-Looking south towards Green Mountain near the summit of Mt. Sanitas (Boulder, CO)
For most trail runners, a lap around the Lion’s Lair Loop that summits Mt. Sanitas in Boulder, CO is quite an accomplishment. At 5.3 miles in length with over 1,300’ in elevation gain, the Lion’s Lair Loop is the type of run (or hike for that matter), that your average weekend warrior may feel like running once or twice a year. While Nite Ize’s Leo Lesperance may consider himself a “runner”, his epic total of 109 summits of Mt. Sanitas during 2016 is anything but average, it’s extraordinary.
I had a chance to speak with Leo about his 2016 goal of completing 100 laps on Mt. Sanitas, and to learn what he had in store for 2017. As you’ll discover, Leo is just getting started. (What follows are excerpts from an interview with Leo Lesperance in November of 2016 where we discussed how he got started running, what motivates him, and some run safety tips that Leo uses to stay safe while on the run).
- How long have you been running, and how did you get started? I’ve been running for a bit more than 4 years, and I started running because the company I was working for gave us pedometers and paid us to get steps. It kind of made sense, eventually I figured out that if I run I get those steps faster and I could be done doing it sooner. That’s how I got started. Started walking, turned into running.
- Would you consider yourself to be a “runner” or identify yourself in some other way? Maybe, maybe I’m a runner. You might be a runner if you’re running more than 30 miles a week on a regular basis. I love running! It’s one of my absolute favorite things to do.
- When I first heard that you set a goal of running 100 laps on Mt. Sanitas, I was blown away. That’s not an easy feat! When did you decide to run 100 laps on Mt. Sanitas? I had run it on January 1st as a New Year’s run with a bunch of my friends, and maybe the next week when my friend said, “Oh hey, I know you had a really good Strava segment but sorry, I beat your time!” That kind of got me started, and I ended up saying, “Well, I can do this at least every Friday,” and by the end of January it turned into, “I can get 100 of these (laps on Mt. Sanitas) done by the end of the year.”
-A view from the Lion's Lair Loop on Mt Sanitas
- What do you like about running? Have you seen any of the pictures that I post!? Sunrises, mountain tops, the connection with nature when you’re outside which might lead to your next question. I’m a trail runner more than a road runner. It’s where I find peace; it’s where I find time to unravel my brain.
- Do you still run on the road? I don’t run on the road if I can avoid it. It makes me nervous. I don’t really like running alongside cars. Especially, you know, with everybody on their phones and Facebook and Instagram. It’s definitely a concern.
- What can you do as a runner to feel safer, and to be more visible while you’re running? Wear bright clothes, reflective gear, put lights on, headlamp or armbands. Anything that helps to attract other people’s attention. I get a lot of attention when I run with ShoeLits. People always tell me that those (ShoeLits) are the coolest thing they’ve ever seen. I usually wear the green or blue.
My favorite time to run is when I can time my run to be somewhere when the sun rises which means I’m starting in the dark. And, my favorite Nite Ize product is the Radiant 250 Rechargeable Headlamp. I don’t use (run with) the spot light. I use the flood light, usually on low. On the trail it’s pretty perfect because there’s no other light, you don’t need a whole lot of light, and it radiates the right amount of light for what I need to see without being too harsh or have sharp edges. The spot light on that is pretty good too, but it’s brighter than I need for most trail runs.
-Leo on the summit of Mt Sanitas with the Indian Peaks in the background
- Are there any other pieces of gear that you love to run with? My phone. My phone has a kick ass camera and the reason I love running in nature is so that I can see it, and that I can look at it again.
- Has there been a time that you’ve felt scared while on a trail run? There are a number of times that I should have felt scared, but for some reason didn’t. I think I’ve seen seven bears in the four years that I’ve been running, and one of them I almost ran into because I didn’t see it until the last second. And, there have been two occasions that I tripped. The last time my friends were like, “I don’t know how you did what you did but one second your flying with your face and knee headed for a big rock, and the next second you did something to miss them both.”
-The bear that Leo almost ran into
- Other than running, what activities do you participate in? Y’know, the usual things. Backcountry skiing, mountain biking, track cycling, climbing and ice hockey.
- What are your goals for 2017? Hmmm. I think one of your other questions was, “What inspires you to run?” So, I’m going to start with that because I got into trail running by a colleague that I worked with who led a group run.
He said, “Come on this Wednesday for a 5:30am run,” and I did it. It was my first time running a trail, Mt. Sanitas, during a downpour in late October. And, I didn’t miss that group (run) for another three years after that. Through that group I’ve met a number of friends, and they are all ultra-runners. Four of them are “Lead Men”. So, there’s some peer pressure to join that club. I also signed up for my first 50 mile ultra-race in February (2017).
-The summit of Mt. Sanitas in Boulder, CO