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.