This was a very challenging year for the Hardrock runners, even more than
The snow pack was deeper, the streams were higher and faster, and
the weather was stormy off and on all weekend.
Runners battled heat and cold, sun and darkness -- many for two nights
rain, lightning, sleet, and snow.
That resulted in a lower finish rate than in
years when the weather conditions were better. Only 57% of the runners
finished the 18th running of the race within the 48-hour time limit. If you look
results you'll be surprised at some of
the good, even elite, runners who were unable to complete the race this
awaits the first finisher early on Saturday morning.
Despite the extra-challenging conditions,
however, some runners excelled beyond expectations:
The winning time was the third fastest
in race history -- despite a course change near Telluride that
added two miles to the total distance.
One of the youngest finishers in
the history of the race came in second overall.
The first female finisher (Diana Finkel, age 40) became the first to
win the women's race four times.
One runner racked up his 15th Hardrock finish
(Randy Isler, age 54),
another his 10th (Kris Kern, age 47), milestones that are recognized with special awards.
Robert Andrulis, Bruce Grant, and Larry Hall
each completed their 5th Hardrock. The main significance of that = they
now receive automatic entries into the race as long as they qualify each
year. That's big. It's especially meaningful to Robert because he was
the last runner to get in off the wait list this year. That had to be
Here are a few random statistics I gleaned from
Eighty of 140 runners who began the race
finished it in under 48 hours, a finish rate of only 57%.
Only eight of the finishers (10%) were female;
eight more women DNF'd.
The youngest male finisher was Dakota Jones, age
21, who came in second overall.
The youngest female finisher was Andrea
Williams, age 30.
The oldest male finisher was 61-year-old Doug
Salette; two other men age 60 finished.
The oldest female finisher was 52-year-old Tina
Ure. The only other woman over 50 who finished was Diane Van Deren.
As usual there are many interesting stories to
be told about this year's Hardrock Hundred. Unfortunately, we weren't at the awards ceremony this time to
hear most of them. More about that later.
One runner who did quite well was 31-year-old Julien Chorier
from France. He led at every aid station,
which is pretty remarkable considering he's never run
this race before. How he found his way
alone without a pacer the first half of the race without getting lost is beyond me.
This is a course that is notorious for its scant marking.
Jim and I had almost a front row seat at the finish area this year. Even
when we weren't looking, every time a runner crossed the line we could
hear the cheers of onlookers.
That process stretched from Saturday morning to Sunday morning. In a
race with a 48-hour time limit the runners get 'way strung out.
Sunrise colors the low clouds over Silverton on
There is a large shrine on the hillside on the northwest side of
Silverton. The Hardrock course goes past this shrine, then winds through
town for about a mile before reaching the finish at the Kendall Mountain
Our camper was situated perfectly to see both the shrine and the street
that runners came down just before the finish.
Jim returned to the
camper a little bit past 6 AM on Saturday morning after his overnight
ham radio shift at the
lodge. Before he laid down for a nap
he told me that the lead runner, Julien, was expected to finish a little
after 7 AM.
I started looking for Julien about half an hour before that.
The only problem for
me was the low-hanging, slow-moving cloud that mostly obscured my view of the shrine:
I did catch a glimpse
of a runner coming down the hill, however. I assumed it was Julien so
I walked a few hundred feet over to the finish line:
While I was waiting for Julien to make his way through town I spent several
with Olga Varlamova, a Russian runner who has lived in the States for
several years. Olga and her husband Larry swept the course Friday
from the start to Maggie Gulch.
They had an interesting/scary story to tell about a boulder that nearly
wiped them out on the first ledge coming down into Cunningham aid
all the runners had come through. It went right between them, nearly
hitting Olga! Yikes.
Olga (foreground) and other spectators wait for
Julien to arrive in about two minutes.
Then they got into bad lightning between Green Mountain and
Stony Pass and were trying to get the last guy to move faster.
up going off-course to drop down to Stony Pass Road and getting a ride
there. I don't know if he went back to Cunningham Gulch to let them know
he'd dropped or if he notified race officials at the finish. His last recorded time is when he left Cunningham. (That's
why at least one volunteer and one radio person have to remain at each
aid station at HRH until all runners have either reached the next aid station, returned to the one they left,
or otherwise notified officials that they have dropped.)
Olga and Larry kept going toward Maggie Gulch to sweep the course but had to hunker down to
avoid lightning, all the more dangerous because they were carrying the metal
course markers they'd been picking up! They went back out Saturday to remove some of the
markers near Telluride on a part of the course that wasn’t used (long
story about a new property owner and the course being two miles longer this year).
RACE DIRECTORS EARN THEIR GRAY HAIRS
About 7 AM, just before Julien was expected, a garbage truck rolled in to empty
the trash bin right next to the finish line!
The driver initially
blocked the entrance to the finish chute:
That was comical for
onlookers but not for RD Dale Garland, who had
yet another headache to deal with. He and the truck driver managed to
turn the trash bin 90 degrees so the truck could back in and be out of
the way of the lead runner.
The truck was gone when Julien came in at
7:17 AM for a time of 25:17 hours.
My initial view of Julien from the back of the
(he's the speck approaching the far end of the
You can see him better when I zoom in . . .
I moved around the rock to get the next shot. I'm not as flexible as
the photographer at ground level but I like the effect I got! Look at that
It was fun to see Julien finish with such joy and kiss the hardrock,
although I wasn't in a good position to get that shot:
Runners haven't officially finished the race until they kiss that rock!
I don’t believe I’ve ever been at the
finish line at Hardrock for the lead runner. There were about forty people
watching, most with cameras or videos and some with microphones to
Julien had to be
tired but he sure didn't look like he'd just run one of the toughest
ultras on earth. That's quite typical of front-runners and indicative of
their high level of training.
I wasn’t close enough to hear
what he said; I assume he speaks fluent English, since so many people were
conversing with him.
I went back
to the camper after Julien came in and didn't stick around to see any of
the other runners finish that morning.
Dakota Jones, who was second, was almost two hours behind Julien.
After Dakota finished runners came in more steadily with less time between them.
This year's "bubble" seemed to be between 37-39 hours, which was late
Saturday afternoon/early evening when Jim and I were working
communications nearby in the ski lodge. It was fun to hear the
spectators at the finish line whoop and holler every time they saw a
runner coming in. It was even more fun to see the list of finishers grow
as the precise times were called up to us so we could add them to the
The last official finisher didn't arrive until 5:40 AM on Sunday, almost
22˝ hours behind
Julien. I believe Dale was at the finish line to greet every runner who
completed the race.
For all the race
results check out the Hardrock
Jim and I were still in bed and missed the last runner come in early
Sunday morning. We awoke about 7 AM to sunshine and a chilly temperature of 48 F. The
high was predicted to be in the 70s again, with a 50% chance of thunderstorms.
monsoon season weather in Silverton.
Storm clouds build over Kendall
Mountain about noon during my hike on Saturday.
The awards breakfast was scheduled for 9 AM in Rodger's big white tent, which we
dubbed "Little DIA" because it resembles the roofline at Denver's
airport. I walked
over about 8 AM to see if anybody needed any help.
I couldn’t find the
RD or volunteer coordinator but I
helped Deb Pero take some race posters into
the lodge for Heidi to sell with the other race merchandise that was
still available. The finishers always receive posters of the art work
chosen each year as part of their awards;
remaining posters are sold to make money for the race.
I didn't get a photo
of Deb's poster, but it's a copy of the same beautiful oil painting she created
for the race that was also screen-printed on the back of the volunteer shirts:
Deb's paintings have been selected several times for the race posters
and volunteer shirts. They are definitely keepsakes.
I hung around inside for several minutes talking to Heidi while I waited
for the awards ceremony to begin. My phone rang. I saw that it was from
my brother Bill but I didn't answer. He left a message. I figured I'd
listen to the message after the awards ceremony and call him back then.
When I didn't answer,
Bill called Jim and left a similar message on his phone.
Jim was returning some wooden barricades to the city lot where he
got them before the race.
Jim sensed something was wrong because Bill doesn't usually call his number.
He listened to Bill's message and called me immediately. I did answer
that time. Jim said
Bill wanted us to call ASAP and that his voice “didn’t sound normal.”
Uh, oh. Not good.
I listened to my own brief message to call my brother back ASAP and knew
the worst had happened or was about to happen. I've never heard his
voice wavering like that before.
Saturday morning clouds obscure the shrine on the
I called Bill. He answered and quickly told me that Marge, his
wife of 45 years, died at the hospital early this morning, quite
I think everyone in our family knew this would happen at some point, but
not right now. I was very surprised.
Marge has been battling an advanced case of ovarian cancer for almost
two years. The cancer had spread so fast when it was first discovered
that it's a miracle she lived after her initial surgery. With aggressive
chemotherapy for well over a year she had been feeling much better the
last seven or eight months. She was living a more normal life and able to
travel again to visit relatives around the eastern U.S.
Unfortunately, a recent CT scan showed the cancer had metastasized even
after treatment with six different kinds of chemo. Yesterday she
suddenly felt so bad that Bill called an ambulance to transport her to
the hospital. Another scan showed her intestines were nearly destroyed.
She died about 10 minutes after being admitted to the ICU. Bill and
their daughter who lives the closest were with her when she died and
able to say good-bye to her. It gave them some comfort that Marge was conscious until death and in pain
for only one day.
Jim and I weren't
expecting this so soon and it hit us hard. Marge has been an important part of my
life for 46 years, since I was a teenager. I consider her to be much more than a sister-in-law.
She's my sister. Although Bill didn't know yet when the funeral
would be, Jim and I knew we had to go to Ohio to be with him, his two
daughters and their families, and our other
relatives who are grieving Marge's death.
Needless to say, Jim and I skipped the Hardrock awards breakfast. We
spent all day preparing for our trip to Ohio. We had several decisions to make, and fast.
We considered all sorts of scenarios and ultimately decided we'd leave the
camper in Silverton and drive to Ohio in our truck
We didn't even consider flying. It's too much of a hassle since
9-11 and we'd have
to find someone to watch Cody for a week.
I was willing to go alone in either our truck or a rental car, leaving Jim and Cody in the camper
somewhere in Colorado. Jim wouldn't hear of that. Marge was as much of a sister to
him as she was to me and his bum knee doesn't hurt enough to prevent him from
We knew we had to get to Ohio as fast as possible, in case the funeral
was on Tuesday. That meant leaving
the camper somewhere out West so we could drive 70-80 MPH. But where?
The Air Force Academy would be good,
since Colorado Springs was on our way east and where we'd be staying when we
got back. But they don't have RV storage on base and
doesn't begin until July 18. The full-hookup sites are booked the
weekend of the 16th.
We checked into other potential storage areas there and considered all sorts of
other options, including parking the camper on Jack Saunders’ property in
Leadville (that was OK with Jack).
We also visited two campgrounds in Silverton that have space to store
RVs but they didn't want us to stay in it overnight and the cost for
one week was higher than most places charge for one or two months.
Then Jim had a great idea.
We drove over to Charlie Thorn’s house on Reese Street about noon to see if he was
still in town. We wondered if we could leave our camper at his
house since it would be empty the next week. Summer visitors to
Silverton often park in front of residents' houses when they know them
and have their permission. Runners usually stay at Charlie's house
before the race and sometimes park their campers on his property. He's
got a virtual revolving door for visitors during July.
No, this isn't Charlie's house. It's the Kendall
Mountain Ski Lodge on race weekend.
Charlie wasn't home (this is his second home; he lives in Los
Alamos). We did find our friends Jim Ballard and Kathie Lang there,
however. They were spending one more night in
Charlie's house before returning home to Oregon. Charlie left town right
after the race and was
driving to Nevada.
Jim B. and Kathie thought Charlie would be fine with us leaving the
camper between his two adjacent houses or in front of them. (The other
house is being remodeled and is vacant.) Charlie doesn’t have a cell
phone so Jim wrote him an e-mail.
[We didn’t hear back from Charlie until we were
500+ miles away; fortunately he said it’s OK to leave the camper
View from the ski lodge parking area to our camper
on Saturday morning
when the clouds still obscured the surrounding
We remained in our camper at the base of Kendall Mountain until later in the afternoon,
then moved it over to Charlie’s property. Jim attempted to back into
the "driveway" between Charlie’s
houses but the rear end of the camper scraped the dirt hill between the
street and the sidewalk. Smaller
campers can get in there but not a 36-foot 5th-wheel with several feet
of trailer behind the rear tires. Rats.
So we parked on the wide street in front of Charlie's livable house and
let several people know whose camper it was, why we were leaving it
there, and how long we expected to be gone. We didn't want it to get
vandalized or towed away.
[When we got back we found out that our ham radio friend Roy was kind
enough to drive by daily to be sure the camper was OK during the six
days we were gone. Roy and Laura spent a few more weeks in Silverton
after the race.]
Ready to leave on Monday morning
The next two hurdles
we faced were deciding on the route to take to Ohio and figuring out
what to take with us. That
kept us busy the rest of the afternoon.
Deciding on our route was a lot easier than what to take because we’re so used to having the
camper and everything we need with us. We packed all the items we thought we’d need for
a week but ended up forgetting a few things that we purchased in transit.
After supper we joined Jim B., Kathie, and Margaret and Mark Heaphy in
Charlie's house for a couple of hours. It was good to have more time
with them. Ballard (what we call him when the two Jims are together)
could empathize with our loss because he had just heard today that a good
friend of his died, too.
Jim and I got to bed in our home on wheels about 10:30 PM and had a
fairly good night’s sleep. We were exhausted from everything that had
happened in the last three days and knew the week ahead of us would be
even more stressful with the funeral and over 3,000 miles of driving.
Overview of the east end of Silverton from the road
up Kendall Mountain;
if you have good eyes you can see the white race tent and ski lodge
toward the right.
Jim has an appointment in Durango with Dr. Scott tomorrow morning for his
third and last Euflexxa injection in his knee. It is critical that he
get that injection; otherwise, we would have left for Ohio today.
We will leave from the doctor's office for the long trip east.
This is yet another
example of the need to be flexible with our schedule as we travel.
That's the main reason we don't usually announce our plans in this
journal in advance -- there are too many variables!
Our original plan was to leave Silverton tomorrow afternoon and spend a
week camping at Kenosha Pass. We were going to work the North Fork ultras
west of Denver next weekend. Jim wrote to RD Janice O'Grady today to let her
know we won't be able to honor that commitment. We should make it back
to Colorado in time for our reservation at the Academy, however.
Next entry: a different kind of ultra -- driving 3,295 miles
over a period of six days
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil,
and Cody the Ultra Lab
© 2011 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil