|Me suffering on the climb up Oscars Pass last year. It sucked.|
Here's an example of the clinical tone and serious nature of the Hardrock Runner's Manual:
"Mountaineering, wilderness survival and wilderness navigation skills are as important in this event as your endurance. The remoteness and wild nature of the course have dictated that Charlie Thorn, Course Marking Director, and I use a different marking approach than you may have encountered at other runs. We expect the individual runners to have enough knowledge about the course that they can follow it without markers. You need to decide how to best equip yourself to meet this requirement. Methods that others have used include spending as much time as possible on the course before the runs, possibly with the group that installs the markers or relying on the written description and maps along with their navigation skills. The markers we do put into the field should be considered as minimal navigation aids. For first time runners who are used to courses that are marked with a nearly continuous set of ribbons and/or glo sticks from start to finish, be prepared to change your expectations. There are sections where the runner will go for several miles without seeing a marker."
Sweet. In other words, unless you were an Army Ranger, incarcerated in an unknown Turkish prison for ten years where the term "human rights" was the punchline to most jokes, or if you were a blind ninja master in a former life, you probably should plan a family vacation the second weekend of July instead of considering a run at Hardrock. You will likely need to acclimate for six months just to spectate the race, since it runs up and down 13-14,000 ft mountains like a million times. The start line alone sits at an air-parched 9,320 ft.
The race first took place in 1992 as a way to honor the tough grit of the miners who toiled in the area beginning in the 1860s. The course follows the same wild roads and trails the miners used to transport themselves and their equipment between the four towns connecting the course, Silverton, Telluride, Ouray, and Lake City. It has been run every year since (with the exception of cancelled years, 1995 due to high snow and 2002 due to fires) with each year alternating clockwise and counter-clockwise directions over the roughly 100.5 mile course (102.5 this year) with 33,000 feet of vertical climb (and 33, 000 ft of mushy quadriceps descent).
“In places you will be on nearly vertical cliffs with the trail being a shelf blasted across their faces.”
Of course, with a race as unique and (Goddamn crazy) difficult as Hardrock, it creates an environment where great accomplishments may be spun by great men and women. Some of the more notable records developed over the years are Kirk Apt's 17 finishes, Betsey Kalmeyer's 12 finishes (all top ten) with 5 wins, Karl Meltzer's 6 finishes with 5 wins, Kyle Skaggs course record of 23:23, and the current queen of Hardrock, Diana Finkel's course record of 27:18.
“This is a dangerous course! In addition to trail running, you will do some mild rock climbing (hands required), wade ice cold streams, struggle through snow which at night and in the early morning will be rock hard and slick and during the heat of the day will be so soft you can sink to your knees and above, cross cliffs where a fall could send you 300 feet straight down, use fixed ropes as handrails, and be expected to negotiate the course with or without markers.”
This year Hardrock will enjoy it's deepest field of speedy talent. I don't know every single person running the race but here are the ones who stand out to me as contenders or otherwise have a shot at doing something cool at the race...
Jonathan Basham: No real 100 miler experience but has won Barkley (sick and crazy) and is otherwise a consistent runner.
Jared Campbell: Was the Hardrock champion, after a hard fought run against Diana Finkel, the last time it was run in this year's direction (clockwise) in 2010. He's suited for this type of race and should always be considered a contender.
Joe Grant: Joe's been putting in the time on the mountains in his well-documented videos with his BFF, Tony. He has experience here from last year and is definitely one to watch if he doesn't get lost.
Dominic Grossman: Another one who's put in the time climbing (maybe trained too much too close to the race?). It'll be interesting to see where he is in the race by Sherman aid station (mile 72).
Dakota Jones: Coming in a distant 2nd last year, Dakota ran by the seat of his pants. He'll be more focused this year and run stronger. He's only raced once this year in the US and made it worthwhile with an eye popping time at Lake Sonoma 50 mile. We'll see how that lack of racing and, instead, commitment to training on the course pays off for him.
Scott Jaime: My sentimental favorite here. Scott's a fast guy and loves this race as much as any of us. If he runs this race smart for once and stays within himself for the first 50-60 miles, he could easily be on the podium.
Nick Pedatella: Nick was nearly washed away in a water crossing after falling in sometime in the middle of the night and getting hypothermic. If he stays moderately dry and on course, look for him to be contending near the front.
Corey Hanson: He has speed but this is Hardrock where speed is a small part of the mixture.
Jason Koop: Solid experience with both speed and grit. He's nailed a couple of top ten finishes at Leadville.
Christian Johnson: One of the Wasatch region boys, who can run strong when he keeps it together.
Hal Koerner: Hal's been around so long, it's difficult to remember he's still fairly young and fast as hell. 13:24 at Rocky Raccoon 100 this year! Unfortunately, RR100 has as much climb as the walk from Hal's hotel to the start line in Silverton. He's run Hardrock once w-a-y back in 2005 and nabbed 3rd place. But 2005 is like the prehistoric age in ultrarunning. He's fit (saw him at Western States) and has shown character and toughness (UTMB last August). He'll be in it.
Ted Mahon: Probably one of the most patient 100 milers I've seen. The guy can be in 400th place at mile 50 and then finish consistently in the top 10, with a 6th place here in 2010 and 9th last year.
Timmy Parr: Timmy's a wild card. The man can fly but seems to have trouble holding on for a full 100 (except for his win at Leadville, of course). If he's still strong at mile 80, watch out!
Jason Poole: 7th in 2010
Brian Fisher: Brian's name almost slipped my eye. He's smart and strong with deep 100s experience. Total top 10 potential if he has a good run.
Tim Long: Shit, I came in 60th place in 44 hours last year. If I make it to Ouray before the winner finishes, I'll be happy.
|Karl in his domain|
Diana Finkel: Nobody puts in the specific training for this race like this one. Quiet and humble, she's one of the toughest people to ever run and HR. It should be another great race for the women but Diana is the clear favorite.
Darcy Africa: If Diana so much as stops to pick up a dropped gel, Darcy will roll by her like Ricky-Bobby pulling the shake-n-bake move.
Krissy Moehl: Krissy might be the only one who could break up the two up front. Hopefully, she's recovered enough from her Western States run just 20 days previous to the start of HR.
|Betsy Kalmeyer running with me dropping down to Cunningham aid station last year.|
Regardless of the runners, the true star of the race is the landscape. It's a special place.
Karl Meltzer posts his odds. My heart and passion for this race better translate into a real performance. Shit.