Runtrails' Rocky Mountain Journal
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"That was a whole lot of work just to kiss a goat on a rock!"
- Hardrock finisher Billy Simpson to RD Dale Garland at the end of the race


Race Director Dale Garland keeps note cards with him at the finish line to record the succinct witticisms of the finishers each year, and regales us at the Sunday morning awards buffet with many of the comments. I wish I'd had a recorder, because it was hard to write all of them down as he recognized each finisher from last place to first. I'll include a few of them here. If you want to hear all of them, you'll just have to participate in some manner in the race next year!

One of many traditions at Hardrock is the privilege to "kiss the hardrock" when runners cross the finish line:

It's a requirement, in fact. Rule #10 for runners reads, "You must kiss the HARDROCK upon your successful completion of the run." 

I can guarantee you that Billy Simpson has already had a tough summer on the trails. He's been hiking the Appalachian from Georgia to Maine and stopped to run Hardrock just two hundred miles short of his goal of reaching Mt. Katahdin. The AT will train you for just about anything except the altitude at Hardrock. When I ran/hiked it in 2005, our friends Deb and Steve Pero commented that now I was ready for Hardrock. Ha! Not this old lady, but I'm sure it was good training on all those steep climbs and descents -- and rocks -- for a tougher fella like Billy, who finished Hardrock in a fast 36:34 (33rd overall).

The Hundred Mile Wilderness will be a piece of cake for him now as he completes his AT hike.


Everyone involved with the race -- runners, crews, pacers, families, volunteers, race staff, media, sponsors, etc. -- is invited to the awards brunch and ceremony at 9 AM on Sunday. The race officially ends at 6 AM so finishers in the last few hours have enough time to clean up but they don't have much time to get any sleep. Even some of those who finished on Saturday are hobbling around on tired legs, but the ones who got to "kiss the hardrock" have the most satisfied looks on their faces that you can imagine.

They can proudly call themselves "Hardrockers."

One of them is Larry Hall, shown in the buffet line, below, behind the ever-smiling Beth Simpson. Larry finished the race in 44:15 (78th place) and I bet that anything besides aid station food was looking mighty good to him about now (although the multitude of aid station selections at this race is outstanding):

The buffet is the opportunity to hear everyone's stories about the race, both the triumphs of completion and the pain of not finishing (and the pain of da feet!). Some of our closest ultra running friends gave it their best but came up short of the finish line. Their stories are as interesting as the stories of those who finished, and we try to learn from them. We know they are disappointed and will train harder next time.

For most, there will be a next time. It's easy to see how this race gets into your blood.

We are especially proud of Kathy Lang who, in her first HRH, made it to Chapman AS at 82 miles. Kathy is my age (58) and would have been the oldest woman to ever finish if she'd been able to go eighteen more miles (she said the climb up Virginius did her in). Kathy has done lots of trail marking and trail work this year and in previous years. She knows the course better than most first-time Hardrockers and she knows it's a major challenge for anyone to finish it. She had the guts to enter the race, something I can't muster. This is a great accomplishment, Kathy, and we hope you'll be back again soon to get 'er done.

The line for breakfast encircled the entire gym and at one time was even out the door yet there was plenty of food to go back for seconds or thirds after everyone was served. How do they do that?? The selection was as good as I described at the Big Horn race -- fresh fruit, pastries, cereal, eggs, potatoes, bacon, juice, coffee, and more. Even though Jim and I didn't run a hundred miles, we were pretty hungry and went back for seconds before the awards ceremony began about 10:30.


After everyone had their fill at the buffet tables, Dale entertained us with facts and figures, entertaining guests and non-runner awards, kudos to the sponsors, and funny comments the runners and their crews made to him during and after the race.

He began with a rundown on the success of this year's race, which saw not only the highest number of finishers -- 97 -- but also the highest percentage of finishers -- 73% -- since the race began in 1992. (This was the fourteenth running because the race was cancelled twice, once for excessive snow pack and once because of the fire danger.)

In addition, both the male and female course records were broken by Scott Jurek and Krissy Moehl. It was Scott's second time on the course after a DNF several years ago, and Krissy's first time here. Both gracious, approachable winners, Scott and Krissy addressed the audience near the end of the ceremony when they received their awards:

There was a new "oldest finisher" record set by 71-year-old John DeWalt, who also happens to own all or most of the "old" oldest finisher records! He wasn't last this time, either. He finished in 94th place in 47:36 -- and ran much of the race with a dislocated little finger which didn't get set by a doctor until after the race! This was John's TWELFTH Hardrock finish -- he's a very tough dude and one of our favorite people. Only Kirk Apt has finished more Hardrocks. (Blake Wood has also finished twelve times.) Here's a shot of John talking to Blake Wood's wife, Rebecca Clark, at the awards ceremony a day before his right little finger was popped back into place:

Jim and I were hoping that 18-year-old Jimmy Wrublik would become the race's youngest finisher at age 18, but a bout with pleurisy ended his attempt at 29 miles. He'll surely be back. Jimmy helped us set up our aid station tent before the race (see July 12 entry) and he's been the RD for the Javelina Hundred near Phoenix since he was only sixteen. We hope to see him again at Across the Years in December.

Another record that was set was the number of hits on the HRH website during the race. Dale announced there were 66,000 hits compared to 41,000 last year. I know Jim and I contributed at least a dozen of those hits as we checked the progress of the runners on Friday and Saturday. This has become a very popular feature of the websites of hundred-milers in recent years.

The race gives out scholarship money to deserving college-bound students from Silverton. One of the fundraisers this year was selling this beautiful quilt to the highest bidder:

I haven't heard who bought it or for how much, but the minimum bid was $500. Half goes to the scholarship fund and half to the talented quilter, Phyllis Tippig. She and her husband Terry (both shown above) have been actively involved with the race for many years -- probably twelve, because that's how many different shirt designs Phyllis incorporated into the quilt.

Next Roch Horton and Jeff Browning, The Hardrock Ramblers, sang Roch's HRH theme song, "My Runnin' Shoes Don't Fit Me Any More." Each year Roch adds another verse. I didn't think he could possibly improve on last year's version, where the very tired John DeWalt helped him with the "No More" part on each stanza, but Roch and Jeff did a great rendition with additional lines and guitar riffs this year. The awards ceremony is worth attending for this entertainment alone! Roch is shown on the left, Jeff on the right:

Dale thanked the volunteers -- over two hundred of us -- and communications team for their hard work, mentioning that many have received five- and ten-year pins for their dedication to the race. In the photo below, Dale (background) talks with long-time communications director, Greg Hine and his wife, Ilse, who shared our table:

He also presented the annual Mother Lode award for "volunteer contributions above and beyond" for many years. Previous recipients (shown below) choose each year's newest member of the club:

This year's recipient of the Mother Lode award is Rick Trujilo, one of the HRH board members. Rick was sitting next to me during the awards presentation and I can guarantee you his surprise was genuine. He's shown at the podium in the photo below, with a happy Blake Wood, his wife Rebecca Clark, and Carolyn Erdman:

(Someone help me with her name, please. She's also in the photo with John DeWalt.)

Dale then had an apology for finishers number 77 to 97 -- they ran out of Deb Pero's beautiful finishers' prints because there were only 76 produced! That's how many finishers were expected, about 50%, the usual number who finish this race. "We just didn't figure so many of you would finish," he said. So Deb will be getting more printed up and the race team will mail them to the last twenty-one finishers.

In between all this, Dale gave out great sponsor's gifts to runners whose names had been chosen earlier. Most were from Nathan (packs) and Montrail (shoes), two of the major sponsors. The person who came in in the middle of the pack (Mike Ehrlich) and the new five-year finish inductees also received very nice running packs and bags.


Then Dale proceeded to give out the "Masters of Mileage" awards to those finishing their first HRH, the "Doctorate of Distance" awards to those finishing at least once before, and the "Post-Doctorate" awards to runners who have finished two or more times in the past. He and presenter Lois MacKenzie (aid station and volunteer coordinator) wore graduation gowns to emphasize the theme as they conferred the degrees:

This process of calling up 97 finishers can take a while, mainly because of the added humor provided by Dale as he flips through cards with comments either about or made by almost all of the finishers. But I love it and I'll include some of the comments here.

NOTE: I take much better photos of scenery outdoors than of people indoors, despite a new camera this year, so I apologize in advance for some fuzzy photos below. I took a gazillion pictures at the awards ceremony but most aren't suitable to put on the website. <sigh> I need more practice . . .

Dale always calls up the runners from last to first. There is a special "Caboose" award for the last official finisher, Lonny Vogt. He received passes for the popular steam train ride between Silverton and Durango.

Robert Andrulis, our new friend from Phoenix, finished his first HRH in 93rd place (47:04) with less than one day's notice he'd be running (he was wait-listed until Thursday). His comment to Dale at the finish was a simple, "Well, that's that." Love it! We have photos of Robert in several previous entries during trail marking and work days.

The well-respected huggy-bear Hans-Dieter Weisshaar finished his sixth time here in a respectable 46:27, 87th overall at age 67. He is shown below in a huge bear hug with Dale as Lois shares the momentous occasion:

Momentous, you say? What is most remarkable is that this race was widely-known as Hans' attempt at hundred-miler number one hundred, so the pressure was really on him to finish. Not a serious problem for this wiry, prolific ultra runner from Germany who has run these hundred hundreds in only a few years. That's ten thousand miles just in races, not including training miles, for those of you who are math-challenged!

Hans is also shown below on the right in serious conversation before the awards presentation with Ray Grunewald, who finished 95th in 47:39:

I saw Hans in the Durango Wal-Mart a few days before the race, looking for boxed wine (he and Susi are also known for bargain-hunting!). I think in Colorado you have to buy alcoholic beverages only in liquor stores, so he was SOL in finding what he wanted at Wal-Mart. Susi mentioned to me that she wanted to buy some champagne to celebrate Hans' remarkable achievement.

Well, Jim and I just happened to bring along several bottles of various types of wine from our favorite Virginia winery, Chateau Morrisette, to give out on such occasions. (They're my favorite winery more for the good wine than the cute labels with Laborado Retrievers on them. Honest!) Last summer there were several times during our Rocky Mountain adventures that I wished I had had such gifts to give to friends who invited us for dinner, etc. I told Susi about our wine cache and asked her about Hans' preference -- dry or sweet, red or white? She said "sweet white," so we presented Hans with a bottle of Chateau Morrisette Sweet Mountain Laurel for his victory party:

Back to the awards ceremony . . . another interesting comment came from Eric Hodges' wife, who tattled to Dale that her husband wanted to brush his teeth before kissing the rock at the finish. We kind of scratched our heads over that one. Poor Eric. There are no secrets here! Eric finished his fifth HRH in 85th place (45:30) and was inducted into the five-year finisher club at the end of the ceremony.

Jeff Heasley finished 75th in 43:54 with "no pacer, no crew, and no job." His comment to Dale at the finish was, "My fun meter is pegged out." Gotta remember that quote.

Kirk McCarville, 73rd in 43:43 must train hard for this. His wife told Dale, "You know, I hate you most of the year." I bet she said that with pride in her husband's accomplishment, though.

Our Montana friends Margaret and Mark Heaphy did very well again. Margaret finished for the eighth time (92nd in 46:56) and Mark for the ninth (70th in 43:20). Margaret is one of three women in their early 50s who finished the race this year. The others are Susan Gebhart and Rickie Redland-McManus, who have both finished the race several times, too.

I believe there are only three other women in previous years who have finished the race in their early 50s: Diane Ridgway at 50, Jennifer Roach at 51, and Ginny LaForme at 53. (That's only six different women in their 50s who have ever finished this race, unless I missed someone in the historical results.)

I'm so proud of these women! Last year only six of eighty-one official finishers were women. This year the percentage was higher with eleven females out of ninety-seven finishers, but that's still a low percentage for hundred-milers. It says a lot about this course (and the difficulty of getting into it).

We met one of the female finishers at Old Dominion Memorial 50/100-miler in May, Diana Widdowson. She finished her first Hardrock in 72nd place (43:23) and proudly accepts her award from Lois in the photo below:

Randy Gerhke, RD for the Cascade Crest 100-Miler, gave Dale fifty cents at the end of the race and asked him to call his mother (he's 50!!) and "tell her I don't have to do this anymore!" Randy finished 67th in 42:35.

When presenting 48th place finisher Kirk Apt with his award, Dale reiterated that "perseverance is the key to Hardrock." Kirk, shown below, has finished every Hardrock except one -- this is his 13th, the most by anyone, and he did it in a fine 38:25.

Jim Nelson, who finished 40th in 37:26 told Dale that the plan to "eat nothing, drink nothing, toss nothing" doesn't work. I can attest to that after barfing the last fifty miles at Vermont one year with virtually nothing in my stomach . . . In a tough mountainous high-altitude race with a 48-hour deadline, runners need more fluids and food than in a 100-miler with a 30-hour cutoff but the faster runners probably don't need as much sustenance as the slower ones.

Bill Geist, 36th in 36:58, had a large gash on his leg at the finish. When Dale asked what happened, Bill replied, "Well, the rock won." (Not sure if he meant the hardrock or another hard rock on the course!)

Betsy Kalmeyer was recognized not only for her ninth finish (32nd overall, fourth female in 36:14) but also for her five previous female wins on this course. Do you think she'll be back next year for number ten??? (Well, duh!)

Brian Robinson, renowned for being the first Triple-Crowner for hiking/running the Appalachian, Pacific Crest, and Continental Divide Trails in one calendar year, came in right before Betsy in 35:55.

Blake Wood, who finished for the twelfth time, was 30th overall in 35:46. Blake is a former course record-holder and isn't slowing down all that much at age 49. He's one of the HRH board members.

We get a kick out of seeing Tom Garrison at races. He's fun and has more metal attached to his body than his kids do! And those leather kilts he wears . . . memorable. Also 49, Tom ran a fast 35:12 for a 28th-place finish.

I've mentioned our new friend, James Varner, in previous posts about trail work and showed a photo of him yesterday coming down from Grant-Swamp Pass. He posted a fine 34:54 in his first Hardrock, placing 25th and giving Dale an appreciative hug when he went up for his award:

Dale pronounced Tyler Curiel the "best-dressed" runner for his Mardi Gras beads and colorful tights (see photo July 13 on the first morning). Tyler, one of several MDs running the race, finished his eighth HRH in 19th place with a fast-paced 33:18 --  third male over age 50. Don't these guys ever slow down???

I talked about Tyler and about a dozen of the other top-25 finishers in yesterday's entry, so I won't repeat all of that here. I will mention that 6th-place finisher Glenn Mackie (30:45) ended up in a Durango hospital with HAPE (High-Altitude Pulmonary Edema) after the race and wasn't present to receive his award. I'm sure there were more injuries, but the only other two we're aware of were John's dislocated finger and a woman with a bad gash on her knee when she came into our aid station at Cunningham. She insisted on continuing and I think she reached Telluride at 72 miles before dropping out (we aren't sure who she was).

These are some tough folks who like to push the envelope, just like the original hardrockers back in the 1800s.

One final fact that's interesting about Karl Meltzer, last year's winner and second to Scott Jurek this year: in 2006, Karl wore bib #142 when he won and set a new course record. Guess what Scott Jurek's bib number was this year when he won and set a new course record?? Karl had a great win at Big Horn in June and was close to Scott for much of this race. He ended up taking about two hours at Chapman (82 miles) and finished in 28:59 this year. He and Scott will compete again at Tour du Mont Blanc in August. Both appear to still be at the top of their games this summer.

At the end of the awards ceremony, Dale called up all the runners who have finished the race at least five times -- many of the thirty-two runners were present:

Then several new five-year inductees were introduced and added to the club -- Emily Baer, Tom Garrison, Eric Hodges, Karl Meltzer, Scott Mills, Don Platt, and Craig Wilson. There were no new ten-time finishers, but both Mark Heaphy and Betsy Kalmeyer will be eligible next year.

At 12:30 the ceremony was over and folks milled around saying their last good-byes. I found David Coblentz waiting to have Deb Pero sign his print:

We got to know Dave pretty well last year when he co-captained Cunningham aid station with Jim. This was his first time running Hardrock and he finished 24th in 34:39. Great job, David!

I also persuaded Deb to pose pose with her original oil painting, which was chosen as this year's finishers' print (she argued that she was a "mess," but Deb NEVER looks anything less than adorable!). Deb is a very talented painter. That's her proud husband Steve with her:

We're so sorry neither Deb nor Steve made it to the finish this year but it certainly wasn't for lack of trying. This has been their favorite race and we hope they will be back. The couple will be very busy this week as they close on their New Mexico home and move all their belongings back to New Hampshire. It'll be nice to have them back on the East coast again!

There is one more runner that I have to mention here -- Matt Mahoney, a four-time official finisher at Hardrock and now also a three-time non-official finisher. Matt came in six minutes late last year, surely a disappointment after such a long, grueling effort. This morning he bettered his time, but not quite enough. He was a mere twenty-eight SECONDS over the 48-hour time limit. He didn't expect to get a finisher's award or be listed as an official finisher -- and he's not. What did surprise me is that he wasn't even mentioned at the awards ceremony. I don't know why that decision was made and I'm not criticizing Dale. A cutoff is a cutoff and he wasn't an official finisher. But I'd like to recognize his effort here and recommend you read his race report at http://www.mattmahoney.net/07hardrock.txt

Jim, who is increasingly ambivalent about whether to enter next year's race, says he wants to print out Matt's graphic course description so he can re-read it in January when he has to make his decision!

My own thought after reading Matt's report was a cynical, "Yeah, sign me up!"  NOT!!!

After Jim and I said our good-byes to many old and new friends, we headed back to the camper. I spent the afternoon writing in this journal (behind several days) and doing various tasks that needed doing at "home." Jim went back into town for several hours to help move everything race-related from the gym to various places around town where all the stuff is stored until next summer (visitor's center, Lois' house, the Wyman Hotel, etc.). Jim's help was greatly appreciated by race management and he will be aptly rewarded for his work ethic (not an automatic entry into Hardrock, but something just as special). It's nice when people notice extra effort and I'm proud of Jim for all he did to help with the race this year.

Tune in for our next adventure tomorrow -- seeing if we can find the new Colorado Trail re-route from Stony Pass to the head of Elk Creek in my very favorite CT segment (#25). Just how lost can we get on the Continental Divide??

"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil, Cody, and Tater

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2007 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil