Hardrock 100 2016 Preview

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Hardrock 100 2016 in many respects is all about two returning champions, Kilian Jornet and Anna Frost.

Kilian has won the last two editions and in the process has set two course records, 22:41 in 2014 being the fastest. Many, me included, wonder why he is returning… I think it’s simple; he just loves the race and the course.

Kilian has done little running this year but I don’t think it will make much difference, he always pulls a great result out of the bag and I see no difference for 2016. Long races of 100 miles plus though are difficult to nail time and time again, so Kilian may have a below par or bad year? If he does, Xavier Thevenard may be one to take over the charge.

Xavier winning TNFUTMB

Xavier winning TNFUTMB

Xavier is the only runner to win CCC, TDS and UTMB – an impressive thing! However, he does blow hot and cold and can be quite unpredictable. In all honesty, he is most unpredictable when the pressure is on him. Although Hardrock is a key race, it doesn’t have the high media profile of races such as UTMB and therefore, Xavier may well have a great race.

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Jason Schlarb did Hardrock on skis over the winter and I think he will find running the race easier… He has all the potential to do well on this course as his 4th at UTMB has proven. As is always is the case, Jason will need the Hardrock gods on his side.

Jeff Browning has been on fire as of late and the 100 mile distance and the Hardrock course are made for him. However, he just made the podium at Western States! On the plus side, he will have had 19 days recovery post WSER and that is a good block of RnR. I don’t see Jeff beating an inform Kilian but if Kilian falters, watch this space!

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Nick Clark did the WSER and Hardrock double way back in 2011. At the time he was a beast who trounced 100 milers and intimidated those around him. Don’t get me wrong, you couldn’t meet a nicer guy! Nick has had a tough couple of years, directly attributable to the head-to-head with Ian Sharman going for the Grand Slam – Nick has never been the same since. Hardrock suits ‘Clarky’ though and I wouldn’t rule him out… I hope he finds some of that 2011 form when he placed 3rd and set the WSER/ Hardrock double record.

Timothy Olson, Transvulcania La Palma 2013 ©iancorless.com

Timothy Olson, Transvulcania La Palma 2013 ©iancorless.com

Timothy Olson leaves me with a question mark. The ‘American Tarzan’ (see here) has had a tough time in the last 12 to 24 months. Like so many runners, he nailed it, had huge success and then faded. Timmy loves to run and I actually think in many respects it contributed to his lack of form. He just got tired… ask Geoff Roes about this. I remember sitting on the beach in La Palma after Transvulcania a year or so back. Timmy had been on the island for a month and racked up the miles and hours, he couldn’t resist going out. When the race came, he didn’t have the energy to race. He then went to Hardrock and gritted out a suffer fest for a finish. But he has been quiet since and I am pleased about this. With luck he has recharged his batteries and he will toe the line fighting fit. I really do hope so – he could win it, no doubt.

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Joe Grant has a love affair with Hardrock and ultimately I do believe that Joe was made for this course. Despite solid results elsewhere, Hardrock is where Joe shines. His 2012 2nd place is still a career highlight. Can he do it again? Well the answer has to be yes, can he beat Kilian – no? But with the KJ factor removed, Joe could come up with something special. The only stumbling block may be that Joe only just got is HR100 place as he was on the waitlist.

Other contenders for the top 10 are Scott Jaime, Ben Lewis, Nick Coury and Ryan Kaiser amongst others. I also have a sneaky feeling that a certain Bryon Powell will do well this year. He has been committed and focused on the goal.

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Anna Frost is back. I did wonder if she would return but I guess, like Kilian, the Hardrock bug has taken hold. Last year Frosty had a head-to-head battle with Darcy Piceu and she came out on top not only with victory but a 2nd fastest time of 28:22. I do think that Anna is winding down her ‘racing’ days (not participation I must add) and running is becoming not only an extension of her life but a vehicle for other things. Post Transvulcania this year she said, ‘I can’t believe I ran THAT fast last year!’ Hardrock though is a different beast and I think it suits Frosty’s current mindset. She has been out on the course training and for me, and many others, she is the odds on favourite for victory.

Bethany Lewis has a great set of results at the 100 mile distance and at races that draw great parallels with Hardrock. Victory at Bear 100 and Wasatch 100. Recent exploits with FKT’s have had success and this is why Hardrock will suit her, it’s a big day out in the mountains and it’s one she will embrace.

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Emma Roca may well be the lady who stirs things up. This lady needs know introduction, she has been there and done it time and time again and her variety of results are impressive. Western States, UTMB, Leadville and so on and so on. Emma has every chance to win this race!

Two third places and one second certainly means that Darla Askew knows how to run and hike the HR100 course. In all honesty, she is likely to place somewhere between 2nd and 5th, it just depends on how the race pans out and how the top contenders run – victory is a possibility but unlikely.

Betsy Kalmeyer placed 2nd in 2014 but she would do well to repeat that with the ladies listed above. However, the contenders for the top 3 is always a small pool from which to take water, it only needs a slip and Betsy will be waiting.

Other ladies who will have an impact on the top 5 (top 10) are: Liz Bauer, Betsy Nye, Tina Ure and Megan Hicks.

hardrock-100-logo

Race Website HERE

Course Description – ©hardrock100

The HARDROCK 100 is a mountain run that passes through some of the most beautiful and rugged mountains in the world.

The course is closed. That means that runners are required to follow the specified route.

Four legs, linking the Lake City, Ouray, Telluride, and Silverton areas. The finish is in Silverton, the same location as the start. The course is 100 miles long, has a cumulative vertical gain of 33,050 feet of climb and 33,050 feet of descent for a total elevation change of 66,100 feet, and takes place at an average elevation of about 11,000 feet. The high point is 14,048 feet.

This is a test of runners against the mountains. The course is on trails as much as possible. There are 13 aid stations; major aid stations will be located in the towns with less well-equipped aid stations in between. Runners are expected to be largely self-supporting between the towns.

This is not an orienteering event. We intend that you be able to concentrate primarily on running. However, remoteness, weather, animals, and people problems on the course make this problematic at best. We will mark the entire course before the run. However, long road sections and maintained trails may not be marked at all. Cross-country sections will be marked more intensely. We shall continue our trend over the past few years of less intense course marking with fewer flags along all course sections. The flags should be readily visible, even to those with red/green color blindness. The markers have reflective tags for night visibility. On some portions of the route we may place colored engineer tape. Chalk may be used to mark other sections, particularly roads in towns. Runners are responsible for knowing the prescribed course and following it whether or not markers are present.

The altitude range of this run (7,700 to 14,000+ feet) takes the runner through several climate zones. At the lower altitude, forests of aspen, pine, and spruce are common. Timberline is locally at about 11,800 feet, though this can vary greatly. Above timberline is alpine tundra and low vegetation interspersed with krummholz (low, stunted spruce, fir, and willow).

In the summer, animal life is abundant. You will almost certainly see elk in the high meadows, possibly with their young. Stay clear of elk: they can be ornery at times. Bears (black, not grizzlies) are present, though seldom seen. Mountain lions may also be encountered.

The run is a salute to the toughness and perseverance of the hardrock miners who lived and worked in the area.

Refer to the current Runners Manual for a full, accurate, and detailed course description.

Course Descriptions:

Order a copy of the Drake Mountain Map (official course map) from San Juan Mountains AssociationBuckskin Bookstore in Ouray, Maria’s Bookshop in Durango, or Rigs Adventure Coin Ridgway.
*Just the base map; does not include the Hardrock course specifically marked

Weather

The weather is a dominant factor for this run and can be at least as formidable as the terrain, remoteness, or high altitude. The run date is a compromise among competing weather factors. There is usually a period of a few days to weeks each year when the snow is generally gone, but the summer “monsoon” has not yet gotten into full swing – we’ve tried to hit this window. The usual “monsoon” pattern is a daily weather cycle, starting in the morning with blue skies. As the day warms up, thunderheads build up and around noon intense electrical thunderstorms may commence, continuing until late afternoon or evening, at which time the thunderstorms abate until the next morning.

The Colorado Mountain Club advises climbers in Colorado’s mountains to be off the peaks by noon. Since this may not fit in with your position on the course, you must use extreme caution. Always remember that the time limit is 48 hours. The long time limit is not only in recognition of the difficult terrain, but also allows runners to wait out thunderstorms or other life-threatening weather. You can hunker down in a valley for 2-4 hours and still finish; but, if you get fried by lightning your running career may end on the spot. Discretion is the better part of valor.

Take comfort in the fact that these thunderstorms are widespread. If you are pinned down, chances are that other runners are, too. Your position in the field will probably not change. Use the time wisely – eat, drink, stay warm, and rest. You will be able to run faster when the storm has passed. At the RD’s discretion, Aid Station Captains can hold runners if weather conditions are considered too dangerous and prevent runners from continuing if not carrying gear appropriate for conditions.

It is our general opinion that the first fatality we may have will be from lightning! Several runners in past years have had direct contact with lightning and there have been several more near misses. We would rather that there never be a fatality or injury. We will continually be giving you warnings, cautions, updates, and suggestions regarding the exposure you must face when attempting this run.

Prepare for any amount of snow! We could even have snowfall just before the run. In 1992 we went back to Handies Peak in August, just a month after the run, and found six inches of new snow on the ground! In 1997 we had an ice and snowstorm during the run. Remember, there have been avalanche fatalities in Colorado in every month of the year except September.

Hardrock 100 2015 Race Preview #HR100

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The Hardrock Hundred Mile Endurance Run is an ultra marathon of 100.5 miles in length, plus 33,992 feet of climb and 33,992 feet of descent for a total elevation change of 67,984 feet, at an average elevation of over 11,000 feet. The race is held on a loop course on 4WD roads, dirt trails, and cross country in Southern Colorado’s San Juan Range, USA.

The run starts and ends in Silverton, Colorado and travels through the towns of Telluride, Ouray, and the ghost town of Sherman, crossing thirteen major passes in the 12,000′ to 13,000′ range.

Entrants must travel above 12,000 feet (3,700 m) of elevation a total of 13 times, with the highest point on the course being the 14,048′ summit of Handies Peak. The race has been held in early July of each year beginning in 1992, except for 1995 (too much snow) and 2002 (nearby forest fires). Each year’s race is run in the opposite direction of the previous year’s event (2008 was run in the clockwise direction, 2009 will be counter-clockwise). In order to complete the event, instead of crossing a finish line, runners are required to “kiss the Hardrock”, a picture of a ram’s head painted on a large block of stone mining debris.

This course offers a graduate level challenge for endurance runs. The course is designed to provide extreme challenges in altitude, steepness, and remoteness. Mountaineering, wilderness survival and wilderness navigation skills are as important in this event as your endurance.

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In 2014 Kilian Jornet made the course, dare I say, look easy! He took photos, waited for Julien Chorier and then finally took off and smashed the course record. Hos victory guaranteed him a slot for 2015 and so he’s coming back to go in the opposite direction and it would be fair to say that many of us are expecting a similar display. It’s important to clarify that the weather plays a crucial part in any great Hardrock performance, so if the weather gods are playing ball I certainly expect to see Kilian on top of the podium and I also will stick my neck out and say he will set a new CR and thus will hold the CR for both directions. On a final note though in regard to the Catalan, his preparation for 2015 has been very different to 2014, yes he has been logging some serious training hours and elevation but he has less time at elevation and we saw how he struggled at Aconcagua. A recent top 10 at Chamonix VK and just this last weekend he won and set a new CR at Mount Marathon in Alaska. The stage is set!

I would be talking about Anton Krupicka now, he finally got an entry in the race that he has always wanted to do and what happens? Injury strikes resulting in a no show for Anton.

Iker Karrera ©iancorless.com

Iker Karrera ©iancorless.com

Step in Iker Karrera. Iker is a machine in tough and challenging races. His Tor des Geants performance a classic example of how he gets his head down and churns out the performance. He’s been 2nd at UTMB but I guess one of the most significant indicators comes from Diagonale des Fous (Raid de la Reunion) when Kilian waited for Iker on the trails encouraging him to the line… Kilian went on to win! Iker can win Hardrock but I think it will be because Kilian looses it if you know what I mean!

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Adam Campbell was 3rd last year in 25:56 and then almost disappeared from the scene. It’s really difficult to say if Adam can repeat his 2014 performance, I personally think he can. He’s had great results before at long and gnarly races. He was 2nd at UTMF in 2012.

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Mike Foote has the race strategy for Hardrock 100. Expect to see him hanging back, taking it easy and then applying pressure and slowly making his way up through the ranks. The only problem with this strategy when Kilian is in the race is that he may very well leave himself far too much work to do but 2nd or 3rd on the podium is a distinct possibility. Mike also does know the Hardrock course; he raced in 2010. When you add that to his highest ever placing at UTMB, 3rd in 2012 it’s easy to see how Mike will pressure the front of the race.

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Karl Meltzer is back, he managed to sneak through the door and get a place. You can NEVER rule out Karl. His 5 victories at Hardrock provide him with a wealth of experience and as many an ultra runner has said, nobody hikes like Karl! Karl would be first to admit that if Kilian is ‘on a day’ then everyone else is running for 2nd, but you know what, Karl does have the race and experience for the podium. Don’t rule him out! Recently he won yet another 100 at Cruel Jewel keeping his long streak of winning a 100 miler every year for god knows how many years. In prep for Hardrock, Karl also spent 2 weeks on the AT with Scott Jurek.

A quick addition, I missed Troy Howard who has placed 2nd twice at Hardrock. I don’t think he’ll take the win or maybe even the podium against Kilian and Iker but you never know on 3rd place? He recently was 2nd at Wasatch (2014) and 2nd at Squaw Peak 50 (2015).

Who else is in with a shout?

Jared Campbell has tough and gnarly races for breakfast. He’s finished Barkley twice, this will be his 10th Hardrock and although he won the race in 2010 I don’t see him on the podium. But expect him to be near top 5!

Nick Coury has placed 5th and 6th at Hardrock in 2008 and 2013 respectively. Like Jared, he has the race for a top 10 but a podium.

Scott Jaime has placed 2nd and run the Hardrock almost as many times as Jared Campbell. He is a consistent performer reflected in placing 3rd on 2 occasions. Like Jared though, 5th – 10th is a likely result.

Ones to watch:

Jamil Coury, Matt Hart, Adam Hewey and Matt Hart.

On a final note, lets give a shout out to Bryon Powell from iRunFar. I think he’d be the first to admit that he won’t be contending the front of the race but since he got his slot he has trained real hard. Doing the job that we do, I know how hard it is just to get out for a run but to train too, that’s impressive!

Ladies

Darcy Piceu has top billing as a 3 time defending champion and as such, Darcy is an odds on favourite for a 4th victory. Course knowledge and experience are going to go such a long way and her recent victory (and CR) at Big Horn 50 shows that she is in great form.

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However, Darcy hasn’t raced Anna Frost at Hardrock before? I personally feel that if the weather is kind and Anna has no injury issues we may well see a dominating performance that will not only provide a female victory, a course record but a potentially significant performance that will dent the men’s race. That is a bold statement I know, but when Anna is on it, she is on it! She missed Transvulcania recently with injury and of course we all know the highs and lows of the past 30 months. But Anna has been out on the course for a month or so, done the training, adapted herself and as far as I know is fit and healthy.

If Darcy and Anna are firing on all cylinders then I think the rest of the ladies are running for 3rd. The Betsies (kalmeyer and Nye) are legends at Hardrock and between them have 28 finishes. They have the experience and that counts for a great deal in a race like this.

Darla Askew however has the speed but less experience (compared to the Betsies.) In comparison to Anna though, Darla has 2 Hardrock finishes and they were both on the podium! So it would be fair to say that a 3rd is likely again but the potential to leap frog and place 2nd or 3rd is a distinct possibility.

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Meghan Hicks has won MDS finished Tor des Geants and may well contend the top 5. Meghan knows how to get it done! The 2015 MDS didn’t go to plan event though she still placed well, at the time she was unsure if she would start Hardrock. I am pleased to see that Meghan is on the start list and I’ll be rooting for her.

Ones to watch:

Pam Reed, Liz Bauer, Suzanne Lewis and Missy Gosney.

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Hardrock 100 is a small key race for a select few. However, in its history, Hardrock has always become a highly anticipated race that often plays out like a great boxing match. It is a constant frustration for me that we don’t get ALL the best ultra runners on the playing field at the same time. Pointless me saying this I know as that is one of the quirks of Hardrock.

However, can you imagine a ladies and men’s field of the depth that we see at Western States or Transvulcania arriving in Silverton?

The race starts on Friday 10th July

Race website HERE

Opening race description ©Hardrock100website

A little bit about Hardrock

In the early 1990s an ultra runner from Boulder CO, Gordon Hardman, wanted to create a 100 mile adventure run emphasizing two things: a. link the historic mining towns of Silverton, Ouray, Telluride and Lake City and b. offer each participant an adventure though the spectacular San Juan Mountains while challenging them with altitude, steepness and remoteness. Gordon placed a notice in Ultrarunning magazine soliciting the help of anyone who may be interested in helping pull this together. Within a year Gordon had enlisted a cadre of local runners with deep ties to the area who believed such a run was possible and voila..the Hardrock Hundred Endurance Run was created.

From the beginning, the idea of celebrating the legacy and memory of the hardrock miners was paramount as was the idea that this run should be for those who wanted an extraordinary adventure. Careful attention was paid to developing a route which incorporated the foot trails, wagon roads and burro trails that were constructed for transporting materials to mining sites and hauling ore to market. The Hardrock Hundred follows those routes laid out by those miners who made their living in crags in hopes of making their fortune mining the minerals hidden between the peaks and hidden in the valleys The Hardrock Hundred has stayed true to those ideas to this day and is dedicated to the memory of those wild and tough individuals.

Why Silverton?

The initial idea of Hardrock was to rotate the start/finish of Hardrock between each of the 4 towns. Some demonstrated more excitement about hosting Hardrock than others, chief among those was Silverton. The idea of rotating the start/finish was abandoned and Silverton became the permanent home of the Hardrock Hundred Endurance Run.

Why alternate courses?

After the decision was made to keep the start/finish in Silverton, Hardrock developed the idea that run the course in alternating directions so that runners could experience all that the San Juans had to offer and wouldn’t get tired of the view! Many runners don’t consider themselves true “Hardrockers” till they have finished in both directions.

The “Hardrock” rock is a big deal-how come?

When Hardrock first started, one of the things we forgot to have is a finish line. When an early Hardrock runner asked how we would know when they were finished, run director, Dale Garland, looked around and found a rock in the ground and told all the runners to “touch” the rock to stop the clock. Touching turned to kissing and the small rock in the ground grew into the 2 ton boulder we have now. Today we have one of the most unique finishes in ultrarunning and are always amazed to see the flood of emotion and relief that kissing the Hardrock brings out in those complete their personal adventure of Hardrock. Over the years we have actually had 2 Hardrock rocks, both of which have enjoyed a very special and unique place in the lore of the Hardrock Hundred Endurance Run.

Hardrock 100 preview

Joe Grant, Cavalls del Vent 2012 copyright iancorless.com

Joe Grant, Cavalls del Vent 2012 copyright iancorless.com

So many races, so little time. No sooner am I back from three weeks travelling around the Canaries, Spain, Italy and France covering races and I am back in France for Ice Trail Tarentaise and then the Skyrunning European Championships in Canazei, the Dolomites. Don’t get me wrong; I absolutely love what I do. But it can be difficult to keep up… of course Western States occurred while I was travelling, I did manage to preview that and now as I am sitting in Italy to head to Val D’Isère, Hardrock 100 is due to start. So, here is a preview.

 

Just a week ago the race looked as though it may have problems due to wildfires. However, the fires subsided and the race is on. In comparison to previous years, the route appears to have less snow, so a faster time may well be a possibility. Although the race has a quality field, it ultimately looks like a two horse race in both the men’s and ladies races.

 

Joe Grant is returning after second place last year and sacrificed participation in Ronda dels Cims to make sure he is in the best possible shape to win. He had an awful run at Transvulcania in May after picking up a bug that would appear to have leaped around many of the elite runners staying at the same hotel. A bug that took Anton Krupicka out of the race. Joe dedicated late 2012 and early 2013 to the Iditarod Trail Invitational, a super long race in freezing temperatures pulling a sled. He should be well recovered now and I am sure the benefits of that race will come to the fore at Hardrock 100.

Sebastien Chaigneau, TNFUTMB 2012 copyright iancorless.com

Sebastien Chaigneau, TNFUTMB 2012 copyright iancorless.com

Last minute entrant, Sebastian Chaigneau has wanted to run this race for some time and he finally gets his chance. Always a tough competitor, this long, hard and gnarly course will work to his strengths and I think you will see Joe and Seb battle at the front of the race. Joe has two advantages; he has done the race before and he will also be more adapted to the altitude. It will be a compelling race to watch.

 

Speedgoat is returning, like Joe he knows this course like the back of his hand. He had a few problems early this year with a niggling calf but despite all logic, he turned up at Western States just a few weeks ago and still pulled off tenth place. Possibly the most experienced 100 miler on the planet, you can never rule Karl Meltzer out!

Jared Campbell at Ronda dels Cims copyright iancorless.com

Jared Campbell at Ronda dels Cims copyright iancorless.com

Jared Campbell needs no introduction; he loves races that are tough gnarly and a challenge. He recently raced the super tough 177km Ronda dels Cims and finished 7th. When I interviewed him the day after the race he looked fresh and trouble free. Ronda took him nearly 34 hours and that has to leave some fatigue in the body, however, I think we will see him improve on his 13th overall at Hardrock 100 in 2012.

 

Scott Jamie is an experienced Hardrocker (does that term exist). Anyway, he has finished in the top ten five times with a best overall placing of second. He appears to be in good shape with a recent win at Antelope Island Buffalo run.

 

Other male contenders:

  • Ted Mahon
  • Troy Howard
  • Chris Price
  • Nick Coury
  • Jamil Coury

 

LADIES

 

Diana Finkel was out front last year and dominating the race. Karl Meltzer sums it up when he says, ‘Diana is the best in the business on these long tough courses, and she can hike really quick’. However, she dropped at just over 80 miles last year due to ongoing health issues that she needs to monitor. It was very much a safety precaution and the correct call. Diana will be gunning for the top of the podium and if her health remains positive, I think we will see her in the no1 slot in the ladies race… don’t rule her out for the ‘overall’ too!

 

Last years winner, Darcy Africa returns and will be looking for a repeat performance. When Diana dropped in 2012 she was 1 hour behind, so, Darcy will need to up her game a little if she wants to remain in contention in 2013. It’s going to be an exciting battle.

 

Other female contenders:

  • Sarah McCloskey
  • Darla Askew
  • Betsy Kalmeyer
  • Betsy Nye

RACE WEBSITE HERE