Kate McLaughlin takes
10th at Leadville 100
Kate McLaughlin is a privateer XC Marathon and Gravel racer based out of Boulder, CO. Back for her 2nd season with HUNT Wheels, she is getting faster with each race she enters. Her 2023 season is incredibly special as it revolves around her build-up to the Leadville Trail 100 and more importantly, her wedding. Here's a recap of Kate's season so far.
Kate had mapped out her season early on to include a series of races that would prepare her for her A-1 race of the season, Leadville Trail 100.
She began her season at Moab Rocks in Mar where she finished top 10. “It was snowy, it was really cold, it was wet, but it was fun and a great way to kick off the mtb season and get things into gear.” Happy with how her race in Moab went but not quite content, Kate kept on with her training regiment, all the while working her full-time day job. Spring had set in, and Sea Otter Classic Fuego XL was up next. This race is one of the most stacked and competitive off-road events in the US and is also the first stop of the Life Time Grand Prix, an invite-only 7 event mix of mtb and gravel race series. Nearly every top off-road gravel and XC endurance athlete competes here for points in the Grand Prix or to qualify for other major events throughout the year. This course is hot. This course is dusty. This course is Fast. Kate performed well and finished just outside the top 20 after a bad start position and was forced into a strategy of picking riders off 1 by 1 with lots of single-track sections.
She was determined to find some better results, so hard training in May set her up for some payback with back-to-back weekend events in June. First up was an impressive finish at the Go Pro Mountain Games in Vail where she finished 5th behind 2 Olympians and 2 Gran Prix invitational riders. Her ride in Vail had 10,000ft of climbing which properly prepared her for the next weekend. It was Kate’s first go at the Bailey Hundo and she came out on top with a win. This was her hardest race so far this year, it was 68 miles and 8500ft of climbing. She battled with the 2nd place female for the first 30 miles before establishing a gap and then rode alone to the finish. Without much of a break, going into Ned Gravel, Kate went a lot faster than expected and won the women’s field by over 20mins.
The very next weekend was the Stages Cycling Tahoe Trail Race, which was 8,000ft of climbing and 60 miles of fire road and single track. Finishing her first lap, Kate thought she was in 3rd or 4th and to her surprise, realized she was in the lead. In similar fashion to Bailey Hundo, she broke away on a climb and then rode her own race solo to the finish line.
To round out her season of racing before she ties the knot, the Leadville Trail 100 had finally arrived. We met up with Kate the day before the race to check out the race rig and get a feel for how she was doing going into the most important race of her cycling career. She spent over a week in Leadville before the event acclimating to the elevation, which is 2 miles above sea level.
She was cool, calm, and collected and was happy for us to occupy her morning shooting photos and taking us on a spin, out to Emerald Lake, which is part of the course.
Kate had a decent start position and focused on her own race and absolutely crushed it. “Never have I ever turned myself so inside out during a race and never have I ever ugly cried so hard at a finish line”
This was a particularly fast year with records getting smashed and all the top athletes stepping it up to go faster than ever on this course. Kate’s finish time this year would have been good enough for 3rd in 2022 but this year it put her at 10th place in the Pro Women’s field. We are incredibly proud of Kate and the progress she has made. Especially since shes only started to ride mountain bikes a few years ago. She isn’t letting up and next season is sure to bring some new challenges but even more excitement. Thanks for all you do, Kate. We look forward to another fun season next year.
Kate trains and races on her HUNT Proven Race XC wheelset and gave them the “Chef’s kiss” “I’m always so impressed with my Proven wheels, especially when I can catch up to people or pass riders descending (including, heavier men) and I attribute it to my fast wheels. This season had lots of technical/rocky sections to navigate and my wheels performed so well, with no issue.”