My husband has done the Leadville Marathon in Leadville, Colorado, twice. When he crossed that finish line each time, he was greeted by a blonde woman who enthusiastically put that medal around his neck and looked just as happy about his accomplishment as I felt. While I’ve never had the opportunity to meet her myself, I have watched her from afar at those races. She is Merilee Maupin, and she is one of THE faces of the Leadville Trail Series.
I did a little digging on Merilee because I was intrigued. She seemed to know everyone in town and treated each runner with love and respect. She exuded warmth at that finish line. From my research, I learned that Merilee was originally from Texas. She previously owned a travel agency in Leadville until the mines closed and there was no longer a need. She joined with Ken Chlouber as co-founder of the Leadville Race Series, which started as a 100-mile trail run. This ultra-marathon was Chlouber’s brilliant plan to bring people to Leadville who would provide revenue to bring the town back to life. It worked and the trail series grew to include other distances and biking events. Maupin served as Race Director from 1983-2010 when they sold the series to Life Time Fitness. She continues to be the face of the finish line.
Maupin was in her element on the 2018 marathon day. She hugged the runners. She happily put medals over those sweaty heads. She passed out the coins for people who made it into the legendary Leadville 100. As I watched, I noticed such a grace from her. People loved her and it was obvious why. She loved the people right back!
She also co-founded the Leadville Trail 100 Legacy Foundation which works to improve life in the area. She is a force for good- promoting a healthy lifestyle and giving back to her community. Next time we’re in Leadville, I’m going to introduce myself and thank her for the positive impact she’s been on endurance sports and her community. We could all learn a lesson from her!
This link shares the story of Maupin’s Sportswoman of Colorado Award: