John Hughes and I have known each other for 32 years. He has always been a unique person and, to that end, was fully immersed in body building when we first met. He used to wake at 5 am in high school to shovel his parent’s snow, lift more weight and trap animals for money. He’s the The Russian Weight Lifter. Despite the fact that he’s shrunken since his competitive body building days, the guy is just very strong.
So when John won the Leadville lottery, or lost it depending on your take, it seemed plausible that he could finish what has become one of the most storied hard man races on the planet. He didn’t have the same goal of merely finishing though…..Under 9 hours or bust! John wanted to win a belt buckle.
1900 people started the Leadville 100 in 2011. Approximately 1000 finish each year and maybe 150 of those walk away with the buckle. Unless your name is Levi, Lance or Floyd the possibility of pulling it off in the first try is very, very slim. With all of this in mind it seemed like a long shot but, if anybody has the stick-to-it-iveness to a least make a go of it, John does.
We sat down at his house in September of 2010 in Ft. Collins and mapped out a plan. John did everything; the base miles, high cadence, ridiculously long cruise intervals, 8 hour rides with 6 or 7 intervals at lactate threshold for 40 minutes a pop, and on and on. He just kept going! Most would get sick or at least lose some gusto but the guy kept getting stronger and more determined. The goal was, and one that he was fully on board with, to make it or break him.
He walked up to the line in Leadville last Saturday as ready as he could have possibly been. Food, clothing, acclimatization and a killer taper period assured that the stage was at least set for a run at a sub-9. These words are from the horses’ mouth:
“I got on the bike on race day and felt “these aren’t my legs”. They felt like bands of steel and I could climb anything. I got to the 40 mile mark (Twin Lakes) and felt like I barely began the race. Things were just clicking…no problems with nutrition, bike, weather, crashes, cramps. I descended well, avoiding all the nasty gulley washes, ruts, holes and rocks. Got in groups and did 30 sec pulls thru all the flat stuff. Worked like a charm. Did 3 hike-a-bikes.
It is quite an event. What a family of racers…some of them have done it 17 years in a row. Got my gold belt buckle and would like to shave off 30 minutes for next time around. Quirky little town, Leadville is. It is truly a mountain mining town. Met the mayor, the police chief and race director all in the bar after the race. Got hammered.
25 countries, 50 US states were represented. ROKcoaching, that sh$%t works.”
230th place out of 1900………8:51:38! I guess we’re shooting for 8:20 next year.
Way to go John and we are proud to call you a Training Bible athlete!
TRAINING BIBLE COACH