The Leadville 100MTB mountain bike race spans 100 Miles across the Rocky Mountains. The race lasts for up to 13 hours for some riders, presents intense challenges of nature, and reaches elevations of more than 12 thousand feet. Brutal uphill climbs, high-speed loose gravel downhills, and the ever-present threat of dangerous weather test competitors’ physical endurance, technical control, and mental fortitude.
Riders train throughout the year, attempting to qualify for a coveted spot in the race. Many travel from all over the world to attempt the challenge. To those who compete and finish the Race, great respect awaits them at the finish line. This year, three competitors formed the Chris Klug Foundation’s Leadville team. Chris Klug, Jon Gibans, and Esther Blom-Geiser, all from the Aspen, Colorado area, attempted to complete the grueling race. Each member raised funds to support CKF while preparing for race day.
The race kicked off early in chilly temperatures, as nearly 2,000 riders anxiously awaited the opportunity for their corral to start the course. The CKF team began the day with personal goals; finish well, raise awareness, and inspire transplant recipients and those considering becoming an organ and tissue donor.
The day proved to be just as advertised; long, fiercely exhausting, and intensely competitive. CKF riders encountered different challenges on the trail. Bike damage, a flat tire, extreme fatigue, and even a chase from a thunderstorm all tested riders’ perseverance. Opposing riders worked to make things more difficult for the team as well. Incredibly, despite the challenges and the presence of a number of top competitors, each CKF rider completed the race inside the top 20%. This was a remarkable accomplishment considering the challenges.
Blom-Geiser finished the race 8th in her classification and as the 16th female overall. Jon Gibans nearly finished in under 9 hours, despite significant bike damage. And Klug completed the race in an impressive 8 hours and 15 minutes.
Collectively, these riders provided inspiration to CKF supporters and spectators. At any point, as many competitors did, either of the CKF riders had the option to stop riding. Yet, because they were inspired by the mission to save lives, each persevered to the finish line.
Ultimately, the Chris Klug Foundation and its Leadville team hope communities will become aware of the critical need for organ and tissue donors in the United States. Currently, there are nearly 120,000 individuals listed on the national transplant waiting list. Many of these individuals have been waiting years in hopes of receiving a transplant. On average, more than 20 people die each day waiting for a life-saving donation.
CKF and the transplant community are grateful for the efforts of the Leadville team and all those who support the mission to advocate for organ and tissue donation. These efforts are life-saving and impact the lives of recipients, families, and entire communities for years to come. The dedicated participation of the CKF Leadville 100MTB team exemplifies the type of care and generosity required to increase donor registration and ultimately to save lives.