A Tayside-born ultra-runner has notched the biggest win of his career with a remarkable performance in the gruelling territory of the Colorado Rockies.
Ryan Smith headed an international field of more than 800 rivals in the Leadville 100-miler, taking the tape in an astonishing 16 hours, 33 minutes and 25 seconds.
Named the ‘Race Across the Sky’ courtesy of elevations from 9,200 to 12,600 feet – almost three time the height of Ben Nevis – the event has won legendary status in the ultra-running world since it began in 1983 and this year drew competitors from 48 US States and 41 countries.
Software engineer Ryan, who grew up in Angus before embarking on a career which has seen him work in Edinburgh and London before he moved to the USA in 2006, demolished the field with the surprise win.
Having now turned 40, it was the first race in the master’s category for Ryan, who now lives in Boulder, Colorado with his wife, Silke Koester, also a keen ultra runner, and their young daughter, Isla,
The event start took place at 4am, with the huge field aiming for the magic mark of completing the 100 miles in under 30 hours.
Many miles of mountain training paid off for Ryan, despite signs that it was going to be an uphill struggle in every sense from almost the half way mark.
He wasn’t among the pre-race favourites for the event and felt a bit off colour around 40 miles, but rallied to deliver an average of around 10 minutes per mile for the remainder of the run to take the title.
Ryan’s delight over his victory was shared by friends and family in Angus and Dundee.
“Regardless of whether anyone’s on my tail, I always want to get the fastest time and make sure the gap is as large as possible,” he said.
His winning time was an astonishing 90 minutes in front of the second-placed competitor from Anchorage, Alaska as 370 of the 828 starters made the finish line, ranging in age from 20 to 65.