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 impactful 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.

In terms of racing, the Women’s field might be the most interesting.  Diana Finkel rarely races and isn’t that well known … except for here.  She’s tough as nails, and led the overall  race here for about 40 miles two years ago until finally being passed with less than 10 to go, to finish second overall and with the Women’s CR.

Darcy Africa is less experienced here but has been successful in many ultra’s, and is very good in the steep mountains:

Krissy Moehl is the best known and successful female ultrarunner in the world.  She’s won and set Course Records at this race as well at the Ultra Tour du Mont Blanc:

As for the Men, eyes will be on Dakota Jones.  He’s very young (22), and yet very prepared.  He said he’s going to be “conservative” and “go easy”, just feeling it out, wearing no watch until Grouse Gulch (about mi 60).  Then he’ll look at the clock … and if he’s feeling good and has a shot at the Course Record, will throw down.

Jared Campbell is extremely experienced, won this race two years ago, and unlike last year, “Did not tear down his house and start building a new one a week before the race”, like he did last year.

Joe Grant is back, after bagging two extra summits either by mistake or because he was having such a good time last year.  He’s an excellent runner, and at least as good of a photographer.

Kirk Apt is another winner, and moreover, has finished this event an amazing 17 times.  Outside Magazine did a story on Hardrock and his successes, called him “Mr Mellow”.  No one disagreed.

Blake Wood also has won Hardrock, and serves on the Board.  The volunteer effort here is absolutely incredible.  Many of the Board are scientists at Los Alamos Laboratory and it shows – the organization is  impeccable, especially considering one can’t even get a radio station from many places on the course.  Here he is, trying on a prototype Ultra Vest, and absolutely loving it:

The full cast of characters is here.  JB Basham set the record on the Appalachian Trail, and the Long Trail in Vermont.  He’s a carpenter back east, but shows up every few summers in Colorado, and cruises everything:

David Horton is legendary – still another winner of this event, as well as the former record holder of both the Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail.  He recently took up mountain biking, but riding the entire Tour de Divide (Canada to Mexico) in 25 days.  Then 4 days ago he crashed and broke his shoulder in 4 places:

Last but not least, is the new “Old Man of the Mountains”, Gerry Roach.  Author of 7 guidebooks, has climbed the 7 Summits, and far too many other mountains to list, he’s really happy right now.  Timmy Parr is here doing Hardrock, told Gerry he’s going for the fabled 14ers Record (seeing how fast one can climb all 54 of Colorado’s 14,000′ mountains) … so Gerry sold him one of his guidebook!

Note that the race can be followed live on the ‘Net, including time checks at the aid stations and even live webcam at the finish.  Hardrock is by far the most remote race in North America, yet does the best job of posting results.