Altitude Profiles from the Grand Slam of Ultrarunning

Finishing the 2006 Grand Slam

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Completing the Grand Slam

The finish of the Wasatch Front Endurance Run, and the completion of the Grand Slam. Photo courtesy of Stephen Speckman.

In the summer of 2006, my father, Gary, and I ran the Grand Slam of Ultrarunning, a series of the four oldest 100-mile races in the United States (Western States, Vermont, Leadville Trail, and Wasatch Front), becoming the first father-son duo to complete the ‘Slam.

An interesting comparison of these ultramarathons is made by considering their respective altitude profiles, which are shown below. The data were recorded with a Polar S625X heart rate monitor that I wore during each of the races. The data are plotted as a function of time because the watch is not a GPS and there is no mechanism for measuring position or distance. Since the races are all 100 miles in length, plotting the data versus time also illustrates their relative difficulty.

Altitude profiles from the races of the Grand Slam of Ultrarunning

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Altitude versus time

Altitude profiles recorded during the 2006 Grand Slam of Ultrarunning.

The races are summarized below:

Data from the 2006 Grand Slam of Ultrarunning
Race Total time
Min altitude
Max altitude
Total climb
Western States 25:46 15:27 990 8,575 16,360
Vermont 23:05 13:51 515 1,835 14,620
Leadville Trail 25:46 16:47 9,920 12,395 15,200
Wasatch Front 32:23 19:25 5,005 10,545 26,140

This of course is an “experiment of one” and your own mileage finishing times may vary. These races were not especially fast, and the data presented here are fairly “typical” middle-of-the-pack performances. From that standpoint, I hope that these data might be useful for people in preparing for the ‘Slam.

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