Take a run with Ultra Stories as we discuss the true story of how the Leadville Trail 100-Mile Endurance Run was founded. In Part 2 of our interview with Dale “Sasquatch” Perry, we discuss Jim Butera.. the founder and original Race Director of the LT100. Jim was a well known Colorado race director in the early 1980s. He created the now defunct Colorado Ultra Club and the Moosejaw Ultra; and was the man who’s dream and vision for a 100-mile race in Colorado’s mountains got Leadville off the ground. Post interview, “Sherpa” John Lacroix and Hollis Lyman of HPRS bring it all together with hopes that the honest history of our sport can be preserved for generations to come.
Excerpt from October 1983 Ultrarunning Magazine – Leadville 100’s first race report written by Race Director Jim Butera.
Excerpt from October 1984 Ultrarunning Magazine – Mentions Jim Butera as founder and race director working in cooperation with Chlouber.
Dave Combs April 1996 Cal 50 Race Report where he says, “The guy behind me came up and passed, and I just tagged along behind him toward the start/finish area. He was an interesting guy–Jim Butera, the founder of the Leadville 100.”
5280 Magazine Article from June/July 2005 written by Chris McDougall talking about Ken Chlouber in detail while only briefly mentioning Jim Butera, yet discusses Jim and Ken’s chance meeting in a Denver shoe store. Listed the year Ken moved to Leadville and started working in the mines as 1976.
Sue Norwood’s 2006 Leadville 100 Race Report which states “Jim Butera came up with an idea to put the town back on the map” and “Jim’s idea of a trail ultra marathon that would start in Leadville, go out to the ghost town of Winfield, and return to Leadville started in 1983 with 45 runners and has mushroomed 24 years later into a popular, internationally-known race with over 500 participants. Jim was the first LT100 race director and still runs in the race; he is entered this year.”
–2010 Lifetime Fitness purchases Leadville Race Series–
–October 2012; Jim Butera Passes away and the story begins to change–
Leadville Herald Democrat from August 2013 reposting of an excerpt from the 1983 Herald Democrat which lists Ken Chlouber as a race sponsor, but Jim Butera as the “coordinator.”
Leadville Herald Democrat from August 8, 2013 where Jim Feistner (a 1984 Finisher of the event) wrote a letter to the editor to correct a report that the LT100 was started by Merilee Maupin; and he states, “The Leadville Trail 100 race came to be in 1983 and was the dream of founder and race director Jim Butera.”
–2013 Lifetime Fitness allows the Leadville Trail 100 to grow beyond it’s means, starts almost 200 more runners then permits will allow, and chaos ensues–
Leadville Herald Democrat from October 2013 mentioning Jim Butera as coming “up with the idea of an ultra race in the Colorado Mountains, which became the Leadville Trail 100.”
–In the aftermath of 2013, Lifetime Fitness decides to go back to the races roots, celebrating Ken Chlouber as the sole founder, and use this marketing ploy as a way to save face and regain lost participants–
Trailrunner Magazine Article from February 24, 2014 written by Yitka Winn where she states Ken Chlouber “co-founded the LT100 with Colorado Ultra Club’s then-president Jim Butera.” Yitka has since been blackballed in Leadville due to Ken’s anger over her writing this.
Trailrunner Magazine from a September 12, 2014 article written by Garett Graubins “True Grit: The Man Who Founded Leadville.” Article lists 1974 as the year Chlouber moved to Leadville, contradicting the 2005 article written by McDougall that states 1976. Article also points out where Chlouber calls the Governor of Colorado “a dickhead” and his disparaging nickname for Dean Karnazes, “O-fer.” No mention anywhere of Jim Butera and is the first time Jim has been completely erased from the history.
May 24, 2016 Daily News from UltraRunnerPodcast which points towards the October 1984 Edition of Ultrarunning Magazine. In the comments from URPs daily news someone writes, “Interesting to read the copy of the Ultrarunning Magazine from 1984. I see in the Trail section of the Ultrarunning Calendar on page 58 it shows Jim Butera of the Colorado Ultra Club as the contact/director of the Leadville Trail 100.”
2017 Hinsdale County Site Development Report mentioning LT100 being started by both Jim Butera and Ken Chlouber.
2017 Leadville Trail 100 Runner’s Manual by Lifetime Fitness… In his open letter to runners, Ken Chlouber lists himself and Marilee as the founders of the event in 1982 (prior to the mine closing and instead of 1983) and makes no mention of Jim Butera.
January 4, 2018 article for REI Co-op Journal completely void of any mention of Jim Butera, and states “That’s when Chlouber had an idea, one potentially grand enough to put Leadville on the map: “What about a 100-mile race?” Further removing Jim as the founder and visionary for the 100 mile run. Also note that it says, “The first race in 1983 had 49 entrants, 10 of whom managed to cross the finish line. Among them was Chlouber himself, who traded his shovel and dynamite for sneakers and trail shoes.” The race had 44 starters (not 49) and Ken Chlouber does not appear in the official results (see 1983 Ultrarunning Magazine excerpt above).