The Voice of Hardrock – Part 6: To Evolve

In this, the finale of Evan Honeyfield’s Voices of Hardrock series, Hardrock 100 veterans discuss if and how the race may need to evolve. It’d worth noting that these interviews were conducted and the video produced ahead of the announcement of Hardrock’s revised lottery procedure.

[Click here if you can’t see the video above.]

The Voice of Hardrock – Part 6: To Evolve Transcript

Diana Finkel: Well, it’s so hard to get into.

Betsy Kalmeyer: And I think there are some people that have tried 6 times and have never gotten in.

Jamil Coury: So I started at number 40 on the waitlist this year and didn’t really move at all until a month ago when they updated the list and I was, I think, 30th.

Mark Heaphy: It is limited by the permits.

Jared Campbell: It’s a small race, less than 140 people.

Roch Horton: 700 people want to do the race.

Coury: And then I just found out I’m 25th now, and we’re 5 weeks out from the race.

Heaphy: Just getting in there is a big deal, because there’s a smaller number of runners than some of these other runs.

Finkel: So if you get in, you’ve got to do it because of the lottery and everything; and it’s getting harder and harder every year.

Kalmeyer: I think there is a lot of pressure to change the lottery.

Finkel: You know, there’s like the chattering masses on the web, and in person, but you know everybody seems to gather on the web and it’s easier to be mean.

Campbell: The level of competition, the competitiveness that exists at most other races is really only present for the top 4 people or something.

Karl Meltzer: Whoever gets in via the lottery or system, that’s how it is. I’d like to see the race have at least a little bit of consideration for having a little bit more of a top field.

Finkel: And I know people are mad about it and I completely understand. I see both sides.

Dakota Jones: I’d say that the only change that I wouldn’t mind would be to let in elite runners.

Meltzer: I mean, it’s the ultimate course to do it and everybody knows it, and that’s the problem. It’s so great. It’s so perfect to have a big championship kind of race on it that it’s kind of like why doesn’t this happen?

Jones: But at the same time, I don’t want to take a stance on that because if we’re going to let in elite runners at the expense of just citizen runners, I think that’s not always the greatest answer either.

Horton: The race has to evolve with time whether it be land issues or with popularity. The board of directors I admire for keeping the race somewhat pure and true to its core values and roots and with respect to the landscape.

Finkel: You know, the board of directors… and they stick to it, and I give them credit for sticking to it. It kind of creates the draw.

Kalmeyer: The board definitely feels that pressure. The board is made up of people that have done it multiple times, and they feel that pressure. We’re all trying to come up with better ideas of making it more fair, of making more options for people to get in—for the first time ever runner through people who have volunteered many times and have never gotten in.

Coury: So I definitely respect their point of view. They never expected the race to get this big—to have 600-700 people applying for 140 spots.

Jones: I respect the race for its ethics, and if they change, they’ll change in a good way. I wouldn’t want the course to change; I wouldn’t want the way anything is done to change. I guess the biggest contention point that I’ve seen is just whether or not they should let in fast runners or whether they should expand the lottery.

Finkel: I feel like there’s an integrity to Hardrock, like this is what we’re doing. It doesn’t matter if you win or if you come in at 48 hours. It’s just about the experience and that’s sort of the essence behind it.

Kalmeyer: Not just assume that because they’ve won some other 100 that they’re going to get in to Hardrock, but that they come, they volunteer, they do trail work. That way they can earn more tickets to get into the lottery.

Coury: I’ve always thought maybe eliminate the pacers. You could maybe jump up to 300 more entrants and it would be that much more tough.

Jones: Eliminate pacers? That would let a lot more people run. It also changes the experience entirely. I wouldn’t have finished last year without a pacer. That’s definitely true, but that would make it that much harder, right?

Coury: What the Hardrock founders want, I think, is the wilderness experience: a wild, tough run—you versus the mountains and everything that’s out there. And if you throw 500 people out on this course, you’re going to lose that in some sense.

Horton: If there’s anything that Hardrock has that needs to be preserved—and this goes for any race that utilizes trail and open spaces, wilderness and wild places—is that we have to remind ourselves that these landscapes are extremely precious, and we’re lucky enough to run under our own power through these beautiful places.

Evan Honeyfield

, a former and hopefully future ultrarunner lives in the high desert of Idaho and recently had LASIK. He carries his gel in UltrAspire gear, his sole sponsor. He learned about compassion and empathy in 2012 and is hoping to see the world clearer in 2013.

There are 7 comments

  1. Phil Jeremy

    Whilst I respect all the arguments I do wonder how the UTMB can stage a race over the most inhosptable terrain and accept over 2000 people with no problems, Ive done races with 250-350 runners and after a few miles we are all largely on our own anyway. Surely you can have more than 140 runners; are they really going to 'damage' the enviroment or take away the mystique? Seems to me like a form of misplaced elitism.

    1. David T

      The land/environment that UTMB passes through is awesome but it is not prestine and wild. It has been civilized and treated in a much different way than the land that HR passes through. Heaven forbid that we ever treat the San Juans in the way the land around Mount Blanc has been treated. While I would like a few more runners allowed into HR (mostly because i really want to get in), I am glad the forest service restricts the number in the way they do.

  2. Dylan

    Just to throw this out there……why not have 2 races per year?

    I.E.; one race for 1'st timers and a little more "low-key"

    Second race for more advanced runners and/or elite's? Somewhat like what Karl was implying about a "Championship" event and make it a race of legends……

  3. Alex from New Haven

    Just to make sure I understand; so HR is grandfathered in the same way WS is? Or do they have a special arrangement based on their service/stewardship with the land?

  4. Mike Hinterberg

    Can anybody provide a link to the text of the Hardrock forest service/BLM permit?

    Much speculation abounds about eliminating pacers altogether as an automatic solution to a noticeably larger field, but I think that's presumptuous. Similar (but not exactly the same due to Wilderness designation issues) to the WS100, HR is limited by the existing text of the permit. Eliminating pacers altogether may not automatically double the field as is automatically assumed by some. The pacing system spreads out the impact in the 2nd half of the race; each DNF removes any possible pacers as well; pacers may be seen by the FS as more of a risk mitigation than liability of more racers. In other words, it's easier to argue on a permit app that spreading the field out has less of an impact.

    I respect some people's personal reasons and opinions on not using pacers, I just wanted to clarify speculation on the overall numbers, which should ideally reside in the realm of factual debate, as I would expect these are factors that the FS would look at when assessing overall impact. If I'm wrong and the FS is willing to increase the field drastically without pacers, then I'm totally with it.

    As it stands, the lottery is still quite difficult, and the pacer system uniquely allows several hundred more folks the potential of enjoying part of the course while also helping out racers if needed/desired. The change of direction each year means that lottery losers can still enjoy almost 80 miles of the course as a pacer over the course of a few years.

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