Kalmeyer finishes 100-mile runs

— As local runner Betsy Kalmeyer made the long, grueling climb up Hope Pass at this year's Leadville 100, she was approaching one of the highest points in all of Colorado but it may have been the lowest point along her journey to complete four 100-mile races in a single year.

"I think I always knew that I could do all four,'' Kalmeyer said. "But there were a couple of times I was a little doubtful."

Kalmeyer had begun the journey on July 13 and 14 at the Hardrock 100. The Leadville race was just five weeks later on Aug. 18 and 19.

"The course was probably the easiest of the four, but I knew I still had a long way to go," Kalmeyer said.

The endurance runner said she battled blisters most of the way and the realization that she still had two more 100-mile races to go to reach her goal was starting to take a toll mentally.

"I just didn't know after that race," Kalmeyer said. "I only had three weeks until the next race and I wasn't feeling that good physically. I just didn't think I was going to be able to recover in time."

But Kalmeyer recovered faster than she expected after the Leadville race and said she started to feel better physically as she completed her next race, which was the Wasatch 100 Sept. 8.

Then she completed the final race the Bear 100 in Idaho on Sept. 28.

"I had been emotional throughout the course, but as I crossed the finish line, there were no tears."

Kalmeyer said the most emotional moment might have come about a half-mile before the finish line as she struggled toward the finish. She still realized that she had a little ways to go, but that's when the realization that she would actually finish all four 100-mile races started to hit her. By the time she reached the finish line, she was riding on cloud nine.

"I was just so happy that I had finished and that I had reached my goal. I was just so happy I was through," she said.

Kalmeyer said she doesn't have immediate plans of taking part in any additional races. She said, however, she would race in the Hardrock again next year it will be her fifth Hardrock.

"That's a pretty big deal," Kalmeyer said of finishing the race that many times. "They have a special award for accomplishing that."

By finishing five Hardrocks, Kalmeyer will enter an elite group of runners and become the first woman to accomplish the goal.

While the goal of completing four 100-mile races was important to Kalmeyer, she admits the highlight of the summer came when she finished third overall in the Hardrock and was the top woman in that race.

"To come from that far back and win the race was thrilling," Kalmeyer said of the July race.

Halfway through the race, Kalmeyer trailed several of the top women's endurance runners. However, she was able to overcome the group en route to finishing the race and recording a new record on the course for women.

"I was really happy to do all four, but I think the Hardrock race was a definite highlight," she said.

After completing the races, Kalmeyer is looking forward to returning to a more normal training schedule.

"I love to run on trails, but I didn't do that very much when I was trying to complete all four," Kalmeyer said.

She explained that it took so long to recover after each of the 100-mile races that she couldn't spend too much time on training runs. Now that she is done, she can return to a normal running schedule.

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