In the chilly, pre-dawn hours of August 22nd, Colorado Springs’ Tim Gore will don his running gear, hydration pack, a plethora of Gu’s, and a headlamp, and join the roughly 400 other runners to embark on Leadville’s infamous 100 mile Race Across the Sky, and he’ll be a man on a mission.
A familiar face among local Colorado Springs runners, the always-smiling Gore can be found directing local races geared toward supporting good local causes, as he is the president of the local Run With a Mission, and logging miles around town and in the mountains on his own time.
But in his “other life” he can be found at the Colorado Springs Rescue Mission, acting as the Community Relations Director, responsible for helping hundreds of the Springs’ recovering addicts or homeless find ways to get back on–and stay on–their feet.
Gore finds that he relates to those coming into the Mission, having spent the better part of his youth with his two siblings and his father–who was constantly following work from Tennessee to Illinois to Arkansas to Oklahoma, and everywhere in between–and the four were always between homes. Typically they slept the homes of relatives, although they once had a one-room house with a hole in the roof, and scraped by doing odd jobs like chopping firewood.
“There was really no work, no matter where you went,” Tim said of growing up in the 70’s, “I really didn’t know anything other than just bouncing around between homes, and I never knew what it was like to have any money.”
Back then, few organizations like the Rescue Mission existed to help those in need. So over three decades later, when Gore decided to do what he could to help absolve the problem of homelessness, he initially took the job at Springs Rescue Mission there in 2011 in the hopes of bettering it, but it turned out to be quite the altruistic relationship, as he found that it bettered him.
“I went into the Mission thinking, ‘it’s time to give back,’ and that’s where my life changed,” Gore recalled, “Hearing peoples’ stories affected me probably more than anything I was doing for them. You miss so much in life when you’re addicted to yourself, and they say that when you give then you actually receive more, and that’s exactly what happened. That’s when I knew, I wanted to do something epic–like this ultra–for this place.”
This winding, roundabout road has taken Gore to Leadville. Until the early 2000’s, he did not consider himself a runner by any standard. A self-described “stoner” growing up, Gore joined the Army at 18 for a successful 20 year career as a Drill Sergeant–a surprising fact to learn about a person with such a jaunty, seemingly carefree personality–Gore would log two mile time trials, but not much beyond that. Years later, having fallen in love with the sport, Gore logs countless miles on the trails throughout the Springs and in doing so, sized up the Leadville Trail 100 as a suitable challenge.
However, given that the race is difficult to enter due to a luck-of-the-draw lottery, through which he didn’t gain entry, Gore learned he could bypass the lottery if he was running for a charitable cause. From there it dawned on him: what better cause than the one he worked to better every day? From there, Gore decided that he would try to earn $100,000 in support of the non-profit Springs Rescue Mission. Thus, #100mileswithamission was born, and it was just the “epic” thing he had been seeking to give back to the Mission.
The Leadville Trail 100, aka The Race Across the Sky, is no small feat even by accomplished ultra-runner standards. The men’s and women’s course records are held by mountain/ultra running greats Matt Carpenter of Manitou Springs and the legendary Ann Trason. Carpenter’s record, a blistering 15 hours and 42 minutes, still stands after 10 years while Trason’s 18:06 hasn’t been touched for over two decades. For perspective, any time under 24 hours is considered highly respectable, Gore hopes to clock sub-30 hours in his first 100 mile effort.
Beginning at an elevation of over 10,000 feet, the grueling course winds its way over rocky, mountainous, terrain, taking runners up and over the infamous Sugarloaf Pass, then much later, Hope Pass, which features five mile up-and-over ascent then descent. The double crossing of Hope Pass is what makes Leadville famous, where runners will summit at nearly 13,000 feet, then be greeted with a quad-shredding descent on the other side. Here, they’ll head to the turn-around at 50 miles, where they’ll pick up their first pacers (runners cannot have pacers until mile 50), and head back up what they just came down, to summit Hope Pass again, then descend to where they’ll still have over 40 miles to go.
Gore’s pace crew includes ten of his closest friends and training partners.
“I need them to be ahead of me, not so far up, but to be ahead of me eating the miles away like Samwise Gamgee and I’m Frodo,” Gore explained of his pacers, “I’ve got Lord of the Rings music on my phone, and I anticipate that to lift my spirits.”
“What’s the point of doing this without a crew? Then everyone is giving back. All of these people have their specific stories and they all intertwine with mine, that’s what’s going to pull me through, all of those different stories will carry me along.”
Gore will meet his closest training partner Natosha, for the final stretch to the finish.
“I can’t picture anybody else running with me into the finish, we’ve logged so many miles together. I just know I’m going to lose it at the finish. I’m a big marshmallow.”
Gore anticipates a finish of under 30 hours. With any luck, he should cross the finish late morning of August 23rd, mission accomplished.