Leadville 100: The Opportunity of a Lifetime

On January 8th

I received an email from America that would change the course of my year, and thus, my life.
Here is the email I received:

Yes, you read that right.

I, a Dutch nobody, have been selected to participate in this year’s Leadville 100, ‘the race across the sky,’ as they say.

It came as a huge surprise.

I screamed and cried. My partner did too, but not out of joy. Rather, out of concern and probably because he already knew what I was going to do. A few months later, I quit my job and apartment in the Netherlands.

This year I’m going all in on myself.

Leadville 100 gave me the courage to say: Yes, I’m going to do it again. Pack my stuff, leave everything behind, and follow my heart and dreams. Because how on earth am I supposed to train for a high-altitude race in flat Netherlands?

Exactly, it’s not possible. So, if I want to take myself and my dreams seriously, it’s time for serious steps. And that requires unprecedented courage. Even though I’ve been through this before, it remains difficult each time. And here’s one lesson I can share with you already.

The longer you stay in one place, the harder it is to get moving again.

And don’t get me wrong, there’s no judgment here. Some people choose to stay longer in one place. Also, our society is designed to keep you in one place with annual rental contracts and mortgage interest deductions to buy a house. Many people like that. Security. A home. Not me.

I have nomad blood in me.

I am happiest when I travel, when I immerse myself in other cultures. Because I see life as one big spiritual journey. That’s why I love the marathon distance and everything beyond. It’s a journey. A journey through the world and a journey to yourself.

Leadville 100: the race across the sky

The “Race Across the Sky” was first held in 1983 and was created by Ken Chlouber, a local miner who wanted to draw attention to the town of Leadville after the closure of the Climax Mine. In 1983, 45 steadfast runners braved 100 miles of high-altitude, extreme terrain of the Rocky Mountains, starting at 10,200 feet, climbing to 12,600 feet, and making their way into the world history of endurance. The race must be completed within a very tight 30 hours. If you arrive later, it ends in an official DNF, did not finish.

Today, the Leadville 100 is one of the oldest and most legendary endurance races in the world — with not one, but two climbs at the critical point of the course: Hope Pass at 12,600 feet. Each year, a select number (800 participants) of steadfast, courageous, and determined runners make the pilgrimage to Cloud City to run the ‘Race Across the Sky’ and take their chance to become part of the Leadville family. Less than half reach the finish line; last year only 350 participants out of 800. And there, at the end of the finish line, Mr. Chlouber and his wife stand to embrace each participant who makes it and welcome them to the Leadville family.

Home is where the heart is

Home, for me, is not where you were born, but where you belong, where your heart longs to be. The Netherlands is not my home; my home is in the world, and I want to see how far I can push myself and how far I can go. Will I make it?Well, the odds are against me, but I will do my utmost because this race is about so much more than the 100 miles you have to cover.

This race reveals who you are. It tests your physical, mental, and spiritual boundaries.

As Jim Walmsley, a professional ultrarunner and winner of the prestigious UTMB (Ultratrail du Mont Blanc), beautifully said: “100 miles is not conquerable by a human. It’s conquered by the human spirit. And you need to harness the spirit in order to accomplish the goal.”

This is what it’s all about for me. Learning to master your soul, your mind, your body. When everything falls apart, do you have the strength to take the next step?

I am willing to embark on this adventure, and honestly, it’s irrelevant whether I make it or not. Because Leadville is not my final destination, it is a stepping stone on my spiritual journey that I have fully begun and is far from over.

Follow this adventure. I’ve started a series on YouTube where I share my inner journey with you. Because this isn’t just training, this is a journey of self-discovery.


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