By Roger Hanney
Part 2 continues here. If you’d like to throw some spare change toward the awesome work done by the Telethon Type 1 Family Centre in Perth, we’ve passed our $2500 fundraising goal but donations are still welcome here. They’re helping type 1 kids grow up knowing their aspirations are their only limitations.
The Short Version
Hardrock is a race that I first became aware of and intrigued by maybe 7 years ago when iRunFar coverage told of a mountainous 100-miler where Karl Meltzer was dropping the hammer until things got wild with violent lightning storms forcing runners spread around the course to hide in abandoned mine shafts or risk electrocution, at least that’s how I remember it.
So to find myself pinned down in a high mountain range by violent, explosive electrical storms with just under 20km still to go had a bitter sweetness to it. At the time, it felt like looking through a solid glass wall at some place you want to be but might never be able to reach. Afterward, it felt like beautiful effortless poetry, laid down by Norse gods of chaos. I could have probably finished Hardrock an hour earlier, without borderline hypothermia threatening to derail my race as my knees became numb in icy rain that pounded through ozone, but I got the full Hardrock and wouldn’t switch a moment of the experience for a quicker finish. Watching vivid blue and white bolts of galactic energy riff the landscape ahead of us, above us and beneath us on a torrential Saturday evening high in Colorado’s San Juan Mountains, knowing that all around us other runners were deeply embedded in this elemental carnival, we were eye to eye with the universe and it was fucking glorious.
Pic by Scott Rokis, Finish Line looking back towards Little Giant and Green Mountain www.scottrokis.com
Running at altitude requires an acclimation period, preferably of about 3 weeks. It’s either that or turn up on the day and hope for the best. Organically though, arriving in the outpost town of Silverton well before the start of the race has much greater benefits than just adaptation to altitude.
The mountains surrounding Silverton are spectacular, the remains of the mining constructions left by the communities that Hardrock celebrates border on alien, the community that congregates for this event is eclectic and wonderful to be part of, and time spent visiting or marking parts of the course is time so well spent as to be almost essential for a better chance of success on game day.
By the time the 10-second countdown started just before 6am on Friday, July 20 2018, I had visited Grant’s Swamp, Handies Peak, and Virginius Pass with experienced Hardrockers and run across the final 20km of the course on my own. Effectively, I’d disarmed the fear associated with some of the nastiest descents, the highest climb, and the section of the course where I’d likely be the most fatigued.
I’d had an unexpected but welcome conversation with mountain legend Joe Grant a few days before the race. Continue reading