Hardrock 100: The Race

island_lakeWhile Hardrock is generally referred to as an “Endurance Run”, and while it is very much that, each year there is unavoidably a competitive component to the event as well. Having been a part of the event five of the last seven years as crew/pacer, I definitely appreciate the community-oriented vibe that the Hardrock Board has so assiduously cultivated over the years; it’s a huge part of what makes Hardrock so special. However, to anyone who wants to dispute the fact that there is at least a small bit of competitiveness going on down in the San Juans, I say, ok, then stop timing finishers and publishing the results (and basically every possible permutation of the finishers’ splits).

There’s nothing wrong with caring about one’s performance. I submit that doing so is even at least a small part of what makes running in the mountains so instructive—we try to be the best versions of ourselves, and in the mountains that means, of course, physically, but also mentally and emotionally. But that’s a discussion for a different time and place.

There is basically no debate that at the pointy end of the field, this year’s men’s entrants represent the highest quality and depth ever assembled. It all happens literally by the luck of  the draw, so, as a fan of the sport, I feel pretty damn lucky this year.

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Hardrock Preview

The tribe has gathered; the race starts at 6 am tomorrow.  Considering only 140 entrants are allowed (by Forest Service Permit), this event is remarkably impactfull on the sport of ultrarunning.  Here are some stray thoughts.

I walked up to Karl Meltzer, one of the best 100 milers ever, and who has the course record in one direction (Hardrock is a loop, which alternates direction).  He saw me coming, and before I could even say Hi, he put on a big grin and simply said, “I’m back”.

I knew what he meant.  100 miles (102 with a recent course change), with 33,992′ of elevation gain, and an average elevation of 11,186′ … well, is this “fun” … or what is it?  Karl has done it all … he doesn’t need to keep doing it … yet here he is, ready to go 24 non-stop hours in the high mountains … he completely bypassed any question I could possibly ask, about motivation, predictions, or anything, and just said, “I’m back”.

Here we are; let’s do it.

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