2018 Hardrock 100 Preview

Come the morning of Friday, July 20, 145 lucky runners will set off for 100 miles of beauty and challenge through southwestern Colorado’s San Juan Mountains in the Hardrock 100. Along the way, they’ll climb (and descend) 33,000 feet all at high elevations of up to 14,000 feet.

Despite the insistence of some that it’s a ‘run’ rather than a ‘race,’ there’ll certainly be some at the front of both fields going for the win or another top position. It’s looking like the 2017 edition may become a high point in the race’s competitiveness for both the women’s and men’s fields–it was perhaps the most competitive year the Hardrock 100 might ever see. While this year’s race lacks some of the depth and star power of last year’s race, its competitiveness is more along the lines of ‘normal’ for the Hardrock 100 and this year’s edition will certainly feature strong women’s and men’s races for the win.

Ahead of the race, we’ll publish interviews with some of the race favorites and, of course, we’ll be covering the race live starting at 6 a.m. Mountain Daylight Time on Friday, July 20. Stay tuned!
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A special thanks to Smartwool for making our coverage of the Hardrock 100 possible!

Thanks also to Altra and GU Energy Labs for their support of our Hardrock coverage.

2018 Hardrock 100 Women’s Preview

Here are the women we expect to be in the hunt for the top finishing positions.

Top Women

Nikki Kimball - Western States 100

Nikki Kimball

Nikki Kimball (pre-race interview) is running Hardrock! This iconic ultrarunner who has done–and won–some of the toughest events out there finally gets her shot at the Hardrock 100. We could spend this whole preview highlighting the appropriate accolades Nikki has achieved ahead of her first appearance at this race: she’s a three-time Western States 100 champion; a one-time UTMB champ; one-time Marathon des Sables champion; a winner of, I don’t know, dozens of trail ultramarathons; the women’s supported FKT holder for Vermont’s Long Trail; the course-record holder of the Bridger Ridge Run, the toughest race you’ve probably never heard of (unless you live in Montana)… you get the point, right?

Sabrina Stanley (pre-race interview) made a big splash last year when she took third at the 2017 Western States 100. Some of Sabrina’s other top performances have been a third place at the 2018 HURT 100 Mile, a fifth at the 2017 Run Rabbit Run 100 Mile, and a fourth at the 2016 Leadville Trail 100 Mile. Sabrina moved out to the San Juan Mountains this summer specifically to train for Hardrock, even bowing out of her Western States entry to give it her all. Though I think Sabrina and Nikki are entirely different runners–a young gun with fire and specificity training versus one of the most experienced and toughest women out there–there’s something to be said for the fact that Sabrina ran 29:45 at the 2018 HURT 100 while Nikki did 29:46 the year before. This will be fun to watch.

2013 Hardrock 100 - Darla Askew

Darla Askew

Darla Askew, this could be your year! I believe Darla has five Hardrock 100 finishes, with her best time of 31:09 for second place five years ago. She was sixth in 33:54 at last year’s edition. Last month, she took second at the 2018 San Diego 100 Mile. Darla is quiet and fierce, and she races without flashiness. With certainty, she’ll put her head down, smile a lot, and race well from start to finish.

Japan’s Kaori Niwa (pre-race interview) is definitely the biggest X factor in the women’s race. Kaori seems unfaltering at the tough mountain ultras she undertakes. As examples, she’s been eighth and fourth(!!!) at the 2016 and 2017 UTMBs, second at the 2018 Ultra-Trail Mt. Fuji, and second at the 2017 Ronda dels Cims. To compare her to the Hardrock women who’ve preceded her, her 2017 RdC finish was in 40 hours and change, while multi-time Hardrock champ Darcy Piceu just ran 36 hours and change at this year’s RdC. Her fourth at last year’s UTMB showed just how strong she is in difficult conditions. I am so curious about her Hardrock potential.

More Women to Watch

  • Betsy Kalmeyer — Going for her 19th Hardrock finish; many Hardrock wins; 2nd Hardrock 2014
  • Betsy Nye — 6th Hardrock 2016; 9th Hardrock 2015; 11 times on the Hardrock podium
  • Cindy Stonesmith — 4th 2017 Ozark Trails 100 Mile

Notable Withdrawals

  • Anna Frost — Made it up to as high as third on the Everyone Else waitlist, but pulled herself off it sometime before July 6
  • Andrea Huser — Chosen in lottery but pulled out of the race due to health issues by early May

2018 Hardrock 100 Men’s Preview

Let’s take a look at the top men running this year’s Hardrock 100.

Top Men

2016 Hardrock 100 - Xavier Thevenard

Xavier Thévenard

France’s Xavier Thévenard (pre-race interview) could win Hardrock by a country mile. With Kilian Jornet not at Hardrock for the first time in five years, the whole men’s racing dynamic is going to change. Case in point, Xavier took third to a tying Kilian and Jason Schlarb in 2016, running 23:57, what was the fastest runner-up time in the history of the race… by almost an hour. Though he’s just 30 years old, Xavier has some incredible performances on his resume, including two UTMB wins in 2013 and  2015 and a fourth place there last year. He should dominate.

Mike Foote withdrew from this year’s race on July 11. [UpdatedMike Foote has finished Hardrock three times–in 2010, 2015, and  2017, and taken second each time. How’s that for consistency? While he is choosy about races these days, when he marks an effort as an ‘A’ goal, he shows up ready to deliver from start to finish, rarely slowing later in the effort. In writing that, I’m thinking of the 24-hour vertical ski record effort he did last winter, where his final splits didn’t look like he’d been skiing for a full day nonstop. This could be Foote’s year at the absolute front.

2016 Western States 100 - Jeff Browning

Jeff Browning

Jeff Browning (pre-race interview) just got into the race yesterday(!!!)… and his entry has changed the men’s racing dynamic. Just four weeks before Hardrock, Jeff took fifth at the 2018 Western States 100. He’s familiar with this double, though, after turning in a third at the 2016 WS 100 and, then, a fourth at Hardrock three weeks later, setting the WS 100/Hardrock double record along the way. This year, he’s got an extra week of recovery time. Here’s hoping Jeff’s recovery has been sound, and, if so, this is going to be another fun race to watch.

You have to put Troy Howard (pre-race interview) into the quiet influencer category when it comes to Hardrock. He’s another guy who has finished twice multiple times, in both 2009 and 2013. And he also finished fifth in 2015, to boot. But even if you’re a die-hard fan of the sport, there’s still a chance you haven’t heard of him as he goes about kicking Hardrock butt without fanfare. Just a couple weeks ago he was 12th at the 2018 San Juan Solstice 50 Mile, presumably as a tune-up.

More Men to Watch

  • James Bonnett — 2nd Zane Grey 50 Mile 2018; 18th Hardrock 2017
  • Benjamin Bucklin — 1st River of No Return 108k 2018; 4th Sean O’Brien 50 Mile 2017
  • John Fegyveresi — Barkley Marathons finisher
  • Jesse Haynes — 20th Western States 2018 and tackling the WS 100/Hardrock double; 8th Western States 2017; 10th Western States 2014 and 2016
  • Mick Jurynec — 1st Bear 100 Mile 2015 and 2016; 8th Hardrock 2014
  • Jayson Kolb — 1st Eastern States 100 2017; 8th Cayuga Trails 50 Mile 2017
  • Ted Mahon — 9-time Hardrock finisher, including 12th in 2017 and 7th in 2016; Nolan’s 14 finisher
  • Jason Poole — 8th Hardrock 2013; 9th Hardrock 2012
  • Jeff Rome — 8th Hardrock 2017; 15th The Rut 50k 2014
  • Brendan Trimboli — 8th Jemez 50 Mile 2018; 11th Hardrock 2015
  • Mike Wardian — 10th Leadville 100 2017; 1st Eastern States 100 2015

It’s worth noting that both Jamil Coury (3rd 2nd Everyone Else) and Luke Nelson (3rd Never) are high on their respective waitlists. We’ll fully add them to the preview if either gets in. [Added July 11]

Notable Withdrawals

  • Adam Campbell — No longer on the entrants list as of July 9
  • Mike Foote — Withdraw from the race on July 11th.
  • Kilian Jornet — Had an automatic entry from last year’s win, but withdrew from the race on June 20

Call for Comments

  • Who do you think will before the first woman and first man to finish?
  • Who do you think will surprise everyone at this year’s Hardrock?
Meghan Hicks

is the Managing Editor of iRunFar and the author of 'Where the Road Ends: A Guide to Trail Running.' The converted road runner finished her first trail ultramarathon in 2006 and loves using running to visit the world's wildest places.