Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Hardrock 100 Applicants List

Island Lake as seen from ~13k' Grant-Swamp Pass on the Hardrock Course. Photo: Klas Eklof.
The Hardrock 100 is, in my opinion, the most aesthetically-pure long-course mountain race in the country, maybe the world (UTMB is likely up there, too).  Tons of vertical, outlandish scenery, altitude, loop course, it has it all.  This makes it very enticing to a lot of runners; right now there are 549 runners on the applicant list, only 140 of which will actually toe the line.  On top of those already long odds is the ticket system that is inherently exclusive to first-time applicants.

Looking back toward Grant-Swamp Pass from the climb to ~13k' Oscars Pass. Photo: Klas Eklof.
Nonetheless, this year at least, that hasn't stopped a lot of arguably the best 100 mile mountain racers in the world--along with a couple dozen other proven 100 mile mountain performers--from trying to get into the race.

To wit:

Julien Chorier
Nick Clark
Dakota Jones
Scott Jurek
Hal Koerner
Anton Krupicka
Karl Meltzer
Geoff Roes
Mike Wolfe
John Anderson
Dylan Bowman
Jeff Browning
Duncan Callahan
Jared Campbell
Yassine Diboun
Joe Grant
Matt Hart
Andy Jones-Wilkins
Nick Pedatella
Nathan Yanko
Darcy Africa
Diana Finkel
Anita Ortiz

Hardrock has the potential to rival Western States as the de facto national championship of 100 mile racing in the country.  Obviously, the statistics are such that this simply won't happen, but it sure is a compelling proposition.  I understand and respect the intent and spirit of the Hardrock Board's decisions, but the mountain runner in me can't help but salivate at the prospect of racing that kind of field over such a worthy course.  Maybe one of these years, the stars will align...

Approaching the finish of Hardrock on the descent into Arastra Gulch. Photo: Klas Eklof.

41 comments:

Paul Mastin said...

I am so envious of you guys who live in the mountains! One of these days I'll run hardrock. In the meantime, I'll keep running my 800' elevation hills. Good luck at Rocky! I limped through the 50 miler last year. What's your goal? Going to beat Pacheco's course record?

Andy said...

Threw my hat into the ring months ago. I figure there is a snowballs chance in hell that I will get in but I am still hoping for good news the weekend after next. Good luck getting in!

Geoff said...

i keep checkin' that list everyday looking for kilian.

Rob Timko said...

Love how you guys are always jonesin' to compete with the best of the best!

worst case, get everyone on your list to fat ass it the next weekend!

Brett said...

Yea, I don't know why they don't reserve 10-15 spots for competitive entries. Its not difficult or complicated. I just don't think they're interested...

Jason Schlarb said...

The paradigm shift from yesterday’s ultra-world of: non-competitive, finishing is winning, old guys that are a bit crazy, to today’s reality of a sport that has and wants professional caliber athletes in their prime competing amongst the best, at the best races , i.e. Hardrock, is going to be very, very difficult.

Think about it… the people making the decisions on race entry for these races are of one of the most stubborn breads of humans in existence: old, gnarly, never quit, persistent, routinized, long distance mountain runners. Tough crowd indeed!
I can think of three solutions: 1) an overwhelming consensus to bring change
2) new races and entry policies, or
3) wait for those in power to die off.
We are talking about a 6.7% elite entry reserve (10 spots) at Hardrock, which is one of the smallest races, to accomplish the goal!

Rob said...

I'm curious Tony, that if you do get drawn for Hardrock, how many others from that top list (we know Karl's in) would it take for you to go HR over Western?

Agiofws said...

Looks like a promising race too bad i live on the other end of the pond so i Already have set my goal for the UTMB... since last year we ran the 2/3rds of the course.... but there is even something Greater than this... Has anyone heard about this race ... 330Km +24000m one stage race in 150Hrs max ?

http://www.tordesgeants.it/tdg/index.php/eng/

I'd like your opinions...

Sara said...

I think you all could decide on a 100 that doesn't fill and has a course that comes closest to what you all want, and then just do it. Instead of waiting for the Hardrocks, Westerns to change (their loss), just make it happen yourselves.

Jaidesamis said...

Geoff, i think that Kilian will not register to HardRock because he is already registered to Ronda del cims (15-17 July).

Nick said...

Look at the field that Krissy has put together for her 50k (in March). She was able to bring that field together because:

1. She knows everyone in the sport and is a highly respected figure. I think this has been a factor behind Pocatello's rapid growth too - very stout regional field this year.

2. She ACTIVELY reached out to runners in a bid to build as strong a field as possible (key).

3. Then, almost as an afterthought, decided to put up a cash purse (looks like Poco might be doing the same). Seems the combination of previously strong fields AND a bit of candy to chase will keep this a 'circuit' race for years to come.

I'd say that if you really want a 'championship race' (whatever the hell that is) then find one with a race director ready to deal. Maybe you can persuade Krissy in March to put on a 100 miler out there in WA.

For the record though, I truly hope that the old races don't change too much, and I'm confident they won't, but it's cool that some of the newer races are looking at bringing together some fun racing action. I think I'll always cherish the solo grunts through races like Wasatch (with weaker fields) more than I will the fun racing stuff that I experienced at WS.

You'll always have CRs to chase at the more established races, and I hear there's a pretty stout one at HR. I, for one, hope they don't fix the lottery this year. If they change their selection procedure, then great, but don't do it behind closed doors. For a race as small and in-demand as HR, I think at most they should be looking to hand pick ten competitive entries (five men, five women - based on bios) and pull everyone else in through the draw (and their old timers' club).

Oh, and as a point of order, you have the defending HR champion in the 'supporting cast' list. C'mon now...

Roger said...

I think Nerea Martínez is in the lottery also, a tough woman!!

ultrastevep said...

Tony....hope you get in, you'll eat that course up. 23:23 is going to be a tough one to crack, though ;-)
It would also be great to see all you horses get in, but we know that's just not going to happen with near 600 entrants. Even with 2 finishes and trail work, my chances are slim.
I personally like the fair lottery and Hardrock's philosphy has always been about the experience, not the race.

Rogue Valley Runners said...

The race is certainly part of the experience.

I remember 2005 when Karl, Nate, Paul, Ian, Zack, Hiroki, and myself all made it to the start. Let's not wish it away just yet?

hk

Builder Dave said...

What about leaving the entry system the same (i.e. lottery), but also adding a simultaneous "invitational" type component as well. This way they would get the high level competition that everyone is looking for, but also, it would create some fierce desire in the "regulars" to show up the "elite". I think we would see times when a dark horse, unknown, comes out of nowhere and wins it for the "regulars"...the stuff of heros and legends.

Dominic said...

Personally, I think it's an even greater honor to the hardy pioneers to bring the best in the world to traverse their trails. I mean, for the amount they toiled and suffered, I think people who are the best at suffering on the greatest levels are maybe a little more worthy than others. I'm not saying only faster runners are allowed in, but at least reserve 10-20 spots for elites for the board to select.

Then again, UTMB is a young race that came about due to a strong demand for it. I don't know what the FS will allow, but I think there's a new championship race just over the horizon that will feature those amazing San Juans with a little more emphasis on bringing world class competition to them.

Dominic said...

Who knows, maybe that Kyle Skaggs kid would do it too..

olga said...

What's the plan if somehow, by magic, you all get in (or on a upper parts of the wait list)? Are you willing to race both races, HR and UTMB? And not drop from either to "justify" those 400 who didn't get in? Which one would be a "championship race" then? May be ya'll race in Europe this year, and then next year press HR committee to host a stellar field.
Don't take me wrong, I am all for allowing elites into the race behind the scene. I AM! It IS great for the race, sport and fun. Just, guys, entertain us, then, like Scott Jamie did at HR, or Killian at WS, prove you do do it for the love of sportmanship and nature alike:) In a meantime - see ya at RR, eat that record for dinner!

jun said...

I'm just throwing this out for your opinion, but you have Jared Campbell listed as a 'supporting cast' and a possible 'breakthrough' winner. Didn't he win it last year? I know he wasn't on record pace or anything, but the competition was still pretty good and the kid knows how to climb some vert. I would have thought he'd make the upper list. Maybe I'm just unlearned.

Speedgoat Karl said...

I really hope you get in HR and don't run WS. Same goes for alot of other fast guys, like Geoff, Wolfe, and the list goes on. Don't leave me alone out there man...:-)

Olga, running HR and UTMB is plenty spread apart to run both. :-)

See you at RR, at least for a bit...

olga said...

Karl, for you it IS enough spread. Is it for the rest of the list? :)

Nick said...

Olga - I'm with you. HR in 2012, if the race committee is interested.

Things are already lined up for 2011 at WS and UTMB: a track meet and a true mountain slog-fest with many of the same runners doing both races. Epic stuff.

arareko said...

Olga, maybe not enough spread for Karl if he does go for the Rocky Mountain Slam this year, with the UTMB in between, and plans to be competitive... ;-)

Anton said...

Nick--I think I mostly agree about your hope to see some races stay low-key and to have some newer races change the rules a bit to allow some stellar competition.

Jun/Nick--Regarding Jared being in the "upper" list: I definitely thought about it. Jared is an incredibly strong mountain runner and has paid his dues at all of the true mountain 100s--his 27:xx win last year was totally deserved and I genuinely congratulate him. On top of that, Jared climbs 5.13 and does great things for the sport as an RD. All impressive. Having said that, given a reasonably smooth race (no 100 miler is truly smooth!) I think anyone in my upper list would be rightly disappointed with a 27hr finish time. I know I would. That's not a knock against Jared, it's just a recognition of different expectations.

Olga/Karl--I think HR and UTMB are spaced JUST far enough apart to be okay. Unfortunately, I don't have Kilian-type (or AJW) recovery capabilities and I won't be racing both WS and HR this year. The main problem is, I'm not going to just let Kilian cherry-pick WS this year and I'm fairly certain he's not interested in HR this year.

Nick may be right: the world's top runners are currently set up to be at both WS/UTMB this year, two 100milers that will require vastly different skills, and HR might best be left for 2012. The problem is you can't make any kind of plan to get into HR (unless you're Karl). But 2012 could be sweet: May-UT Mt. Fuji, July-HR, Aug-UTMB...

Slabby said...

Not that Jared needs any defending, but I don't think you're giving him or the Hardrock enough respect. I agree that any of the "upper" list guys could all run sub-27:00 with a reasonably smooth race. But I think that "reasonably smooth" thing is harder than it looks, especially for first-timers, which most of that list is.

Also note that only four people have run the Hardrock faster than Jared has. Karl himself has only gone below 27 hours twice, and Hal hasn't come close.

AJW said...

Tony,

I have to say if you, Geoff and Nick all get into HRH and choose to bypass WS it would not only make it easier for Kilian to win (or cherry pick) but it also might send those guys at WS a message. Of course, if I get into HRH I'll do both but not with any intent to win either.

Sarah said...

I'm sorry, you guys need to stop obsessing about these 'championship', and highly competitive races with a 'stacked' field, and do something about it already. Get together with all your buddies and organize one. I love reading your and Geoff's blog but geez, I can imagine that it's the only thing you guys talk about anymore during runs.

Anton said...

Slabby--You're probably right. Good points all around.

AJW--You're just scheming for yet another top-10 finish! :-) Although you obviously proved last year that you're quite capable of that no matter what the depth of competition.

japhruns said...

Simple Solution: already posted this elsewhere, but the logic seems sound enough to repeat . . .

there are a number of high quality mountain 100s that are still open registration: Bear and Bighorn come to mind off the top of my head . . . worry about a rotating championship, a championship race (a.k.a Boston Marathon style), or a reserved 10 spots at some of the classic races later . . . and simply create the race you guys keep saying you want so desperately this year by deciding on an open race and registering. Since the open races tend to be "low key" events you may even want to run the notion by the RDs before everyone signs up overnight and dramatically shifts the feel of the race.

Speedgoat Karl said...

Summer X-games! Maybe that's the ticket. All the exposure is there in place. We'll finish when the Moto X flies over us. It's in LA, we could find a route there that would be tough, non altitude, and exposure, exposure. Just a random thought while running. :-)

Barkleybeast said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Barkleybeast said...

Interesting comments all around, Anton. As one of the architects of the Hardrock lottery algorithm, I can vouch that we've wrestled a lot with how to strike the proper balance between rewarding long-time supporters, getting in new blood, maintaining Hardrock's "small run" feel, and making it an interesting run. Believe it or not, there was a time when our numbers went down for a couple years, and we wondered whether Hardrock would be a viable event. So far, we've given emphasis to staying with the formula that has made it so popular. It is good that there are de facto "national championship" races, but we haven't aspired to make Hardrock one of them. In any case, deciding who gets in is a tough choice when you know that more than 75% are going to be disappointed. But we always welcome and listen to feedback about our entry procedures.

Anton said...

Blake--
Thanks for weighing in. I'm not necessarily an advocate of changing Hardrock's entry procedures in order to make it a "de facto national championship". As I understand it--and as you've just restated--that has never been its purpose. As Nick noted, hopefully there will continue to be some new events in the coming years that can fill that role w/o stepping on the toes of long-standing events like Hardrock.

However--and this is the meat of the issue right now as I see it--Hardrock's course is so spectacular and so pure that it is an inevitable draw for someone like me who is interested in racing on that kind of terrain, but who is ALSO interested in racing the best competition.

As small and niche as the sport of ultrarunning is, there is no denying that names like "Western States", "Hardrock", "Leadville", "Wasatch", and the like all hold legendary allure and prestige. And some, like Hardrock and Wasatch, are on really great lines through the available mountain ranges. The reason it's not easy to coalesce support around all of us top runners just self-organizing to go race a "lesser" 100 that doesn't fill is because we--just like mid- and back-of-the-packers--are still drawn to the prestige that comes with the names of these legendary races. Even if I beat Geoff, Nick, Scott, Hal, et al at, say, the Bighorn 100, the overall experience just doesn't have the same cachet of competing and finishing at Hardrock, Western States, etc. Which is exactly why you guys end up with so many runners on your applicants list every year.

So, sure, part of it is definitely ego on my part. The other huge part, though, is just that you guys have put together an incredible course down there, and, for whatever reason, over the years have chosen to record and tabulate finishing times (despite being a "run" and not a "race"), so it's only natural that folks like myself, with a penchant for competition (i.e. coming together to bring out the best in one another) and big mountains become interested in having that experience.

Thanks for all your work with the race over the years.

Kris said...

Why are you guys so concerned about some ultrarunning championship race? I don't get it. Is because somehow you guys need to validate our sport? Who cares! Is it because you guys need to feel validated like Ryan Hall, Ritz, Meb, Rupp, Abdi? Ultrarunning need fast guys, I mean real fast guy like Matt Carpenter...Ultrarunning need more than one Matt Carpenter and we are very far from that.

Speedgoat Karl said...

Kris....I have to say it, Matt Carpenter, although very fast....is not an ultrarunner. He's only run 3 as I recall. And, he did not win them all....what does that mean?

Barkleybeast said...

Anton - I've spent this evening entering names into our spreadsheet that I use to generate the tickets for the lottery, and am very impressed and flattered by the number of top runners who want to run this year. Personally, I'd love to see all you guys get the chance to go head-to-head, and hope a bunch of you DO get in. Of course, there are also more than 140 of my good friends from Hardrocks past, that as I scan down the list I think "I sure hope xxx gets in this year...." Luckily, I suppose, it ISN'T up to me so I don't have to make the hard choice. But I do hope that lady luck is with you next Sunday.

Kris said...

Speadgoat, it means you CANNOT beat him.

Mark Tanaka (Ultrailnakaman) said...

Post and comments make for a fascinating read. Personally I'm with you. If you elite runners are more interested in pushing yourselves against a thicker competitive field rather than chalking easy wins, it would nice if certain RDs were willing to accomodate. Plus it's more interesting for everyone else following.

Mark Tanaka (Ultrailnakaman) said...

Don't mean to imply that it's ever that easy. I admire your collective eagerness to inflict extra pain on yourselves.

Candice said...

Wow, the lake looks unreal. Good luck getting into Hardrock. James is trying to get in too...I guess we'll know by Sunday!

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