I can assure all of you Americans who think Hardrock and Leadville are competitive races - they are not. Elite American ultra runners don't even think so. Yes, the course records are special, the races are historic and important. A lot of fast runners want to run these races, but their lotteries make them insignificant in terms of competitiveness. Western States is competitive though because they invite the top 10 runners from the previous year back. There are "golden ticket" races that ensure high quality and the Ultra Trail World Tour organization is feeding the race top international runners.
Is it true that Walmsley wanted to run Leadville and couldn't because he didn't get accepted by the lottery? If that's the case how can a race like that be considered one of the best when we're talking about in terms of competitiveness. It may be a really cool race like Marine Corps Marathon or something but it's hard to call it one of the best then when talking competitive.
It might make the best list in terms of races people want to run but I figured all these races would take a star.
Yes Wejo that's true. we know that Jim entered the lottery, though we don't know whether he really planned on doing it even if he got in. sometimes you enter lotteries despite the odds just to start accumulating lottery tickets, so you can get in at some point. for Jim you would think that there would be some wiggle room (as there often is some wiggle room, for the race director).
And you're right that Leadville and Hardrock are definitely NOT among the most competitive races in the US. Maybe you get solid winning times, but it's not that hard to get 7th place or something at those races. Hardrock is more competitive than Leadville, most likely because the race director (or the Board, I'm not sure) can pick a few people to get in, in some secret meeting or something. Basically, a few extra spots are reserved for whoever they want to run, which is often a few elites.