Starting at 6:00am on July 12, 23 TALON athletes started a journey in one of the most beautiful and challenging mountain 100s in the United States with a name as fittingly gritty as the course – Hardrock! Nearly 34,000 feet of climbing with an average elevation of 11,000 feet.
Translation – shat load of climbing up high.
This also means majestic and nearly uncomprehendable imagery of the surrounding terrain throughout the journey.
All 199 starters have 48 hours to get back to the finish in Silverton, Colorado where you get the honor to Kiss the Hardrock.
This year’s race was won by Sebastien Chaigneau of France in 24:25:50!
Darcy Africa of Colorado won the female race in 29:54:55 and finished ninth overall!
Out of the 139 starters, 106 completed the entire journey. An abundance of memories collected regardless.
The wisest finisher was Hans-Dieter Weisshaar of Germany! Smiling his way to a finish at age 73! Amazing!!
Results from our TALON Tread
- David Coblentz – NM – 33:55:52
- Loren Wohletz – NM – 34:50:36
- Scott Eppelman – TX – 38:24:21
- Blake Wood – NM – 36:46:42
- Lance Johnson – NM – 46:08:45
- Ken Gordon – NM – 42:54:07
- Randy Isler – NM – 41:23:34
- Dennis Drey – NM – 45:52:31
- Deb Pero – NM – 47:43:58
- Neil Blake – NM – 40:48:15
- Sean Cunniff – NM – 39:45:41
- Tyler Curiel – TX – 37:36:18
- Carrie Delbecq – TX – 81.6 miles
- Stan Ferguson – AR – 43:30:36
- Andrea Feucht – NM – 42.1 miles
- Bill Geist – NM – 40:40:50
- Jean Herbert – NM – 48:38:15
- Kris Kern – NM – 46:52:50
- Robert B. King – TX – 28.7 miles
- Glenn Mackie – TX – 32:56:45
- Steve Pero – NM – 44:39:48
- Buddy Teaster – TX – 45:17:12
- Drew Meyer – TX – 81.6 miles
Of special note…
Our first TALON finisher was low-lander Glenn Mackie of Texas.
Deb Pero was the wisest female finisher at 58 and was the TALON final finisher within the 48 hour window.
Race Reflections from the Tribe
Enjoy a few post-race reflections from our Hardrock tribe.
Sean Cunniff of New Mexico
For me, Hardrock was a very special occasion. I have been involved with the race since 2005, twice serving as an aid station captain, but never succeeding in the lottery. Against this backdrop, I offer the following highlights.
- Toeing the line at Hardrock is everything I hoped it would be.
- Leaving Cunningham [mile 9.2], I fall into a nice groove and steadily begin to move through the field, moving from 89th position there to 45th at the finish.
- With the exception of a storm-ridden crossing of Handies, I feel good all day and take full advantage of the great aid stations. I am continually am in awe of the course beauty.
- I even enjoy the night…never feeling sleepy.
- All in all, a great first Hardrock after all these years!
Buddy Teaster of Texas
- This is different than any ultra I’ve ever been a part of. From the “Hardrock family” vibe, which showed itself in so many ways to me and my family, to the fact that it’s just so big. The time is big, the mountains are big, the impact of small mistakes are big, the opportunity to recover from those mistakes is equally big.
- The section from KT [mile 89] to Putnam [mile 94.7] was a super low point. it took even the top guys more than two hours to go five miles. If I hadn’t had Matt Crownover as my pacer, and he was exceptional, I probably wouldn’t have made it. I knew when I asked him to pace the last section (Telluride [mile 72.7] to the finish) that the most important thing I would need is someone I could trust without question and he did exactly the right things to get us to Putnam and then the finish.
- Worrying about the course wasn’t that helpful. What the paper looks like caused me a lot of fear/anxiety and getting there early for the course marking (I covered maybe about 40 miles) was invaluable in showing me what actually was out there, not what I feared was out there.
- Two pacers, at least for my first time, was really smart. I hadn’t had a pacer in years and I was a little anxious about that.
- I did take the time to stop and just be awed by my surroundings. There cannot be many more beautiful places in the United States. It was a privilege to spend so much time out there with such great people.
- I could not have done this without my family/crew. No way. They rocked from the day I got in the lottery all the way through the awards ceremony. Love can look like a lot of things but I know one way it looks now even through the bleary eyes of 45+ hours.
- I am recovering must faster than I would have expected. Most likely because I walked so much but I have already gotten in some easy miles that I would have totally dismissed in advance.
- The Hardrock 100 run committee is unbelievable. the logistics are unimaginable and it went like butter. These guys are gods.
- I cannot wait to go back. I learned a lot and am even more humbled by those who have gone before and the community is really welcoming. There’s definitely a clique of old timers but even among some of them I felt very welcome.
- I can see this becoming a regular part of my life (though my family isn’t so sure about that!) and summers in Silverton would be just fine with me!
The scariest part by far was going up Handies. We were maybe 1000 feet below the peak when the hailstorm started. And the rain. And the lightning. And the thunder. The temperature must have dropped 20 or 30 degrees and suddenly my singlet, arm warmers and a totally inadequate rain coat didn’t seem like enough. We had to try to shelter beside a huge rock outcropping while the time from flash to boom was less than one! Finally, I got so cold that I figured it was hypothermia or getting fried by lightning. So I got moving as fast as I could to generate some body heat. Thankfully the storm was now just a cold, steady rain and I totally ignored my heart rate monitor!
I made it up and over the top but it was now closing in on dark and there was still a lot of ground to cover and thank god, I had picked up a small flashlight at the Sherman aid station. I followed a runner who knew the course (I recognized him from course marking) and he saved my race by yelling at me when I was about to make a disastrous wrong turn that would have taken me miles off course. Instead, I got back on track and finally made it into Grouse Gulch, pretty much right on schedule.
Blake Wood of New Mexico
Speaking as an organizer of the run, this was a very successful year. Fantastic race up front by Seb Chaigneau in setting the CCW record. Exciting finish at the back as Claire Ketteler ran past screaming spectators in the predawn streets of Silverton, to finish 16 seconds before the 48 hour cutoff. Inspiring runs all around by those in between. Good weather – a bit or rain and a scary electrical storm for some on Handies, but overcast skies left it cool during the day and relatively warm at night. Our medical staff was bored – no one was sent to the hospital and they never even had to stick an IV or give oxygen to anyone.
But what was on my mind this year was longevity in the sport of ultrarunning. This was my 18th Hardrock finish in as many attempts. Hardrock was my very first hundred, 19 years ago in 1994. That year, my youngest daughter was four – I have a photo of her running into the finish with me and barely needing to duck under the tape. Now long out of college, she took a break from her job to pace me again this year from Ouray to Telluride. One of the kids I coached in high school, who paced me and others many times on this course, scored his second Hardrock finish this year.
How long can I keep doing this?
The attached plot of my Hardrock finishing times vs. age gives some insight. In the first few years my times generally decreased as I gained experience as an ultrarunner. This continued until the year I won Hardrock at age 40. Now, many people will say that 40 is still prime time for an ultrarunner, but no one will say that about 54, my age this year. Following that high water mark, my times have slowed. There is substantial scatter, but I’ve been doing this long enough that the trend is clear: about two hours slower every five years.
That might sound discouraging, but I don’t find it so – I currently have a good 10 hour cushion over the cutoff – 25 years worth! This suggests that, even allowing for an increase in the rate of decline, I will still make the cutoffs when I’m like Hans-Dieter Weisshaar, who was this year’s oldest finisher at 73, or Johnny DeWalt, who accomplished the same thing a few years ago. It’s something to aspire to….
Astute observers will notice a couple other things about this plot. Over the first 10 years, there was a pronounced oscillation in my times – every CW finish was faster than the previous year’s CCW finish. I used to consider the CW run my “good direction”. However, that distinction seems to have disappeared in recent years. Why is that? Certainly, replacing the Buffalo Boy Mine road with the Green Mountain Cutoff in 2004 removed a long, runnable downhill late in the run that I exploited in the CW direction, but that doesn’t seem to me to account for the change. Maybe I’m just “consistently slow” now?
“Consistently slow” or not, Hardrock is still the most beautiful run I’ve ever done. The scenery hasn’t disappointed in any of my 18 years running there. Every point on the course feels like an old friend. Although many memories from earlier years are becoming vague, it is still entertaining to try to remember who I was with and how I was feeling at specific points. Ultrarunning has definitely changed – it has gotten younger and faster – but Hardrock still feels like the fun, beautiful, challenging, friendly run it was two decades ago.
Stan Ferguson of Arkansas
Before 2013 even began, I had it planned out that I would go for my 200th marathon or ultra finish at the Hardrock 100 this summer. Unexpectedly, a spur-of-the-moment event popped up in the Spring and my wife Chrissy thought that the 200 plan might jinx me anyway, so….over July 12th -14th I went for my third Hardrock finish and 201st marathon/ultra.
Might as well start out the third set with a tough one.
On returning to Hardrock, I guess most people I talk to about it fall into one of two distinct camps: either “well, of course you’re doing Hardrock again” or “I have no idea why you’re going back to do that again”. Both are legitimate attitudes. One loves Hardrock. One curses Hardrock.
Those who have been there know the draw:
- The beauty of the San Juans.
- The camaraderie of those who seek to conquer them.
- The challenge.
If you could bottle the feelings and emotions from select hours of Hardrock to be re-consumed just prior to application time, I believe none but the truly-deranged would re-up. But you can’t, so people keep going back.
This year I had no time goal, no real plan, no estimated times to be at certain points. All I wanted to do was to finish without quitting. Of course that’s a strange statement, and relies on understanding that two years ago I mentally quit several times, but yet managed to somehow luck out a finish. The quit never took. That was primarily due to the presence of Chrissy.
Perhaps it’s a fine line, but this time I just wanted to keep a positive outlook towards finishing. My nightmares in 2011 began during the section from Handies Peak, through American Basin, and into Grouse Gulch [mile 42.1], so I looked at this part as my first real test of conviction this year. Appropriately so, as this is where I happened to be during the most significant thunderstorm of the weekend. Things weren’t perfect, but I definitely felt my attitude as I entered Grouse Gulch was better than two years ago.
This was the 42-mile point, and where I picked up my first of three pacers–the earliest I’ve ever had a pacer. Chrissy would take me the next 15 miles to Ouray. Jimmy Sweatt would take me the following 15 miles to Telluride, and PoDog Vogler (who after enduring the stress of winding up #2 on the wait list to start, worked the first aid station at Cunningham, paced Howie Stern 30 miles from Grouse to Telluride, and) would take me in the last 28 miles. Chrissy, Jimmy, and the third member of my crew—our friend Frank Ives, were all great company. But of course the major work was saved for PoDog.
After a slow grind up to Oscar’s Pass, and an even slower climb up and over Grand Swamp Pass, my last decent period of jogging was across the Kamm Traverse to the KT aid station. Just eleven miles to go, but my stomach was not in a good place. My progress was now at a crawling pace, nothing seemed palatable, and the sun was about to set for the second time. I was getting chilled. I had a good jacket, but no bottoms, so we fashioned a sort of skirt from garbage bag that I had. I was stylin.
The short but steep final cross-country climb up Porcupine Ridge eventually overloaded the system, and I spent a couple of minutes dry-heaving until eventually producing faint remnants of the tiny bit of crackers I had managed to consume a while back. This reset everything, and I was able to move a little better as we sought the final aid station at Putnam Basin. That’s a pack-in aid station with a limited menu. I got a to-go order of seven saltine crackers and hoped that this would fuel me to the finish. After all, it was only five and a half million rocks away. The rock fields we passed through kept looking familiar and I really thought we were going in circles, but PoDog assured me we were not.
I finally arrived for my goodnight kiss with the Hardrock at 1:30AM. Elapsed time: 43 and a half hours.
Crew: tired. Feet: trashed. Mind: toast.
My quote for Dale (the RD): “More fun than a dumbass should have.”
Andrea Feucht of New Mexico
my best memory is the one I really should have kept with me in Grouse Gulch – it was flying down from Pole Creek in the rain, feeling good, passing people, and wondering how I could have possibly felt so crappy a few hours ago because now I felt awesome.
Those ups and downs are so normal in a run like this and I got dumb and forgot the usual rebound when a low happened to coincide with my visit to Grouse Gulch at mile 42.
Ken Gordon of New Mexico
Hardrock was awesome this year as our local tribe had a great group of runners in it. Neil Blake, Dennis Drey, Jean Herbert, Andrea Feucht, and Randy Isler from our Albuquerque circle and lots of friends for Los Alamos.
I decided to go conservative this year at the start and cruised until the Sherman Aid Station [mile 28.7] as Handies had always made life difficult for me in this event. All was going according to plan and I even got over the darn peak in good shape and was looking forward to feeling good at Grouse Gulch for the first time in four runs here. About a quarter mile down off the peak I stopped to take my jacket off as I go warm. The second I tied it around my waist multiple rain drops hit my arm and a hail and lightning storm crashed our party. It was one of the worst storms I have ever been in and all in the area go soaked through to the bone. Lightning crashed and echoed through American Basin and you could feel the sound go right through you. I heard stories of runners seeing rocks explode when the lightning hit them.
The best story was of Hans Dieter Weishaar going through the storm carrying an umbrella, I guess if you make it through 135 100′s and are 73 years old, you feel invincible.
By the time I made it down to Grouse Gulch, Handies Peak had beaten me again. I got the the aid station feeling this would be my first DNF. I felt hypothermic, nauseous and had not eaten in over 90 minutes. I got to an aid station that looked a bit like a MASH unit and my crew wrapped me in a blanket and changed my clothes and shoes. It took 45 minutes or so to get me out of there and almost five hours to go the next five miles. Jamil Coury who was in fifth place when he got sick on Handies sat in Grouse Gulch for 4.5 hours before coming back to life and passing 95 people the last 60 miles to finish in 17th place.
I had to take an hour in bag at the Engineer aid station [mile 49] but finally came back and had a great last 54 miles enjoying every step of it.
This has to be the most beautiful course on earth.
Jean Herbert unfortunately go sick and had a fever two days before the start. She could not go at her usual pace at the start and got way behind the time curve. She also had to weather the brutal storm but made the cut-offs to keep going. I felt energized out there each time she made it through subsequent aid stations. She proved to be Hardrock tough as she made all the cutoffs but the final one at the finish. She came in with the best smile of the day and anyone who witnessed her gutsy performance will always be inspired.
Big congrats to Dennis Drey who go his 10th Hardrock finish.
Drew Meyer of Texas
My attempt at finishing hardrock 2013 fell short by 15 miles. I am training for hardrock 2014, though now I have to get past a tougher lottery.
First the mistakes and regrets.
I botched my altitude training by coming back to Ft Worth for 10 days after spending 21 days at Leadville, expecting to lose only a modest amount of my adaptation which I assumed I would mostly get back with four days in Silverton.
Did not work that way. I gained seven pounds of hard-lost weight by coming back, which tells me I lost my blood plasma concentration needed for altitude and replaced it with plasma expansion (e.g., heat training). My climbing heartrate was ~120 when I left Leadville, but ~145 on race day, plus it was abnormally high the whole week in Silverton.
As a result, I climbed slowly and breathed hard the first 24 hours, and attempts to make up time on downhills were exhausting me.
I also nonchalanted my study of the course itself. I could have had a pacer who knew the course (asked for one at Chapman but it was too late). I could have at least read the course description. Had I done either, I would have known it was Grant Swamp Pass that I was stuck on at mile 85 (not just any old pitch), and would have tried harder to get up the damn thing. But when I had made little progress in my Hokas (with screws) up that pitch, using all my cutoff margin, was down to one mostly-used headlight (having lost my backup light somewhere and being mentally too wasted to check at Chapman for another), I predicted I would miss the next cutoff. I decided to turn back to Chapman and not risk getting lost and having to be rescued.
Had I gotten over Grant Swamp Pass, the most probable outcome is that I would have finished in over 48 hours.
But that picture is not what I brought home with me.
This was a FANTASTIC event and a huge amount of fun, with the training and anticipation, meeting the folks who do this and who shepard it, seeing the course, and learning more about this sport. I was pleased that I was able to bring some life back to my legs at Ouray (56 miles, by eating well, massaging the legs, and resting for one hour).
The entire second day was a total blast, mostly because I felt I had a chance and was (initially) increasing my cutoff margin. My climbing heartrate on the second day was well under 120 – I had force-fed altitude acclimatization for one whole day and it had greatly helped. (I experienced a similar second-day relief the prior year when I finished in the opposite direction while pacing my sister). I was still moving well at the end, running downhill where not too gnarly, and feel that this event is not beyond me physically (which is comforting, and hopefully even true).
I got to wait out a lightning storm before going up Handies in a damn-cold rain, cresting right at dark but not losing my way.
I experienced a porcupine fartlek after Engineer Aid Station for a couple of minutes – but the little guy was just too slow!
Coming up from Telluride I saw a huge black bear 50 feet ahead on the trail but it moved off before I could get my camera out.
Where else can you get those kinds of adventures?
I would add that when I got to Silverton on Monday I was still on the wait list, but met dozens of folks for the first time whose first question was ‘Are you in yet?’. I was made to feel special. My sister Deb became (still) the oldest woman finisher (three finishes now), and my bro-in-law Steve overcame severe physical problems to notch his third finish.
So for next year, should I get in, I will be lighter, better acclimated, and will have improved my balance on rocks. I will also have microspikes to handle the scree.
Basically I have another year of anticipation, and that’s not bad at all.
Bill Geist of of Austria (Still New Mexico in my eyes. )
I am glad to have gotten another finish this year. Some of the best memories from this year include:
- Seeing the Hardrock Family. The Hardrock is the only race that I would specifically travel back to the United States to run in because of the amazing people that give the run a personal and friendly character.
- The course goes through beautiful county and the mountains covered with wildflowers will certainly not be forgotten.
- Being paced by my brother, Paul, and good friend, Jason, and crewed by family and friends was also a highlight.
Additional Goodies from the tribe:
Congratulations to all our TALON Hardrock runners that laced them up this year!
Also special thanks to all of you that shared a few memories and photos from your adventure.
Be active – Feel the buzz!
David – EnduranceBuzz.com