Leadville Trail 100 Run Leadville 100
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It's just after 4 a.m., and the bobbing lights from hundreds of headlamps illuminate the road out of tiny Leadville, Colorado.

Urged along by cheers from spectators in the historic mountain town, a wave of 650 runners from 50 states and 36 countries slowly rolls out into the blackness of this Aug. 22 night. Tim Kelly and his roommate, Josh Clemence, drift like jellyfish in the sea of light, taking in the cool, mountain air and breathing it out with thin, visible puffs.

It's just 45 degrees at the start, and almost a mile above the Mile High City of Denver. But the cold and the darkness and the elevation are just the warmup leg of challenges in the race ahead.

The Tremont residents pace out deliberately, like their evening treks through the woods of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Slowly, like the evolution of their friendship while on the cross-country team in college. And with a purpose, like the hometown movement they hope to spark by finishing this physical and mental test.

Over the last three years, Kelly, 25, has run a total of 10 marathons and three 50-milers. For Clemence, 23, this is only his second race over 26 miles. They've been training together for the past seven months, averaging 75 miles a week, but nothing can prepare them for what's ahead.

Dubbed "The Race Across the Sky" when it began in 1983, the Leadville Trail 100 Run opens with 13.5 miles around Turquoise Lake, rolls through the San Isabel National Forest and eventually out to Twin Lakes Reservoir at mile 39.5.

Then, it gets lung-and-sole-crushingly brutal.

During the next 5 miles, the course goes almost straight up — from its lowest point at 9,200 feet to the highest at 12,600 feet. And it's not even the halfway point.

If the runners make it to mile 50, they must turn around and do it all again. Racers have 14 hours to make it to the halfway point or they are disqualified. Every year, less than half of those who start the race make it back to the finish line.

But Kelly's been preparing for this much of his life — since he suffered a head injury at 17 in a bicycle accident, battled through debilitating anxiety attacks in his early 20s and quit his job to be a part-time instructor at Second Sole shoe store in Rocky River. Now, he's hoping this journey can motivate others by launching Run Wild CLE, an initiative helping people conquer their fears and push their boundaries.

"If I'm going to do something, I want to go all out and just challenge myself as hard as I can," says Kelly. "Leadville is a race I've had my eye on for a long time."

The first 13 miles are easy as Kelly and Clemence navigate through a narrow single-track trail along the edge of Turquoise Lake. The 1,780 acres of open water looks like a bottomless pit in the early morning.

Yet, even in this early section, there are pitfalls. The uneven path, littered with roots and rocks, means Kelly and Clemence must watch each footfall as they weave in and out of the pines.

When they come to their first aid station at mile 13, they pause to refill their water bottles before getting back on the road. With an even 11-minute-per-mile pace, they still have 28 hours to make it to the finish line.

As the sun starts to rise over the far horizon just after 6:30 a.m., a soft amber glow stretches across the ground behind them. Ahead, a dirt road marks the beginning of their first significant climb.

Clemence takes the lead, a single water bottle in his right hand, his head lowered as he powers up the hill. Kelly follows, clutching two bottles, another two strapped to his waist.

It doesn't take long before the sharp incline turns their run into a power hike.

Kelly, thin and wiry-strong with a face framed with a thick red beard, focuses on the path in front of them, waiting for the end of the climb, one foot after the other. But when he glances up again a few minutes later, Clemence is looking at him with a confused expression. He's shaking his hands.

They're purple and starting to swell. It's as if someone suddenly snuck up and slipped an air hose in his wrists.

"Am I going to be OK?" Clemence asks.

Tim Kelly Second Sole Cleveland

”If I’m going to do something, I want to go all out and just challenge myself as hard as I can,” says Tim Kelly, who works at Second Sole in Rocky River.

Kelly pulls the visor of his ball cap down over his eyes as he walks toward the pavilion at Edgewater Park. It's the week before the Leadville 100, and he's visibly tense. When he sits at the picnic table, he clutches a half-empty plastic water bottle and his head sinks into his shoulders as if he's been carrying a great weight around his neck.

 Wearing a simple gray T-shirt and black athletic shorts, he doesn't like getting dressed up in a suit and tie and going to meetings.

"I'm kind of on edge," he says. "So often, I find myself avoiding serious situations."

It's why he wants to meet at the park.

In a matter of minutes his shoulders drop and his knees stop shaking. Although it's cooler than usual for mid-August, the breeze off the lake brings Kelly a sense of peace. At the mention of the Leadville run, he decompresses completely. He sits on the edge of his seat, pale green eyes bright with excitement as he runs his fingers along an 11-by-17-inch map in front of him.

He has memorized the entire 100-mile course, studying the distance between each of the seven aid stations and the items he and Clemence will pick up along the way. He points out long stretches of flat land, the inclines and steep descents, the field pocked with holes at mile 25 just outside of the Outward Bound aid station, and the dirt road that runs along the base of Mount Elbert at mile 36. When he gets to the southern most section of the map, he lets his finger hover over the Twin Lakes aid station, which functions as both mile marker 40 and 60, and sits at the lowest point of the course.

"Eighty-five percent of the people who make it through Twin Lakes on the way back are likely to finish," he says. "At that point, you're 60 miles in so you're starting to feel the effects of fatigue and altitude, and then on top of that, you're going into the night."

He has made plans to pick up pacers to assist him and Clemence on their return trip out of the 50-mile turnaround in Winfield. Pacers, guides who motivate runners, ensure their safety during the most difficult parts of the race. Mike Wilkinson, a one-time Leadville finisher and Colorado native, will take them from mile 50 to mile marker 76, where John Neff, another Colorado native, will take over for the last quarter of the race.

"Having a pacer there is life or death, at least for me," says Kelly. "I'm not tough enough to get through the night myself."

Those who know Kelly see him in this way — the training coach who's humbled by the challenges ahead of him and yet overly excited by the idea of adventure. Even as a kid, he was constantly throwing himself in the face of danger. When he was 8 years old, he tried to create a homemade rocket ship by filling a plastic Coke bottle with gasoline because he'd seen John Glenn venture out of Earth's atmosphere on the space shuttle Discovery.

"He was an explorer," says his father, Tom Kelly. "He was very much a daredevil."

What many don't know is that there's another side, one he works hard to suppress. Since his earliest days at the University of Mount Union, Kelly has been riddled with bouts of anxiety whenever he's in situations outside his control. Sometimes it is as simple as riding in the passenger seat of a friend's car or suddenly having to face an unexpected project.

"I would have to cancel plans with friends because I would be having a bad episode," says Kelly. "I always bottled it up. I never told anyone about it."

Only when he'd graduated in 2013, moved to Lakewood and took a job with Stark Enterprises as a maintenance manager was he faced with a need to make a change. He was driving between Mansfield and Erie, Pennsylvania, five days a week, spending up to 10 hours a day alone. When he wasn't traveling, he repaired drywall, fixed appliances and repainted offices, which left him exhausted.

"I've always been high-energy and during that time period, I wasn't moving," he says. "I wanted to stay in my room and not talk to anyone, because I was fighting through it and I didn't want anyone to see that."

Internally he was all coiled up, a mess of crossed wires, unable to distinguish between a single thought and the next.

"Your head is just racing a million miles a minute without any functioning thought," he says. "Your body is totally handicapped."

After six months, Kelly decided he needed help. He returned home to tell his father. But for hours, he sat in the living room trying to find a way to describe what he was going through to his dad. The longer he sat, the more he realized how debilitated he really was. So he finally spoke up about everything he had been feeling.

"He told me, 'A lot more people have this than you realize,' " Kelly recalls. His father encouraged him to seek help. "I was at the point where I needed something just to get me through that really tough time."

Kelly and his father traced his anxiety back to possible residue from a bicycle accident the summer before his senior year at Lakewood High School. He had been riding to Lakewood Park around 8 p.m. when someone pulled into a driveway in front of him, flipping him over the hood and hitting his head on the curb. A brief lapse in short-term memory held him in the hospital overnight, but he was sent home the next day with a few abrasions and some minor swelling in his face.

Yet, over the next few months, his family noticed a difference in his once-carefree personality. "He was more driven, more focused, more let's-get-it-done-and-move-on," says Tom.

Over time, that severe attention to detail evolved into an obsession over things he couldn't control.

So he started working on things he could.His doctor suggested yoga classes to help deal with his anxiety. He quit his job and started working for his father's construction company. He joined Second Sole part time and even revamped the running group by adding strength training and a regimented schedule.

"The running," says Tom, "is almost like a lifeline."

Aid Station before Mount Hope

Nicknamed “Hopeless,” the last aid station before the summit of Mount Hope is near the 50-mile turnaround of the Leadville Trail 100 Run in Colorado. Only half of those who start the race actually finish it.

Aid Station before Mount Hope

As Kelly and Clemence reach the top of their first climb at 11,000 feet, Clemence's hands are twice their normal size. They're roughly 4 miles from the next aid station.

 "It's normal, Josh, don't worry about it," Kelly says, as they move along the summit. "Just keep moving. You're going to be fine."

But Kelly isn't even sure he believes it. He has been in Colorado nine days to get acclimated to the change in elevation. Clemence, broad-shouldered and tall, arrived the day before the race and his body hasn't had time to adapt. So fluid is building in his hands and they need to get down the mountain if they hope to lessen the effects.

But when they come to the other side of the pass, they're faced with another challenge. For the next 4 miles, the trail looks like the remnants of some great retreating glacier, twisted and undulating, cut by an unpredictable vein of deep trenches and tiny rivulets from an unseen melting.

If that's not bad enough, much of it slopes at a near-45 degree angle. Every step risks a rolled ankle. Every few steps means jumping over crevices filled with loose rock as the elevation quickly drops 1,500 feet.

"You're fighting gravity," says Kelly. "You're trying to keep your body from going too fast."

For Clemence, it's a path that poses a serious threat. In June, he wasn't wearing a headlamp during a night run on the Buckeye Trail. He tripped 11 miles in while turning a corner and gashed open his knee, which required 10 stitches and three weeks of rest.

"That's just how Josh is," says Kelly. "He just jumps into things without thinking."

Early on at Mount Union, their differing styles created conflict. While Kelly spent hours strategizing on how to get ahead, Clemence was reckless, speaking over the coach during practice and jawing with teammates.

"I was always yelling at him to shut up and know his place," says Kelly, who was two years ahead of Clemence. "There was a confrontation about once a week."

They didn't get along until the following spring when they spent the last 6 miles of a 16-mile run together along a backcountry road outside Alliance. Only then did they discover a shared curiosity of the world, sense of adventure and a desire to prove themselves.

"We would butt heads because I was kind of a previous version of him," says Clemence.

During their last year together as teammates, they bonded over what they called "adventure runs," where they'd sneak into abandoned buildings to explore and photograph the process of urban decay. While Kelly was cautious, peaking around every corner of the long dilapidated structures, Clemence ran into dark rooms howling as he threw himself forward. Once, Clemence fell through a floor on the second-story of an old department store and sliced open his chest while cascading down a pile of rotting wood.

"I feel like I'm always a little in over my head," he says. "Sometimes, I forget about all the realities around things and I see the end result, and that gets me really excited."

That energy helps carry Clemence down their first climb and into the Outward Bound aid station at mile 24, through a valley pocked with holes and into mile 30.

By now, the swelling in Clemence's hands has subsided. But in the middle of a dense forest, another problem arises. Clemence has run out of water.

Kelly has plenty, but it means Clemence must turn back whenever he needs fluids — taking his eyes off what's ahead — until they reach the Mount Elbert station in 7 miles.

"When you know what's ahead, sometimes you do worse," Clemence says. "I want to know that I'm capable of surviving it."

Twin Lakes is a small town in the shadows of Mount Elbert that overlooks two side-by-side oval bodies of water. With a population of less than 200, it's the sort of place where you'd stop if you were running out of gas or desperately needed a place to sleep.

As Clemence and Kelly approach, spectators line the sides of the road waving cowbells as encouragement. Music from a collection of tailgaters turns the streets into a massive party that will rage on late into the evening.
"Going down into Twin Lakes was a shit show because you're on paths where if you take a wrong step, you're going to fall off the side of a hill and probably die," says Clemence. "Then you're running in and you're getting swarmed by people trying to help you saying, 'What do you need?' "

The Twin Lakes' firehouse has tables filled with watermelon, sliced bananas and packages of ramen noodles for the runners. Out front, on white plastic folding chairs, participants swap out dusty-and-battered running shoes for fresh sneakers. Service crews have set up popup tents, camp-style chairs and makeshift footbaths for rugged feet.

As Clemence switches out his running flats for trail shoes with better support, Kelly exchanges two water bottles for a pair of trekking poles. Both of them pick up CamelBak packs to maintain their flow of fluid. Within 10 minutes, they're back on the path.

From here, Mount Hope looks nearly impossible to reach, tucked between two 13,000-foot peaks on the other side of a great marsh.

"You feel like you've completely changed worlds," says Clemence. "It just seemed so uncivilized in a good, beautiful way."

As Kelly and Clemence head out, it's a quarter after noon and 65 degrees — 20 degrees warmer than when they left Leadville eight hours ago. The next 5 miles will be the most challenging as they're expected to climb from 9,200 to 12,600 feet over Mount Hope and back down the other side in the next six hours or face disqualification.

A long march awaits before the climb. Clemence winces a bit as he wades through the cold mountain runoff of two small creeks and a waist-high riverbed. The downhill assault of Mount Elbert has left a slow burning pain tugging at the back of his heel. Still they press onward, coming out on the other side faced with a near-vertical climb through the woods. Kelly follows behind as they slowly make their way up the mountain.

Clemence tries to motivate himself: Just grind it out. Get it over with. But like Sisyphus, the climb seems never-ending. Each stride forward only increases the weight of the altitude on Clemence's body.

He moves off the trail and sits on a log to catch his breath. The back of his throat burns, yet the sips of water do little to quench it.

Kelly stands silently, waiting for the moment to pass. After 10 minutes they start to ascend again, only to stop once more a half mile up. Clemence's face is beginning to turn white. He's having difficulty focusing.

"You should just keep going," he says, holding his head to stop the dizziness.

"I'm not leaving," says Kelly, alarmed by the sudden shift in Clemence's skin tone.

Kelly wonders if maybe Clemence should turn around and head back down the mountain. But after a few minutes Clemence stands up. He wants to go on.

To suppress the pain, Clemence latches onto the promise of the peak.

Four weeks before Leadville, he ran his first 50-mile race as part of the Burning River 100. At mile 30, he hit a rough patch when his leg muscles started to spasm. He tried to push through it, but the cramping became severe and he started vomiting what little fluids he had. It almost finished him — but not quite. He eventually quelled the cramps and vomiting enough to reach the finish line.

"You don't learn a lot about yourself when things are easy," says Clemence. "You learn a lot about yourself when things are hard."

Clemence doesn't wait long to find out.

Soon he is doubled over. The pain is intensifying and he's having trouble moving. When he stops for a third time, they are only about halfway up the mountain.

"It's fine," says Clemence, out of breath, struggling to speak. "You go on ahead. I'll catch up with you eventually."

Kelly looks toward the summit, and then back at Clemence. He realizes what a precarious position they're in. They're on the side of the mountain and a few miles from the summit. If Clemence can't make it up and over the pass, someone will have to come rescue him and it wouldn't be easy. The trees are too thick overhead for a helicopter, and the incline would make it nearly impossible for a vehicle. Still, if either of them has any hope of making it back, Kelly has to keep moving.

"You sure?" Kelly asks, one last time.

"Go on," Clemence says. "I'll find you."

So Kelly walks on without him, plodding up the mountain.

He travels just a quarter-mile before stopping to take a drink. Kelly looks back down the path and is surprised to find Clemence right behind him again. The two start tackling the hill together once more.

But it doesn't take long before Clemence drops to the side — one final time.

"I never felt so leveled," says Clemence. "I didn't have what it takes."

"I was legitimately concerned for his health," reflects Kelly. "I felt like I was the one who got him into this."

Kelly bears this burden as he moves onward alone, leaning into his trekking poles to carry him forward. At this height, he's much closer to the sun than he's ever been and he can feel its rays scorching his freckled skin.

As Kelly comes to the end of the woods, he spills out into an open field above the tree line. The field is relatively untouched except for a few tents and a fire pit. Some runners are lying down. A heard of llamas grazes nearby, untethered and free to roam. They've been brought up the mountainside to carry equipment for the aid station. Nicknamed "Hopeless," it's the last aid station before the summit.

Kelly stops only for a few moments to regain his bearings. Hope's Pass remains.

The way up is narrow as the trail cuts back and forth across the mountainside, easing the climb for runners eager to get to the top. The air here is so thin that trees won't grow. The farther Kelly climbs, the more barren the land underneath him becomes.

For half a mile it goes on like this until he reaches the summit. Mountains jut from the earth for a hundred miles on either side of the pass. From this height, Twin Lakes looks like a stone's throw, a mere coupling of puddles at the bottom of the valley below.

Kelly's muscles lose the tension he's been carrying for nearly 50 miles.

"There were all these layers of stress, anxiety, negative thoughts that just stripped away," says Kelly. "I just felt very at peace."

I'm going to get to the 50-mile turnaround and dropout, too, he thinks.

Tim Kelly Josh Clemence

Tim Kelly and Josh Clemence host Run Wild CLE workouts the first and last Wednesday of every month to inspire local runnners.

It’s 4:30 p.m. as Kelly strides into Winfield, the halfway point. 

It took three hours to climb Mount Hope and another hour-and-a-half to descend the steep, rocky slope on the other side. Now that he’s finished, the 50 miles weren’t as awful as he’d expected. But his intention to quit is strong. 

Mike Wilkinson, Kelly’s pacer, is the first of his crew to reach him. He’s eager to get out on the trail after waiting all day for the opportunity. 

Joe, Kelly’s older brother, is right behind him. They ask about Clemence. But Kelly tells them that he had to leave Clemence behind. 

He pauses. 

“I’m done,” Kelly says to Joe. 

“You can’t be serious,” Joe says.

“Don’t even think of talking me out of it,” says Kelly, rummaging through his bag for food and squatting to untie his shoes.

“Let me ask you something,” says Joe. “You eating?”

“Yeah,” says Kelly.

“And are you urinating? You keeping down fluid?”

“Yeah, I haven’t had that problem.”

“Look around, Tim,” says Joe. “You’re squatting, while everyone else is laid out. You can’t seriously be that hurt. You can’t give up now.”

Kelly lifts his head, and suddenly, he realizes Joe is right.

“I had this false conviction of feeling accomplished,” says Kelly, looking back on it. “Everything that’s supposed to go wrong in those races at that point wasn’t going wrong with me. I had so much more strength than I thought I had.”

So he changes his shoes and arms himself with a headlamp. He keeps his trekking poles and refills the water bottles on his hips. A few minutes later, Wilkinson is at his side, pacing him out of town. 

About a half-mile up on the road, Kelly spots Clemence. He’s made it down the mountain safely on his own. Kelly runs up and the two give each other a high-five, but Clemence is clearly hurt. He’s hobbling, trying to keep pressure off of his left foot.

“I’m done,” he says. “I’m dropping out.”

Still, he made it this far.

“I’m proud of you,” says Kelly.

As he makes his way up Mount Hope again, Kelly cuts the time it took to get up the other side in half, keeping a 15-minute mile.

“He actually started getting stronger almost with each step,” recalls Wilkinson. “He was passing people that had come in a long time before he did into Winfield.”

Their pace is so quick that the summit comes unexpectedly. Kelly makes it over the pass and starts to bomb downhill. At this pace, Kelly will arrive in Leadville by 6 a.m., a full four hours before the cutoff.

He enters Twin Lakes around 8:15 p.m. The statistics are in his favor: Only 15 percent of runners who reach this point don’t reach the finish.

As they come out of Twin Lakes and begin winding through the woods at the base of Mount Elbert, the sun is starting to set. They switch their headlights on and stay close to another pair of runners. Kelly studies the runner in front of him, observing his footfalls and following his every move all the way to the aid station at mile 61, where a water tank sits in a small clearing.

They take a moment’s pause to fill their water bottles. Rather than follow the pair they’d trekked the last few miles with, Kelly leads the way, passing a few other runners until he and Wilkinson are alone in the dark.

After 2 miles, there’s a slight twinge in the muscle of Kelly’s right knee. It’s small enough that he hopes it’s nothing more than soreness you’d get after tackling downhills at a fast pace.

But it sparks a tiny alarm. In July, he was forced to drop out of the Buckeye Trail 50K  when he pulled a hamstring in the same knee just miles from the finish line. But he keeps his injury from Wilkinson, dead set on finishing what he came to Colorado to accomplish.

Very quickly, the small pain in Kelly’s knee begins to spread. It starts sporadically, and then begins to pulse every time his foot impacts the ground. 

Wilkinson asks why he’s slowing down. 

“I’m tired,” Kelly responds, not wanting to admit to the pain. 

So he walks for a minute, then runs for two. Walks for 30 seconds, then runs for three more minutes.

Each time, Wilkinson offers encouragement. “Hey, let’s try running again,” he says.

As the inclines and downhills feel steeper
approaching the next aid station at mile 69, the pain in Kelly’s leg spikes as well. He’s limping as he pulls in at 10:48 p.m. 

The temperature is starting to drop. Kelly throws on a jacket, pants and gloves. For about 10 minutes he sits quietly in a chair, leg straight, eating salted potatoes, thinking of how he’s going to strategize his way out of this one. But when he stands, he can barely bend his leg.

“I just assumed my leg was tight from sitting that long,” says Kelly. 

He hopes it will loosen up over the next half mile. So they head out once more. 

But Kelly quickly struggles to keep his momentum, stopping every 10 minutes to readjust. The road leading out of the aid station is nothing but dry dirt. As crews pass on their way to the next aid station, the air is filled with dust that doesn’t settle. 

Kelly starts to lean on Wilkinson for support, falling against him. 

“Let’s just get you to the next aid station,” Wilkinson says as a mantra. “Let’s just get you to the next aid station.”

Two miles from Outward Bound, they’re greeted with a line of cars and a makeshift medical station. Volunteers check Kelly and tape up the knee. But as they head back out on the road, the tape swiftly falls off. A quarter-mile later, Kelly slows to a walk.

“I think I’m done, Mike,” he says. “My leg isn’t getting any better. It’s not loosening up.”

“Let’s just get you to Outward Bound,” he says. “They’ll get you the right tape, and we’ll see if that makes a difference.”

Three-quarters of a mile later Kelly stops again. Outward Bound is just out of reach on the other side of a field pocked with holes. Crossing it means risking serious injury to his leg. 

He’s just more than 25 miles from the finish.

“Can you call Joe?” Kelly asks.

“You know if I call your brother and he picks you up, you’re disqualified,” says Wilkinson.

“Yeah, I know,” says Kelly, slumping to the ground. “Just call him. Please.”

A few minutes later, crew member John Neff arrives. He gets out, walks over to Kelly and puts a hand on his back for support. A few seconds later, Joe pulls up in his car, bathing Kelly in the glare of his headlights. 

He doesn’t get out, though. Instead, Clemence steps from the passenger’s side. Kelly stands up as Clemence makes his way toward him, limping barefoot in the dirt. His foot is too swollen to keep his running shoes on.

“I know how you’re feeling” Clemence says.

“I can’t run anymore,” says Kelly.

“Well,” says Clemence, shrugging his shoulders. “We gave it all we had.”

The 6 a.m. skies over Edgewater Park rage with the remnants of Hurricane Patricia. Looking out toward Lake Erie, it’s hard to discern where water meets sky. The horizon is lost in varying shades of pitch as a slow and steady rain makes the sand hard to navigate. 

None of it phases Kelly or the nine other runners following him in an exercise that takes them across the beach, up the steep hill toward the pavilion, back down the hill and around the bend toward the parking lot before doing it all over again. They have 25 minutes to do this.

“Just keep going for as long as you can,” he shouts. “You’ve got this! Don’t stop!”

Clemence follows closely, keeping good time. 

After they returned from Leadville two months ago, Clemence discovered there was a fractured bone at the base of his right heel. He was off his feet for weeks, but he’s fully recovered now with a renewed sense of self.

“My horizon for what I’m capable of has expanded,” he says.

Kelly stops at the pavilion on his third lap and takes off two layers of clothing, stripping down to shorts and a T-shirt. He isn’t concerned with catching up with the others. He has all the time in the world now that he’s back from Colorado.

Only 319 of 650 runners finished the race at Leadville. 

“When I went to Leadville, I had this mentality that it was going to be a closure to a lot of things,” says Kelly. “Really it ended up becoming a whole new chapter.” 

He seems calmer now, less reserved, more determined to get out and move. It’s why he’s here in the wind and the rain working with Clemence on their Run Wild CLE concept, the kind of movement that pushes people to step outside of themselves and challenge their boundaries.

“Josh is the epitome of our whole Run Wild CLE movement,” says Kelly. “Do your own thing. Be your own person.”

Their social movement began in the midst of their training as a means of keeping themselves accountable with blog posts written by Kelly and videos created through Bumble Media, a company Clemence started during college. It was also a platform that helped them raise money for their Leadville trip by selling T-shirts bearing a logo of the city’s skyline with a tree towering out of a building to rise above the Terminal Tower. Now that they’ve returned, they’ve expanded their products to caps and tank tops to raise money for free community runs and workouts designed to inspire people to be fearless and free.

“It’s no longer about us and our journey,” says Kelly. “It’s about community, about getting people in Cleveland together and just being you and doing your thing.”

Workouts take place on the first and last Wednesday morning of every month and rotate between locations throughout the city from Edgewater to Lakewood’s new five-tiered Solstice Steps along the shoreline.

While they push themselves in the midst of a howling storm, Kelly’s lone trail shoe sits vigilant under the pavilion. It’s a Run Wild tradition where those who want can donate to charities, such as Bright Pink, the Greater Cleveland Food Bank and the City Mission, when they meet. 

For Kelly and Clemence, it’s just another step toward a return trip to Leadville next year.

“It took that extreme undertaking to realize the mental and physical strength I didn’t know I had,” Kelly says. “I think I’ll carry that for the rest of my life."

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