With the sting of the DragonsBack Race in Wales behind me it has been three weeks of recovering, catching up on to-do lists and focusing on the next path my legs would take.....
The Hardrock 100 miler in Silverton, CO in July, is widely regarded as the most difficult hundred miler in the country. Any run of that distance is hard whether in the flatlands of Kansas or the Sierra Mountains.
Hardrock is exceptional as it takes place at an average elevation of over 10,000 feet in the San Juan Mountains and tops out on Mount Handie at over 14,000 feet. There is 33,000 feet of vertical covered during the run.
Ugh. Double Ugh.
I often believe the most difficult part of Hardrock is gaining entry to it.
It has a lottery system which requires completing a qualifying mountain hundred miler before you even get that lottery ticket.
Each here 140 lucky souls are chosen out of over 4000 who apply.
Finish it once and you have drank the Kool-aid. You will never quite be the same again and you may never figure out why.
I have been very lucky. My first Hardrock was in 2008 then again in 2014, 2015 and 2017. I was drawn in the lottery again for 2019 and had the opportunity to join the elusive club of Hardrock Veterans who have finished five or more.
Why do I keep going back?
I ask myself every year and get a different answer. Hell I don't know, it is just fun. It is a reunion of old friends, laughter and smiles. It is the dirt roads in Silverton. It is the high peaks and wildflowers and stream crossings. It is the volunteers who embrace you with encouragement for all hours of the day and night in an unselfish capacity. It is the anticipation of the unknown and discomfort that will come and the certainty that in those mountains mother nature is waiting to pat me on the head with tenderness or slap me in anger. It is a hunk of granite that I get to kiss at the finish line. It is the revelation that some moments cannot be replicated and that for one 48 hour period my life is very simple.
Well..... every trail has twists and turns and sometimes a dead end and so it is with Hardrock this year. For only the third time it will be cancelled due to snow. There are thirteen Aid Stations and as of today only three are accessible. There have been avalanches that have left debris and filled drainages not normally affected. Snowpack levels are way above average and there has been very little sign of a spring run-off. Race Organizers made the right call and I support the decision.
Fortunately all entries will carry over to next year so my spot is secure.
So what now?
It is a blessing, for I can now focus my attention directing an event in North Idaho called Race The Wolf on July 6th. The logistics of putting on a quality event for 300 runners over an area of 45 miles is daunting and requires diligence and detail. I also have numerous runners that I coach for the Hyland's Team as they prepare for fall marathons. There is training to do for Trans-Rockies in August and Hood to Coast Relay.
Do I need to fill this empty slot with another race? Nope.
More wood needs to be cut for the winter. Chickens need care. Garden needs work. Kids entertained. Books need read. Our boat needs to be on the lake more often. I need to see if my friends are still my friends.
So when it comes to "What now?" I think that many times it isn't a good thing to rush into filling that void with a race or some grand adventure because "What now?" is only the next step we take today and really that is all we can do.
My life won't be measured by the number of Hardrocks I complete but what I do between them................
Run on my friends.