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Conquer the Rockies: Guide to the 2024 Leadville Trail 100 MTB Race

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Prepare for the ultimate adventure with our guide to the 2024 Leadville Trail 100 MTB race. Discover the history, route highlights, past winners, and essential tips to conquer this legendary mountain biking challenge.

The Leadville Trail 100 MTB (Mountain Bike) race is a legendary event in the world of mountain biking. Renowned for its grueling altitude and challenging terrain, this race draws elite riders from around the globe. As we look forward to the 2024 edition on August 10, 2024, this guide will delve into the history of the race, highlight the previous year’s winner, outline the route, showcase key sections of the course, and offer tips for success.

Read our complete Colorado travel and adventure guide here.

History of the Leadville Trail 100 MTB Race

The Leadville Trail 100 MTB race was conceived in 1994 by Ken Chlouber, an avid runner and local miner. Chlouber, who had already established the Leadville Trail 100 Run in 1983, sought to create a mountain biking counterpart to boost the local economy of Leadville, Colorado. The idea was to attract athletes and outdoor enthusiasts to the area, leveraging the natural rugged beauty and high-altitude challenges.

The inaugural race saw just 150 participants, but it quickly gained popularity due to its unique combination of extreme altitude, stunning scenery, and demanding course. Today, the race caps at over 1,500 riders and is considered one of the most prestigious mountain bike races in the world.

Last Year’s Winner

The 2023 Leadville Trail 100 MTB was a thrilling competition, with Howard Grotts clinching the title. Grotts, a seasoned racer with multiple wins under his belt, completed the course in an impressive 6 hours, 11 minutes, and 35 seconds. His performance was marked by strategic pacing and expert navigation of the course’s toughest sections. Grotts’ victory added another chapter to the race’s storied history, highlighting the blend of endurance and skill required to triumph.

The Route

The Leadville Trail 100 MTB race starts and finishes in downtown Leadville, a historic mining town nestled at an elevation of 10,152 feet. The course covers 100 miles of challenging terrain, reaching elevations as high as 12,424 feet at the Columbine Mine.

Leadville to Twin Lakes Dam:

  • Distance: 40 miles (outbound)
  • Description: Riders depart from Leadville and head towards Twin Lakes, navigating rolling hills and a mix of singletrack and dirt roads. This section is relatively fast but sets the tone for the challenges ahead. Riders experience the thrill of the initial miles, with breathtaking views of the surrounding peaks and forests. The terrain is varied but manageable, allowing competitors to find their rhythm and conserve energy for the tougher sections to come. Aid stations along this stretch provide crucial hydration and nutrition.

Twin Lakes Dam to Columbine Mine:

  • Distance: 20 miles (outbound)
  • Description: The climb to Columbine Mine is one of the race’s most notorious segments. Riders ascend over 3,000 feet, reaching the highest point of the course. The thin air and steep grades test both physical and mental endurance. The ascent is relentless, with rocky paths and switchbacks demanding every ounce of strength. The breathtaking summit offers a brief respite and panoramic views, rewarding the arduous climb. The descent back to Twin Lakes is equally challenging, requiring sharp focus and technical skill to navigate safely.

Columbine Mine to Twin Lakes Dam:

  • Distance: 20 miles (inbound)
  • Description: After the grueling ascent, riders face a technical descent back to Twin Lakes. This section demands careful handling and focus, as fatigue begins to set in. Riders must manage their energy levels while maintaining control over their bikes on the steep, rocky descent. The exhilaration of the downhill ride is tempered by the need for caution, as any misstep could result in a crash. Returning to Twin Lakes offers a psychological boost, knowing they have conquered the race’s highest point.

Twin Lakes Dam to Powerline:

  • Distance: 20 miles (inbound)
  • Description: The route from Twin Lakes back towards Leadville includes the infamous Powerline climb. Known for its steep pitches and loose terrain, this climb is a make-or-break point for many riders. The Powerline climb is notorious for sapping the energy of even the strongest competitors. The relentless gradient, coupled with the loose, rocky surface, makes traction a constant battle. This segment tests mental fortitude as much as physical strength. Successful navigation of Powerline can be the key to finishing strong.

Powerline to Leadville:

  • Distance: 20 miles (inbound)
  • Description: The final stretch features rolling terrain and the last significant climb, known as the “Boulevard.” Riders then make their way back to Leadville, where the finish line awaits. The Boulevard climb, though not as steep as Powerline, can feel never-ending due to accumulated fatigue. The anticipation of the finish line fuels the final push. As riders crest the final hill and enter Leadville, a wave of emotion and relief washes over them. The sight of cheering crowds and the finish line banner is a hard-earned reward for their efforts.

Highlights of the Route

  • Columbine Mine: The highest point of the course, offering breathtaking panoramic views. The climb to Columbine is a defining moment, showcasing the race’s elevation challenges.
  • Twin Lakes: A scenic midway point where riders can refuel and enjoy the picturesque surroundings. The clear waters and mountain backdrop make it a memorable section.
  • Powerline Climb: This section is legendary for its difficulty. The steep, loose terrain tests riders’ strength and bike handling skills.
  • Boulevard: The final climb before reaching Leadville, often seen as the last hurdle to overcome. The Boulevard is where many riders dig deep for a final push to the finish.

Keys to Success

  1. Training and Acclimatization:
    • The high altitude is a significant challenge. Riders should train at altitude if possible and arrive in Leadville a few days early to acclimate.
  2. Pacing and Nutrition:
    • Consistent pacing is crucial. Going out too hard can lead to early fatigue. Nutrition plays a vital role; riders should have a well-planned strategy for fueling and hydration.
  3. Equipment and Bike Setup:
    • A well-maintained bike is essential. Riders should ensure their bike is suited for both climbing and technical descents. Tubeless tires with good grip are recommended to handle the varied terrain.
  4. Mental Toughness:
    • The Leadville Trail 100 MTB is as much a mental challenge as it is physical. Riders need to stay focused, manage discomfort, and keep a positive mindset throughout the race.
  5. Support Crew:
    • Having a support crew at aid stations can make a significant difference. They can provide fresh bottles, food, and moral support, allowing riders to focus on the race.


The Leadville Trail 100 MTB race is a true test of endurance, skill, and mental fortitude. With a rich history, a challenging course, and stunning high-altitude scenery, it continues to captivate the mountain biking community. As we look forward to the 2024 race, participants can draw inspiration from past champions like Howard Grotts and prepare to tackle one of the most iconic races in the sport. Whether you’re a seasoned racer or a first-time participant, the Leadville Trail 100 MTB promises an unforgettable adventure in the heart of the Colorado Rockies.

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