Steamboat Springs What Leadville Trail 100 Race Director Ken Chlouber tells racers before they start "The Race Across the Sky" always has struck deep with Jennifer Schubert-Akin.
Chlouber says to each racer: "(You're) better than you think you are, and you can do more than you think you can."
Schubert-Akin, a Steamboat Springs runner who has become close friends with Chlouber, lived that old miner saying during Saturday and Sunday's race.
For the third time, Schubert-Akin finished the 100-mile race, this time with a little less than 11 minutes to spare. Racers have 30 hours to complete the course.
"That was it," said Schubert-Akin, who was one of 186 runners to finish the race, in which more than 450 racers entered. "You want to talk about digging into the inexhaustible well. This race is a lot like life. You go through peaks and valleys, high points and low points, but you don't give up. You just keep going. That's the Leadville 100."
This one took everything Schubert-Akin had.
After the first 40 miles went according to plan, the last 60 quickly became grueling.
Schubert-Akin felt good mentally at the halfway point, but she was behind her set pace. She didn't have a pacer for miles 50 through 60, and things weren't looking good.
That's when Chlouber dropped everything he was doing, suited up and helped Schubert-Akin make those miles.
But by mile 70, things really didn't look good. Schubert-Akin's husband, Rick, who she says usually knows exactly how she'll do in a race, wasn't confident.
Schubert-Akin couldn't eat by about mile 70. At an aid station near the Halfmoon Campground, she was the last person to leave before the cutoff. She said Rick put the odds of her finishing at 1 percent.
Her crew didn't expect her to make it in time to the next cutoff spot. But lo and behold, Schubert-Akin came rolling in.
"Not finishing last year really got me down," she said. "I knew even if I wasn't feeling well, I couldn't let it get me down. That mental attitude is the key."
Schubert-Akin said she has no plans of doing the race next year. After last year's failure, she said she had to finish the race. Although she said she would love to help someone do it next year, as of now, this is her last Leadville 100.
"I ended on a good note," she said. "Three finishes is good enough for me."
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