- “Long distance” is an subjective concept. Long can mean a mile to some while others use marathons as “speed training.” However, the unifying quality of distance running, regardless of the distance, is adventure that accompanies the training, racing, and post race celebrating. You pick your poison, but you are rewarded with a story once you endure.
With that, the Hardrock 100 Mile Endurance Run may stand-alone in the adventure classification. Built in the footsteps of Rocky Mountain miners – the hardy exploring archetype of the western genre – this run makes no concessions to the weary. The 100 mile distance is only part of the challenge, with the average elevation atop the tree line of 11,000 feet. Not to mention that runners are exposed to extra weather-related variables without sufficient oxygen to process their plight.
Adam Campbell took adventure to the next level this year… or rather; adventure took Adam Campbell to the next level this year. An ill-timed thunderstorm overtook Handies Peak at the same moment that Adam and his pacer Aaron Heidt were looking to traverse the 14,048-foot (highest point of the course) section. While the pair had trepidation crossing the mountain during the storm, they were at a point of no return as retracing their equally exposed footsteps was hardly a safer option. With a loud clap, the pair was knocked off their feet. When they scurried down the other side to safety, Adam discovered that his headlamp didn’t take as kindly to the lightning as he did. Adam not only finished the race, but also made the podium in 3rd place.
Where adventure is to be had, the reigning king of adventure is soon to follow. Entry to Hardrock is notoriously hard to come by, even the preeminent ultra-distance athlete in the world, Kilian Jornet, is victim to the lottery process. This year his name was called and Hardrock became the focus of his summer. He came and made history with a course record for the clockwise direction (the course reverses directions each year). For someone who travels the world scraping the limits of the atmosphere, the praise, “most beautiful 100 mile race of he’s ever run,” speaks to the rewards of enduring 100 miles of America’s spine – the Rocky Mountains.
Meanwhile Darcy Piceu completed a Hardrock hat trick with her third consecutive victory. She won by a staggering 8 hours but trailed most of the race to Diana Finkel, a four-time champion of her own, until Diana succumbed to the ultra’s hardships and dropped out at 87 miles.
In all, 100 of the 140 starters completed the loop, dropping their sweat in mining towns Telluride, Ouray, and Sherman before kissing the famous Hardrock rock in Silverton Colorado. They, and their support teams inevitably have tales to tell that rival the mining stories of yore.