Steamboat Springs When Amy Harris left the starting line of last weekend’s Leadville 100 mountain bike race, she wasn’t seeking a trophy as much as a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
She got both.
Harris finished third in the women’s ages 50 to 59 division of the legendary race in the mountains surrounding Leadville.
“It was really competitive,” Harris said about her age division. “All of the top riders in our division finished somewhere within 10 minutes of each other.”
Harris finished the 104-mile race in 9 hours, 49 minutes and 46.4 seconds. Harris was the 290th racer to cross the finish line, 15th among women and third in the women’s 50-plus age division. California racer Ruth Clemence won the division with a time of 9:38.50.6. Utah racer Ellen Guthrie (9:39:37.7) took home the second-place trophy.
Harris said she had hoped to win her division at the start, but that winning the event took a back seat to her main goal — finishing before the cutoff.
“Finishing the race in under 12 hours is the goal of every rider at the starting line,” Harris said. “It’s just a fun atmosphere … it’s a once-in-a-lifetime event that everybody should have on their bucket list.”
Harris, who raced in the event six years ago, decided to go back to Leadville after celebrating her 50th birthday earlier this year. Her overall time at the 2010 event was better than her first attempt.
“When I turned 50, I knew that I wanted to do some big races this year,” Harris said.
She said Leadville was on her wish list. She entered the lottery to get into the event and was thrilled when her number was called.
“When your number is called, you have to go race,” Harris said. “It’s Leadville.”
This year’s Leadville Trail 100 drew 1,600 riders. More than a thousand riders finished the course before the cutoff.
“I think the very best part of the event was standing in the dark, at the freezing cold start line, next to my brother,” Harris said. “It was great racing with him, the race went well and it was a wonderful experience.”
Harris was joined at the event by several other Steamboat Springs riders. Matthew Eggen (9:32:12.1) finished 233rd overall and 12th in the M2 division. Blake Chilson (10:08:28.1) finished 351st and 17th in the SSM division. Tom Bedell (10:57:37.7) finished 606th overall and 247th in the M4 division.
Len Zanni, who lives in Carbondale but spends a great deal of time in Steamboat Springs as Honey Stinger’s marketing director, placed 25th overall and 18th in the M3 age division. He finished in a time of 7:52:29.9.
Six-time winner Dave Wiens, who was in Steamboat two weekends ago to ride alongside Lance Armstrong in the inaugural Ride 4 Yellow, finished fourth this year. Pro cyclist Levi Leipheimer won the Leadville 100 and bested Armstrong’s course record in the process. Armstrong did not race in this year’s event.