Without a doubt, this year’s Hardrock 100 fields are the best they’ve ever been. On the women’s side, you’ve got Anna Frost, Emma Roca, Bethany Lewis, and, possibly, Darcy Piceu. On the men’s side, Kilian Jornet is back for the third-straight year after setting the course record in each of the race’s two directions the previous two years. He’ll be joined at the front by the likes of Xavier Thévenard, Jason Schlarb, Timothy Olson, Jeff Browning, Nick Clark, and so many more.
This year’s run is in the clockwise direction, which is generally perceived as faster with that presumption reinforced by the current course records. What’s more, a warm late spring and early summer have left it looking like the course will have minimal snow come race day. So, with the fields, the course direction, and, possibly, the conditions, we could see both the women’s (27:18:24, Diana Finkel, 2009) and men’s (22:41:33, Kilian Jornet, 2014) overall records being challenged. We’ll update this article as the event weekend’s weather comes into better view.
As you might guess, we’ll be be providing extensive live coverage of this year’s Hardrock from the gun at 6 a.m. MDT on Friday, July 15th. Until then, we’ll have plenty of video interviews and other resources ahead of the race.
Special thanks to Salomon for making our coverage of the Hardrock 100 possible!
Thanks also to Smartwool and Ultimate Direction for their support of our Hardrock coverage.
2016 Hardrock 100 Women’s Preview
While the overall size of the field limits the absolute depth of women’s field at Hardrock, this year’s starting line will feature what’s sure to be the strongest women’s field to date.
The Potential Winners
To start off, last year’s champ Anna Frost (pre-race interview) will be returning to defend her title. Last year, Frost ran the second-fastest women’s time in Hardrock history (28:22) in only her second 100 miler after battling injury issues. This year, she’s placed seventh at the Transvulcania Ultramarathon and third at the Ultra Skymarathon Madeira. She’s spent time training in the San Juans the month prior to Hardrock.
While she’s run Leadville, Western States, and Run Rabbit Run, no American 100-mile race screams Emma Roca (pre-race interview) more than Hardrock, so it’s quite exciting to see her in this year’s race. In the past three years, she’s raced a bunch in the States with wins at the Leadville 100 Mile (2014) and Run Rabbit Run 100 Mile (2015), a fourth at the Speedgoat 50k (2013), a fifth at Western States (2015), and 11th at The North Face Endurance Challenge 50-Mile Championships (2015). Speaking more directly to her long mountain-race potential, she was third at UTMB in both 2012 and 2013 (although the race was closer to 100k in 2012).
Bethany Lewis (pre-race interview) is one of the strongest American ultrarunners that few folks have likely heard of. She holds the women’s Grand Canyon Rim to Rim to Rim FKT and held the Trans Zion FKT until late May. In the past few years she’s won The Bear 100 Mile (2013), Squaw Peak 50 Mile (2014), Wasatch 100 Mile (2014), Jemez 50 Mile (2015), Fat Dog 120 Mile (2015), and Zane Grey 50 Mile (2016)… just to name a few.
Other Top Women
The past four years, Darla Askew has run Hardrock three times, finishing third (2012), second (2013), and third (2015) with times between 31 and 34 hours. Given this year’s field, she’s a solid bet to finish somewhere between third and fifth. She took second to Bethany at Zane Grey in April finishing 47 minutes back before winning the McDonald Forest 50k in May.
With 16 finishes already, many-time champ Betsy Kalmeyer is back to run Hardrock again this year after taking sixth last year and second in 2014. Last autumn, she was the women’s winner of the 250-mile Ultra-Trail Gobi Race, which might give her a new perspective on Hardrock. She’s run a couple tune-up 50ks this spring.
- Liz Bauer — An eight-time finisher who was seventh in 2014.
- Rachel Bucklin — Fourth at the Bighorn 100 in 2014. Second at the Rio Del Lago 100 Mile last November. Sun Mountain 50 Mile champ in 2014.
- Meghan Hicks — The 2013 Marathon des Sables champ ran into breathing issues late in her Hardrock debut last year on her way to finishing 7th. In late May, she completed the 6-day, 175-mile Trans Atlas Marathon stage race in Morocco.
- Betsy Nye — With 14 finishes under her belt, Betsy Nye keeps coming. She was ninth at Hardrock in 2015 after taking third in 2014 in 42:22.
- Tina Ure — Fourth at Hardrock in 2014 in 42:45. Since then she’s finished the Tahoe Rim 200 (2014) and Bigfoot 200 (2015).
Perhaps overshadowed by Anna’s win last year, Darcy Piceu ran the fourth-fastest women’s time in Hardrock history (28:57), becoming only the third woman to go under 29 hours on the course and improve on her previous best of 29:09 from 2012. Oh, and Darcy won Hardrock from 2012 through 2014. In total, she’s been first or second in each of her six goes at the race. She’s prepared by running the Gorge Waterfalls 100k in April (5th) and Jemez Mountain 50 Mile in May (1st) as well as training on the course. Darcy remains in third on the “Veterans” waitlist the afternoon before the race with no movement on any waitlist in nearly two weeks. All runners have checked in, so it seems unlikely that Darcy will race. [Updated July 14, 4 p.m.]
Katie Grossman (née DeSplinter) is the top runner on the “Never” waitlist as I prepare this article for publication. She’s almost assuredly in. She took fourth at the Black Canyon 100k in early 2015 before ending up in the same position at the Angeles Crest 100 Mile last summer. She was once again fourth at the Georgia Death Race this March.
Petra Pirc was selected, but won’t run due to injury. The fourth-place finishers from 2013 Sarah McCloskey and 2015 Missy Gosney won’t be racing.
2016 Hardrock 100 Men’s Preview
Much like the women’s field, the 2016 men’s field promises to be Hardrock’s best to date.
The Potential Winners
Soooo… that Kilian guy is back again. Anyone willing to bet against him? Yeah, I thought not. The past two years (2014 and 2015), Kilian Jornet has shown up in the San Juan Mountains and dominated Hardrock. Aside from suiting his strengths, it’s clear that Kilian loves the race. Why else would he be back for a third-straight year and make it one of his two running races for 2016? These past two years he’s taken at least 40 minutes off the course record in each direction with an overall record of 22:41 in 2014. After having a rough go in his running-season debut at the Zegama Marathon in 2014, he dominated the competition on his way to winning the race this May.
If anyone can outrun Kilian on the Hardrock course this year, it’s two-time UTMB champ Xavier Thévenard of France. In fact, Xavier will likely be Kilian’s strongest challenger to date at Hardrock. In addition to his 2013 and 2015 wins at UTMB, Xavier has also won the UTMB sister races CCC in 2010 and the TDS in 2014. He was eighth at last year’s IAU Trail World Championships. At the end of June, Xavier was second at the Marathon du Mont-Blanc.
If both Kilian and Xavier end up in the race, it’s highly likely that one of them wins… unless something goes wrong. And things go wrong at Hardrock.
Should the Europeans stumble, I think Jason Schlarb (pre-race interview) has the best chance to take the race. In 2014, he was fourth at UTMB about an hour and a half behind winner François D’haene. He’s also won the Run Rabbit Run 100 Mile in both 2013 and 2015. He’s not run up to his ability in placing sixth at Tarawera in February and 11th at the Marathon des Sables in April. He was third at the Ultimate Direction Dirty 30 in early June.
There’s no doubt that Timothy Olson has the ceiling to race with the best given his back-to-back wins at Western States in 2012 (setting a course record) and 2013. In 2013, he was also fourth at UTMB. He’s not quite matched that level of success the past couple years. He had a rough go at his only Hardrock, finishing in just over 30 hours in 2014. He was fifth at the Quad Rock 50 Mile in May and 11th at the UD Dirty 30 in June.
Other Top Men
If you’re not a Hardrock fan, it’s quite possible you don’t know who Troy Howard is. Well, Howard’s run Hardrock three times putting up the 10th-, 14th-, and 22nd-fastest times in race history. No one else has a third-fastest Hardrock time faster than his. He’s taken second twice, in 2009 and 2013, along with fifth last year. Howard was second at both the Ohlone 50k and Squaw Peak 50 Mile in the past two months.
The only time Nick Clark ran Hardrock in 2011, he did so a mere two weeks after Western States. He still managed to finish third in 27:43, while setting the Western States/Hardrock double record. (He was third in 15:50 at States.) We’ve not seen as much of Clark the past couple years, but he’s still rolling along. In May, he won the Jemez Mountain 50 Mile for the fourth time, but finished 46th at the 119-kilometer The North Face Lavaredo Ultra Trail three weeks before Hardrock.
Jeff Browning (pre-race interview) is certainly at his strongest when he’s running 100 miles. He’s won plenty of smaller 100 milers over the past few years along with placing third at the Run Rabbit Run 100 in both 2013 and 2014 as well as at Ultra-Trail Mount Fuji last autumn. He ran Hardrock way back in 2007 when he was 15th before improving greatly with his fourth place in 2014 in 26:58. He just ran an incredibly smart race to take third at Western States in 16:30. Can he make up the 40 minutes he’s in arrears to Clark in the States/Hardrock double? That means running 27:03, just five minutes off the time when he ran Hardrock fresh. Browning has the luxury of 19 days rather than the 12 days that Clark had between the two races.
Having seen Joe Grant run a bunch of other top-level 100 milers around the world since the last time he ran Hardrock, I’m more convinced than ever that the race is his happy place. He was sixth in his Hardrock debut in 2011 before improving drastically to take second in 25:06 in 2012. The short list of folks who’ve run faster than him at Hardrock? Koerner, Meltzer, Chaigneau, Skaggs, and Jornet. Yeah. Grant just got off the waitlist and into the race at the very end of June.
Would I have known who Ryan Kaiser was prior to last June? Probably not. Then, he took 11th at Western States, won the Waldo 100k, took second at the Flagline 50k, and ended his year with a sixth place at The North Face Endurance Challenge 50-Mile Championships. Hello, Mr. Kaiser, nice to meet you. He will have a dearth of 100-mile experience compared to many in the field as he’s only run that one Western States to go along with a Pine to Palm finish in 2014. Ryan finished 39th at the Squaw Peak 50 Mile in early June. Reader Rod Bein reports that Ryan was running comfortably in second before badly spraining his ankle.
While he doesn’t race it too often, Ben Lewis seems to fare well at the 100-mile distance. Last July, he was seventh at Hardrock in 27:55. Previously, he’d been third at the Wasatch 100 (2012) and second at The Bear 100 (2011). He had a strong tune-up in late May, finishing runner up to Nick Clark at the Jemez 50 Mile.
Whether real or imagined, it kinda’ felt like Ryan Burch went off the radar for a couple years, but he’s definitely back. Last year, he won the Quad Rock 50 Mile and Never Summer 100k before finishing eighth at the Run Rabbit Run 100 Mile. In May, he won the Silver State 50 Mile in a strong time.
Fast Eddie, a.k.a. Scott Jaime is a steady Eddie at Hardrock. With eight Hardrock finishes in total, no one has a faster fourth-fastest Hardrock time than Jaime. He last ran the race in 2014, when he took fifth in 27:46. I’d place him higher, but this summer he’s attempting the Leadman competition, which includes the Silver Rush 50 Mile the weekend before Hardrock. (He’s also got the Tahoe Rim 200 in September.)
Ted Mahon has seven Hardrock finishes. He was fifth in both 2012 and 2013 before taking 10th in 2014. He’s was notably absent from ultrarunning for the better part of two years before running the UD Dirty 30 (86th) and San Juan Solstice 50 Mile (17th) in June. Now, before you think Ted’s off his game, his Solstice time was 27 minutes faster than when he ran the race before taking 10th at Hardrock in 2014 and between his Solstice times from 2012 and 2013.
- Nick Coury — Three-time Hardrock finisher including 13th in 2015; 28:50 PR at Hardrock ’13 (6th)
- Grant Guise — 2nd Northburn 100 Mile 2016; 2nd Ultra Easy 100k 2015 & 2016; 4th & 6th Buffalo Stampede 2014 & 2015. Highest upside potential of this list.
- Andy Jones-Wilkins — Former Western States/Hardrock double record holder; 5th in 28:09 in his only Hardrock (2009). Training at high level after a major hip surgery last fall.
- Mick Jurynec — 1st The Bear 100 2015; 8th Hardrock 2014 (28:28)
- Jon Robinson — 2nd Cascade Crest 100 2013; 10th Hardrock 2013
- Kevin Shilling — 3rd Hardrock 2003 (31:59); 1st Zion 100k 2013; 1st Speedgoat 5ok 2010
- Patrick Stewart — 10th Hardrock 2012 (29:04); 1st Silverheels 100 Mile 2015; 1st Bear Chase 50 Mile 2015 (6:36)
- Matthew Van Horn — 1st Pony Express 100 Mile 2013; 6th Wasatch 100 2015
A week and a half out from the race and not a single one of our notable men’s entrants from the lottery has withdrawn from the race.
There’s also been wicked little movement on the waitlists. Jamil Coury started as 12th on the “Else” list and he currently sits in fourth while Nick Pedatella started in 14th and, now, sits in sixth on the same list. The Pacific Northwest’s Masazumi Fujioka has a strong resume sitting in the second position on the “Never” wait list. [Added July 10]
Jack Pilla is fifth on the “Never” list, but has not submitted his service requirement, so I don’t think he’s eligible to race at this point. Jack Pilla is no longer noted on the wait list. [Updated July 10th] We’ll provide Jamil’s, Masazumi’s, or Nick’s resume should it become more apparent that they’ll be able to run this year. Jamil has headed over to Andorra to run Ronde del Cimes, while it seems most unlikely that Nick Pedatella will come off the wait list as he’s still sixth on the Else waitlist the afternoon before the race with all runners checked in. [Updated July 14th, 4 p.m.]
Call for Comments
- So, who’ll take home the women’s and men’s crowns?
- Who’ll follow them onto the podium?
- Who’s the most likely runner to surprise all of us out there?