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Jennifer Hughes April 04, 2014 TWEET COMMENTS 0

My Summer at Camp Hardrock - Page 2

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Sultan Mountain looms over Silverton's only paved road, Greene Street. Photo by Matt Trappe.

The Hardrock (HR) Hundred Endurance Run is one of the hardest mountain 100-milers in the world. Participants cross 13 mountain ridges of 12,000 feet or greater, including one 14,000 foot peak, for a total elevation change of 67,984 feet. By comparison, Colorado’s other longest-standing 100-mile race, the Leadville 100, has a total elevation change of 36,336 feet. At Hardrock, snow, rain, hail, bouts of acrophobia and extreme thunder and lightning displays are common; the 48-hour time limit is intended to accommodate waiting out thunderstorms when necessary.

Since its first running in 1992, only 591 people have completed it. Journalist and three-time HR finisher Garett Graubins wrote in an article for Elevation Outdoors, “Many other events dance around in a campsite of extremes, obnoxiously beating their chests about how they are the most grueling challenges anywhere. The Hardrock 100, meanwhile, sits calmly by the Bucket List campfire, stirring hot coals with a trekking pole, while wearing an all-knowing smile.”

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Scenes from the historic Avon Hotel–many a Hardrocker's base camp. Photo by Matt Trappe.

As a budding ultrarunner with a love of the mountains and a few hundreds under my belt, I was smitten with HR’s suffer factor, but I was also intrigued by the culture. Designed as a tribute to the hardscrabble miners who persevered in these unforgiving hills, the run maintains a no-fuss, no-frills approach with a rigid adherence to tradition. At Hardrock you won’t receive a fancy buckle; if you require bragging bling that costs extra. Refuse to kiss the painted white rock at the end and you’ll be denied the title of an official finisher.

“In the ultra community,” says HR Race Director Dale Garland, “if you show up to a race wearing an old Hardrock finisher's tee - that means something. People understand. We didn’t pursue a lot of other types of recognition because many people feel the title of being a Hardrocker says it all."

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Inside the Avon Hotel. Photo by Matt Trappe.

My road to Silverton started months before on a soggy winter training run with my friend, George, in the foothills outside of Seattle. The subject turned, as it often did for George and me, to Hardrock and our pending applications in the lottery.

“If you get in, you’ll want to stay at the Avon Hotel,” George told me, who hasn’t run HR (yet), but is a yearly lottery hopeful and a self-professed ultra-junkie with a knack for quirky facts. “It’s owned by this guy Tom who only opens it for the race. There’s no website so you have to know someone who knows his email and hope he responds to you.”

I puzzled over the idea of a business in 2013 without a website. George added, “And if you do get a room, he won’t tell you the rate until the end. Just consider yourself lucky.”

 



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