Buena Vista High School alumnus and Leadville resident Annie Hughes won first place in the women’s category in this year’s Leadville Trail 100 Run.
Hughes placed 14th out of a total field of 681 competitors, more than half of whom did not finish the race. Hughes completed the course in 21 hours, 6 minutes and 58 seconds.
She left a mark during her senior year at BVHS in the 2016-2017 season, finishing second at the state cross country meet and setting the school record for the 3,200 run track event.
“I loved the family feel of the BV cross country and track team. Our pre-race team spaghetti dinners were always so fun,” said Hughes. “I also had a great training partner, Whitney White. We would go back and forth at every single race,” Hughes recalled. “I would beat her at one race and she would beat me at the next. It was really fun to have a great friend to push me in training and races.”
By 2019, Hughes had begun competing in ultra-marathons. She started in February with a fifth place finish at the Red Hot Moab 55k in Utah, then won the 50-mile Jemez Trail Run in Los Alamos, N.M. in May.
In 2020 Hughes set the fastest known time for a supported woman on the Collegiate Loop, a 166-mile loop formed by linking the west and east options of the Colorado Trail, spanning from Twin Lakes to Monarch Pass.
She decided to run the Collegiate Loop after training for the Leadville 100 last year prior to its COVID cancelation. After her FKT on the Collegiate Loop the next logical step was Nolan’s 14, an ultra-endurance course of 14 summits over 14,000 feet.
“I haven’t put much thought into Nolan’s 14 since we last talked, but it is still something I would like to complete at some point, but not necessarily go for an FKT,” she said.
“I’m very focused on racing right now, but Nolan’s is definitely a goal I want to complete someday.”
She added that she’d like to attempt the route known as Holy-Nolan’s, which includes the Mount of the Holy Cross, making 15 in total.
“Most people stop at Massive/Elbert, but I just think including Mount of the Holy Cross is the proper thing to do since it is also a part of the Sawatch Range,” she said.
Hughes said that running downhill, while faster, is actually harder on the body.
“Downhill obviously makes for a faster race course, but it can be really hard on your knees and quads, especially at the 100-mile distance,” she said.
“There was quite a bit of downhill in Leadville, which made it a very runnable course, but also beat up my legs pretty bad by the end.
“I would argue that the more runnable a course is, the more it beats up your legs.”