An athlete treating athletes: Local chiropractor completes Leadville Trail 100

Publication Date: September 7, 2012 in The Vail Business Journal - View Article

An athlete treating athletes: Local chiropractor completes Leadville Trail 100

EDWARDS—Local sports chiropractor, Dr. Joel Dekanich, is used to treating professional and ultra endurance athletes through his Vail Valley-based practice Vail Integrative Medical Group; and now he has a whole new appreciation for the stresses on the body that completing an ultra-long distance race can take. Dekanich successfully completed, in under 30 hours, the Leadville Trail 100, otherwise known as “The Race Across the Sky”.

The race is an ultra marathon held annually on trails and dirt roads near Leadville, Colorado, in the heart of the Rocky Mountains. In existence for almost 30 years, the race climbs and descends 15,600 feet (4,800 m), with elevations ranging between 9,200 – 12,620 feet.  Roughly 800 racers were at the starting line this year representing 42 states and 18 countries, with only 364 finishing in under 30 hours, the official time limit for the race.

An accomplished marathoner, Dr. Dekanich became interested in the “ultra-race” after reading the New York Times bestseller, Born to Run, by Christopher McDougall.  McDougall describes the Leadville 100 as, “running the Boston Marathon two times in a row with a sock stuffed in your mouth” – then hiking “to the top of Pike’s Peak” – and then doing it all again, “this time with your eyes closed”.  This description along with the author’s assertion that running these ultra races can be achieved and enjoyed by practically anyone, compelled Dr. Dekanich to sign up for the race.  He stated, “It became clear early on in my training that ultra running is considerably different than your typical marathon.  I had some learning to do, but with some trial and error, I was able to complete some 30 and 50 mile races successfully before attempting the famed LT 100”.

Dr. Dekanich needed to use some of his sports medicine training to triage various injuries during the race, self-administering Kinesiotape to the inner arch of his foot, switching shoes and orthotics which helped reduce some excessive over-pronation of his foot at mile 60.  He also drew from the knowledge of colleagues in the sports medicine field along with patients and friends who have run races of this caliber before.

Just what you would expect from a sports medicine doctor turned ultra-runner.  He says he also has a new appreciation of the taste and health benefits of ramen noodles and broth.

Being able to apply this life experience to his everyday treatment of sports injuries was additional motivation in completing the LT 100.

As he explains, “Just to finish a race of this magnitude was an amazing accomplishment, but to now have an inside perspective of mentally what it takes and to experience first-hand the effects on the body, that is something you don’t learn from a classroom”.

Standing amongst his fellow racers at the awards ceremony Dr. Dekanich was reminded of McDougall’s assertion that anyone (with the proper training) can partake in ultra races.  His fellow racers ran the gamut from young to old (19 years – early 70’s), short, tall, skinny, large; all were represented.  As Dr. Dekanich summed it all up, “Completing the race wasn’t easy, but I actually did have fun.  I have little doubt that I will be back in some capacity to run more, it was that great of an experience.”