The Hardest Thing I've Ever Done
It takes a lot more than forward motion to finish Hardrock
On a cold July morning in the predawn light I followed my pacer down a ferociously steep, muddy incline ...
Photo by Tanner Johnson
On a cold July morning in the predawn light I followed my pacer down a ferociously steep, muddy incline, then traversed left across an exposed rock band. With little poise remaining 85 miles into the race, my foot slipped and I slid 15 feet down the smooth, wet rock, releasing a torrent of large stones on either side. When I came to a halt, whimpering and nearly in tears, one of my water bottles had cascaded 500 feet down the hill and my fighting spirit had fallen even further. I leaned my head back against the rock as the Southwest Colorado mountains brightened and wondered how I could ever continue.
When I finally stood up, my pacer Troy Howard looked down the mountainside and said, "Your bottle is gone."
"I'll get it next week," I replied. I now had to focus on finishing the last 15 miles of the Hardrock 100-Mile Endurance Run.
Beginning and ending in Silverton in Southwestern Colorado's San Juan Mountains, the Hardrock100 is not a race so much as a challenge of survival. The course doesn't follow a trail for over 30 miles, sports a low elevation of 7600 feet, a high point above 14,000 feet and averages a 41-hour finishing time. Plus, a lottery plays no favorites and openly rejects elites, not because of any anti-speed ethos, but because the nature of the race is a challenge of self, not competition with others. Yet, speed has crept in over time.