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At the 2014 Hardrock Hundred, Timothy Olson famously found himself lying down on a discarded mattress outside Ouray, unable to walk and barely able to stay awake. That race was the beginning of a long stretch of disappointing race results for Olson, who had made waves with a course record at Western States in 2012 (14:46:44) but was beginning to feel the effects of overtraining.
In 2016, Olson hoped to make a comeback. He once again toed the start line at Hardrock. But, once again, he found himself hitting a massive low point as he neared Ouray. By the time he reached the aid station in town, he was in 21st place.
Over the course of the next 50-plus miles, Olson dug himself out of the hole and worked back up the field, ultimately finishing in 11th place.
Filmmaker Billy Yang recorded Olson’s Hardrock journey, not just the one through the San Juan mountains but the larger journey towards an ultrarunning comeback. Yang initially partnered with Olson at the request of Olson’s father-in-law, who wanted to record the Hardrock story. “However,” says Yang. “I came away super inspired by his performance and comeback, and ultimately took the reigns to edit it myself.”
The result is a deeper look into Olson’s struggle to find redemption. “Timothy Olson is and has always been one of my favorite athletes in this sport,” says Yang. “We first worked on a project leading up to the TNF50 back in 2014 and he’s just such a gamer. He answers questions earnestly and shares so much of himself, from his story, to his struggle to figure out what was plaguing him in races for a couple of years, to his mindfulness practices.”
For Olson, the film is a powerful reminder of past experiences, both fond and challenging. “It’s always interesting watching yourself, reliving those moments again,” he says. “It brings forth feelings of pain, humility, hilarity, strength and just gratitude for all the love and support that goes into an epic journey like Hardrock 100.”