(ed: pretty good info on the upcoming race. check it out, guys!)
Some rambling thoughts about Hardrock, which is run this weekend.
Western States 100 is the Boston Marathon of endurance / trail ultras. It is among the oldest trail ultras out there, has name recognition, and a huge entry lottery with required qualify times. Hardrock is something different. I am not sure there is a road marathon that quite would be the right analog. I don't know my road marathon history and lore enough to put them into context.
The spirit of Hardrock is very much embodies what has made the ultra and trail community a bit different than other niche sporting communities.
Everyone’s a winner that crosses that line. Just because you don’t kiss the rock first doesn’t mean you don’t win the race. -- Karl Metzer (5-time winner of Hardrock and a man who has won more 100 mile races than anyone)
That is taken from a nice video series starting this week on iRunFar.com (more to come each day).
Karl's quote sums up Hardrock in specific but also touches on the core of ultra running in particular. It is you against the course. We celebrate anyone who has won the day by finishing the run. You have examples like Ian Shaman standing at the finishing line after dropping out of Rocky Raccoon 2012 due to injury and congratulating finishers and handing out medals. During the Northface 50 mile race in San Francisco last year, the lead runners stopped to help a runner to safety who badly twisted his ankle. This the norm rather than exception.
Back to the Hardrock 100. If you are not familiar with the run, it is simply a killer. But I don't think anyone who hasn't run in the mountains can really put the right frame of reference around it. I certainly can't, having not run in the San Juan mountains myself. All I have is stories from my coach who is an 8-time Hardrock finisher (out of 11 starts) among others who have spent time on the course. As the old saying goes "Next year in Silverton".
It is hard to compare runs and to call something the hardest depends on first agreeing to a set of definitions. Do you include events like Barkely's, McNaughton 500, or Iditarod Trail Individual? Badwater is famous. It conjures up an extreme image that I think most people can somewhat relate to. It is also very mediagenic. Talking to people who have run both Badwater and mountain ultras, they will tell you that while Badwater is certainly a level of insanity it doesn't compare. People have completed triple and quad Badwaters after all. Those are fun debates to have over a beer but don't really matter. It just our human need to catalog and put things into their places.
A few Hardrock stats:
- Average elevation 11,000.
- 13 peaks totaling 33,992 ft of elevation gain (and equal descent).
- Average finish time 41 hours.
Photos, video and race reports. This is a good set, example, taken while marking the part of the course in the days leading up to the race. Keep in mind that you may have to cross some of those peaks and rock fields in the dark, after being awake for 2 days, in a thunderstorm.