What: Leadville 100 Trail Run
When: Aug. 17-18, race starts at 4 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 17
Where: Leadville, Colo.
More info: leadvilleraceseries.com/page/show/311976-lt-100-mile-run
Boulder’s Mirek Boruta hopes by the end of this summer to wear the title of “Leadman,” a moniker only given to elite endurance athletes who complete a grueling list of races in Leadville.
So far, he’s completed a marathon, 50-mile mountain bike race, 100-mile mountain bike race and 10-kilometer running race up in Leadville. The course elevation for all four ranges from 10,000 feet to more than 13,000 feet.
Boruta, 34, says he’s ready for yet another punishing weekend in Leadville as he prepares for the Leadville 100 trail race on Aug. 17 (that’s running, by the way. Running 100 miles).
We caught up with him on his lunch break to talk about how to train for a 100-mile race while juggling a family and a full-time job.
Why did you decide to sign up for the Leadman competition?
The Leadville mountain bike race is really hard to get into. It’s all based on lottery. I’ve tried the last six years in a row to get in. I moved to Colorado (in January) and I decided, well if I’m living in Colorado I may as well just sign up and do the whole thing and get a guaranteed entry into the mountain bike race. Unfortunately, or fortunately, I have to do the 100-mile run afterward.
Have you ever run a 100-miler before? How have you been training?
I ran 100 last year at Old Dominion. That was my first one, and the way you do it is you just have to train up to that distance. It’s a lot of time just on your feet and plugging away. It’s like getting ready for anything. OK, I’ve got five months to do it, so at some point I have to do a couple long runs to prepare. On Saturday I went out and ran for 30 miles. That’s unfortunately what you have to do — a lot of time on your feet.
How do you balance training for such a long distance with work and your family?
We have a 2-year-old and a new baby. Honestly, a lot of it’s just really early mornings, so on Saturday I had to run for six hours, so I ran from 3:30 to 9:30 (a.m.). I like running events because they don’t take as much time and you can also run in the middle of the night and not be away from the kids.
Your name is Czech, what’s your family’s story?
My family and I actually had to emigrate. We actually escaped because you weren’t able to travel from the Communist Bloc. There was the Iron Curtain so in Eastern Europe you couldn’t travel to the west. So we had to escape from what was formerly Czechoslovakia through what was formerly Yugoslavia through a train tunnel. We hiked across the border through a tunnel about five miles. Maybe that’s the start of my running career. We had a bag of clothes. My mom carried the bag of clothes and my dad carried me. I was 6 at the time. I remember my mom checking for vibrations on the train tracks, and whenever a train would come we’d have to push against the wall.
What’s one thing that surprises you about doing ultraraces like the Leadville 100?
I’ve done Ironman Hawaii (Ironman world championships) and when you cross the finish line, there’s crowds lining the streets cheering for you and all this excitement and thrill to cross the finish line. (At Old Dominion) I was just about to finish up my first 100-miler. I’m feeling really proud of myself. I went through these really high highs and really low lows, and then there’s this little lamp and a guy sitting there who said, “Good job,” and he wrote my name down. I stood there, and I don’t know what I was waiting for, but I was expecting something big. After a couple minutes, he looked at me like “Do you need something?”
Which is more challenging, the mental or the physical aspect of running 100 miles?
The biggest part is the mental part. You’re physically just tired. You just ran 60-some, 70 miles and that’s a long way and you still have 30 miles to go. That’s a really long way, too. I did 30 miles on Saturday and I was exhausted. I can’t imagine having to run another 70. That whole mental thing of getting over the fact that it’s such a long way and kind of breaking it down into pieces. Because if you just say, “Oh wow I have to run 100 miles,” mentally it’s just so hard to think about. You have to break it down into little tasks like, “I’m not running 100 miles, I’m running 10 miles to this next spot, then I’ll reassess and keep going.”
The course is an out-and-back, does that take a mental toll on you? I think it’s challenging just because you’re going to have world-class runners there. Some people are going to be finishing in 15, 16 hours so while you’re going out, maybe you’re at mile 30 they’re already going to be on their way back. These guys are going to be showered, have a full meal, have taken a nap by the time I even reach the halfway spot. That’ll certainly be interesting. But on the other hand, if you see all these people that’s motivation to keep going.
–Follow Sarah Kuta on Twitter: @SarahKuta.