Thursday, September 15, 2011

Post Grand Slam Thoughts

Well, now that my Grand Slam adventure is over, and I’ve had a few days to let it sink in, here’s some random thoughts on the experience.

I had already decided that if I made the Western States lottery cut, I would sign up for the slam.  So, once I knew for certain, I signed up for the remaining races as soon as I could.  Who knows when I would get another chance?

I’ve kind of had it in the back of my head that one day I would do the slam, especially if I could afford it and make the cut at Western.

I definitely spent some cash this summer doing this little adventure.  Four entry fees that weren’t cheap, a plane ticket to Boston, a rental car, hotels, food, gas for my car on the road trips, etc.  It added up pretty quick.  Couple all of that with the other races I did this year and this has been a pricey race year.  Was it worth it?  Some people would say no, the average person can’t afford it, some of the races are way overhyped, entry fees are too high, you shouldn’t race that much, etc.  Well, I’m happy to say that I’m not an average person, I could afford it, and who cares about the hype, whether I race too much, etc.  I had a great time.

Did I find running four 100's difficult?  Well, yes and no.  The actual races all went very well.  I ran within myself, knew what to do and just got the job done.  There was never really any point in any race where I had serious thoughts of dropping or giving up.  You always have those fleeting thoughts, but serious ones never really entered my head.  Did I have to "dig deep" to finish (or any other of those metaphors).  Nope, I just ran or walked until I got to the finish line.  I think my biggest concern was the possibility of getting injured, either by taking a good fall and breaking or spraining something, or just an overuse or over training type injury.  That kind of had me stressed, especially as Wasatch got closer.  But that didn't happen, and I finished injury free.  Indeed, I actually feel pretty good just a few days after Wasatch.  Goes to show just how amazing and adaptable our bodies really are.  You can train to recover quickly.

I was able to go do some races that maybe I would have never done without signing up for this adventure.  So here’s a little recap of my thoughts on each race.

Western States – The granddaddy of them all.  Lots of history, lots of extreme talent show every year.  Lots of hype.  I let myself get sucked in and enjoyed the event.  Phenomenal organization and attention paid to every runner.  I had a great time with Aric and Alicia.  Went in a little undertrained, but managed a respectable finish.  I wouldn’t mind doing WS again, but it gets pricier every year, plus you have the lottery to contend with.

Vermont – Another old school ultra.  I got to run with horses and that was a real treat.  Vermont is beautiful in the summer.  Running the back roads, topping out on hills with great views, past the farms.  I also had a great race, sub-24 hour and my fastest 100 in many years.  Larry was great at pacing me for the last 30 miles.  I would go do this one again.

Leadville – Now the largest 100 mile event in the country with 600+ this year.  Very scenic, not a tremendously difficult course other than the cutoff time of 30 hours and the altitude.  Corporate owned now, which makes for a different atmosphere and vibe.  Not sure I like it, but it is what it is.  Great organization, aid was spot on.  Once away from the headquarters, it was more like the typical ultra.  My lovely wife was able to crew for me for the first time, and Carolyn was another great pacer I had.  Fun.  I don’t think I would do this one again.  Running with that many people doesn’t interest me a whole lot.

Wasatch – What can I say?  It’s my home course and I love it.  Always a great event.  Intentionally kept low key and low cost.  It was also the cheapest 100 I ran.  The support is always superb.  One of the reasons I love this race is that so many of my running friends are running it or volunteering and it’s way too much fun to see them, socialize a little, cheer them on, etc.  My pacers were great, and I felt good for the most part.  Run it again?  Hell yes.

I’m not sure what I can do next year to top this year.  Maybe I should not race so much and do more adventure type runs.  That actually appeals to me quite a bit.  Still, I do have a few other races that I would love to do, so who knows what 2012 will bring running wise.

So, should you do the slam?  I would recommend it if you manage to get into Western States.  Doing one or two 100’s a year is an achievement that an extremely small portion of the population can or will do.  Doing four of them in less than three months is an achievement that very few ultrarunners will do.  Completing the slam certifies you as a truly badass runner, one not to be messed with at all.  At least that’s what my friends tell me.  I think they're just stroking my ego ;-)

Grand Slam Adventure Part 4, Wasatch 100

Wow, the last race of the series.  Finally.  It’s been a pretty grueling summer running wise, but one I wouldn’t trade away.
After Leadville, I had three weeks to rest up, do a little running, and anticipate running Wasatch for the 5th time.  I wasn’t apprehensive at all, I was excited.  I know this course, I’ve done it before several times, I know what to expect at every point.  Bring it on.
During the three weeks between Leadville and Wasatch I did very little running.  I took a complete week off after Leadville, then basically ran every other day until the week before, and took most of that week off.  I did manage to take Joel on a preview run of the course from Brighton to the finish, but we cheated and took the Sandy Baker cutoff, thus shortening our run by about eight miles.
I went to the prerace Thursday, saw lots of friends, met with my two pacers, then headed home.  My wife and I went to our favorite Italian restaurant for some carboloading, then home to bed.  This time I slept like a baby, relaxed, no worries, no being all keyed up.  It was nice to say the least.
I had huge plans for a sub-30 hour run and had made up a pace chart to reflect that.  I also told all sorts of people that I planned on going sub-30.  Best laid plans and all that.
The race started at 5am and we were off.  I took a nice relaxed pace for those first few miles before we started our climb up to Chinscraper.  The legs felt pretty good, not tired, my attitude was good.  I was excited to be out here and get this last race done.
Looking down from the top of Chinscraper

Little bit of snow left over from last winter
As I went up the climb to chinscraper, I chatted with Charlie Vincent.  He did the Slam a couple years ago and we had a good time running the miles away.  Once on the ridgeline, I got stuck in a conga line of about 10 runners.  There really wasn’t any good spot to pass, so I just went with it.  A few people stopped at Landis spring and I was able to get by them and make a little bit of time.  At about 11 miles, I saw something I’ve never seen while running Wasatch.  A nice big snow cornice left over from last winter.  It must have been 3-4 feet thick still.  We actually had to cross it.  I wouldn’t be surprised if some of it is still there when the snow flies in a month or so.  On past Grobben’s corner, past the radar towers (passed Joel here), and down the gravel road to the Maintenance Shed aid station.  Since Farmington Canyon road was closed, the race wasn’t allowing crew or spectators there.  It seemed really quiet and subdued with only a handful of cars and people.  Nice and quiet.  Not only that, but there weren’t any motorcycles or 4-wheelers to raise all sorts of dust.  Very nice.  The section between the maintenance shed and the Bountiful B aid is one of my least favorite sections, a couple of steep climbs, some almost bushwacking, just not fun.  However, I persevered and managed to keep on a sub-30 hour pace.  I felt pretty good to this point, but in a couple of miles after Bountiful, my attitude went south.  I felt ok, my stomach was fine, it’s just that my legs were tired, heavy, and so was my brain.  Once I left the Sessions aid, Karen called.  First, I was surprised that I got cell service there, second, she got really worried after hearing me complain.  At this point, it just wasn’t fun.  It continued to not be any fun all the way to the Swallow Rocks aid.  Here I got a couple of popsicles, some potatoes with salt and bolted.  The good thing was that I was still on a sub-30 pace.  A couple miles past Swallow Rocks something clicked.  It was instant, my attitude changed 180 degrees, I felt better, I took off for Big Mountain at a little quicker pace.

Descending to Alexander Ridge
At Big Mountain (39.4 miles) I met Britta, my first pacer.  She brought me a Coke Icee, and that hit the spot.  That, coupled with more potatoes and I felt like a new man.  We took off for Alexander Ridge and Lamb’s Canyon.  I have never run the section between Big Mountain and Lamb’s in under four hours.  We did it in 3.5 hours.

Lamb's Canyon for a few minutes
At Lamb’s I picked up Meghan, my next pacer.  Meghan has paced me for the last 47 miles before and we always have a good time, so I was looking forward to a few miles of interesting conversation.  We took off up Lamb’s Canyon at a dead……walk.  It’s uphill and just steep enough for me to not run when I’m tired.  Still, I managed a pretty good power hike up the road and up the trail to Bear Ass Pass.  My goal was to get there before dark.  Our headlamps were on when we got to the top of the pass, but Meghan pointed out that it was technically still light since you could still see the remains of sunset.  I’ll buy it.  Down Elbow Fork Trail and up Millcreek road to Upper Big Water we went. 
Upper Big Water is always a cold spot.  It sits in a bowl and collects cold air.  During my first attempt at Wasatch I dropped here due to the extreme cold and not being prepared.  My plan was to eat a couple of bowls of their spaghetti, put some dry warm clothes on and get out.  We were out in 15 minutes.  Going up to Dog Lake, and ultimately Desolation Lake I started to slow down.  I had no climbing legs left.  I could do the downhills and flats just fine, but if it was uphill, I was going slow.  I saw my hopes of a sub-30 finish slipping away and knew that I little chance of getting it back.  My uphill legs were gone.  I knew I would finish, but my time would be less than spectacular.
The Desolation Lake aid is always an interesting place.  Another cold spot at over 9000’, it’s easy to sit by their nice big campfire and warm up.  Since I’ve wasted time doing that before, we left after about three minutes.  By now, the moon was out and it was almost full.  At times along the ridge above Brighton we would turn off our headlamps and just run by the moonlight.  The shadows were bright and it was pretty cool.  Running by moonlight at 10,000’ is something that most people will never experience and one of the reasons I do these things.  Park City lights off to the left, Salt Lake City lights behind, Brighton lights off to the right.  Very cool in my book.
By the time we got to Brighton, I was slowing down even more.  I had been looking forward to Brighton for some time because I knew I could get some scrambled eggs with ketchup.  Scrambled eggs with ketchup at 3am after running 75 miles is some of the best tasting food there is.  I just wished they’d have had some Tabasco sauce.  That would have been awesome (next time in my drop bag!).  I decide to take a little break here and we stayed here for about 45 minutes.  I did manage a short nap before we took off a little after 4am.

Sunrise over the Wasatch, love it
The climb out of Brighton on race day is one that always gets to me.  Usually my asthma is acting up a little and it’s a long slow 2.5 mile climb to Sunset Pass.  This time it wasn’t too bad.  My lungs were fine and we made the climb to the pass in a little over an hour.  Once on the other side, it’s a very steep, loose and rocky trail into Ant Knoll’s aid.  Everyone is pretty timid here because of the possibility of a nasty fall.  I hammered it pretty good.  I had run this section two weeks earlier and knew what to expect.  Not only that, but my quads were still good to go as far as downhill running.  I was wearing my Hoka’s to absorb the pounding and away I went.  We made Ant Knoll’s by 6am, spent a couple minutes getting some sausage and took off.  The next climb up the Grunt wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be and we made it to Pole Line Pass aid in a little over an hour.  I was so sleepy along this section that I decided to take a 10 minute nap here.  That did wonders for me, but I wish I would have just had some caffeine instead and saved a little time.  The next few miles to Rock Springs aid were uneventful except for the elk we saw up above us on the mountainside.  We were hoping they would just leave us alone.  All along this section we marveled at the sunrise over the Wasatch.  This section is one of the most scenic and I love running through here when the sun is coming up.  Beautiful.  We basically ran through the Rock Springs aid and kept going.  Next up was one of the toughest sections of the course, the dive, the plunge, the seven hills of Babylon.  Very steep and loose rocky downhills followed by short steep uphills.  Kind of demoralizing after 90 miles.  Still, it didn’t seem as bad as it has in years past.  Don’t know why, it just didn’t.
Eventually we made it to the last aid station, Pot Bottom.  From here it was a fairly easy climb, some long downhill miles followed by a short section of road.  Home free!
I did manage to run the last half mile or so to the finish.  The run across the lawn with everyone cheering is something that always is enjoyable, especially this year since I had just completed the Grand Slam.  A good portion of the Utah ultrarunning crowd knew I was attempting the Slam and I got all sorts of cheers, good jobs, etc.  It was pretty neat.
Crossing the finish line I always thank John, the race director for the abuse I’ve put myself through.  He just laughs. 

One tired, but happy little boy
Once again I had a pretty uneventful 100 miles.  No stomach issues at all, no chafing, and shock of all shocks, no blisters on my feet.  No blisters has never happened at a 100.  I finally managed to complete the section from Brighton to the finish in under 10 hours.  I have never been able to do that before either.  This time I did it in about 9:30.  Not too bad for tired legs.
Once again I did 1st Endurance EFS Liquid Shot as my main source of fuel for the first 75 miles.  After that the stuff just won't go down.  I switched to some energy bars that I found at the Outdoor Retailer show back in August.  They're called Journey Bars and they aren't sweet.  They have flavors like Mequite Bar-b-que, Wasabi ginger, Coconut curry.  What I did was nibble on one an hour and that got me 200 calories per hour.  Kept me fueled just fine.
So, I had some good sections, some not so good, but nothing terrible and horrible, just the usual ups and downs associated with something like this.
The 12 Grand Slam runners who made it
I think the main reason I couldn’t go under 30 hours this year was just the fact that I had run three 100-mile races in the past 11 weeks.  Maybe some tired legs?  Maybe I'm getting old?  I don’t know, just a thought.
The nifty eagle Grand Slam trophy
The awards ceremony was pretty neat.  When they were calling up the 12 of us who completed the slam, they announced me as the only Utah runner to complete it this year.  That got the loudest cheer.  I have to admit, I enjoyed the attention.  It’s something when all sorts of people  tell you they’ve been following your progress all summer.  I had all sorts of other runners during the race cheering me on.
I have to say thank you to my awesome pacers, Britta and Meghan.  Not only did I have the best looking pacers out there, they were great at keeping me on task, eating, drinking, moving.
My awesome pacers, Meghan (L), and Britta (R)

By the numbers
Time – 32:35
Place – 114th out of about 240 starters
Calories burned – the same 12,000
Calories taken in – roughly the same 6000 as usual
Time wasted at aid stations – roughly 1.5 hours
Shoes – La Sportiva Raptors for the first 53 miles, then the Hoka Mafate’s for the last 47.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Grand Slam of Ultrarunning Round #3, Leadville 100

Well, the Leadville 100 is done, I survived just fine.  My fears of failure were unfounded.
There was five weeks between the Vermont 100 and the Leadville 100.  This allowed me to take a week off completely, train hard for two weeks, then taper for the remaining two weeks.  My hard training consisted of a couple of 60+ miles weeks, including running the Speedgoat 50K race at Snowbird. 
My main concern at Leadville was the altitude.  The course itself isn’t particularly difficult, it’s just that it’s all above 9000’.  So my goal for training between Vermont and Leadville was to get up high as much as possible.  Thus my running of the Speedgoat 50K. At Speedgoat, I had all sorts of people calling me crazy for doing a race that difficult in between two key 100 mile races.  Yeah, I have to agree, it was kind of crazy.  I managed a finish, but it certainly wasn’t pretty.  I bonked pretty hard over the last ten miles.
Ken and Marilee doing the prerace pep talk
The Thursday before Leadville, Karen and I drove out to Frisco, CO, where we were staying.  After checking into our hotel, we drove over to Leadville to check in for the race and just look around.  The one thing we both noticed was a headache from the altitude.  I got a little worried, but knew it would probably disappear after a bit.  The Leadville area is beautiful.  The town kind of sits in a valley, but that valley is 10,000’ above sea level.  You really feel like you’re on top of the world.  We stayed in Leadville for the pre-race dinner, then headed back to our hotel.  After breakfast Friday morning, we drove back over to Leadville, finished the check in process (drop bags), stuck around for the prerace briefing (1200 people in a gym got pretty warm and stuffy), then drove part of the course so Karen could get familiar with where the aid stations were.  She was going to crew for part of the race with Carolyn Luckett, my pacer.  We met Carolyn that afternoon, discussed all of the logistics, concerns, etc., then headed back to our hotel for the evening.  I usually get a lousy night’s sleep the night before a race, and this was no exception.  It didn’t help that we had some noisy neighbors and I had to bang on the wall to get them to shut up.
Still sleepy at 3:45
2am came awful early, but that’s when we needed to get up in order to make the 4am start.  Why oh why can’t most 100 mile races start at a decent hour?  Say 6am at the earliest?  Or be like mine (the Buffalo Run) and start at noon.  Sleep in, nice leisurely breakfast, mosey over to the race start, then wait for the gun to go off.  Nope, we have to start at some ungodly hour when it’s still cold and dark out.
So anyway, the gun goes off at 4am and about 620 of us make our way across the starting line and into the dark. I was glad the first few miles were essentially downhill. It let me warm up without having to really exert myself. Especially since I didn’t know how well I could do at 9000’. 
Now, corporate owned, bigger and better?

By the time we made our way the 3-4 miles to Turquoise Lake, the pack had strung out some.  As we made our way along the trail beside the lake, you could look back and see a huge string of headlamps going back for over a mile.  It was actually a pretty cool sight.  There was some conga line action along this trail, but by the time I made it to the May Queen aid station (13.5 miles), crowd conditions were better.  In fact, after May Queen, there never really was a point where the runners bunched up.  After May Queen, we began the ascent to Sugarloaf Pass going up the powerline. 
The ascent up powerline to Sugarloaf Pass
This pass was just a hair over 11,000’ and would give me an early idea of how I would fare at higher elevations.  I was glad to find that I was doing just fine.  I really didn’t seem to notice the altitude at all during the race, even going over Hope Pass twice.
After Sugarloaf, we made a long decent into the Fish Hatchery aid station.  In and out.  Karen and Carolyn met me there, fueled me up with a dose of 1st Endurance Ultragen (320 calories) an kicked me out.  Then began a few miles of paved road, followed by a gradual climb up to the Half Pipe aid station.  Once again, in and out.  Next stop, Twin Lakes.  Karen and Carolyn met me here and fueled me up again.  I spent a few minutes talking, then left for the trek up to Hope Pass. 
Hope Pass off in the distance
River Crossing at Twin Lakes
You could see it in the distance and it was a little intimidating.  3400’ of climb up to 12,600’.  All over about 4 miles.  Not tremendously steep, but not a walk in the park either. It was along this section that I caught up to Tom Remkes and had Cory Johnson pass me.  These two are usually quite a bit in front of me, so I was a little surprised to see them so close to me after 40+ miles.  Nonetheless, they pulled ahead of me and I only saw them again on their way back up Hope Pass.   
Once I got to the treeline, there was the Hopeless aid station.
Hopeless aid station with Twin Lakes down below
This is a group that has been doing this aid almost since the beginning.  They pack everything in on llamas.  And they have quite the setup.  It was definitely a cool sight to see about two dozen llamas staked out in the meadow grazing, occasionally looking up to
see what was going on.  It was during the last ¼ mile to the top of the pass that the front runners started coming through on their way back.  This meant that they were about ten miles in front of me.  That sucks, but oh well, happens all the time to me.   
Once I got to the top of Hope Pass, my cell phone let me know that I had several messages.  Funny how down lower I didn’t have service, but up on some remote Rocky Mountain Pass, I did.  I spent a couple minutes sending a couple messages, enjoying the scenery and views, taking a few pictures, then headed down the other side to the Winfield aid station.  Going down the backside of Hope Pass was definitely more technical than the way up.  Steeper, rockier, although with less vertical. 
I have no idea what the couple was doing in the background.  Hypoxic yoga?
I finally made it into Winfield after 11:30 of running.  I still felt great, just a little tired.  I wasn’t going quite the speed I had hoped, but I knew that it was a more realistic time.  The key thing was, I felt great, no altitude issues at all. 
Heading down the other side into Winfield
I spent about ten minutes at Winfield, then took off for the return journey to the finish line.  Everyone complains that the trek back up Hope Pass is demoralizing, but I didn’t find it that way at all.  Steep, tiring, had to dodge out of the way of runners still coming down, but I knew that once I hit the top, the hardest part of the race would be over. 
Top of Hope Pass, yeah buddy!

One of my new buddies
Once again, at the top of Hope Pass, I had some texts to look at.  I answered them, then headed down.  I was in a good mood.  I felt good, I knew I had seven miles of downhill running ahead of me.  I spent a little more time at the Hopeless aid.  Took some pictures of the llamas, had my picture taken with one, then headed down.  This section of trail was a blast.  Nice easy running, not too technical.  You could get some speed up and make up some time.  This I did, passing several people on the way down.  I finally came out on the flats near the Twin Lakes river crossing and made my way into the aid station.  Karen and Carolyn were there, fueled me up again and I took off, this time with Carolyn to pace me the rest of the way.  Going out of Twin Lakes, I knew we had a 1200’ climb to greet us, but I also knew that after that was a long rolling descent.  We made the climb, then once we hit the descent, I felt really good and really picked up the pace.  I’m not sure I’ve run that fast at that point in a 100 before.  I think I was clocking right around 8 minute miles, and they felt easy.  By now it was dark, and we could see the runners in front of us and it became fun to try and pick them off one by one.  We must have passed well over 20 runners during this section.  But once we got into the Half Pipe aid station, my stomach was starting to bother me.  I always felt hungry, not to the point of wanting to throw up, but close at times.  I also was starting to have some lower GI issues and had to visit the woods a couple times.  In hindsight, I think it was the continuous use of Ultragen that did that.  Needless to say, after Half Pipe, my pace slowed considerably.  I was still able to run, just not at the same pace.  We still had a downhill run to the Fish Hatchery, so I tried to make the most of it and run as much as possible.  One cool sight on the way into Fish Hatchery was a badger that I caught in my headlamp.  He had a burrow in the bank alongside the road.  Kind of had a confused look on his face.  We didn’t get too close.  The Fish Hatchery had some wonderful potato soup.  That stuff hit the mark and I had a couple of cups.  I did sit here for about 20 minutes just to take a little break.  I also had some coffee here to try and keep me awake.  I don’t remember what time we came through, but it was in the middle of the night.  After Fish Hatchery, I knew that we had a pretty steep climb back up powerline and over Sugarloaf Pass.  It was a grind and I hated it.  What didn’t help any was that my lungs were getting weezy.  We were thinking it might be HAPE.  It also got a little cold up here, probably down in the upper 30’s and a little breezy at times, but not too bad.  We either passed or were passed by others grinding their way up as well.  At the top of the pass, we could see the May Queen aid station in the distance.  I still wasn’t moving too fast, but I trotted when I could.  I got into May Queen at about 24 hours.  They had pancakes!  I had couple of those with syrup and a cup of milk and that hit the spot.  I spent about 15-20 minutes there and when I got set to leave, I couldn’t find Carolyn.  Come to find out, she had taken off thinking I had taken off.  I ended up doing the last 13.5 miles sans pacer.  No big deal, but the trek up the “boulevard” was truly a drunken death march.  I was so tired and sleepy, I would walk up the road with my eyes closed.  By now the sun was up, and it was interesting to look at the stragglers making their way to the finish line.  As I got closer I could hear the cheers as each runner crossed the finish line.  Finally I made it to 6th street, the last half mile.  Karen and Carolyn met me about ¼ mile from the finish and jogged with me for part of that.  I found out the story behind my pacer mix up.  Anyway, I crossed the finish line in 28:20 and got the best hug from the lady that put my finisher medal around my neck.  I just stood there and enjoyed it for a minute.  
I was still pretty wheezy at the finish line, so I went over to the medical tent and asked them to evaluate me for HAPE.  They did a pulseox and listened to my lungs and pronounced me just fine.  My lungs were clear, pulseox was normal given the elevation.  In talking with them for a bit, we figured it was probably my asthma acting up.  Nothing that really slowed me down, but noticeable anyway.  Guess I should have remembered to bring my inhaler. 
Karen and I took off for the hotel to shower and get cleaned up a little.  After that we grabbed some breakfast and drove back over to Leadville for the awards ceremony.  We thought about hanging around for the post race BBQ, but the prospect of a nine hour drive home meant that we hit the road as soon as I got my buckle.
By the numbers
Time – 28:20:22
Placing – 193rd out of 622 starters, 22nd in my age group (50-59). 
Shoes – I wore my Hoka Mafate’s until the return through Twin Lakes.  After that I wore my La Sportiva Crosslite 2.0’s.  My feet survived just fine.  Just a couple of blisters of no consequence.
Calories burned – 12,500
Calories eaten – 6,000.  Maybe 6,000.  I forgot to bring all of my Liquid Shot and had to devise a backup.  Thank goodness I had the Ultragen in my drop bags.  I also ate more solid food than I usually do.
Next up, Wasatch 100 on September 9th.  I’m looking forward to this one for a few reasons.  First, it’s the last one of the slam, second, it’s on my turf, third, I have lots of friends either running it or pacing others.  Should be a good time if I feel good.  I’m hoping to finally go sub-30 hour this year.  Wish me luck.
Some Post Race Thoughts
A couple of weeks ago I happened to check on the ultralist and noticed a thread about corporate ownership of races, particularly Leadville, and what it means for our sport.  Ultrarunning has always been a small, little, grassroots sport that typically draws not only the hardcore athlete, but athletes who are generally eglitarian by nature.  Many believe that any race should donate all proceeds to some sort of charity, or should be non-profit.  As our sport grows (the number of participants has roughly doubled since 2000), it will draw the interest of companies looking to sell us stuff.  It will also draw compaines that see races as a profit center to be exploited.  Last year the Leadville Race Series was purchased by Lifetime Fitness.  Lifetime clearly saw an opportunity to enter the extreme sports genra and make some money.  Is this bad?  Some people would say yes it is.  It takes away from the sport's nature. 
Here's my take as I posted to the ultralist. 
"As an RD I have to weigh in on this a little bit.  If Lifetime Fitness wants to charge that much for a race, let them.  Why can't they make money doing this?  They are in the business of making money, fitness products are they means to that end.  That is the prime reason any business exists, including mine.  Whether I, or any other RD, chooses to donate all of the proceeds to charity or to their own pocket, is beside the point.  In order to donate or line your own pocket, the bottom line is that you still have to make a profit.  Since I am not independently wealthy, my family budget cannot and will not take a loss just so my race is cheaper (they're already pretty inexpensive even by Utah standards).  Lifetime is clearly charging what the market will bear.  More power to them.  If the market won't bear what they are charging, they will be forced by economics to lower their entry fee, it's that simple.  As it is always said on this list, if you don't like what's being charged by the organizers (including my events), find another event or start your own.  Free enterprise is one of the things that make this country great.
Oh, and I'm running Leadville this Saturday, yeah the entry fee was a little high, but I willingly chose to enter and pay it."

For Leadville, I don't think corporate ownership detracted from the race.  Yes, there was the usual corporate shilling going on during the pre-race, etc., but each aid station was still like the typical ultra aid station.  With well over 600 runners on the course, did that take away from the experience?  This was my main concern, the "crowds".  I don't think it did.  By the time I got past May Queen, the "crowd" had thinned out and it wasn't an issue.  Yes, I was generally always in sight of another runner, but so what?  Ah, but the key questions is, would I go back and run it again?  Probably not, it was beautiful, the organization was impeccable, but there's other races I want to run, and I do have something of an aversion to crowds.  I'd rather run smaller races, but that's just me.