In July 2013, I crewed and paced for Betsy Nye at The Hardrock Hundred Endurance Run. The experience was intense and it has taken me some time to process and write about it. This post is the second of four separate reflections on the experience. Click here for the other posts.
The Hardrock Community
A magical buzz surrounds the Hardrock Hundred Endurance Run, and it really emanates from all those people that make up the Hardrock Community. Here are my impressions of the Hardrock Community from a newbie’s point of view.
Some 140 runners were initially selected to run the Hardrock this year, out of 820 applicants. Applicants were divided into three separate lottery pools and selected accordingly (click here to read about the lottery process.) With a robust waitlist, the field was full (140 starters), even as some applicants graduated from the waitlist just weeks before the start.
I believe that the number of Hardrockers – individuals who have completed the Hardrock Hundred Endurance Run within the 48-hour time limit – is in the neighborhood of 550 total. Yet, the Hardrock Community extends well beyond that number.
It takes an army of volunteers who do so much, including: marking the remote, rugged course; staffing equally remote aid stations; providing ham radio communications; cleaning up after the run; providing strategic vision on the board of directors; and so much more.
And then there are the support teams: friends and family, crews and pacers, and others who provide support by simply making the trip to Colorado with their runners. I would estimate that each of the 140 runners has an average of 3 support people.
All this is to say that there are lots of ways to be involved in the Hardrock Community, even if your name is not drawn from the lottery hat. I absolutely enjoyed being part of a Hardrock support team and, as much as I enjoyed the whole grueling experience, I am not (yet) feeling the need to put my name in the hat.
There is one person “on top of it all,” and he really seems to set the tone for the entire event. It is Run Director Dale Garland. Long before I arrived in Colorado, I received this solid advice: “Be sure you go to the awards breakfast. The Run Director is a really good speaker.”
I didn’t have to wait until the breakfast to find out. I attended the pre-run briefing and thoroughly enjoyed the hour-long talk that normally would have been considered mundane. The energy in the high school gym was palpable and Garland’s briefing engaging.
Garland, and all of the Hardrock Hundred communications, specifically refer to the event as a “run” and not a “race.” The focus is on each runner’s accomplishment of finishing the course within the 48-hour time limit.
Everyone’s accomplishment was celebrated at the awards breakfast, where Garland personally acknowledged each runner who finished the course by kissing The Hardrock. Yes, there is an official rule: “You must kiss the HARDROCK upon your successful completion of the run.”
The only nod to competition is that the finishers were presented in finishing order and that the first male and female finishers were given trophies. They were not even referred to as “winners,” as far as I heard. Is this taking the “everybody’s a winner” philosophy to the extreme? I don’t think so. I think it’s an appropriate acknowledgement that starting and finishing the Hardrock Hundred course is an extreme endeavor.
Did this stop me from being excited as I saw my runner come in as the third female finisher? Nope. Race or not, it’s still exciting to follow the placement, and people “watching online” from home have few parameters to follow other than a runner’s relative placement. (Click here to read the Sierra Sun article.)
Want to hear my excitement? Watch the beautiful video report by first male finisher Sebastien Chaigneau. Watch the whole thing because its super well-done, but then pay close attention at the very end (time 10:35). This is where Betsy Nye and Blake Wood approach and kiss the Hardrock… the music fades to hear my exuberant screams! I’m in the “berry-colored” rain jacket with the camera. (More on that very rain jacket in Chapter 3 – coming soon.)