Tackling the Unknown: An Austin Runner Heads for the Leadville 100

On Saturday morning, August 18, Austin’s Brandon Batiansila (pictured here with his wife, Kim), will be attempting to add his name to the list of successful Central Texas mountain runners when he lines up at the start of the Leadvillle 100.

Can Central Texas-area runners train to run well in some of the most challenging mountains in our country and abroad? You bet. As you may have read on Ready to Run’s blog this past June, Austin’s Billy Satterwhite was one of five runners to conquer the extremely mountainous Western States 100. And you also may have read about three-time Austin Half Marathon champ David Fuentes making the four-man USA Mountain Running Team that will compete at the World Mountain Running Championships September 16 in Andorra.

On Saturday morning, August 18, Austin’s Brandon Batiansila, 47, will be attempting to add his name to the list of successful Central Texas mountain runners when he lines up at the start of the Leadvillle 100. Starting in Leadville, the highest incorporated city in the United States, Batiansila hopes to cover one hundred miles of extreme Colorado Rockies terrain — from elevations of 9,200 to 12,600 feet in under 30 hours—the final cutoff time for all finishers.

Batiansila, a 3:39 marathoner, and a teacher at Casis Elementary has been training hard for the event and feels ready. He qualified for Leadville by running the Austin Rattler 66 K (41 miles) in 2017, and started training with online coach David Henry of Carmichael Training Systems.

“He [David Henry] has really helped me gain consistency and variety in my running and learn to run by perceived effort as opposed to the pace on my watch,” said Batiansila.

Austin’s Paul Terranova, a top ultrarunner, has also been helping Batiansila in his training and motivation.

“My friend, Jason Lippman, has been instrumental in giving me insight into the course, as well as the experience pacing him at Hardrock two summers ago was both eye opening and incredible,” added Batiansila.

Batiansila began his build-up 10 months ago, topping out at 76 miles of weekly mileage and concentrating on back-to-back efforts on the weekends.

His longest run going into Leadville was a 10-hour day tearing down the course flags and picking up trash with Lippman for the Hardrock 100 in Telluride and Ouray, Colorado.

“It was more about time then actual miles. We climbed over 9,000 feet that day,” said Batiansila.

Back here in Austin, Batiansila is preparing for the mountains by running repeats out at the Hill of Life (a steep section off of the Barton Creek Greenbelt), as well as the infamous Ladera Norte hill chain.

Batiansila’s training also included long runs with intervals (of anywhere from 20-45 minutes) followed by two-to three-hour “cool downs.“

“That has helped me develop some mental training because I was tired from the intervals.”

Unlike normal races, and even the marathon, taking in calories is an important factor in a 100-mile race, so Batiansila has been experimenting with fueling as part of training.

Though Batiansila has done his homework, he knows the race ahead is a huge challenge, and that there are numerous variables which can affect the outcome.

“There are so many challenges—not going out like an idiot, altitude, hiking the climbs, running the descents (not too fast too early), the flats, the distance, the running all day,” said Batiansila.

“The challenge of the night, the hydration, the nutrition, the positive mindset, fending off the negative chatter in my mind. I am trying to focus on being positive by enjoying my time in the mountains, knowing that I GET to do this, problem solving when problems arise (because they will), and ultimately being grateful for the amazing people in my life. When all else fails, I think smiling, laughing like a crazy person, thanking aid station workers, and keeping moving will be my motivation.”

Upcoming races: Saturday, August 11. The 5K for Clay, at 7:30 a.m., at the Clay Madsen Recreation Center in Round Rock. Saturday, August 18, Michelle’s Hot Peeps Beat CC 5K at 7:30 a.m. at Murphy Park in Taylor.

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