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Hardrock is back! Despite a historically snowy year and concerns around whether the race would happen, the historic endurance run is back.
The 2023 version of the race will kick off on July 14 in Silverton, Colorado, and connect the historic mining towns of Lake City, Ouray, and Telluride before arriving back in Silverton. Participants will log more than 33,000 feet of vertical gain through the notoriously technical San Juan mountains, topping out at just over 14,000 feet on Handies Peak. Each year, the course reverses direction and will be run counterclockwise in 2023.
According to race director Dale Garland, the snowline currently sits at just above 12,000 feet, meaning that athletes will have their work cut out for them going up and over the course’s several high mountain passes.
“This is not a course-record year,” says Garland.
This year, 2,414 qualified applicants entered the Hardrock lottery, vying for just 146 spots. In 2021, Hardrock updated it’s lottery system to ensure that the percentage of women who applied was matched by the percentage of women on the startline, in order to increase the share of female participants. This year, 20 percent of lottery participants were women, and 29 women will run in the 2023 event. Hardrock, like many ultra events that represent a skewed microcosm of the trail and ultra community, has faced criticism for a lack of diversity. To identify barriers, Hardrock created an Equity Committee, chaired by Meghan Hicks and Gina Lucrezi.
Courtney Returns, Men’s Field Features Browning, Bowman, And Debut Runners
In 2022, Kilian Jornet (21:36) and Courtney Dauwalter (26:44) both set course records in the clockwise direction and stand as the overall course records. The counter-clockwise course records are 21:45 for men, set by Francois D’Haene in 2021, and 27:18 for women, set by Diana Finkel in 2009. The average time required to finish this run in this direction is 39:39:23, which is longer than the cutoff times of most 100-mile races because of the rugged terrain and high average elevation.
The top contender in the women’s field is Dauwalter, just three weeks out from her record-breaking run at the Western States Endurance Run that lowered Ellie Greenwood’s 2012 course record by more than an hour.
In an Instagram post, Dauwalter, who lives in Leadville, Colorado, at an altitude of 10,000 feet, says her approach to the notoriously difficult double hasn’t been methodical, but she feels ready and excited nonetheless. “Going into this summer challenge, I had no set plan for the recovery. (Surprised?) The basic idea was to listen to my body, take care of my brain, and get as recharged as possible,” says Dauwalter, 38. “It’s been a combination of walking, biking, napping, jogging, hiking, and, of course, EATING. While I don’t know if I nailed this recovery process, I do know I am pumped to go try to run 100 miles in the San Juan mountains next week!”
Dauwalter is joined by fellow Leadville resident Annie Hughes, the race’s youngest entrant this year at 25. With wins at Leadville and Run Rabbit under her belt, Hughes will be a strong podium contender in the women’s field. France’s Anne-Lise Rousset Seguret and Japan’s Kimino Miyazaki will also be strong international contenders.
The men’s podium will be in contention, with the top returning runner Jeff Browning. Dylan Bowman is also back for a second shot at the course, after a second-place finish behind France’s Francois D’Haene in 2021. Aurelien Dunand-Pallaz, Javier Dominguez, Yassine Diboun, Mark Hammond, and Avery Collins are making their Hardrock debuts, while Arlen Glick also will attempt the Hardrock-Western States Double, after a 14th-place finish at States this year.
Bowman, 37, was pulled off the waitlist in June, and says that, while his training has been far from perfect, he’s in a good place to give the loop another go after finishing second behind D’Haene in 2021.
“I grew up in Colorado and have always felt a deep connection to its mountains. Hardrock was one of the first races that inspired me when I began trail running in 2008,” says Bowman, 37, who lives in San Rafael, California. “I paced Joe Grant to a sixth-place finish in 2011 and have been hooked ever since, returning to Silverton almost every year to enjoy the race. It wasn’t until 2021 when I finally got my chance to run, which was one of the best days of my life and career. I’m excited to do it again!”
For Portland, Oregon ultrarunner Yassine Diboun, Hardrock was an initial draw to the ultrarunning world as well. “Ever since I got into the sport in 2007, I have known about Hardrock…first from reading about it in books/magazines about the David Hortons, Blake Woods, Scott Jureks, etc. etc., and it looked like the ultimate challenge in the mountains,” says Diboun, a four-time Western States 100 finisher. “I thought, ‘someday I’d like to try that’…the aesthetic loop through the awe-inspiring San Juans. I think the fact that it is so difficult to get into actually drew me to it…like you are part of a special enclave of athletes that have done Hardrock.”
According to Garland, 25 states and 11 foreign countries are represented among this year’s participants. This year’s starting field is experienced, with a cumulative 354 finishes between them, and 72 first-time Hardrockers making up 49 percent of the field.
The oldest participant is Rick Hodgesof Castle Pines, Colorado, at 74, while Liz Bauer, of Charleston, South Carolina,represents the senior female competitor at 64. There are 12 runners entered who have at least 10 finishes, led by Kirk Apt of Fruita, Colorado, (26 finishes), Blake Wood of Los Alamos, New Mexico, (22), Besty Kalmeyer of Leadville, (20), Betsy Nye (18) of Truckee, California, and Kristen Kern of Los Alamos (15).
Livestream coverage debuts at Hardrock
For the first time in its 33-year history, the Hardrock 100 will be covered, at least partially, via a livestream broadcast. Aravaipa Running’s Jamil Coury pitched the idea of setting up some basic live coverage scenarios from key aid stations where cell phone service is available and the race organization agreed with the concept.
Because cell service isn’t available on the majority of the course and the U.S. Forest Service has enacted a complete blackout on aerial videography for the entire week, providing race coverage brings some unique challenges, Coury says. However, Aravaipa owns two Starlink transponders from which it can broadcast and it will have access to a few more from volunteers at remote aid stations.
“I’m trying to temper the expectations, although I think it’s hard to do these days because you see what Western States did. You see what some of these other big broadcasts like Broken Arrow are doing, even what we’ve done with Black Canyon, but it’s just going to be different,” Coury says. “We were mostly just gonna go live from a couple aid stations and then leapfrog ahead along the course, but it sounds like we’re gonna have a lot more coverage and camera angles than we thought.”
Coverage will kick off at 4:30 A.M. MST on July 14 on the Run Steep Get High YouTube account just before the race begins and will continue until the 48-hour cutoff on Sunday morning.
“It’s gonna be a step forward. We’re starting from zero with this race, so I think people will be excited to see anything,” Coury says. “But I’m just trying to, as much as possible, to make sure everyone knows this is not gonna be the same coverage you see at UTMB or the Golden Trail Series. We just don’t have the same connectivity.”