Here's the fun lying in wait for these lunatics. 140 of them will start out in Silverton early in the morning and about 98 will end up back in Silverton 24 - 48 hours and 100 miles later. The winner this year, Kyle Skaggs, was the first man to finish in under 24 hours - 23:23 to be exact, but most finishers average between 40 and 48 hours! That's 40+ hours of virtually non-stop movement during which time they'll ascend and descend over 66,000 feet - that's more than 11 miles straight up. Along the way they follow trails, Jeep roads and abandoned roadways originally created by the miners of the region over 100 years ago linking the high mountain towns of the rugged San Juan range.
Starting in Silverton they cross a series of passes to emerge in Telluride some 27 miles later, passing two aid stations along the way. 16 miles later they get to Ouray. This year there was a new aid station named after one of the original Hardrockers who died this past winter, local Chuck Kroger. Most runners will make it as far as Ouray although many will already have run anywhere from 15 to 24 hours to do it - including all night running through the mountains with only a little headlamp for illumination. They will have climbed for 13,999 feet and dropped a knee-jarring 15,629 ft.
But the drop off rate from Ouray on gets steeper. Runners know they have two choices in Ouray - either hit one of the steepest climbs up Engineer Pass on their way to Lake City, or drop their aching bodies into Ouray's fabled mineral hot springs spa. Well, what would you do?
If you make it out of Ouray, you've still got
better than half the race to go - a race that crosses thirteen 12,000 foot mountain passes, three summits over 13,000 and one over 14,000. Do you know how much oxygen there is at 14,000 ft? About as much as all the bubbles from 1 beer is all! Runners high? Split a six pack with me and get the same experience.
Your body starts to consume itself, you mind starts playing tricks on you, you hallucinate, your muscles are past the point of recovery and it becomes mind over matter - can you brain command your body to continue putting one foot in front of the other or will your body revolt? They had to cancel one year because of too much snow, another year because of fires. This year there were some worries about the snow (if you saw my pictures of the Smuggler Union Mine you know why) but in the end they forged ahead.
The oldest racer this year was John DeWalt, 72, out of Sarber, Penn. The youngest runner this year was also the winner, Kyle Skaggs, 23, out of Glenwood, NM. If you do the math, Kyle averaged over 4 miles per hour in this terrain. I'd be dead if I tried to WALK 100 miles in 24 hours at sea level going downhill all the way. Kirk Apt from Grand Junction, CO, has entered the race every year since it started. He has finished every year but one so he holds the record for the most finishes of the race at 14, including a win in 2000.
I've borrowed a few of these photos from my friend, the original Hardrocker and race co-founder John Cappis. Much to the delight of his mother, John decided not to run this year and contented himself with setting the course and monitoring some of the 13 aid stations throughout the course as well as the communication and relay stations set up to transmit times and conditions from remote areas.
If you're an absolute certifiable running lunatic, get signed up for next years running of the Hardrock 100. You can do that here: http://www.hardrock100.com/ or here: http://www.run100s.com/HR/ . You can also check out many other fabulous photos and narrations of the runners torment, misery and euphoria.
If you're interested or if you're family, you can follow along my vacation adventures here:
#1. Myths & Legends of the Great Southwest
#2. Trout Lake Colorado - My Slice of Heaven
#3. The Smugglers Union Mine - Travels at Timberline
#4. An Ode to Roadhogs
#5. Leon Russell - Rico Colorado
#6. A Small Town America 4th of July - Telluride CO
#7. World's First AC Power - The Gold King Mine
Remember, Don't wait to buy real estate - Buy real estate and wait.