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2015 Hardrock 100: Race Moments From the Trail

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It was gold that brought folks to the mountain town of Silverton, Colorado starting back in 1860.

Today, ultrarunners arrive each July to dig deep within themselves, collect mental snapshots through the San Juan mountains, and kiss a big rock in town. This investment has generated significant returns since 1992. We are talking about the Hardrock 100.

11 TALON (TX, AR, LA, OK, NM) athletes between the ages of 37 and 59, arrived at the start line race morning for the 6:00am start. We had a mix of first timers and Hardrock veterans ready to play from New Mexico, Texas, and Arkansas.

52 year old David Coblentz of New Mexico, led our TALON tribe through the 100 mile loop course in 35:45:30. This was David’s eighth finish.

39 year old Margaret Gordon of New Mexico completed her first Hardrock and was our sole female finisher in 44:48:19.

58 year old Randy Isler of New Mexico was our final athlete to Kiss the Hardrock. Randy arrived back in Silverton in 49:08:53.

Hardrock 100 Moments

Similar to our Western States 100 results article, I asked our athletes…

Could you share the detailed story of one moment from your Hardrock 100 race that made a special imprint on you.

For those I was able to get in contact with, enjoy their responses below.


David Coblentz (NM)

David with his son leading the way across the water crossing.

David with his son leading the way across the water crossing.

It has taken no fewer than seven Hardrocks to arrive at the realization that the best (and possibly only) way to approach the run is to tone down the cognitive brain. Typically, I fret about the weather, what I am going to eat in the night, where I will pick up my poles. This year, instead of over thinking the logistics, I paid due diligence to my preparation and then turned the brain to “off”. And it worked.

The rain (and sleet) was here and gone.  The sun rose and set.  But I found myself floating above it all – certainly there are the lows, but they weren’t too deep, and more often than not I was on an emotional high.

As the run progressed, I found myself getting more energized and more enthusiastic about the event and the process. Having made it through the night, by the time I got to Chapman (mile 82), I was completely engaged and feeling great! The culmination of the run was picking up my son Kai at KT (mile 90) for the last push over Putnam and into Silverton. It was a joy when my otherwise reticent 16-year-old gushed about the beauty of the mountains. We both agreed that “… *this* is what it’s all about”.

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Stan Ferguson (AR)

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This year I was going for my fifth finish at Hardrock.  That’s kind of a big deal there, as it is the threshold at which one is declared a “Hardrock Veteran”.  I was one of seven runners going for number five, and between most of us there was some form of acknowledgment before the run ranging from “if you see me laying on the side of the trail, kick me until I get up and start moving again”, to a simple knowing nod (no words required, you just knew it meant good luck brother).

An indelible moment in my experience from that weekend occurred late on the first afternoon. It was probably a little after five o’clock, and I was not too far out of the trees on the nearly 4,000 foot climb from Burrows Park to the top of Handies Peak, so about 35 miles into the run. It’s a daunting site as the route facing you comes into full view.

To make it more interesting, a storm blew in. There was no lightning, but other than that it was the full menu—wind, rain, sleet, and it got COLD. A couple of nearby runners stopped to put on rain pants. I have never carried rain pants with me there during the daytime, and I confess I was a bit envious at that moment. So I cinched my rain jacket up as tight as I could and continued inching up the mountain.

It’s not like there was anything else I could do. An opportunity for a fifth finish must be properly honored, and at that time I rationalized that the first step towards finishing was to get to Grouse aid station—over the mountain and a few hours away. Just before the final steep pitch up to the 14,000+ foot summit, the sun reappeared. Welcome to a typical Hardrock moment!


Brian Ricketts (TX)

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I found myself struggling up one of the signature climbs at this year’s Hardrock 100, the grunt up to Handies Peak at 14,048’.  I had already endured one blizzard, ridiculously steep inclines and descents, and enough mud to keep a dozen pigs happy.  Now I had to face the cruel joke that is the four mile climb to the summit of Handies at mile 35 of this 100 mile adventure.

I gazed up towards the sky to see dark clouds and the sounds of approaching thunder.  Would this be where I faced the decision of daring to run up in a lightning storm or having to turn around and seek the shelter of trees and lower ground?  All of these thoughts and questions swirled around my head as I trudged up the steep slope that most recreational hikers do as a day hike.  I was tired, sore, and short of breath.  And I still had over 24 hours and 60+ miles to go.

“Why?”, I asked many times during this stretch. Weren’t there better ways to spend two days in the San Juans? Shouldn’t I be sipping hot chocolate or a beer on my porch as I watched the sunset?

All of that sounded nice, but I pushed these thoughts aside and moved slowly on, up and up. As I neared the top (I still couldn’t see the actual summit or what lay on the other side), I started feeling a little better, knowing you will soon be rewarded with spectacular views and a quad-jarring downhill.

I was expecting the usual splendor that the San Juans afford, but what I saw nearly brought me to tears.

From the summit of Handies Peak I gazed out into America Basin and glimpsed one of the most beautiful sunsets I’ve ever seen. I have read comments from other people’s race reports, and no matter where they were on the course nearly every one of them remarked about that sunset. The backdrop of colors behind the snow-covered peaks were enough to make me stop and simply stare. I was speechless. “This is exactly why I have tried for six years to get into Hardrock”, I thought to myself.

These precious minutes made me forget about all the pain and suffering I had gone through to get to this point. It was all worth it. You want to know why I do this…This is why. I’ll never forget that moment.


A special thanks to our Hadrock runners for sharing some of their experience with us.

Complete TALON Results

  • David Coblentz (NM) – 35:45:30
  • Kristen Kern (NM) – 39:11:40
  • Tyler Curiel (TX) – 43:20:18
  • Bill Geist (NM) – 44:05:47
  • Sean Cunniff (NM) – 44:21:25
  • Stan Ferguson (AR) – 44:26:41
  • Margaret Gordon (NM) – 44:48:19
  • Brian Ricketts (TX) – 45:20:15
  • Randy Isler (NM) – 49:08:53
  • George Peterka (AR) – mile 94.7
  • Susan Gardner (NM) – mile 48.7

Complete Results.

Congratulations to all our athletes that took on the Hadrock 100 adventure!

Be active – Feel the buzz!

David – EnduranceBuzz.com

About the author

David Hanenburg David Hanenburg is the passionate dirt-lovin' creator of Endurance Buzz and has been playing in the endurance sports world since 2000 after knockin' the dust off of his Trek 950 hardtail thanks to a friend asking to go ride some local dirt. In 2007 he ran his first ultra on the trails and fell in love with the sport and its people. For more information on David's endurance sports journey, check out the About page.

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