First-time participant wins 50-mile Leadville Silver Rush mountain bike race

Race is known to be more punishing per mile than its double-distance counterpart

19-year-old Jack Odron crosses the finish line at the Leadville Silver Rush on Sunday. Odron completed the 50-mile course in 3 hours, 35 minutes.
John LaConte/Vail Daily

Mountain bikers tested their limits in Leadville on Sunday in the Leadville Race Series Silver Rush, a 50-mile race with 8,000 feet of elevation gain.

The Leadville Race Series, now produced by Life Time Inc. and attracting world-class athletes from coast to coast, started in 1983 as a 100-mile running event in Leadville. It evolved to include a 100-mile bike race, which was famously attended by Lance Armstrong on several occasions, and 50-mile versions of those running and mountain biking events also popped up.

But while the 100-mile race is known to be favored by road cyclists like Armstrong, it’s the 50-mile race in Leadville that puts mountain bikers to the test.

Taking place on a different, more difficult course, the Silver Rush 50 begins with a section so steep the bikers are forced to run up the hill with their bikes over their shoulders like a cyclocross event. And that’s not the only time they’ll dismount as loose rock sections make it hard to find purchase on the course.

Sunday’s winner, 19-year-old Jack Odron of Denver, said he didn’t quite know what he was in for before the race.

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“There were a lot of scree fields that felt like 100% grade,” he said after the race, still surprised by what he saw. “I had to walk a couple times.”

Jack Odron finished 17th at the Leadville Trail 100 MTB in 2021 and won the Leadville Silver Rush 50 MTB on Sunday. Odron is from Denver.
John LaConte/Vail Daily

Odron said it was his first time doing the Silver Rush.

“I think (the 100-mile race) feels more like a gravel race in a lot of ways in terms of road tactics and drafting,” he said, while “the (Silver Rush) race is a just straight up mountain bike race. You don’t benefit from group riding and stuff like that, it’s just whoever can push on the hills and then survive the descents.”

Odron grew up mountain biking and participated in the high school cycling league in Denver. After high school, he started participating in races around the state and finding success.

Last year, Odron finished 17th in the Leadville 100-mile mountain bike race.

“I loved it,” he said, prompting him to try the Silver Rush this year. The win ensured his entry into the Leadville Trail 100 MTB again, it’s set for Aug. 13.

While Odron enjoyed riding away with the win on Sunday, the race itself was more punishing per mile than its 100-mile counterpart, he said.

“It was difficult,” he said. “Really rough.”

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