CC Cunningham is the blog writer and Program Manager for the Chris Klug Foundation (CKF).
We’re baaack! CKF returned to Leadville, Colorado for the second time this month to participate in another 100-mile race—and this time, it was all on foot! Yep, you read that right. The Leadville Trail 100 Run is pretty much the same as the Leadville Trail 100 MTB race but, instead of mountain biking 100 miles, you’re supposed to run 100 miles.
In addition, this year was our first year ever competing in this historic race! Our inaugural charity team consisted of six runners: Eric Morgan, Peter Grenney, Ernie Severe, Andy Wickless, Steve Palmer, and CKF board member, Charles Lucarelli.
If we thought 6 AM was early for the start of the Leadville 100 MTB race, boy, were we in for a surprise for this one! On August 17th (which happened to also be our Executive Director, Lauren’s, birthday!), we were all woken up at 2 AM by the sweet sound of Team CKF singing “Happy Birthday” to a sleeping Lauren as they prepared their drop bags and made breakfast before departing for the race at 4 AM. We were delighted to learn that the race course was on the same road as our rental house and, once our team’s pacers and crew members drove the runners to the start line, Lauren, Andy Wickless’ wife, Becky, and I headed to the end of the driveway to cheer them all on as they ran by. Around 4:15 AM, after standing at the end of our driveway in the cold morning air, we were able to spot our runners in the sea of bobbing headlamps that passed by and cheer them on.
CKF was in charge of one aid station, right behind the Twin Lakes Visitor Center, and our gang of pacers and aid crew joined us to help stock our runners up with everything they might need to keep their stamina up, stay hydrated, and stay healthy over the duration of the race. We were at the aid station all day on Saturday—about nine hours in total—to help support each runner as they passed by twice (on their way to Hope Pass and on their way back towards Leadville after running up and down both sides of Hope Pass). Chris Klug and his wife, Missy, joined us with their two children around 8 PM and helped us provide aid to our runners as they ran through Twin Lakes for the second time.
The first runner to finish the race on Team CKF was Andy Wickless from Denver, CO with an incredible time of 24:47:25. Aspen local, Peter Grenney, completed the course just after Andy at 26:02:18. The other Aspenite on the team was CKF board member Charles Lucarelli who finished with a time of 29:42:05.
It was so much fun hosting a team in the Leadville Trail 100 Run race and the whole experience was very humbling. Watching those runners—and not just our own—cross over the finish line was extremely emotional as almost every runner broke down in tears with their families there to support them. Knowing how far each racer traveled and the amount of dedication, hard work, and determination they put into finishing stirred immensely deep feelings in all of us. In addition, knowing that our own runners did it all on behalf of organ donation and our foundation made it all the more meaningful and emotional as well. It was truly an unforgettable experience.
Thank you to our phenomenal team who made our “test run” for participating in the Leadville 100 Run so much fun. We couldn’t be happier that we did. Huge “thank-yous” to our fellow aid station crew members and the incredible pacers who were there for each one of our team members at times that they needed it most. CKF will certainly be back next year with another team of dedicated individuals and we can’t wait.
Team CKF Results:
Andy Wickless (Denver, CO) — 24:47:25; Peter Grenney (Aspen, CO) — 26:02:18; Charles Lucarelli (Aspen, CO) — 29:42:05; Eric Morgan (Golden, CO) — DNF; Steven Palmer (Evergreen, CO) — DNF; Ernie Severe (Fountain, CO) — DNF