Last weekend, Scott finished Hardrock for the seventh time in a career best of 26:38, good enough for third place. In between his first run in 2005 and his run last week, Scott has written an incredible narrative in the San Juans. Some races have been better than others but in each one Scott has learned more about running and about life, and the Hardrock family has become part of his own.
Scott’s wife Nicole and his two sons Jaxon and Myles have also become part of that Hardrock family, often spending the two weeks leading up to the event in and around Silverton, most frequently camping at the South Mineral Campground where the family has befriended long-time campground hosts Johnny and Kathy Darnold, who now support the race and also have accompanied Scott to other races in Colorado and Arizona. So strong is the connection between the Jaime family and Hardrock that when Scott took a ‘year off’ to run Western States, Nicole and the boys didn’t know what to do with themselves. Once Scott got Western States ‘out of his system,’ they were right back to Silverton the next year.
In 2006, the year after his Hardrock debut, Scott was not selected in the lottery, but he showed up to crew and pace anyway. Then, in ’07, he ran a 32:53 which set the stage for the remarkable events of 2008. As most folks know, 2008 was the year that Kyle Skaggs scorched the course record becoming the first, and to this date, only runner to complete the course in under 24 hours. Scott had the distinct honor of finishing second to Kyle that year, a full six hours later! Kyle still cites Scott’s nipping at his heels as the reason for his course record. :)
My Scott Jaime story comes from the only time I ran Hardrock in 2009. After a long day and night of hunting him down, I finally got within range on the climb up Grant-Swamp Pass about 23 hours into the race. I saw Scott and his pacer Brian Fisher laboring up the pass and could feel him coming back to me. A couple times, Brian even quipped that they had been hearing me for hours. (I have no idea what that was all about.)
Anyway, as I closed the gap to within a couple switchbacks something must have happened to Scott’s energy because all of a sudden he was gone. By the time I topped out on the pass at the Joel Zucker Memorial, I couldn’t see him anywhere. I only found out later, after he beat me by about 20 minutes, that he told Brian on the climb, “AJW is a tough runner but he is NOT going to beat me at my race.”
This week, Scott shared with me a similar experience he had this year as he hunted down Diana Finkel. “I actually caught her at the base of Grant-Swamp and told Brendan [Trimboli] (his pacer) the story about you reeling me in at that very point. It gave me that killer instinct all over again. Thanks AJW!”
In 2010, Scott was gunning for the win and he ended up having his most trying race to date. After suffering mightily on the run into Grouse Gulch, he was ready to quit. Then, Hardrock magic reared its head. As Scott tells it,
I had made the decision long before the Grouse Gulch aid station that I was going to drop. I was really late, it was dark, and I had no headlamp. My crew was allowed to go up the road to try and find me. I got back to Grouse and my 11-year-old son Jaxon was weeping because he was scared that I was lost. But then he said something that changed me and my outlook on ultras. He said, ‘Dad you can’t quit! I look up to you so much, you inspire me! Do you know how many people wanted to do this race? Please don’t quit, Dad.’ My wife, my father-in-law, and the legendary David Horton all witnessed this moment and there was not a dry eye in the place. I committed to finishing that race but I needed a rest and curled up next to Karl Meltzer on a cot. What that moment taught me is that we as ultrarunners have such a positive influence on our families and may not even know it. Running is such a selfish sport and we thank our families for going along for the ride, but they are just as proud to support us and feel part of the journey that these events become bonding experiences.
After that 2010 experience, Scott took the year off to run Western States and then returned in 2012 with a great 28:37 in challenging conditions. That, of course, set the stage for this year which Scott says was his best race to date and the first time in a long and storied career that he had a race plan and stuck to it. As he says, this was the first time at Hardrock that he followed the classic ultrarunner’s creed to “Run.Your.Own.Race.” In contrast to past years, he let the leaders go off the front and enjoyed “hunting” from the back. His pacers, Rick Hessek, Nick Pedatella, and Brendan, kept him focused and didn’t let him get stupid. Then, at a critical moment, Nick Pedatella knew just what to do,
Leaving Ouray I picked up Nick Pedatella, and he has had such great success at 100s that I was bound and determined to listen to him. He filled up a bottle with chicken broth and told me I was going to drink it before the next aid station. First taste and I said no way. Nick said, ‘That’s not an option.’ So I drank it by the next aid and I really feel that was the turning point in my race.
And, broth wasn’t the only secret sauce in Scott’s race-day arsenal. Rolling up to Virginius Pass he notes,
I was eating and drinking regularly with no stomach problems. When I got to Kroger’s Canteen (on Virginius), I asked for a beer and, what do you know, Roch [Horton] had an O’Douls! I drank two little cups and bolted down to Telluride. There is something in beer that makes me happy. Maybe because I drink so much that my body needs it, almost like a vitamin.
As they say in this business, whatever works!
Reflecting back on his life at Hardrock, Scott admires many who have gone before him. Karl Meltzer, Kyle Skaggs and Roch Horton are three runners Scott, in particular, aspires to emulate and as he notes they are three guys who truly get it. Hard work, perseverance, and a love of the mountains bind these three together and Scott finds inspiration in that again and again.
And, what does the future hold for this grizzled veteran of the San Juans? “I’ll be back for sure. I’d like to get 10 Hardrock finishes and then turn my focus toward helping out the race organization. I don’t want to give up my Hardrock family but I know at some point my body is just not going to do it anymore.”
Until then, you can count on seeing Scott high in the mountains of southwestern Colorado every July, “AJW, c’mon, you of all people know how much this race means to me, just like you and Western States.”
AJW’s Fast Eddy’s Beer of the Week
Call for Comments (from Meghan)
- Okay, let’s roast Mr. Hardrock, shall we? Scott’s run the race seven times now, so there are no doubt endless stories that squeaked through the cracks of AJW’s tribute. When and where have you seen Scott in the highs and lows that the San Juans annually offer?
- The rest of the Jaime family is equally involved in the Hardrock 100. Do you have a story about Nicole and the boys? If so, please share!