Former Summit local, Zach Russell places 22nd at Leadville Trail 100
Summit's Steinweg, Carson and Iannitto all finish under 30-hour cutoff
This year’s Leadville Trail 100 was attended well by those who have ties to Summit County. Besides lifelong Summit resident Drew Petersen, several other Summit-based athletes also took on the behemoth that is the 100-mile trail race.
Zack Russell, who recently moved from Breckenridge to Basalt, was the fastest Summit-based athlete to cross the finish line in Leadville in the early hours of Sunday, Aug. 21. Russell finished the course in a time of 21 hours, 25 minutes, and 46 seconds to place 22nd overall and fifth in his division.
Russell completed the majority of his training in Summit County, often climbing up steep hill segments in the Breckenridge area and getting additional training in on his bike.
In his debut at the Leadville Trail 100, Russell felt good about his first ever 100-miler.
“For it being my first 100-miler I wasn’t sure what to expect,” Russell said. “I took it super cautious in the beginning, which maybe later on in the race wasn’t the best choice but I paced it out well. Over the course of the race, I moved up a lot of spots.”
Heading into his first 100-miler, Russell was a little nervous about fueling his body while out on the course. Russell said he did an adequate job at fueling himself throughout the race, up until the latter half of the race when his body and stomach started to reject any form of calories.
Russell said he experienced one of his lowest points when the sun set on Saturday, Aug. 20 — taking away any form of natural light and signifying that he had now been out running for 16-plus consecutive hours.
Russell got to the point where he no longer felt like running anymore but his crew and the thought of two people he knew battling cancer kept him chugging forward. As motivation, Russell had both the names of his grandmother and the mother of a really good friend written on his arms.
“Every time the going got tough I would look down and realize this is just 24 hours and they are battling things every single day,” Russell said. “My suffering is going to end but for others, it’s going to keep going so that kind of puts things in perspective.”
Russell is not sure if he will return to the Leadville Trail 100 in the next few years — he likes to race one race and move on to the next — but he definitely took valuable lessons away from his first ever 100-mile trail race.
“It’s always going to end but while you are out there have a good time and don’t focus on the rough times,” Russell said. “Focus on all of the good you find in the race.”
Among the 365 finishers who finished the race under the 30-hour time limit were three other runners from Summit County. Breckenridge’s Paul Steinweg, 41, finished the course in a time of 24:01:02 to finish 56th overall.
Steinweg was followed by Kevin Carson of Dillon in 65th place. Carson finished the course in a time of 24:24:52 to finish at around 4 a.m. on Sunday morning. Rounding out the Summit County talent at the Leadville Trail 100 was Johna Iannitto, 33, of Dillon. Iannitto finished in a time of 29:37:29, just 23 minutes under the 30-hour time limit.
Iannitto finished in 334th place and was the 58th female to cross the finish line.
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