2014 Hardrock 100 Preview

Hardrock 100Typically, the Hardrock 100 is billed as a low-key race in Colorado’s San Juan Mountains. Sometimes, it’s even billed as not being a race as reflected by the event’s official name, the Hardrock Hundred Mile Endurance Run. That said, the event does give out awards and the first man and first woman to kiss the hardrock (finish) give speeches at the finish line.

This year, Hardrock will have a decidedly different feel. (Hopefully, in addition to its traditional feel.) That feeling will be a stronger-than-ever excitement about the front the race. Why? The is almost assuredly the best men’s field the race will see for a decade or longer, unless the race changes its egalitarian entry standards. (Not likely.) Read on to find what’s got folks so excited.

We will, of course, be covering the race live beginning at 6 a.m., MDT on Friday, July 11. In the meantime, get excited with:

 2014 Hardrock 100 Men’s Preview

The Five Favorites

Kilian Jornet - 2014 Transvulcania Ultramarathon

Kilian Jornet

The default of the top returning runner being the favorite to win goes out the window when Kilian Jornet shows up. Folks have speculated for years what this mountain wonder could do if he could ever got into Hardrock. After years of entering the lottery with no success, he finally got in and he’s headed to the San Juans. Kilian is likely to have run less to this point this year than in any year in the recent past and has surely run far less this year than any of the other top competitors. That’s not slowed Kilian so far this year. He did take second to Luis Alberto Hernando at Transvulcania in May (post-race interview), just a week after getting off his skis. A week later, he turned the tables by winning the Zegama-Aizkorri Marathon (post-race interview). After heading back to the snow… and setting a new FKT on Denali in Alaska, Kilian just won the Vertical Kilometer and Marathon at the Skyrunning World Championships. With his history and demonstrations of top form so far this year, no one is doubting he can win Hardrock. The more frequent questions seem to be whether he’ll be going for the course record and, if so, exactly how fast he can go.

Kilian’s presence means that last year’s Hardrock champion Seb Chaigneau comes in with a lot less pressure on him. Fair enough… but, everyone, Seb did run the second-fastest time in Hardrock history when he ran 24:25 last year (post-race interview). 24:25… let that sink in for a minute. And that was in the hard direction on this course that is reversed every other year. Last year, Seb also won Transgrancanaria and took third at Ultra-Trail Mount Fuji. He’s had a bit of a rough go this year, dropping out of Transgrancanaria and Mount Fuji earlier this year. He’s excited to have his 2013 pacer/past Hardrock champ Scott Jurek pace him again this year.

Julien Chorier - 2013 TNF UTMB

Julien Chorier

For those who don’t recall, Julien Chorier won Hardrock 2011 (post-race interview) in the, then, second-fastest counterclockwise run up to that point in 25:17. It’s now third behind Seb’s run and Karl Meltzer’s 24:38 from 2009. Chorier had a strong 2013, taking second at UTMF, winning Ronda del Cims, and taking sixth at Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc. He was second to Ryan Sandes at Transgrancanaria in March (post-race interview), just two-and-a-half minutes ahead of…

Timothy Olson. Enough said, right? While he’s now no longer the defending Western States 100 champ, he won that race in amazing fashion in both 2012 and 2013. So Timothy has Western States nailed. So what? Well, in the past year he’s also been fourth at UTMB (post-race interview) and third at Transgrancanaria (post-race interview) and eighth at Transvulcania. Of the top-five male contenders, he’s the one I’d least want chasing me the final 20 miles at Hardrock.

Dakota Jones 2012 Transvulcania

Dakota Jones

No one in this group of top contenders has more of a connection with Hardrock than Dakota Jones. The San Juans and this race in particular are a huge part of why Dakota is a part of our community today. It’s funny, but I was shocked when I noticed that he’s been second (2011) and third (2012) at Hardrock. Maybe it’s because I kind of expect him to win Hardrock and he wasn’t particularly close either year or, said slightly differently, that I don’t think he’s come close to running his best race here. After intentionally skipping the race in 2013, Dakota’s back training hard in Silverton. Last year, Dakota won and set the course record at the San Juan Solstice (same mountain range) 50 miler and was second at the UROC 100k (post-race interview). He ran a lackluster 10th at Transvulcania in May.

 The Next Five

There’s another group of men who, in any other year, would be seen as contenders for the win. With the depth ahead of them that seems unlikely… but not impossible this year. Where the five runners above make this a year to look for records (even with the snow that lingers on course), these five runners are who make this, unquestionably, the deepest field in Hardrock history. A distinction that should stand for quite some time, here they are in alphabetical order:

Jeff Browning

Jeff Browning

Jeff Browning wins a lot of races in fast times… but often at races without international-level competition. This is no fault, but it’s why it’s hard to gauge exactly where Browning stacks up against this field. His best races on historic 100-mile courses are a win at Wasatch 2012 in 19:33 and a fifth at Leadville 2011 in 18:27. He has run Hardrock once, taking 15th in 33:18 in 2007. Both he… and the race’s competitive level have improved significantly since then.

In the past year, Adam Campbell has reversed course. Not long after making the leap to full-time professional runner, he gave that up to once again have a career. Whether related or not, Campbell has made his biggest impact over the past year when he’s raced in Canada, where he lives. Last August, he won the Arc’teryx Squamish 50 Miler and took second three weeks later at the Meet Your Maker 50 Mile. Last month, he took second at a local 50k in 3:08. Adam, how’s it going?

Jared Campbell - 2014 Barkley Marathons - finish

Jared Campbell

Check this out: Jared Campbell is 34 years old and has eight Hardrock finishes, including a win in 2010 when he ran 27:18. One could say he’s currently American ultrarunning’s premier mountain adventurer. He’s twice finished (and won) the Barkley Marathons. Two weekends ago, he drove down to Moab, linked up all of the 12,000-foot peaks in the La Sal Mountains in one go, and drove home. No big deal. The tougher the course and the tougher the conditions, the better Jared performs. He’s probably hoping for a plague to hit Colorado next week.

Last year, Joe Grant jogged (and chatted away) with eventual winner Seb Chaigneau for half the race before medical complications brought him down. That’s after running what’s still the fifth-fastest time in Hardrock history, 25:06, in the slow direction, in 2012, on his way to second place (post-race interview). This year Joe’s decided to race too many 100 milers. He’s already set a course record at Alaska’s White Mountains 100 and tied for 13th at UTMF a few weeks later. Joe recently cruised to second at the Jemez Mountain 50 Mile.

Tsuyoshi Kaburaki

Tsuyoshi Kaburaki

There are few more internationally decorated trail ultramarathoners than Japan’s Tsuyoshi Kaburaki. He’s stood on the podiums of Western States, UTMB, and the TNF EC 50 Mile. However, since founding the Ultra-Trail Mountain Fuji a few years ago, he’s raced much less frequently, at least outside Japan. His last international result was a win at last year’s Bighorn 100. Before that, it was a tenth-place finish at UTMB in 2012. He did attempt Diagonale de Fous last year, but a missed gel resupply took him out on the brutal course while an injury kept him from running Transgrancanaria in March. He’s well-trained, injury-free, and ready to show what he can do!

Bonus: On pure ceiling-based ranking, Scott Jaime doesn’t fit on this list. He’s a greybeard who’s not going to run the legs off his competition. Fortunately for Jaime, at Hardrock it’s the mountains that run the legs off his competition; he runs smart, survives the mountain, and gets it done while others crumble. Last year, he took third in 26:38 after taking fourth with 27:47 in 2009. With the depth of competition this year, a podium is most unlikely for ever-smiling Scott. However, this year, he’ll have a heck of a lot more speedy guys out in front of him… to tire the legs of his competition. Watch for him to finish three (or more) spots above where he’s at in Ouray.

Other Men to Watch Out For

  • John Burton — Lots of speed and a decade of experience without a corresponding 100-mile performance; 14th 2014 Way Too Cool 50k in 3:55
  • Nick Coury — 6th 2013 Hardrock 100 in 28:50. Stress fracture in his foot likely renders any fitness moot. (Nick, please take care of yourself… the mountains aren’t going anywhere.) [Update 7/6: Nick Coury tells us that he won’t start the race due to that stress fracture.]
  • Ty Draney — 5th 2012 The Bear 100 in 20:44; 4th 2006 Hardrock 100 in 32:27
  • Adam Hewey — 10th 2014 Hardrock 100; just ran a 19:28 Western States two weekends before Hardrock
  • Mick Jurynec — 5th 2010 Wasatch 100 in 22:21; 4th 2012 The Bear 100 in 20:15
  • Jason Koop — 2nd 2014 Zion 100 in 19:13; 8th 2010 Leadville 100 in 19:40
  • Ted Mahon — 5th 2012 and 2013 Hardrock 100 in 28:20 and 28:19, respectively
  • Jeason Murphy — 4th 2013 Moab Trail Marathon; 6th 2013 The Bear 100 in 22:09

 2014 Hardrock 100 Women’s Preview

While the women’s field features two women who have a decent chance of finishing in the overall top 10, there are only 18 women in the race altogether. That and the race’s high-dropout rate mean that pretty much any woman who starts has a chance to finish in the women’s top 10. (Last year, Deb Pero was 10th out of 11 women’s finishers in 47:43.)

The Winning Women

2012 Leadville 100 - Darcy Africa

Darcy Piceu

Unless something goes horribly wrong for both of them, Darcy Piceu (formerly Africa) or Diana Finkel will win this year’s Hardrock 100.

Darcy Piceu has won the past two Hardrocks, running 29-and-change both times (2012 and 2013 post-race interviews). Her 29:09 from last year is the third-fastest women’s time in race history. It looks like Darcy’s preparatory races have gone well. If she comes to the starting line healthy, there’s no reason to think that she won’t run in the vicinity of 29 hours again this year.

There’s only been one woman to break 29 hours at Hardrock and that’s Diana Finkel, who’s done it twice. Her 27:18 from 2009 is nearly two hours faster that Darcy’s best. In 2010, Finkel held the overall race lead until Jared Campbell passed her around mile 90. The past two years, she’s had a sizable lead over Darcy very late in the race before pulling herself from the race with medical issues. At least last year, she appeared to still be running aggressively and maybe going for the overall win at mid-race. Will she adopt a more conservative strategy this year? Can she?

The Betsies

Betsy Nye and Betsy Kalmeyer, respectively, have 12 and 14 Hardrock finishes. Both are inextricably linked to the race. Last year, Nye got the better of Kalmeyer when the pair took third and fifth in 36:46 and 39:48. Nye was also third in 2011. At 48 and 52, both are running strong, but running slower than they did in the past.

The Rest of the Women

Sarah McCloskey

Sarah McCloskey

This all lined up nicely as I laid things out the afternoon of July 3rd… then, Sarah McCloskey got in off the waitlist! Sarah finished fourth at last year’s Hardrock, her first, in 36:51:03. While she finished between the two Betsies last year, her performances elsewhere suggest she should be slotted in between Diana/Darcy and the Betsies. Last year, Sarah won the Bighorn 100 and, later, the Wasatch 100 in 24:31.

  • Liz Bauer — 9th 2013 Hardrock 100 in 42:02; most 100-mile races completed in one year
  • Kim Gemenez — 7th 2013 Hardrock 100 in 41:37; 11th 2009 Western States 100 in 25:37
  • Jaclyn Greenhill — 8th 2012 Leadville 100 in 24:11; 1st Rock/Creek Stumpjump 2008
  • Suzanne Lewis — 3rd 2012 Bighorn 100 in 25:46; 2nd 2010 Wasatch 100 in 27:27
  • Tina Ure — 5th 2010 Hardrock 100 in 39:20
  • Rosie Warfield — 5th 2014 HURT 100 in 32:35

 Call for Comments

  • Diana or Darcy? Who’s taking the women’s race? Someone else?
  • Who’s going to take the men’s race? Is it Kilian’s race to lose?
  • Is either course record going to be taken down? Can a man approach 22 hours flat?
  • Any dark horses in either field?
  • Know of anyone coming with an injury or less fitness than we’d expect?
  • WHO’S EXCITED FOR HARDROCK!?