Thursday, November 20, 2008

Hat Trick Finish at the 2008 Hardrock 100 Mile Endurance Run

WARNING: Very long writeup, but then again the Hardrock 100 is a very long event!
Read at your own risk!

The Short Version:

The HARDROCK 100 is a mountain run that passes through some of the most beautiful and rugged mountains in the world…connecting the four major mining centers of the San Juan Mountains; Silverton, Lake City, Ouray, and Telluride, while staying as much as possible on trails and abandoned roads originally created by the miners to give the participant the maximum feeling of wilderness… Elevation changes range from a high of 14,048' to a low of 7680'. The total vertical climb and descent, accumulated while crossing thirteen ridges over 12000' in elevation, is about 66,000 feet. Much of the route is at elevations above tree line… 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… Mountaineering, wilderness survival and wilderness navigation skills are as important in this event as your endurance. We expect the individual runners to have enough knowledge about the course that they can follow it
without markers. (From the 2008 Hardrock 100 Runners Manual, )

Unlike my previous four Hardrock starts (two finishes and two failures), this year I was very fortunate to spend three weeks, at altitude, in Lake City, Colorado just 30 miles from the race start. Being acclimated meant that I could climb here as fast as I’m used to back home. And for a course notorious for absurdly steep trails, acclimating made all the difference. However, competing acclimated, I had no idea how fast I’d be able to cover the very difficult and remote course. Luckily I received sage advice from some of the faster Hardrock veterans that I happily followed. So despite some stomach and caloric intact issues during the first half of the race, I was able to mount quite a surge, once the sun came up for the second time, covering the remaining 28 miles faster than almost everybody else that day. I was completely overcome with tears of fatigue and joy as I cruised into Silverton to “Kiss the Hardrock” at just after 3:36 p.m. on July 12th, 2008 completing the Hardrock 100 Mile Endurance Run for the 3rd time. My time of 33 hours and 36 minutes was good enough this year to place me 10th of 98 finishers (141 starters). This year’s performance surpassed my personal best time by over four hours and, more importantly to me, was more than ten hours faster than my horrific two night adventure back in 2005. This truly was a “Dream Race” for me. I’ve found my mountain running niche and, plan to return to the Hardrock 100 Mile Endurance Run as long as I’m able.

I’d like to thank my very able crew, my wife Kathy and my good friend Blake Thompson and my Pharaoh Hound Cairo, without whose assistance I would not have been nearly successful as I was. I also wanted to apologize to Blake for running off and leaving him behind in those last 28 miles, I was just feeling too good! At least he was able to shortcut back into Silverton just in time to see me finish!

The Longer Version: