5 Crazy Things that Happened at Hardrock - Page 4
Jason Koop, prior to "cooping" up in the tent of a stranger. Photo by Matt Trappe.
4. Hypothermic Chamber.
After leaving the Grouse Gulch aid station over halfway through the race, several runners, including Jason Koop (above), Tsuyoshi Kaburaki (see next page) and Jeff Browning, ended up hunkered down together, watching lightning strikes on Handies Peak above them, try to decide whether to continue. At one point, several backpackers joined the group, and, says Koop of Colorado Springs, "We basically had a gear swap. The less frigid hikers and pacers were literally giving the jackets off of their back to the runners. I think I had two jackets, a hat and gloves from a random assortment of people." Diana Finkel (see previous page) ended up in the group as well.
While Kaburaki, Browning and Finkel decided to forge on up Handies, an increasingly freezing Koop headed back down to seek refuge in a random backpacking tent he had seen. He provides this account: "I threw open the rain fly. the first thing I saw as a half drunk bottle of Southern Comfort on the floor, which was covered in about two inches of water. I threw myself into the tent, which smelled of weed and whiskey and had no business being a formidable shelter at parking lot at the beach, much less in the backcountry, much less at 12,500 feet in a storm. The two guys in the tent could care less that they had a hypothermic person in the tent with them. … So, I just emptied all of their stuff sacks to find warm and dry clothes. I bundled up in whatever clothes I could find and a POS sleeping bag to try to stave off becoming a popsicle."
After warming for 45 minutes, Koop summoned the energy to summit Handies Peak and stumble down to the Burrows Park aid station, where he sat in a running vehicle for over an hour, then ran on to the Sherman aid station at mile 72, where he eventually dropped.