Run fast ... fall down

Run fast ... fall down

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Race Report in Pictures from 2015 Hardrock 100

Hardrock 100 - 2015. A dream race by many. I've entered the lottery 2 years now along with Western States. I had about a 10% chance of getting in Western and a 1.8% chance of getting into Hardrock. On lottery day, my name, somehow, got drawn as the 7th replacement on the newby waitlist. Historically this meant I would have a really good chance to get in! I was excited and planned to run the whole year. I scheduled no other races than a road marathon in March. 
I didn't train too much throughout most of the winter but began to ramp up toward the end of Spring. However there was very little motion on the waitlist. It was nerve wracking. By June 1, (the last day for full refund), a few runners dropped from the race list and a few ahead of me on the waitlist bailed and my name was next on the waitlist. I continued to remain next on the wait list for almost all of June. 

As housing options were becoming more scarce in Silverton, I rented a house in Ouray and my family bought flights assuming I would get in. I ramped up training to a couple weeks with >50 mi./wk with as much climbing as I could do. However the mountains higher than local Boulder hills were overwhelmed with snow. This made getting up to high altitude very difficult, however I did a few postholing sessions at 10K, and spent a weekend in a cabin at 9K.

On a run on June 16th, I took a bad fall, dealing with my dog's leash, landing square on my kneecap on a sharp rock. My knee swelled up and didn't bend for a couple days. Just then I got the call that there's a spot for me in the race if I want it! I couldn't say no. I tried everything possible to rapidly heal my knee, and quit running. By July 1 it was about 70% healed but still had a large swollen lump where I landed. I used all the off time to read every race report I could find and study as much of the maps as I could. I developed a pretty good intuition of the course throughout that downtime.

Organizing my gear

On July 7th, the Tuesday before the race, my dad and sister arrived from NC, and on Wednesday we made the drive to the San Juan Mountains of Colorado. Everyone was posting pictures on facebook about the race, but since we were in Ouray, I felt a bit removed. Thursday morning we headed over to Silverton for the Racer check-in and spent some time checking out Silverton. Hannah also go to run the Hardblock Kids Race. This run around the block was great fun for the kids and was led by Kilian Jornet and Darcy Piceu. Hannah was excited to kiss the rock and earn a medal.

Hannah on the Hardblock run

Riding the coach around Silverton

Prerace Dinner with the fam
Incredible support crew at Ouray Brewery

In the pre-race meeting, the race director mentioned that they had 15 GPS Spot trackers to beta test if runners were willing to wear them. I immediately knew I wanted to do this after spending the previous 10 days watching Andrew Hamilton set the 14er speed record via the same technology. I left a web browser open to his tracker as it ticked waypoints all across the state. This would be really great for my mom and coworkers to follow along with my progress.

Spot tracker is that orange device that sends my GPS waypoint back up into the ether to be updated on a website.
On race morning, dad and Abe drove me down to the start. We arrived a bit early and spent a lot of time in the gym watching runners check in.

The madness of the start - actually quite manageable with only 150 runners. I'm in the blaze orange hat.

Quickly we left town and headed uphill - above the clouds locked in over Silverton.
All of a sudden a blizzard rolls in - this is right at the beginning when it started to snow and I was all smiles. Pretty soon, I put on all the clothes in my pack.

 A new friend, Steve Ansell enjoying good weather near pole creek.

Flowers on the descent into Sherman at mile 28.

This is the big climb of the day, we summit Handies peak at mile 35 - shown here. It was a long way to the top. This put me about 2 hours behind the schedule I anticipated.

The sunset from Handies. Good thing I grabbed my headlamp at mile 9 (the last time I saw my crew).
We then headed down Handies, over Grouse saddle and down to Grouse Gulch at mile 42.2. This was the first time I got to see my crew since mile 9.3. I was feeling okay but about 3 hrs behind schedule. I went into the aid station and ate some vegetable soup among other things. This didn't sit well at all with my stomach and I hit a major low point where I was too weak to continue up. I laid on the side of the trail throwing up. It was a disaster. I continually asked my pacer to let me lay down for a minute. Everyone passed me, pretty sure I was now in last place. As we neared the summit of Engineer pass, I decided to drop out. There is an aid station called Engineer Pass and I felt there's no way I make it through another full day and full night of this. I just wanted to go to bed. It was the middle of the night. We reached the summit of Engineer Pass but there was no aid station to be seen. The trail headed straight down a grassy/muddy field at 40% grade. I continued on down the trail and noticed down was much easier than climbing. We finally made it down to the aid station after descending 2300 ft to 10,300. I told the aid station crew that I would like to drop. They said that's fine but I'd have to either go back up 6 miles to the previous aid station or 8 miles down to Ouray. Since our house was in Ouray, I figured that 8 miles downhill would be easier. They fed me some mashed potatoes and coke and we continued on at a pretty slow pace. The trail down to Ouray was spicy in places (especially in the dark). Many severe drops and occasional ledges through waterfalls. We passed a few runners here finally taking me out of last place.

Roped double waterfall section

Screenshot of GPS Spot locations of the 15 beta testers. I'm in 2nd to last here.

Finally arrived into Ouray (mile 56) after 6AM. The manual said one needed to leave Ouray at 5:10AM for a 48 hr finish, but the aid station did not close until 9AM. Here George convinced me that I could walk to Telluride and at least see the the whole course to mile 72. This sounded good to me so we started walking.

Some stairs on trail to Camp Bird Road.

A tunnel to the footbridge above box canyon.

Carved out section of Camp Bird Rd. I passed 4 or 5 runners on this section.

One of the many river crossings. This is in Governor Basin at mile 65.

Another blizzard rolled in on the climb to Virginius Pass. I realized how much better I now felt and was mounting a comeback.

Climb up to Kroger Canteen at Virginius Pass.

Sunny and hot in Governor Basin.

The final climb up to the pass!

A fixed rope hung over the kicked steps on the finale of the steep climb. Here Roch Horton (in yellow) told me I was 3 hours ahead of the cutoff time. I had George call in that I felt great and was going to continue to the finish.
At Virginius Pass, my pacer, George drinks a shot of top shelf tequila.

Jackie paced me on the climb out of Telluride (mile 72) to Ophir. Here she's climbing up some steep trail heading into Wasatch Basin.
As usual, a storm rolled in allowing Jackie to test out her new jacket.

Her section had some good mountaineering parts. Here's a snow crossing nearing the 13,000 summit of Oscar's Pass.

After a glissade and final climb, we neared the top.

After the long descent into Ophir my head looks like it's on fire, I headed out with Jimmy on the last section from mile 82 to the finish. This was a long section with 2 more big climbs. I had about 10 hours to go 18 miles.

Pano of the Grant-Swamp Pass basin with me on the right.

Starting the climb up the notorious loose Grant-Swamp Pass.

Finally after summiting the pass, the view of island lake was much more frigid looking than I expected. In past years the late is beautiful and green. Here it was all icy.

Eating a PB&J above Ice Lakes Basin at mile 88. The night section was super foggy and entailed quite a bit of routefinding difficulties. However we had plenty of time and I was never worried about the time. I had some serious hallucinations all night that I was afraid to mention. Every rock, log, and leaf required a double-take to understand what I was looking at.
After hammering the last 5 miles, made it into town with 40 minutes to spare. Hannah guided me to the rock!
Smoochy smoochy! Official time was 47:22:57. I guess this photo is a reenactment 30 secs later.

Back at home after seeing 3 sunrises, with slightly swollen feet, I'm pretty tired. Sorry for the lack of creativity in this race report!
In all, Hardrock was an incredible experience. It is just as hard as I thought, amazing in every way and the true spirit of a mountain race.  I can't thank my wonderful family, pacers and race crew enough! Someday I hope to be back!

1 comment:

  1. So awesome Joey, I followed your progress (it was great you got that spot, as the race tracking was jacked all weekend) and was really stoked to see you finish this thing. Great job!