Thursday, July 7, 2011

Hardrock 100

The next big 100 mile endurance run is about to kick off here in 6 hours or so.  The Hardrock Hundred Mile Endurance Run, arguably the most difficult 100 mile course in the country (maybe in the world), is a loop course that runs through Southwestern Colorado's San Juan Mountains.  For those of you that don't know, this is the epitome of endurance.  The course contains 33,992 +/- of elevation.  Yes, that is 67,894 feet total!  Of course all that ascent and descent takes place at an average elevation of 11,000 feet as well, with the high point being 14,048 feet (Handies Peak).  All in all it crosses 13 major passes through in the 12,000' to 13,000' range, starting in Silverton and traveling through Telluride, Ouray, and the ghost town of Sherman, and of course finishing in Silverton.  Each year they change the direction of the course to run opposite of the previous year.  According to the website, "the run is a salute to the toughness and perseverance of the hardrock miners who lived and worked in the area."

Photo: Blake Wood
Just to get a sheer idea of how difficult this course is, the cutoff time is 48 hours.  Yes, a full 18 hours longer than Western States.  In fact, the average finish time is 41 hours, which is also longer than most 100 mile cutoff times.  The race begins at 6am, so anyone over 40 hours will see the sun set twice before making it back to Silverton.  Sub-30 is considered a very solid time on this beast, while only one runner has ever broken the 24 hour barrier.  Course records are held by Erik Skaggs, 23:23 in 2008, and Diane Finkel, 27:18 in 2009.  The funny thing about this race is that there is no finish line to signify the completion of the race.  Instead runners must kiss the Hardrock, a large stone with a painted picture of a ram's head on it.

Photo: Bill Geist
Photo: Klas Eklof
This year is shaping up to be a great race up front as well.  Considering the lottery to get in, this is easily one of the best fields assembled for this event.  There could be 10-15 potential runners that could break the 30 hour mark if everything goes right tomorrow.  Five time champ Karl Meltzer will be tough to beat with his knowledge of the course, but Dakota Jones has youth and speed on his side.  Not sure how well recovered Nick Clark is, but I also wouldn't put it past him to pull off an impressive double so close to Western States.  Of course there is also Chorier, Grant, Hart, Campbell, Darcy Africa, Finkel, Callahan, and a few others that are more than capable of pulling out the victory.

Photo: Klas Eklof

Photo: Klas Eklof

As you can see this race has sort of piqued my interest since I first heard about it.  Funny thing is that it is so damn intimidating, yet so damn intriguing.  I definitely need to get that first 100 under my belt before even fathom attempting something like this though, but it is definitely on the list.  Although I have absolutely no idea how you train for something like this if you don't live at elevation.  I guess that is all part of the challenge though.

These videos will give you a solid idea of how crazy difficult this course is, what kind of challenges the runners will encounter tomorrow, and of course the insane beauty that will engulf each and every one of them on their 100 mile journey....

For now I will be enjoying the race from behind my computer screen. Look forward to following the wonderful coverage from all day tomorrow.  One of these days I will throw my name in the lottery...and one of these days I will be bagging those nasty, monstrous peaks. :-)

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