We’ll it’s a bit late, but before I forget the details of my Hardrock 2010 experience I thought I’d jot them down. In classic form I came back home after the race and flipped the switch back to “work mode” which exacerbates the “dream-like” feeling of the experience.
Hardrock, simply put, is a “unique” 100 miler. Many great runners often laugh at the event and the incredibly slow times (relatively speaking). Nick Clark (paced Nick Pedetella for 30 miles) has a perspective not often publicly expressed about Hardrock (read it here). The race and the runners are quirky and quite different from what you’ll find at other major 100s, but fortunately for me they’re different in a way that I really like. I’m rarely the fastest runner, I have rarely trained as much as the rest of the field, I rarely have the lightest shoes, and I rarely give a damn about how the “race” goes. For me, I show up to Hardrock because I love the course and I love the mountains. There aren’t too many race courses that I can say that about. For example, while the Wasatch 100 is in my backyard I rarely go run on the actual course. In fact, I try to avoid it because in my opinion, in the Wasatch Mountains the WF100 course contains some of the least exciting trail in the whole mountain range.
My attraction to Hardrock is likely rooted in the fact that I do other activities such as rock climbing, technical peak linkups, kayaking, biking, canyoneering etc. I wasn’t a collegiate track star and I didn’t run track-and-field in highschool. I love spending the week before Hardrock in the San Juans. I love seeing my family enjoy the mountains and take some time away from city-life, I love seeing my wife smile as we sit atop a beautiful peak and admire the surroundings, and I love seeing my friends get to be part of the event through crewing or pacing. I get a kick out of the people who show up from Florida or Texas to tackle Hardrock, and I love seeing Hardrock give purpose to people of all ages. John DeWalt will literally do this race until he can’t move any more. There is something about the San Juan Mountains that pulls you in; their beauty, the wild and powerful weather, the steep climbs and brutal descents, abundant flowing water, and endless flowers. In the comment section of Nick Clark’s write-up uber-ultra-runner Anton Krupricka wrote, “I used to think Hardrock was plain stupid. After a couple of years of mountain running and after running much of the course my perspective on that changed and I now see it as the ultimate long-course mountain race. Mind-blowing scenery, relentless climbs and descents, altitude…it has it all to the nth degree.” Well put Anton.
Hardrock 2010 started off similar to past years for me. By “started off” I mean about a week before Pat, Ryan, Mindy and I left SLC to spend a week-long vacation in the mountains. We hit the La Sal Mtns outside of Moab on the drive down and then headed over to the San Juans. Every day prior to the race was great and consisted of some form of run or bike ride, followed by great food, and fun leisure time together. We were always on the move and rarely stayed in the same spot for too long. I had so much fun showing Mindy and Pat places they’d never been. The day or two before the race we were in and around Silverton and all the familiar faces started showing up. For our wedding present Ryan had given Mindy and I several nights in the Wyman Hotel, which was amazing!
Friday morning the energy was buzzing and at 6AM we were off. The first few miles are relatively flat or rolling, really just something to get the body warmed up for the first of many big climbs. I ran my own race from start and by the time I hit the river I was probably 5-6 spots back. The up-hills are usually my strongpoint and by the top of the first climb it was me, Karl, Nick P., and Jon Anderson. Scott Jaime was up ahead, ~5-10 minutes. On the downhill I pulled ahead of the small group I was in. Karl wasn’t in his usual groove but I was certain that he would “turn on” and soon pass us all. But, I felt good so I continued on to the Kamm Traverse aid station. I got through KT quickly and began my journey up to Island Lake and Grant Swamp Pass. Nick passed me on this section and was moving very well. He’s a great guy and we had fun chatting for the time we were together. After cresting the pass I ripped down the scree and made my way through the boulder field below. Then I saw Nick, he had lost the markers. I motioned to him that we were to go left and he followed me as we ran down into the aid station. Then the slog up to Oscars Pass. Scott was way ahead, Nick pulled in front of me, and then Jon just behind. I was pretty sure Diana was not far behind.
The decent into Telluride is one of my favorite parts, but I was having some strange back pains that I’d never had before so I slowed down quite a bit. Jon passed me here and I was hoping I’d catch him again for some good company. Telluride is the first crew access point so I was excited to see Mindy, Pat and the rest of the gang. As I was leaving Telluride Diana was close on my heals. As we began to climb out of the town I motioned for her to come catch up with me and told her I could use the company. She slowly fell back for the big ~5,000′ climb up to Kroger’s Canteen. By Governor Basin aid station I had caught Jon, then Diana caught us, and then they both left me. The run down the 8 mile dirt road was lonely, but beautiful. I turned off my brain because I don’t look forward to this section. I came into Ouray feeling “okay”.
Leaving Ouray always get’s me psyched, either direction, mainly because it feels like it’s half over (although this certainly isn’t true time-wise). I love the climb up to the Engineer Aide station and I felt really great. I had conserved my legs thus far and consequently was climbing pretty well. I figured it was usually around this point in the race that I see Scott, and sure enough there he was. He didn’t look good…. I told him that I was really hoping that I wouldn’t have seen him until the finish. I was hoping that he’d put the whole race together this year and crush it from start to finish. He’s such an incredible runner! (see his write-up here) But, he was at a low point and I was feeling good so I pressed on. He and I have a funny history of yo-yo-ing at Hardrock. By Engineer aid station I was closing the gap on Jon and I could see Nick ahead. Jon is such a great guy. The conversations we had had earlier in the race told me that I need to get to know him better and plan an adventure with him in the future. He’s a great mountain runner, but is also into kayaking, climbing, he’s educated, has a job, and is incredibly nice. An all around incredible person.
I hit Grouse shortly after 8PM, close to my goal. It was here that Pat picked me up, light vest and all. Every time Pat has paced me it has gone well, so just having him join me brightened my mood. We proceeded to have the best climb up Handies that I had ever had and in the process passed Jon and Nick. Nick had lost the trail a bit when we passed him. We told him (and his pacer Ryan Burch) to follow us and they did. It was a good thing too because there was a very long section with no markers. Fortunately I knew where we were going.
On the decent off Handies I felt fabulous. I was ripping (relatively speaking) and loving life…. that is until I had a very abrupt sick feeling and quickly I was on the ground throwing up… I evacuated everything in my stomach, drank some water from a stream, and then I was up and moving quite well again. I carefully took some down some calories and we were off to the races again. Strange, but good. This same thing would happen to me again after Sherman. We made it into Sherman around midnight, which was right on track with where I wanted to be.
We moved well on the climb out of Sherman and after a few miles we could see 2 lights ahead, we knew it was Diana and her significant other Ben. I hoped that she was staying strong because she had run such a smart and incredible race, I really wanted to see her win it overall. Nothing would have made me happier than for her to win and me to be not too far behind.
On the next section coming into Pole Creek, Pat and I got lost! Can you believe it, after doing the race 6 times I still got lost for probably 20 minutes, then realized we where going the wrong direction, back-tracked and quickly got back on. Leaving Pole Creek we got off-trail again. I knew we weren’t far off, but we were bush-whacking. So, we split up, and eventually Pat found the trail. The climb up to the top of the pass before Maggies felt really long to me, but eventually we reached it. Then the steep decent to the aid station, only a couple major climbs left! The climb out of Maggies is steep as hell. No trail, literally straight up, but I had my hiking legs so I went on auto-pilot and plowed forward. Once on the pass we lost the trail again, but not for too long, we were quickly back on and en-route to Cunningham after one more BIG decent.
Cunningham marked the end of Pat’s section and the start for Mindy. The sun was now up and I was so happy to be with my beautiful wife. I was in power-hike mode for the uphills and was able to hold it for the entire climb. Very early into the climb we passed Diana and Ben and they gave us nothing but encouraging words. Diana was visibly hurting, swollen hands and a her legs were cut up. Mindy and I pressed on knowing that they’d be okay. Eventually we reached the top, which is a great spot because all the major climbing is done. 34,000′ of up, done! I switched gears into downhill mode and we took off. Mindy was so encouraging and happy; consequently I felt relaxed and was having fun. On the final few miles she kept me moving when I wanted to slow to a walk. Soon we saw town, saw Dakota Jones, were running down the ski hill, and then got a police escort through town to the finish line. The crowd was amazing and the energy perked me right up.
After answering a bunch of silly questions from local newspapers reporters we waited for Diana and after an hour figured she was hurting pretty bad so we went back to the hotel for a quick shower. We missed her at the finish line, something I feel pretty bad about.
The awards ceremony the next day was fun. The group energy is very unique and being allowed to speak for a few minutes as the winner made it really special. The award is very cool and something I’ll keep forever. I am honored to have been given the chance to run the Hardrock 100 again.
When we arrived back at home in SLC, the entire family was there to surprise and congratulate me. Wow, I am one lucky guy.
Check out photos from our trip here.
And some other cools links:
Things that worked:
- First Endurance EFS Gel – This stuff is amazing and I’ve had enough long runs where it has worked perfectly that I’m hooked.
- La Sportiva Fireblade – my favorite shoe. I laced them up and never took them off until the end.
- DryMax Socks – These things are amazing. About 50x as durable as any other sock I’ve had.
- Black Diamond Z-poles – Not officially out yet, but when they are (Fall) they’re a must for anything steep.
- GoLite tight-shorts – They look rather silly, but as far as functionality goes, nothing compares. My chaffage was essentially zero, a requisite for my up-coming Wasatoja in September….