I have started planning for 2020 leadville 11 months in advance, well, because I’m neurotic…
I looked at the split times on “top tube” stickers I saw on the internet and they didn’t have that many data points and I also thought the numbers looked off. So, I pulled actual splits from people on strava across multiple years who finished right at 8.5 and 9. I focused on riders that had around 5 minutes of stoppage time, ignoring riders who had extended stops.
Comparing the 9 hour finishers to the 8.5 hour finishers, I was a bit surprised to see that the 9 hour guys were actually a little faster (on average) for the first few hours of the race compared to the 8:30 guys. By the top of Columbine, the 8.5 guys were ahead by ~6 minutes and they continued to pull further away until the end.
I’m not sure how much to read into the limited data, but it looks like the published split times for an 8:30 finish are probably pessimistic for the first half of the race. You can be significantly over the target splits early in the race and still hit 8:30. I might have just randomly pulled some bad examples since I only pulled 10 riders total, but that should be enough to have decent confidence in the data.
following is the top tube card I created with the data. I kept the “faster” 9 hour early splits as a reminder not to go out too hard.