One-hundred forty ultra runners will soon be battling those voices
inside themselves. How many will be able to triumph over the inevitable
negative thoughts they will experience during a hundred grueling miles of
mountain trails ranging in altitude between 9,000 and 14,000+ feet?
It's that time of year again -- time for the eighteenth running
of the Hardrock
Hundred (HRH) footrace through the San Juan Mountains.
And for at least the sixth time Jim and I are here to see friends who
are running the race and offer our volunteer services to help
facilitate the event. This year we will be helping with runner check-in,
timing at the Cunningham aid station, and radio communications throughout
the weekend at race headquarters.
NEW RACE HQ
Although runners have been gathering in Silverton for the last two or
three weeks to acclimate and familiarize themselves with the course, the
official pre-race events began today with the first opportunity
for runners to check in, the annual potlick (HRH-speak for "potluck") lunch, and a lengthy trail
Due to renovation work being done at the high school gym that has traditionally been
used for the race start/finish, pre-race activities, and post-race
awards ceremony, a new venue half a mile away was chosen -- the
lodge at the Kendall Mountain Ski Resort.
The lodge will be supplemented by the humongous tent Rodger Wrublik brought with him from the Phoenix area that he formerly used
when he directed the Across the Years footraces:
Rodger brought all his flags from ATY, too, and
others have been added to
reflect all the states and countries in which the
Hardrock runners live.
I don't know what additional costs were incurred, if any, for the use of this new
venue but I can tell you one thing: I much prefer it to the
The lodge is spacious and beautiful, the tent can hold more people
comfortably for briefings and the awards ceremony, and more runners and
volunteers aere able to park their vehicles and campers in the large
parking area and meadow at the base of the mountain.
It will be interesting to see if the race is based here next year or HQ
is back in the gym.
Yesterday was our 14th day in the Forest Service campground on South
Mineral Creek Road but the host and rangers didn't start "counting"
until a couple of days after that.
We've ascertained that the Forest Service is indeed serious about
enforcing the two-week camping rule throughout Colorado, not just in the
Columbine District. To avoid a $75 fine per day we knew we'd
have to move this week -- despite the fact that most
campers went home on Tuesday and the campground is as empty as it was
when we arrived.
Rules are rules, even if they appear to us to be stupid.
The new finish line
Our ham radio friends Roy and Laura were camped at South Mineral Creek even longer
than we were so all
four of us have been researching our options for a different camping
We've had our fingers crossed that we could gain permission to park our
RVs near race headquarters during the race since we'll be working
communications for all sorts of hours over a span of four or five days. The communications director
(Shauna) and her husband (Steve) always park their camper close to HQ during the race.
They and some other communications volunteers are close to the lodge
now, since the room we'll use for communications is upstairs in that
building. There's a lot more room for us at the ski resort than near the gym.
What could be more convenient and encourage Jim, Roy, Laura, and me to work the most hours if
we and the other "hams" are near our work station at HQ??
There's plenty of room in the nearby meadow not only for volunteers, but
also for any runners who want to park campers there.
The precedent has been set. During the 4th of July holiday the city of
Silverton allows visitors to camp for a fee along the Animas River and
in the large meadow at the base of Kendall Mountain.
We are willing to pay a fee to be close to race HQ, although we prefer
to park for free since we plan to volunteer several days of our
time for an event that pads city coffers.
Oops -- the Hardrock rock broke in transit to this
(it was repaired
before the race). Finishers kiss the rock instead
of crossing a finish line.
We drove into town early yesterday morning to see if either the race director
(Dale) or volunteer director (Lois) was at the lodge. It was locked but
we saw some volunteers, including our friend Gerry Roach, working on the Hardrock
rock at the finish line.
Gerry and his wife Jennifer got permission from Dale yesterday to park their
camper in the adjacent field for the duration of the event. To their
knowledge, runners and volunteers are allowed to park there this year.
Jim talks with Jennifer and Gerry, who are busy
getting their drop bags packed for the race.
That was all we needed to hear, although we confirmed Gerry's
information later with Shauna and Dale.
It took us only an hour to pack up the camper, hitch it to the truck,
stop at the visitor center in town to get more fresh water, find a
grassy spot far enough from the Roaches that we wouldn't bother them,
and get set up again.
I love it here! Cody enjoys rolling around in the lush grass and we like
the meadow even better than the dispersed campground on South Mineral
We have stronger phone and MiFi signals, free WiFi (if Jim drives over to
the lodge), more hours of sunshine in this open space than in the deep, narrow
gulch along South Mineral Creek (we don't have to run the generator
as much here), more panoramic mountain views, NO DUST, a scenic marsh pond and trails to explore, and close proximity to
race HQ, the laundry we use at A & B, the propane dealer, and everything
else in town -- not to mention, we're about 300 feet from race HQ:
View from our new campsite of the ski lodge and
Too bad we can't stay here the rest of the summer!
In the afternoon yesterday two other couples who will be working communications
all weekend moved in near us. Bob and his wife parked about 50 feet
away, although it looks like they are right next to us in two of these
photos. Roy and Laura parked their motorhome about 100 feet past us.
I've dubbed us "The Three Hams."
Since I took these photos a few more volunteers
and runners have come in with their RVs to park here for the weekend.
There is room for plenty more. [Later, for some reason, Dale blocked the
meadow area off so no one else could come in. A few found a "back door"
and came in anyway. I don't understand why more people can't park in here.]
Now that we are settled in our new site, we can focus on helping with
POTLICK LUNCH ON WEDNESDAY
Since neither Jim nor I can run right now we haven't been going out on
the daily trail marking treks like we have previously to socialize with our running friends.
Yesterday's potlick at the little city park was our first chance to see
about twenty of the runners and their crews who showed up to share
items they brought for lunch.
It's unfortunate that the only part of the day that was overcast,
windy, and unpleasant was during the potlick! I took the photo above from the
gazebo used for the event. Most of the other photos in this entry, the
majority of which are from Wednesday, show more sunny skies.
L-R, facing camera: Robert
Andrulis, Gerry and Jennifer Roach; Kristina Irvin in background
For the potlick I prepared a scooped out watermelon "boat" filled with cantaloupe and
watermelon balls, red and green grapes, and blueberries. I've taken that
to the potlick several times before and it's always been a hit. It's
very colorful and tasty.
Even though fewer people than usual showed up this year for lunch there
was a nice selection of food. We hung around for a couple hours talking
with folks before going back to the lodge area to see what was going on
CHECK-IN & THE HARDROCK STORE ON WEDNESDAY
Runner check-in was held yesterday (Wednesday) from noon to 4 PM and
this morning from 8-11 AM. The well-stocked Hardrock store was set up in
an adjacent area of the ski lodge.
I took these pictures inside the lodge yesterday morning while both
areas were being set up:
What a sunny, handsome place to display the merchandise!
Some years we've helped our friend Heidi Schutt, below, with
setting up the merchandise. This year we got there too late to help. She
already had everything well under control:
We also talked to Heidi about the double knee replacement surgery she
had four years ago. Although having both knees operated on at the same
time was grueling she recovered well and can do as
much hiking and cycling as she wants. People like Heidi give us hope
that we'll be able to continue being active after we have total knee
replacements, although we don't expect to do any or much running.
Dale Garland, the race director, and Rebecca Clark, who is in charge
of registration, were busy in another
part of the lodge preparing for runners to check in:
L-R: Mark and Margaret Heaphy,
Blake Wood (dark shirt, facing camera) and Rebecca
Rebecca had enough volunteers for check-in yesterday. I helped this morning
when Margaret Heaphy wasn’t available. More about that later.
Jim and I went back to the lodge after the potlick
yesterday to see who
was around and snapped these pictures:
Steve Pero, L. front, gets his
pre-race medical check.
Heidi (seated) stayed busy selling race merchandise all
It was good to see a bunch of race volunteers and runners yesterday and
today! Now we're more psyched about the race. We wish we could have helped
with trail marking again this year because that’s a great way to
socialize with some of the runners and see parts of the course we
wouldn't normally be able to access.
AID STATION SUPPLIES
Another job Jim and I have assisted with previously is organizing aid
station supplies. That task is ably supervised by volunteer
coordinator Lois McKenzie with the assistance of Nina the last few
years. Nina is also a huge help at the Jemez races in Los Alamos.
Because this operation takes up a lot of space, it was staged at a
separate location this year. Jim and I drove over to the AmVets building
yesterday afternoon to see if Lois and Nina needed any help:
Jim, Lois (white shirt), Nina (blue shirt), and
another volunteer organize aid station supplies
Nope; they and their crew of volunteers already had things well under
control. Not only do they have more room to spread things out than ever
before, they also have a kitchen to make the soup and other hot items
for which Hardrock is known and loved.
We weren't in town when a nasty thunderstorm hit on Tuesday
afternoon but Nina and Lois told us all about the excitement
they had when lightning hit the AmVets building and sparks were flying
all over the kitchen while they were cooking!
I had my own excitement Tuesday afternoon while riding my bike
on South Mineral Creek Rd. I had no idea the storm was building
up behind me in the east while I was riding four miles to the
west. Storms usually enter the gulch from the west; I didn't
even think to look behind me.
When I turned around at the trailhead to Ice Lake and saw the dark, angry clouds back toward
the campground I almost had a heart attack!
There I was on a metal bike with essentially nowhere to hide. I rode like
crazy, hoping to beat the rain and/or hoping Jim knew what was
going on and would bring the truck to rescue me. I didn't even
waste 30 seconds to take a picture of the impending doom!
View toward town from our new campsite at
the base of Kendall Mtn.
I could hear thunder within a couple minutes but it didn't start
raining where I was until I was a little over a mile down the
road (with three more to go). That's the exact time I saw Jim
come around a corner in the truck! I was very relieved. The rain
had hit the campground hard and fast before it got to me. Jim
knew I was going to be in trouble, so he got into the
truck as quickly as he could and headed out to meet me.
We tossed the bike into the bed of the truck and headed back to
the campground. Rain was pouring down and we got thoroughly soaked
walking just a few feet from the truck to our camper door.
There were already major puddles in the road when we got back to
Hard rain continued for about two more hours. Fortunately, our
campsite didn't get inundated but some other RVs were sitting in
little ponds of water until it drained into the rocks and sand a
few hours later.
I'd guess we got 2-3" of rain in the Silverton area that day.
Did it help tame the dust on South Mineral Creek Road?? Not for
THURSDAY: ANOTHER MOOSE IS LOOSE
We got up early this morning because I needed to be at the ski lodge at
7:45 AM to learn my job of checking runners in.
While I was eating breakfast in the camper I noticed some movement out
the window. About 75 feet away, on the little dirt “road” through the
field, a MOOSE was galloping from the lodge/tent area past us and Roy’s
That was too cool!
Fortunately, I had the window shades open. I yelled at Jim to look,
grabbed the camera, and got a butt shot of the moose as it sped past
The pictures aren’t great, but the story sure is! I’ve told it two dozen
Although this is prime moose territory because of the ponds, grass,
willows, and trees in the meadow I didn’t expect a moose to be
hanging out so close to civilization. Cody was inside the camper but he got all
excited because I yelled the word “moose” and he knows what that is.
RUNNER CHECK-IN ON THURSDAY
This morning from about 7:45 to 11 AM
I helped Rebecca Clark (Blake Woods’ wife), Janine (their married
daughter), and ultra runner Mark Heaphy check in about sixty remaining runners;
checked in yesterday.
L-R: Rebecca, Mark, and Janine
I had a lot of fun with this job because I saw so
many folks I know – runners, their crews/pacers, and other volunteers.
We checked off numbers, pulled their stuffed goodie bags, gave them Drymax sox
in the size they wanted, told them about the mandatory briefing at noon,
drop bags due by 3, and check-in before race at 5-5:45 tomorrow morning,
asked if they had their free S&R card yet, told them about the spaghetti
dinner tonight ($15 at Grumpy’s in town, if they wanted to go), and answered
lots of questions.
three-time female winner of the race, was one of the runners who checked
in this morning:
L-R: Charlie Thorn, Blake Wood, Diana Finkel
She almost won the race outright last
year but paid the price of running the fastest for 90+ miles. Somewhere
in the last ten miles Jared Campbell passed her and she came in second
overall. That was quite an accomplishment.
Can she pull off another female win
this year -- or out-race all the men??
Although I'm very experienced with runner check-in at races this is the
first time I’ve had the opportunity to work packet pick-up at Hardrock.
Compared to the hoards of entrants at Bighorn, Leadville, Jemez, and
some other popular races, dealing with only 140 runners is a piece of
cake in this regard! Rebecca’s very organized, too, which helps. I
really enjoyed my job this morning.
Another cool thing about working packet pick-up today was the 11 AM
deadline for runners to check in or otherwise make their intentions
known to Dale re: whether they’d be running. If any of the
registered runners didn't show up by then, they forfeited their spots on
the starting line and opened up spaces for runners on the wait list.
There were several anxious
wait-listers hanging around to see if anyone was going to drop out. We
watched as the number of remaining bags dwindled in the last hour – 18,
15, 10, 7 . . .
When we got down to six with only about 15 minutes to go, we got
concerned. One bag was for Robert Andrulis, who would get in if a runner
who said he was dropping did indeed fail to show up (he didn’t come, so
Robert got his bag this morning).
Robert's a very happy fella as he gets his medical
One man who was hung up in traffic construction somewhere had called
earlier to let Dale know he was on the way but wouldn’t get there until
about 11:30. That was allowed.
Dale finally called the other four registered runners to see if they were coming.
One veteran HRH runner who I will not name here told Dale he decided not to run.
I think it's very inconsiderate of race staff and runners on the wait
list that he didn't let Dale know before the last minute.
Two women were on their way but were hung up in traffic construction.
They and another young man arrived just a few minutes before 11. The
fella who had called earlier arrived after I left and was allowed to get
his bag and race bib.
Runners and crews come and go from the Kendall Mtn.
Bottom line: only one wait-lister, Robert Andrulis, got in this morning. The others will have to wait
until someone decides today or before 5:45 AM tomorrow to cancel.
– a second wait-lister got in when John DeWalt decided not to run. Everyone who
was expected checked in on race morning so no one else got in then.
Believe it or not, occasionally a wait-lister gets in with only 15
minutes' notice before the start of the race!]
LITTLE DIA & THE TENT FOR CUNNINGHAM
I hung around the lodge until 11:45 to talk with folks and answer
I walked back over to Rodger's big tent, which I’ve dubbed “Little DIA”
because it looks like the Denver airport terminal, to hear the beginning
of the mandatory briefing at noon. I've heard the information before, so
I left after a few minutes.
Jim's been busy today, too.
While I was doing packet pick-up Jim, Barry (the CG host
at South Mineral Creek), and three other fellas got a tent from Rodger
Wrublik’s shed and took it out to Cunningham Gulch for the aid station.
That was an ordeal, from tracking down a terribly frazzled** Rodger to get
the tent out of storage
the thing with the wrong roof piece. (**Besides being on the race committee and preparing to
run the race tomorrow, Rodger also owns the popular historic
Wyman Hotel in
Silverton, which is filled to capacity this week.)
Jim wasn’t about to drive all the way back in to town to get the correct
tent roof and go back out to Cunningham again. The guys just made the wrong
By noon Jim and I were hungry so we had lunch in the camper instead of
waiting for the volunteer briefing/luncheon in the big tent at 2 PM. (Boy,
it’s nice to be only 200-300 feet away from the lodge and tent!!) All I
had at the briefing was a brownie.
After volunteers got their sandwiches, chips, beverages, and desserts
Dale thanked us and the medical
director spoke to us about potential physical problems some of the runners
will experience during the race and how to handle them at the aid
(dehydration, nausea, hyperthermia, HAPE, HACE, etc.).
Since we've heard all this several times before, the first part of the meeting was a bit tedious.
Then we split up into two groups at either end of the tent
-- communications volunteers here, aid station volunteers there.
The communications meeting was more interesting to me, especially the
part about placing and maintaining the radio repeaters on remote
mountain tops that are covered with more snow than normal.
L-R: Ben, Steve, Shauna (communications coordinators)
and Lois McKenzie (volunteer coordinator)
wait on stage while the medical director and race
director brief the volunteers.
When the briefing was over Jim and Roy talked with the San Juan ham radio group’s
representative to see what they have planned for the Cunningham aid
station tomorrow morning. This is the first aid station in the CCW
direction and runners will be coming through in bunches over about a
two-hour period of time. The communications job is very different in a
CCW year than when the aid station is the last one and runners are
spread out over 24 hours. (The race switches direction each year.)
The San Juan radio group has six to eight men and women who will be
typing and sending
“packets” (numbers/times sent to HQ via the computer) and writing down
incoming runners’ times at Cunningham. Roy, Laura, Jim, and I will
handle out-going runners’ times, with maybe another one of the San Juan group
assisting us if there is a large bubble of mid-pack runners.
PRIVATE PASTA FEED
After the volunteer briefing Jim and I relaxed for a while, then drove a
few blocks to the condo where John and Marcy Beard and about eight of their
friends are staying. Marcy invited us to come over for a pasta spread at
5 PM. We contributed another large watermelon boat like the one we took to
the potlick yesterday.
Marcy is standing next to me (in red shirt next to
the window); John is in the blue shirt and hat to the right
of Jim. We're laughing because John used a timer to
take the photo and had to rush to get in the picture.
There are two race entrants in the group; one of them is Marcy. The
others are crewing and pacing.
We really enjoyed talking with John, Marcy, and their friends for a
couple of hours.
had a long day, however, and everyone needed to prepare for the race so
we bowed out by 7 PM and returned to our camper.
What a great day! We were tired but psyched about the race by
Next entry: our perspective of the Hardrock Hundred race
as communications volunteers
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil,
and Cody the Ultra Lab
© 2011 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil