Will the Leadville Trail 100 Become the MTB Version of the Boston Marathon?

photo courtesy Race Across the Sky.

According to a recent article, Leadville 100 sponsor Lifetime Fitness has partnered with AEG to create a national series of qualifying races for Leadville. Since the Leadville 100 went to a lottery based entry system, some elite mountain bikers have been shut out from this (increasingly) popular event.

AEG owns and operates the Tour of California pro cycling race and this year they’ll help manage the 3-race “Leadville Qualifying Series.” By 2013 the series will expand to 8 races and will include events in CO, CA, TX, the midwest, southeast, and southwest (sorry northeast, seems like you’re outta luck). From the release it’s not clear what these qualifying events will look like, though we’re assuming they’ll all be ultra-endurance races of up to 100 miles. There’s already the National Ultra Endurance Race Series here in the US so we may see some races with dual designations.

At each race in the series, 100 entries to the Leadville 100 will be awarded – half to age/category winners and the other half to top overall finishers. This set-up is similar to how the entries to the Boston Marathon are awarded, though because the marathon is a standardized distance it’s completely time based (with different cut-offs based on gender/age). Unlike the Boston Marathon, regular riders can still race at Leadville – they’ll just need to get lucky with the lottery (which closes in just a few days – Jan. 31, 2011).

Of course the Boston Marathon is still just called the Boston Marathon, unlike the Leadville 100 which is now the “Lifetime Fitness Leadville 100.” It will be interesting to see where these corporate sponsors take the event in coming years…

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