and cheering.

Next I ran downhill through the woods for a mile before starting the ascent up Bald Mountain. I walked this, averaging 18 min/mile. After 3 miles into the ascent, we came upon another aid station where I ate some oranges and topped off my water bottles. I then continued the ascent for another 2 miles before reaching the top. Near the top we had to cross a bit of snow.

From the top of bald mountain, I ran 3 miles down a tricky, rocky trail. I averaged roughly 12 min/mile over this segment. It was tiring and treacherous, but I wanted to make some good time. After another 0.5 miles, we reached the aid station at the half-way point. My watch read 23.5 miles and people confirmed that the total distance was only 47 miles. I wasn’t complaining — I was feeling pretty tired, and I was only half way there.

I ran 0.5 miles back and then began the ascent back up Bald Mountain. The trail was very steep and rocky. I labored up. It took me 23 minutes to finish the last mile of the ascent.

After reaching the top of Bald Mountain, I ran and walked to the next aid station. After the aid station, I mostly ran the next 3 miles down, averaging roughly 10.5 min/mile. I then worked up the next mile to reach the aid station.

At the aid station I was told “You’re going to run down this hill, and then you’ll go up a road that never ends. Just keep staring at Mt. Sherman and you’ll eventually reach the top. Then it’s down hill the entire way from there.”

That did sum it up, but I need to emphasize how hard it was climbing that road. It was epic, and it did seem to go on forever. It was 3.5 miles, and I averaged 18.5 min/mile.

After reaching the top of that dirt road, I ran and walked 3.5 miles down to the next aid station. I averaged roughly 14 min/mile on this segment. I was getting tired, and it was becoming hard to run.

At the aid station they said it was only 5 miles left to the finish. I started off with a 14 minute mile, but then fatigue started to set in. The next mile took me 17 minutes even though it was down hill and flat. I nearly tripped badly at least twice. I did the final two miles in 16 minutes and and 18 minutes, respectively. At one point, about a mile from the finish, I got a fairly strong side stitch.

I toughed it out though, finishing in 11 hours, 35 minutes.

The race was great, but grueling. It’s no joke — if you do this race, it will test your resolve. You’ll be pushed, hard. To give you background, I had never done a 50 mile race before (let alone at this altitude), but I have been doing long training runs, and I’m in excellent shape.

I met wonderful people along the way. The aid station volunteers were tremendously helpful. I can’t wait to do it again next year.


  1. Nathan said

    Thanks for the write-up. It’s refreshing to read a race report from a mortal (ie: “normal” human being), and not from some pro who is averaging 8:30 min/miles at this distance ;)

    I especially like the description of the epic “road that never ends”. Sounds like a lot of fun <–a bit of sarcasm here :)


  2. WTH said

    How technical was the trail? I hear that it is mainly on forest roads with a little single track mixed sprinkled in to the mix.

    • Greg said

      The trail was not too technical. I remember some steep, rocky grades in miles 20-30. But the trail is pretty tame. It’s much less technical than the Leadville 100 trail.

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