The Voices of Hardrock – Part 2: Is It a Race?

Hardrock 100The Hardrock Endurance Run annually draws some of the world’s top ultrarunners… with many more wishing that they, too, were in the event. Still, many of those same elites don’t consider Hardrock a race. That’s the Hardrock tradition – the event is in name and in practice a run rather than a race. Watch the below video to find out where the tradition comes from and what it means to Hardrock’s participants.

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

The Voices of Hardrock: Part 2 – Is It a Race? Transcript

Mark Heaphy: If you talk to Charlie and John or Gordon, it was always designed as a run. So when you look at it, it was always an endurance run. It was never, I can’t put words in their mouth, but it was never intended to be a big race. It was a run between you and the mountains. To me, that’s what it is because it’s a real challenge. If you can do it, maybe you can do it faster than someone else, but it’s with the mountains.

Diana Finkel: So no, it’s probably not a real race, running race, but what’s the definition of that? It’s more of an experience, and you want to, or I want to put it all out there. Truly, winning is great and exciting and fun and it feels good, but it’s not why you do any of these. You still wake up the next morning and you’re the same person regardless of anything. So it’s probably not a race, but it’s definitely a challenge. What’s the difference between those two? I don’t know. But in your traditional sense of the word “running race”… it’s not.

Roch Horton: It’s a race, but it’s not just who’s the fastest. It’s a race for whoever is the strongest, toughest, most tenacious. But it’s sometimes not even a race. I’d have to say it’s like a personal challenge for everyone.

Betsy Kalmeyer: I think the other reason Hardrock is special is the tradition, and the concept of how it was developed was to have it be a run — a run in the mountains, in the San Juans. It was kind of a tribute to the miners and how they were hardy, how they were able to survive in the mountains and get through the hard winters or through the tough terrain. So the concept was to have a run and to never put the word “race” into it. But, of course, you put humans on the start line and you have a course, and you have it set up and you have… one year somebody does a certain time, and the next year somebody’s going to try to beat that time. So there is that race mentality also, but I think what’s nice is the heritage, and from the beginning it was always called a run.

Jamil Coury: I think the spirit of the event is a run, in terms of it’s you out there in the mountains experiencing the course. But the fact that there’s a time cut-off and there’s a stopwatch and there’s competition, I think there’s room for both — for it to be a race, too.

Dakota Jones: I definitely went into it with a race mentality last year even though I shouldn’t have, even though I told people I was trying to take it easy and finish. I definitely went into it with a race mentality last year. Ultimately, I totally blew up and had this crazy suffer fest from mile 45 to the finish. Oh my gosh, just suffering through the whole thing. It was good to do. It was good and humbling, but this year I’m definitely going to go into it with a different mentality. I really respect the course, and I respect the limits of my abilities on the course. So I just want to go out there and enjoy it. If I go out there with the mentality to race, and I go too fast and blow up at 50 miles again, I won’t enjoy it. That’s really the key thing for me. Yeah, it’s going to be really hard and times are going to stink, but I run ultras because I revel in that challenge and that difficulty. But if I can’t enjoy it, and if it’s so miserable that I hate it, then there’s no point for me to be there. So I definitely respect the endurance “run” versus endurance “race” mentality here at Hardrock that it seems the people in charge have fought to maintain that in a way.

Karl Meltzer: I think what makes Hardrock really unique, too, is that they call the race a “run,” the Hardrock 100 Mile Endurance Run. The guys that put the race on will never call it a “race.” It kind of fits in with the crowd. Everybody kind of cheers for each other and roots everyone else on. I think you’ll find the fastest guys waiting for the slowest people at the end. And that’s the coolest thing too, seeing John DeWalt, of all people, coming around the corner, leaning sideways, dropping his shirt off at his car a quarter mile up the road saying, “I’ve got plenty of time,” when he’s got 6 minutes left on the cut-off clock. So we all root for each other. It is about the race for some of the front guys, myself included. But again, everyone that crosses the line… it’s a really cool thing. It’s always, “Well, who’s coming next?” “It will be Blake Wood coming next.” So his whole group of people and a bunch of us will wait for him. “Who’s coming next?” “Oh, it’s Scott Mills,” or whoever it is that we know. Everyone’s a winner that crosses that line. Just because you don’t kiss the rock first doesn’t mean you don’t win the race.

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 8 comments

  1. wiserlou

    Nah, prizes aren't necessary. For a group that has at least one competitive person in it, the mere fact that someone has to finish first makes it a race.

  2. Alex from New Haven

    Western States Memorial 3day training camp is the only big run with lots of fit people in it that I can think of that isn't a race. Maybe Barkley's isn't a race… just a challenge so huge finishing is near impossible.

    But I respect that that's what the founders want. And it certainly explains their resistance to giving preference to "Elite" runners an easier pass into the race. The nice thing about "owning" something is you can do with it what you please.

    Sounds like an amazing race… I mean run… I mean challenge. Look forward to the rest of the coverage.

  3. Buzz

    If the idea is to get somewhere before someone else, then it certifiably is a race. Many people are just trying to finish, and have essentially purchased the course markings, aid stations, and medical support to enable them to do that – they can honestly say they are not racing.

    Dakota, Diana, and others certainly are going to race it – whether they start slow or not, and whatever they might want to call it – they are racing. Which is great – it's human nature. Others will just be trying to get it done, which is also worthy and part of our nature.

  4. brett m

    i totally agree buzz and i would go even further. i don't think other people even need to be involved for a person to have a race. for instance i consider FKT attempts to be effectively races against everyone who has ever done a route. i don't see why it is necessary to have people in spatial and temporal proximity in order for a 'race' to be held. kyle skaggs was probably alone for 99.5 miles of his hardrock run. this is functionally the same as if someone just runs the course in ~23:30 some fine mid-July day (with some appropriately placed assistance for de facto aid stations)!

  5. Billy Simpson

    It's a run…..there is a clock and there is a winner, but the Hardrock is about you testing yourself on the most badass 100 mile corse imaginable.

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