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Xavier Thévenard’s 2018 Hardrock 100 Disqualification

Xavier Thévenard at Grouse Gulch, mile 58, of the 2018 Hardrock 100. Photo: iRunFar/Meghan Hicks

On early Saturday, July 21, 2018, during the 2018 Hardrock 100, the run organization announced the disqualification of participant Xavier Thévenard via its website, Facebook page, and Twitter feed. Here is the announcement:

“We were made aware that runner Xavier Thévenard was given aid outside of an aid station. After careful consideration, investigation of the facts, and conversations with the affected parties, it was confirmed that Xavier was met at a roadside two miles outside of Ouray and given ice and water. The decision has regrettably been made to disqualify Xavier from this year’s Hardrock. Our rules protect the integrity of Hardrock and the values of fairness and sportsmanship for all participants. While the violation was clear and substantive, we do not feel it was made with malicious intent, and invite Xavier to join the lottery for future Hardrocks.”

The purpose of this article is to elaborate on this story via a fact timeline and interviews with the three main participants in this incident, the Hardrock 100 race director Dale Garland, Thévenard, and the witness who reported seeing Thévenard violate the event’s rules, Tony Russ.

Timeline of Xavier Thévenard’s 2018 Hardrock 100 Disqualification

  • Friday, July 20, 2:47 p.m. — The race organization’s timing volunteers record that Thévenard arrives to the Ouray aid station, mile 43.9 and his stay as two minutes in aid. iRunFar field team reports the same.
  • Friday, between 2:49 p.m. and 5:13 p.m. — Thévenard travels the 8.9 miles and 4,000-plus thousand feet of climb between the Ouray and Engineer aid stations. [Editor’s/Runner’s Note: Bryon Powell, here. As someone who also ran the race this year (albeit it a few hours behind Xavier through the relevant section), I hope I can provide some neutral context based on my own water use between the Ouray and Engineer aid stations. Throughout Hardrock, I routinely ‘dip’ from natural water sources along the course. There is one natural water source between Ouray and the Bear Creek Trail (BCT) overpass, the Uncompaghre River about 2.4 miles after the Ouray aid station, or roughly half a mile before and 300 feet below the overpass. However, this is one if not the only flowing water source on the course that I won’t dip from due to its relatively low elevation (and the inherent risk from animal-feces runoff) and acid mine waste (the river was literally half yellow when I passed it). This year, the low snowpack and early snowmelt meant that all the small springs and creeks above the BCT switchbacks were completely dry. The first ‘drinkable’ water source I encountered was 5.5 miles after the Ouray aid station at the first crossing of Bear Creek. This is 2,400 net feet above the Ouray aid station, with a higher cumulative gain due to the undulating trail along the Uncompaghre. It took me one hour and 40 minutes to reach the creek. It was a warm afternoon and I and others I encountered were out well before this water source. There were plentiful water sources between the first Bear Creek crossing and the Engineer aid station.]
  • Friday, after 2:49 p.m. — Bystander Tony Russ witnesses and documents Thévenard and his pacer standing at the back of the open trunk of their crew car in the parking lot at of the Bear Creek Trailhead, mile 46.6. Russ tells iRunFar after the event that he witnessed Thévenard drink water and his crew do something with Thévenard’s pack, and that the incident lasted for three to four minutes. After the event, iRunFar reviews the photos Russ took, which corroborate his witness account. Russ reports what he observed to Garland at the Ouray aid station. After the event, the race organization reported to iRunFar that they began their investigation at this point.
  • Friday, 5:13 p.m. — The race organization’s timing volunteers record that Thévenard arrives to the Engineer aid station, mile 51.8, and his stay as two minutes in aid.
  • Friday, 6:33 p.m. — The race organization’s timing volunteers record that Thévenard arrives to the Grouse Gulch aid station, mile 58.4, and his stay as seven minutes in aid. iRunFar field team reports his stay as 8 minutes. The race organization reported after the event to iRunFar that they spoke with Thévenard’s crew for the first time at this aid station as part of their investigation. iRunFar did not witness this interaction.
  • Friday, after 6:33 p.m. — The race organization reported after the event to iRunFar that they were recontacted by Thévenard’s crew, who wished to update their answers to questions asked of them by the race organization.
  • Friday, 10:02 p.m. — The race organization’s timing volunteers record that Thévenard arrives to the Sherman aid station, mile 71.9, and his stay as six minutes in aid. iRunFar field team reports the same. The race organization reported after the event to iRunFar that they spoke with Thévenard here, asking him one question. iRunFar witnesses this interaction, which was brief and involved a written question asked of both Thévenard and his pacer in French.
  • Saturday, July 21, 3:24 a.m. — The race organization’s timing volunteers record that Thévenard arrives to the Cunningham Gulch aid station, mile 91.2. iRunFar field team reports the same. The race organization reported after the event to iRunFar that: they spoke with both Thévenard and his crew for 15 to 20 minutes; that Thévenard and his crew answered in the affirmative when asked a series of questions about if outside aid was provided at the location reported and if they had read and understood the rules of the race listed in the Runner’s Manual; and that they told Thévenard he was disqualified and he had the option of finishing the course as an unranked runner, but that Thévenard opted to leave Cunningham Gulch in his crew’s car. iRunFar witnessed that this meeting from a distance, but did not hear what was discussed in it.
  • Saturday, before 4:23 a.m. — The race organization posts notice of its disqualification of Thévenard to its website and social-media feeds.
  • Saturday, 4:23 a.m. — iRunFar receives a phone call from the organization confirming Thévenard’s disqualification.
  • Saturday, 6:25 a.m. — Thévenard makes a public statement on in Facebook page where he admits he took outside aid from his crew at the Bear Creek Trailhead, but that he disagrees with the severity of the penalty he received for it.
  • Sunday, July 22, about 10 a.m. — iRunFar interviews Thévenard. The transcript of the interview is shown below.
  • Sunday, July 22, about 1:30 p.m. — iRunFar interviews Garland. The transcript of the interview is shown below.
  • Sunday, July 22, about 3:45 p.m. — iRunFar interviews Russ. The transcript of the interview is shown below.

Interview with Hardrock 100 Race Director Dale Garland

iRunFar: Xavier [Thévenard] was officially disqualified at the Cunningham Gulch aid station[, mile 91.2]? Is that where it was made official?

Dale Garland: Well, he was presented two choices at Cunningham. He was presented with the choice to drop out and be treated as a dropout at Cunningham or to continue onto Silverton as an unofficial finisher if he wanted to finish the 100 miles.

iRunFar: [The organization] disqualified him there, saying, ‘You’re no longer a part of the race. You can’t go to the finish and contest it?’’

Garland: Correct.

iRunFar: He was disqualified for taking aid at the Bear Creek Trailhead[, at mile 46.6]?

Garland: If anybody looks at our updated Runner’s Manual, if you look on our Executive Rule Summary, it’s Rule Number 5, which is that runners won’t stash supplies along the course or receive aid outside of 400-foot area around an aid station.

iRunFar: You were made aware of [Thévenard’s possible rules violation] by a bystander?

Garland: I was made aware of it by a spectator who from my gathering of information was innocently taking pictures and following Xavier as he went up the Bear Creek Trail.

iRunFar: Being a fan?

Garland: Yes, being a fan, and in his picture taking he came upon Xavier and his pacer taking aid from a crew car at the Bear Creek Trailhead.

iRunFar: And they photographed it?…

Garland: He did… After that, he shared that with several people, friends primarily or acquaintances. He didn’t come directly to us. It was based upon the recommendations of his friends in the running community that he presented that to us.

iRunFar: So he explained what he saw and showed you the photo, and it was clear that this was not in the rules?

Garland: Correct.

iRunFar: So discussion was begun among the organization then?

Garland: Correct. Every year we’ve formed an infractions committee to handle any kinds of protests or infractions that are brought to our intention. It’s not the purpose to go out and look for things, but should something happen, we want to have a system in place to deal with it.

iRunFar: You brought [the report] to the committee and there was a period of discussion about it?

Garland: Correct. I think there are two things that maybe have a bearing on what some people perceive as the timing of things. One was was catching up with Xavier and his crew at a point they could talk. The other point was, in conjunction with that, finding an interpreter who could speak French so that we understood each other. Finding this in Silverton on a Friday afternoon was pretty tough.

iRunFar: The rumor is that [the organization] approached Thévenard’s crew for the first time at Grouse [Gulch aid station, mile 57.4] and then approached him at Sherman [aid station, mile 71.9]?

Garland: Yes, we sought clarification because we knew that the next place his crew could be was at Grouse. By the time we contacted his crew and asked that they stay and arranged for a translator and everything, he had already taken off [from Grouse, and] the next place we could actually engage him was at Sherman. Those were places where we could not only engage him using our Ham radio system, but also that we could have a French translator.

iRunFar: So it was basically, ‘We have received this report. What do you have to say?’

Garland: Yes, and we asked four simple questions of his crew. We asked him one simple question trying not to lead or corner or trap him or them. After that, we gathered that information and took it back to Silverton where we were recontacted by his crew stating they were uncomfortable with some of their answers and wanted to revisit some of their answers… We formed the committee again and in that process determined that asking him… with the gravity of the potential situation, we decided it was better if we asked him more than one simple forward question to get his side of the story. That’s when, again, trying to find a translator…

iRunFar: So [the organization] gathers information in a couple different locations. You make a cursory decision or…

Garland: We made a cursory decision before we went into Cunningham. The decision was [going to be] based on what we heard from him at Cunningham.

iRunFar: You had a conversation that lasted several minutes with him at Cunningham.

Garland: Fifteen to 20 minutes with a French translator. By then, the conversation and the answers to the questions had changed dramatically on behalf of both him and his crew.

iRunFar: He ultimately said [that he took the aid and that he understood the rules]? He posted afterward on Facebook and then what he said to iRunFar [on Sunday after the event] was that he agrees that he did take aid and he violated the rules, but he also says he thinks the punishment was crueler than the violation.

Garland: Correct.

iRunFar: I am wondering what you and the rules committee thought about [that statement of Xavier’s]?

Garland: Yes, that’s a topic of discussion, and to be honest, we’ve never had to deal with this.

iRunFar: Are these the first two disqualifications ever?

Garland: Yes, we had no template or metrics to do that, so we really had to come up with what we thought was an appropriate penalty. We did talk about a time penalty, but without any kind of a template or understanding of what that might look like, it seemed to us it would be a very contrived amount of time without deliberation and without looking at other models. So then a lot of people said, ‘Well, then why did you feel a need to take such an action…’ But we felt it was in the best interest of our event and the best interest of Xavier to not have this play out at the finish line.

iRunFar: The hard decision you had to make with Xavier and the additional one [about Dima Feinhaus’ disqualification]… I hear people saying, ‘In the past Hardrock might have been a little more lenient or open… Unintentional muling by pacers, like somebody carrying a water bottle for awhile.’ Is this…

Dale Garland: Is this the new Hardrock? No. In the case of Xavier, we were presented with evidence that we decided we had to do something… Both of those situations were lose-lose situations. In the case of [Dima], it was reported that somebody went off course. We went over that it was a closed course and if you go off course, there are consequences. In my understanding… these are pretty accepted norms that you only accept aid at aid stations, and if you go off course, you return to the point where you left the course. In that sense, I don’t think we’re really breaking much new ground here. We’re just abiding by what we have stated publicly in our runners’ manuals.

Interview with Xavier Thévenard

iRunFar: How do you feel about the choice of the race [organization] to disqualify you?

Xavier Thévenard: I don’t think that [the decision] was appropriate for what we did, it was only a sip of water, it feels disproportionate in comparison. We should really mention that there was a woman sharing sweets on the first summit [after the KT aid station, mile 11.5]. You could just open your hand and she’d give you some, it was considered outside the zone. Today, how many runners grabbed small things outside aid stations? You’d need to put judges everywhere and it doesn’t make sense… In all European rules, it’s one hour maximum [penalty] but you don’t disqualify someone after 145 kilometers… I wonder what the organizers would have done if we had gone through Cunningham without going through the aid station. Would they have disqualified me?… I think that they lose a bit of credibility with everything, this disqualification is disproportionate for a sip of water. We had just ran 145k and 21 hours. We are three hours ahead of Jeff [Browning]. I think that [Jeff] feels uncomfortable about all this. Everyone feels uncomfortable.

iRunFar: Where did you exactly receive aid? What was the aid that you received for being disqualified? Was it at the Bear Creek Trailhead? And what happened there?

Thévenard: After Ouray, after the tunnel, yes it is giving aid but we have to mention that there were people after Ouray that sprayed water on me as well. It was not considered external aid but it could also well be. We have to put things back in context, and sometimes it just doesn’t make sense. The disqualification is too harsh in my opinion. Yes I did take water 2k after Ouray, but someone, that I didn’t know, sprayed water on me beforehand [between the aid and where the incident happened].

iRunFar: Was it your crew [at Bear Creek Trailhead who aided you]?

Thévenard: Yes, but it wasn’t planned. We didn’t even think about it. I didn’t even think about doing something bad. I had too many things to manage with the pain, it didn’t cross my mind one second. For me, I wasn’t cheating, I wasn’t thinking about the fact that they could disqualify me for this. It’s unreal. I could have taken water from the river and it would have been the same. I did something that wasn’t in the rules. I didn’t even think about the fact that I was outside the zone, I didn’t want to cheat, it wasn’t intentional, it was on the moment but the disqualification is too strong after so much investment. It’s not even clear. If they had told me that they’d add an hour to my time, it would have been okay to me.

iRunFar: Do you think that you’ll ever try to come back to Hardrock?

Thévenard: I am a little disgusted… With the amount of investment that I gave.. This race is great. It’s a great 100 miler. The organization is super friendly and relaxed compared to European races. There is a paradox that I don’t understand between the general atmosphere and the penalty that they gave me. I am ahead of the race but I don’t consider that I am a top runner. Mistakes happen to anyone, top runner or not. These are labels that we put on people. I am neither a top runner nor an average runner, we’re here to run and spend some time in the mountains. There are limits that we give to each other but I think that this [the penalty] goes out of context.

iRunFar: I don’t know you too well, but what I have seen is that your spirit, personality, and character seems very close to Hardrock’s spirit.

Thévenard: I think that I will never understand. It’s inhumane, with all the training pain, the project, the race. We’re blocked at 145k and 21 hours! We hurt everywhere. Give me one hour but don’t disqualify me. We didn’t hurt anyone, we have to put things back in context. We didn’t cheat, there was no intention to cheat.

[Editor’s Note: Thank you to Jean-Francois Geiss and Eric Gras for their assistance with translations.]

Interview with Witness Tony Russ

Tony Russ: …I was out there, and [Xavier Thévenard] passes me, and I was like, ‘Yeah, dude, you’re winning Hardrock!’ I just wanted to see what a leader does at a point in the race like that, so I followed him…

iRunFar: This was on the trail up from Ouray as you go up next to the Uncompaghre [River]?

Russ: You go down to the Bear Creek Trailhead above that highway.

iRunFar: Right, you do that weird trail to get up above the highway to Bear Creek.

Russ: Yeah, you do that pull-off of [Highway] 550… I was planning to get out there before anyone else did to walk my dogs… When he passed me I was like, Oh, cool! I’ll just follow him a little bit back up to my car. Then I got up and saw that and I was disappointed and got really quiet and didn’t really say anything… I went to my car and called my friend and went, ‘Check the rule book for me.’ …It just felt wrong when I walked up and saw it. That’s why I took pictures…

iRunFar: Just explain what you saw. You were going behind [Thévenard] on the trail and you came up into the trailhead parking lot?

Russ: It was pretty easy to follow him… So I was keeping my dogs behind him at a respectful distance. That’s why in all the pictures he was a little bit away. Then I just popped up. As soon as I saw the top of the car and saw what was happening, I pulled my phone back out… This seems wrong. I even took those pictures and didn’t get close because everything felt weird to me at that point…

iRunFar: Were they already at the car when you came up into the parking lot, or [was Thévenard and his pacer] walking to the car?

Russ: Yeah, they were already at the back of the car.

iRunFar: And the car was open?

Russ: All I saw was Perrier… The last picture I put on Facebook was him actually drinking the Perrier…

iRunFar: What was your estimate on the amount of time they were standing there with the crew?

Russ: Three to four minutes. I had time to go call my friend. I started a video.

iRunFar: What did you do, disappear from view?

Russ: My car was across the highway, and I went to go put my dogs away.

iRunFar: You actually ended up walking past them and they saw you?

Russ: Yeah, they knew I was back there the whole time. I was talking to my dogs. I was not quiet. I was not sneaking behind them by any means. They knew I was back there. That’s what I told Dale [Garland]… They weren’t sneaky. I think I remember them laughing. They weren’t acting sneaky or malicious or anything…

iRunFar: To review what you saw, by the time you came up to the parking lot, [Thévenard and his pacer] were already at the car. The two women were out of the car and in the back with them?

Russ: Yeah, tending to him, I think, messing with his pack and doing whatever.

iRunFar: They were ‘messing’ with his pack?

Russ: Oh, yeah…

iRunFar: Did he take his pack off?

Russ: It didn’t look like he took his pack off. I only walked by briefly, so I only saw so much. That’s about it… Then I went down to Ouray still pretty much planning to tell people but still not really knowing if I should tell that aid station or if I should just, like, wait and go to the [race headquarters at the Silverton] gym at some point when I come back. I talked to a couple people, and then I saw Jamil [Coury], and I was like… I just need to do whatever he tells me to do.

iRunFar: You told him what you saw, and he said, ‘You need to contact the race?’

Russ: Yeah, I showed him the pictures, and he was like, ‘Yeah, you need to go tell Dale right now.’ …Then I told Dale because he was in Ouray right then… He was like, “Alright, this sucks, but this is why we have a rules committee. We will all talk about it.”

A Call for Civility from the iRunFar Team

We recognize that the confirmed rules breach by Xavier Thévenard and the decision by the Hardrock 100 run organization to disqualify him are contentious in their nature, and we expect that comments about it to be contentious, as well. However, we also recognize that through difficult conversations like this we as a community can learn, grow, and help define our identity. So, though we welcome discourse on iRunFar, we do require it to be civil and in adherence with our comment policy. Comments which do not adhere to the comment policy may not be published. Thank you.

Meghan Hicks: is iRunFar.com's Managing Editor 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.

View Comments (215)

  • Is the race going to question everyone to see if they took candy from the spectator? Or ask that those who did volunteer up their own DQs? It's only right. Rules are rules.

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    • I think unplanned spectators are very very different than personal crew who has all your personal/favorite aid.

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      • That's not something that is distinguished between according to the rules.

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        • Disagree. The rules state "may be disqualified" which allows for some interpretation of various infractions:

          Therefore, getting a beer from a random dude two miles from the finish is not grounds for disqualification but meeting your crew's car in a roadside pitstop before an unexpectedly hot section of the course is.

          However, it would probably prevent a lot of heartache for the organization if the clearly stepped out the penalties that will be applied for various infractions.

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    • Was his crew there to help everyone? I think fundamentally that is the difference. He obtained aid no one else did. Everyone can sip from a stream. Some rando handing out candy does so presumably to anyone passing by. There is no advantage with either of those situations. Having your own personal crew pop up in the middle of nowhere is quite different.

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  • Thanks, iRunFar, for the clear and unbiased reporting and waiting until all of the details on to present the information.

    My two takeaways from this:
    First, it's disappointing, even with the translation issues, that it took almost 9 hours from first conversation to the decision to disqualify.
    Second, I'm relieved to hear that they allowed Xavier to complete the run as an unranked runner, even though he didn't choose this option.

    Mostly, I hope that this doesn't discourage a great runner in Xavier from going back to Hardrock in the future.

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  • Tough situation. Definitely agree with Xavier’s comments about the river water concept. What’s the difference between your crew giving you water and drinking from the river yourself? Seems pretty trivial. But rules are rules I guess. Still waiting for the Hardrock board to get their heads right and kindly and respectfully ask runners with 10+ finishes to retire and stop selfishly hogging spots for those 1000 runners who haven’t run it once.

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    • I think the difference is that every racer may not have the same access to their crew at various points along the course outside of a designated aid station, whereas access to a river at a point along the course should be available to everyone.

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    • Playing devils advocate here. But are you referring to the runners with 10+ finishes who were out there making this the event that it is today? Far before ultras popularity, the races' international notoriety, ultra-specific gear/companies, ultra-specific media/websites, etc... These founders of the event should make room for the 1,000+ 26 year-old Instagram-promoting sponsored elite runner?

      Obviously being facetious, though I could argue both sides fairly equally.

      The debates of the past ~week occur every year, though they do feel a bit more vocal this year. Though I may not agree with all the decisions of Dale and the Board, I must commend them for continuing to put themselves out there to receive so much public scrutiny year-after-year of grueling preparation and work.

      I am going to go ahead here and fully acknowledge this is an instance of me "judging myself by my intentions and others by their actions". When faced with adversity Xavier just bailed to never be seen again, rather than pushing on and finishing in respect of the event and all the volunteer/community work that went into holding 2019's event. Whether the decision was right or wrong, that right there personally defined my feeling that this was the correct choice.

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      • Hi Matt,

        I saw Xavier in the school gym the next day around the time of Hardrock Breakfast/Awards Ceremony.

        Marissa

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        • Thanks for that tidbit. It's a nice note

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        • Thanks for the clarification Marissa. Definitely a tough situation for all parties involved.

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      • Perhaps Xavier chose not to continue the race in order to avoid to finishing ahead of Browning and further complicating or making the situation awkward for Browning and others. Tough call for him I’m sure.

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    • Spencer, actually entirely different. Natural water sources are available to all members of the field. Crewing outside of an aid station makes water available to those who are crewed only. We included in this article Bryon's description of the natural water available on the section of the course between Ouray and Engineer aid stations for specifically this purpose, to show what natural water sources are available to all runners during a long section of course.

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      • I agree with this, and given how little snowmelt was left this year, getting a "sip" of water would be a huge huge benefit in my eyes.

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    • The difference with drinking river water is that it’s available to every runner, not just you, and also that your crew aren’t there, in a place where they’re not supposed to be. Seems pretty simple to me...

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      • Also there is a long held distinction between supported and unsupported efforts. Of course an ultra is supported - but only in the designated areas aid stations. Water is fair game in an unsupported manor. How about wild food sources, i.e. berries? I would assume because they are available to everyone they would be ok to grab outside of the AS.

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  • Difficult decision for sure. Thanks to Dale, Xavier and Russ for making themselves available for an interview. And thanks to the iRunFar team for the coverage. It’s interesting to read that Dale and the infractions committee didn’t have a plan in place for how to respond to something like this. I’m not a race director, but I think that you could have some guidelines of cause and effect for infractions (more narrow than "may be disqualified") with the understanding that decisions can be made on a case by case basis. I wonder if 2019 Hardrock will have an updated rules handbook. Tough call, but I appreciate the transparency provided with what occurred out there.

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  • Barry,
    It really is a no win situation. You can feel for Xavier but in the end he is a professional and as such has to know the rules. Dale, on the other hand, has to worry about protecting the integrity of the race. He didn't want to disqualify the race leader but felt it was the right thing to do at the time.
    I am just glad I didn't have to make this decision and anyone who gets too upset about it needs to think about how tough it would be for them if they were on that committee!!!

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    • In the context of this run, professional means nothing. It's not a pro race. As for the integrity of the event, unequal application and overally harsh enforcement of the rules can equally be seen as compromising the integrity.

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  • Lame result - Xavier should have been given a warning and a time penalty. DQ is very overboard.. if it were Dakota Jones or another person in with the insular Colorado running community, people wouldn't have batted an eye.

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    • Yes, this is the question for which we’ll never have an answer.

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    • How about if it was an Altra sponsored runner. Altra sponsored the event; they gave Dale money. Dale gave the win to an Altra sponsored runner, Jeff Browning. Jamil runs a company that is partnered with Altra; Jamil gets money from Altra. Would Jamil have done this to Jeff Browning? Would Dale? The fact that Altra has not come into the discussion here is bizarre to me. Follow the money, it makes this decision even more suspicious.. to say the least.

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      • Joe, I think you are digging deeper than the issue goes. But at the end, that likely stems from the fact that I think more highly of the race, the organization and the RD than you do. I don't pretend to know Dale Garland or the HR100 Board members, but from what I can gather about all involved with that decision, if an Altra-sponsored athlete had done the exact same thing as Xavier had done, I believe he/she would have been disqualified as well. You clearly have less confidence that another athlete with a titled sponsor would have been treated equitably. But whether I'm being Pollyanna about it or you're being overly cynical, I hope we can agree that it's sad all the way around and not the way anyone who cares about Hardrock and the broader MUT-community would want the race to have had played out.

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        • Mark YM : great post and I agree 100%. I definitely think "cynical" is the word that comes to mind when I hear people jumping to conclusions about this being some kind of Altra money thing. As an ultrarunner who follows the sport closely I feel like I have a good perception of the values / attitudes of the community and I truly believe that Tony Russ, Dale Garland, and Jamil all would have done the same things they did had it been Browning receiving the aid and not XT. However, that's just based on my subjective assessment of the community (which is a nuanced one and takes time to develop!).

          I think it needs to be stated again that the only reason we know about Jamil's beer is because he DUG UP THE VIDEO EVIDENCE of him drinking it! Doesn't sound like the actions of someone who would try to get XT DQ'd so that a runner who shares his sponsor would get the W (seems ridiculous even typing it out). Jamil clearly thinks the topic is not cut and dry and deserves discussion- why else would he have dug that video up? Good for him.

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  • How can you not understand both sides of this issue? True, the crew should never have offered water. You can't expect a runner 45 miles into a race to fully grasp the ramifications of a sip of water. Thevenard had been doing nothing but running and taking in calories and fluid for ~12 hours at that point. It's even hard to expect the crew to fully understand the ramifications of offering their friend a sip of water 45 miles into a race on a hot day. At the same time you can see why the rule is in place. Outside aid/stashing gear has the potential for significant abuse. Running with full water bottles is without question more difficult than running with empty/near empty bottles. How much faster could Hardrock be run if the runner did not have to carry any gear or water for the entirety of the race? I don't want to know.

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    • I don't want to wade into the debate of DQ vs. no DQ (plenty of other people tackling that one), but I am going to respectfully disagree with with regards to decision making ability after 12 hours of running. I'm a back of the packer who happened to be lucky enough to get into WS100 a few years ago. I left Michigan Bluff with a pacer (yup, slow enough that I got to pick up my pacer early) and was two miles out before realizing I had no food on me. And I hadn't been able to get much down at Michigan Bluff. I was completely bonking and my brain was barely functioning. And yet, it was still functioning well enough that I did not ask, nor would I have taken food from my pacer—who had plenty—because it was against the rules. At mile 96, 1/2 a mile out of No Hands, I ran out of water. It was 9 a.m., full sun, and 95 degrees and I had to walk up hill without water for 2.5 miles. My pacer had water. Never occurred to me to take it from him. I had been on the move for 28+ hours at that point. Wouldn't have made a damn bit of difference to the race if I had broken the rules, but it would have made a big difference to me.

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  • The more I read about it, the more I feel HR made the right decision. It says a lot that Tony's intuition kicked in that this was 'wrong'. You didn't have to equivocate about it or think about this and that-- it was plainly wrong. There's a reason it didn't immediately sit well. Trust in that and don't get into abstruse "well you could dock an hour etc etc". This is ultrarunning not cycling or Ironman.

    Thevenard shouldn't be disgusted-- he has to come back and make this right. He messed up.

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    • Sorry, but for me, that brings to mind the events in the news recently of black people being reported for BBQing in their local park, black children being reported for selling water streetside without a permit, black people reported for sitting in Starbucks cafés, using community swimming pools, going to their AirBnBs, etc. Not that race or nationality had to do with this DQ. I say that to illustrate that the "it didn't sit well" thing is very much influenced by biases. As well as some people just being busy bodies without realizing it. People have acknowledged all kinds of little aid that they wouldn't necessarily report (beer...). And they try to blow this up bigger than it was. The car's hatch was open! So what? If you were waiting by you car but outside, you car's hatch would probably also be open.

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      • why was his crew drive up there at all? Wouldn't a crew just go on to the next designated aid station where crew is allowed? Why were they up there? To equivocate this into people who just happen to take a swig of a beer from a spectator or what not doesn't match up.

        If I was up a trail and knew the HR front runner was ahead of me and then I saw what Tony saw I would feel the same damn thing. Maybe there's a reasonable explanation (although one wasn't given, and they changed their story after being asked twice), but he knew in his gut something weird was up. Not saying they were malicious, maybe there was just arrogance XT was so far ahead he had it in the bag, why not meet at this road etc? The call from HR to DQ also just comes from "since you decided to make this so awkward, its easier to just cut you from the event since you didn't follow the rules". The crew shouldn't have been up there, and XT should have had the experience as an ultrarunner to tell his crew to get the hell out of there if they were cavalier about meeting him.

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        • You're making my point again. The "he knew in his gut" part. That's exactly what I'm talking about. He said himself that they weren't trying to hide anything. His first instinct was to film them to bust them rather than go up and say "Hey, you're not supposed to get aid here" and prevent the whole issue to begin with.

          On the other side, I'd suspect that they didn't have full grasp of the rules first before assuming intention to cheat, especially as they were not trying to hide anything. That's even if they spoke English, but more so since they didn't. He had an opportunity to clear things up rather than follow, hang out to spy, and photograph.

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          • So True and it goes well along the bias of the "feel wrong" argumznt.

            On this slope of "justice based on feel" we are back to darkest times.

            Agzin they had plenty water in their back oack abd explained they stop only beczuse the were well ahezd so they enjoyed the company of their wife.

            Unlike the "fake cool seriously compétitive znd réal pros" american runners, Xavier runs in an amateur style with réal job in winter and was crued by wife znd friend unlike his official crew from spondord.

            So it is a mistzke thzt he zknoledge but Please stop repeating " they are oro they knew wgzt they did etc...." it is just not that "pro" at all and nobody said it was intended or planned so there is no point in there.

            I learned how localist hardrick is in its enclosed circles wich is good to ckear the fog.

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          • Great job irf hat off !

            The altra conflictbof interest isbold but not insane either, à matter of trust/distrust.t Such an obvious and big conflict of interest raises big concerns ! What fraction of buget is it like? That is a kind of bias we are saddly used to see in usa...
            Are they transparent on that ?
            Same for ped testing were are they ?
            When it comes to fairness snd integrity thèses things are way abose sips of water even in a heat trap and planed !
            Obviously the casual wording of the rule book and the lack of anticipation of such kibd of case burst into the hand if Rd. Too bad for them but they should aknoledge the bug and show mercy instead of sacrifying the big réal winner of the " run", even if he got DQ from the "race".

            A bias I can't refrain to think of is the "flag". Basically hardrock is the only race where I ever saw so many "national" flags. Compared to utmb or other european races it feels really localist. Comparison with Western State ?
            Reading to comments hete is appaling, I never heard of such close interests

            Another typical usa bias is "harsher the punishment, the more legit we are" that is an excessive value put on one single aspect of the "law" at the expense of the "convict". Because you can punish hardest does not mean you should. Just often better to be forgiving if possible (remember Jesus ?). Here the lack of penalty référence should have been enough reason to postpone décision or moderate the penalty. In doubt justice is mercy.

            To me hardrock loses all its "cool and friendly" atractivity and looks quite hypocrit and "amateur". Why am I so harsh ? Because they are plenty of reference for penalty in similar cases. For instance, the utmb applies à 1h penalty for out of zone support. So in doubt they just kick the runner out ? What à respect for runners ! I also think if these poor guys at the back of the pack who get lost and get kicked out in an humiliating way on top of it ? Nice !
            The cheezy final "come back for next year lottery" sounds so crual, inconsistent, hypocrit and casual compared to all the runner's involvment !

            The lack of caution in the décision plus the excess of it makes enough for the amateurism critics. Maybe if hardrock and other american RD took part in the itra and other worldwide collaborations they would be aware of other's penalty ruling ? That sounds badly like another "usa isolationism" cliché !
            It seems crazy that even I would be more aware of these penalty rules than the comittee of hardrock !

            I would say hypocrit because they really hide their super harsh décision behind the holy "community" but it looks to be an easy manipulative argument. Indeed it's à first and nobody of the comunity expressed his view, only the "comittee". If there was à "vote" I see little chance for à support to DQ for such à "useless water support". Thinking about community, I think safety first and in this perspective the runner surviving thunderstruck on Handies should raise concerns right ? In France we just reroute the trails for such lethal risks. We don't care if it makes it à bit easier for some runner in the pack. They are here to cross the line not to die stupidly or take crazy risks because their is only one authorized route !
            There is à lot more things to respect and protect along fairness that is no God's will !

            Is it really necessary to talk of the fairness bias of these water sip ? It is so minute in comparison to Xavier's massive lead let aside the refills in creeks, fan's water sprays, candies and of course the moral support of the public !
            Hardrock is not à 100m sprint right ?

            Hard rock is the only race where it seems that everybody get lost at some point and yet they never question the marking. If it is part of the "game" wich I like then you don't rule it like a 100m sprint, especially with such a low finisher rate! That is adve'ture wich means massively "randomized unfairness". Perfect fairness is the reason for indoor stadiums not the outdoors !

            Not seeing the context with these refills in creeks along with innocent gifts from trail angels and so on is total blindness...or à massive double standard or plain hypocrisy ?

            The argument to "protect the fairness and community" falls flat to me, it sounds more like
            "protect my business". And it sounds like à bad move as they lost loads of credit and friendlyness.
            I will never cross the atlantic and screw up climate to get DQ in the high country because I allowed someone to give me a symbolic support !
            Basically there décision ban all what makes hardrock à frienfly race with so many help from so many people along the course ! Xavier is right to underline this incondistence. That is an overlooked consequence of this décision the Rd seems not to get, if one follows their argument then the helpfull atmosphère is doomed.
            Then what ? "all smile and no help", lost on the storm and no B plan ?

            What do they plan for runners helping one another ? Teaming against other is DQ, giving water to à fellow runnet means DQ too ? I remember Mike Foot helped Kj witj his shoulder DQ too ? That is downright insane but that's what they bring "us" to.

            One interesting remark is that some people defend the decision, some where "shocked" by the picture, but nobody questions Xavier's version and nobody ever said "what an unfair advantage he got". I wouldn't say the same of the massive support crew that elite runners enjoy. Once again othet races limit that to ensure fair-play.
            Hardrock is not the most fair-play race since lottery selection that makes the élite pack suite random. From there it is absurd to go nut about fair-play in hardrock wich is meant to go to the high country and not provide the fairest competition as utmb tries to provide.

            Légal decidion does not mezn legit or ethic décision, that is Why we have judges and juries !
            They did not have to DQ, they just had to give an hour of penalty and everybody was ok !
            In short the error of Xavier had no impact on the rsce result and fairness but the Rd décision got à massive one. And it pushed toward a dramatic change in the atmosphere of hardrock !

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        • You left out the fact that Altra, as the "diamond" sponsor of the event; they gave Dale a lot of money. They also give Jamil money. His company is partnered with Altra. You fail to note that Altra is also the sponsor for Jeff Browning who they gifted the win. Altra is likely to capitalize on this win in the form of advertising; expect "Jeff Browning, winner Hardrock 100 2018" ads. The Hardrock organizers have a documented history of impropriety and have faced legal issues recently. To me, it sure seems like this decision was not about water.. it was about money.

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      • Black people sitting in Starbucks aren't violating any rules or laws. Thevenard and his crew did. It's totally incomparable.

        It is tough to know if the race organizers would've enforced the rules equally had it been a different runner, but I hope and suspect they would've.

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        • I'm talking about the biases of the observer, not what the one being observed is doing, so it is comparable. For example, people observed Jamil accept the aid out of the aid areas in 2015. The observers there weren't rules-are-rules guys, so he wasn't reported.

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          • Beer is never aid. Any caloric benefit is outweighed by the negative effects of alcohol and diuretic repercussions of ingestion. To compare beer to a couple sips( how big are those sips??) of cold water before a hot climb at an illegal aid station is lacking common sense.
            I’d give the DQ stick to Walmsley or Dauwaulter if they had done this too.

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          • Camille Herron drinks beer in some of her ultras, including the 100 mile world record at Tunnel Hill, and has said that it helps her. I trust she knows can judge that, no scientific reason necessary mm, though she is a scientist.

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      • Bias is endemic and seemingly invisible. And everyone seems to have lost track of the other dimension of this discussion: HR is a race that purposefully engineers its start line to preferentially feature old, white men. Women are 13% or less of the starting line - *whatever your statistical justifications*.
        DQing is a tough tough penalty for a sip of Perrier. Sort of like 30% tariffs on Canadian and European steel.

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    • Were is your argument ?

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  • I think people are missing the point of the rule. Its not about being fair to all the runners, or how difficult it is to carry water bottles, etc.

    The reason for the rule is that if runners were allowed to take aid outside of aid stations the race would very quickly turn into an even bigger zoo that it is. There would be 140+ crew vehicles trying to follow their runners on some of the road sections, many of which are 4wd roads in poor shape and not designed to handle that amount of traffic. Limiting aid to aid stations protects the resource by concentrating crew to areas accessible by better roads and minimizing traffic.

    In this case, one runner taking aid on a good paved road may not be a huge deal but if it were allowed and 8 hours later there were 50 vehicles at the BCT trailhead waiting for their runners it would be a mess and an accident waiting to happen.

    I would guess that this is a condition of their permit and thus, in addition to the issue of fairness, being lenient in this situation could jeopardize their permit. Even if it is not specifically stated in their permit, there are enough locals already annoyed by the whole race that if it allowed rolling aid stations there would likely be a lot of complaints.

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    • ^^^This. It is quite clear in the comments who has been to HR (in any capacity), and not. I have been since 2010 (one race, the rest pace) and still feel like an unqualified rookie, but these particular rules are as clear to me now as they were then.

      To those who never have been:
      1) The location of the infraction is one of the most natural, easy spectating spots (outside aid stations) on the entire course, especially in the CW direction. It's ON THE HIGHWAY (no 4x4 necessary) just 2 miles from Ouray in the direction back to Silverton. It's also a great place for on-course pics.
      2) In '12 I advised my crew to stop there for pics, ALSO WARNING THEM NOT TO OFFER AID TO ANYONE (me or otherwise). They did (get pics), they didn't (offer aid).
      3) Friday (unaware of brewing storm) I stopped there with the family of my runner, instructing them get pics, NO AID. We cheered several others before ours arrived - and no aid occurred. Simple.
      4) In '12 my pacer advised of this Ouray heat-trap, and of the godsend creek up the trail (described in the article above). I already knew the creek, but did not know of the heat-trap - and that creek can't come soon enough!
      5) This year I sent course notes to my runner, including the Ouray heat-trap. So while his family took pics he and I discussed the upcoming creek.
      6) In '16 I saw Bryon (the fearless) on this trail with his pacer. It was hot - much hotter than this weekend. Several racers noted the same in post-race comments (see archives).
      7) I'm confused by some of the comments that read as if it's XT's first HR rodeo (re: "a mulligan is in order"). Please refer to 2016 results - 3rd, in the CW direction, in that heat, co-leading with Kilian past Ouray. The post-race interview included comments about heat and altitude - draw your own conclusions.
      8) Mine - a sad day for all. I like both the runner and the RD - but don't envy the position the RD was put in. Hopefully lessons have been learned. One such lesson already has for me - amidst all this mess a very deserving champion was crowned. Thank you Jeff - for being the calm in the storm, for being everything Hardrock!

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  • 1) This is really impressive reporting, given the “staffing” and timing of things.

    2) Certainly feel for all parties involved.

    3) Hardrock ought to be more clear on penalties.

    4) Frankly, however, I remain unclear how there can be penalties at all for a so-called run. I know that seems like bad-faith nitpicking, but I think being clear about what this race is—a race—might help avoid things like this in the future.

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  • Good detail on the aid times. A little confusing on the Friday 6:33 pm-Grouse Gulch @58.4 and Friday 10:02 pm Sherman @58.4?

    Looks to be correct in the question and answer portion:
    iRunFar: "The rumor is that [the organization] approached Thévenard’s crew for the first time at Grouse [Gulch aid station, mile 57.4] and then approached him at Sherman [aid station, mile 71.9]?"

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    • Abran, yep, you found a typo, and it's now fixed. To confirm, in this year's clockwise direction, Sherman aid station is at mile 71.9. I wrote this article in the middle of the night last night and I've only slept 8.5 hours in the last three nights. We might should all play the game of 'finding Meghan's typos.' :-) Thanks!

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  • Missing the point of the rule ?
    Then what about Jonathan Basham ? (source : https://www.irunfar.com/2018/07/2018-hardrock-100-results.html)
    AJW July 23, 2018 at 12:35 pm
    Yep, Jonathan Basham, Barkley Finisher, in fact. Ended up way lost down a drainage about four miles away from Cunningham. Got a ride back to close where he went off course, hiked the rest of the way back to that point and then went on to finish the race (albeit about 7 hours slower than he intended and after covering close to 115 miles)

    [Unfounded accusation redacted by editors because it violates iRunFar comment policy.]

    What about Jamil Coury drinking a beer offered to him during the HR 2015 ? (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YcvNTVdM92w&feature=youtu.be&t=14m1s)

    So some people would be above the rules ? or is just that some behaviors are reported as suspect and some not ?

    Also, if like Tony Russ said " They weren’t acting sneaky or malicious or anything…" why didn't he rush to them and told them "Hey, do you know you're not supposed to do what you're doing ?" Why did he stay passive if he felt like they were not being sneaky ?

    The same thing happened to Caroline Chaverot at the 2014 CCC where her husband accidentaly helped her outside the station. But even the CCC having many more participants and coverage, she didn't get DQ, but instead got a time penalty (1 hour).

    I agree that rules are supposed to be followed but first we ALL know that Xavier is not fluent in english (see irunfar videos) so he may not have totally grasped the rules.
    But why not a more appropriate penalty than being DQ 9+ hour after the fact ?

    All in all, we're not talking about the Tour de France where a bunch of asthmatics are racing each others... We're taling HardRock 100! An endurance run no ?

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    • Quite the hypocrisy of Jamil then...

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      • ABSOLUTELY WELL DONE JAMIL ......slow hand clap

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      • Jamil who runs a company that is partnered with Altra; Jeff Browning's sponsor. Altra, who paid Dale money; main sponsor of the race.

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        • Jamil works with many companies and is a Solomon athlete so your repeated accusations of impropriety hold no merit.

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    • Jamil runs a company that is partnered with Altra. He gets money from Altra. Altra was a top level "diamond" sponsor of the event; they gave Hardrock organizers lots of money. Altra sponsors Jeff Browning. It kind of seems to make more sense when you acknowledge these facts.

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  • Not being familiar with the course, ignoring giving aid, how common is it for crew to see their runner at that location? I don’t know odd I am but I never really see my crew unless they can crew me.

    Personally I’m not a fan of time penalties. I understand a desire for proportionality but it seems to me they could make “cheating” a strategic decision. If the wheels are falling off an hour can go away quickly (not that it appears this was happening here) and a well timed extra aid station can prevent that.

    But the issue of well-meaning spectators trying to help is an issue needing clarity. Personally I never take drink/food because the middle of a race isn’t the time for me to be taking gambles with my calories. But I know others do like that feeling of community.

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  • This still seems harsh to me. Some thoughts:

    (1) Are crews told explicitly to avoid the infraction location, or just to not aid their runner there? If the former, then a DQ is a bit more reasonable. Especially since parking in valid locations is mentioned as a new area of emphasis for this year (in the runner's manual).

    (2) A time penalty seems like a natural middle ground, no? A 1 or 2 hour penalty would surely be more than any advantage gained here. Going forward this could be used as an illustrative case where future DQs could be threatened/applied.

    (3) If HR is actually concerned about the integrity of the event then disclosing non-lottery picks + some form of limited PED testing would be nice.

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  • This whole situation reminds me of the short story "The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson. The story is about the trappings of unbending traditions or rules. It's not like he was taking an IV or eating a buffet, we are talking about a sip of water here. Good thing the San Juans are not going anywhere and we can all enjoy the beautiful trails any other day of the year, skipping the Hardrock Circus.

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  • Good reporting.

    It feels harsh and extreme given the violation. Given that it is hardrock and rules should be followed, a tough penalty would have been more than enough. A 4-5 hour penalty could have prevented a win and respected all rule abiding runners and could have nodded to the fact that the violation does indeed seem unintentional and rather minor. In the end Jeff would have still won and Xavier could have finished top 5 respectively.

    Then Hardrock could use the case as an example as it has here. I think in the end, the dq actually strays from the ethos of ultrarunning and hardrock. Funny that there is probably no drug testing but that a great runner got dq'd over a bottle of water

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  • While I appreciate the sentiment of those who feel the punishment was too severe, one thing I worry about when we start asking RD's to quantify the infraction is that it forces them into a weird sort of math that I think makes the situation even worse.

    If a sip of water is worth one hour, then what about a refill of a bottle? Is a sip of tailwind worth more or less and a full bottle of water? What about a couple gels?

    I can't imagine being in the RD's position on this one, but I'd hate to make things worst by making them pull out their slide rulers every time someone breaks a rule.

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    • I think RD's always have to do a similar calculation deciding whether or not some critical threshold of rule-breaking has been crossed to warrant a DQ. Apparently past documented issues have not reached this threshold. Time penalties (or similar) allow for clearly unacceptable, but non-malicious, behavior to be actively discouraged without ruining the months of effort required to prepare for such a grueling event. Reading the above this incident looks more like carelessness and poor judgment rather than an effort to cheat.

      While I am somewhat critical of the final decision, I do think that Dale Garland (and others involved) handled the process leading up to that decision very well.

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  • I think this situation draws an interesting discussion of why we do races and the people specifically involved in Hardrock. Part of the challenge of a 100 miler is the continuous push and distance between aid stations. I can do a Hardrock fun run over a couple of days, but that defeats one of the singular challenges of a 100 mile race. Likewise, distance between aid stations is a unique challenge to races that can be avoided by simply making it a fun run. For instance, one of the challenging aspects of the San Juan Solstice is the distance between aid on the continental divide...that's part of the race challenge and how you manage your effort/resources on race day. Regarding the people involved in Hardrock, I'm referring to the "graduate" level experience of the participants.These aren't weekend warriors who've never been involved in races. Xavier has done Hardrock previously along with a staggering list of world-class ultra events. This was a "crew car" at a critical point in the course on a hot day, and Xavier and/or his pacer should've used better judgment.

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  • There is no good solution here, but the DQ is the best of the worst. I realize people are making this to be just a sip of water, but it's really about the crewing at an inappropriate point to be more specific. Beyond competition, HR provides the various administrative entities (e.g. Forest Service) it receives permits for with info about where runners and crew will go. Not penalizing severely would send the message to the Forest Service that HR is ok with allowing crews to go wherever they want, which would give the Forest Service a great reason to not grant future permits for environmental/ecological/whatever they want reasons.

    A time penalty opens up another can of worms for sure. If it's fair to give a one hour time penalty for a sip at a non-crew point, then what are two sips worth at a non-crew point? What about 4 sips of coke or 6 sips of coffee at a non-crew point? What about a rain jacket that someone may have forgotten while swapping packs at an aid station while going up Handies?

    I really wish Xavier would've gone ahead and finished regardless. He seems like a decent guy. And while I'm sad for Xavier as others have pointed out, I'm also sad for the other runners whose accomplishments in finishing have been overshadowed here.

    But life is amazing otherwise, right?

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    • If the point is to forbid crews and publicvto go where they want to then it is an entirelly différent rule.
      Does not talk about the aid or what.

      Given the fact that it's à road... It make no sens to prevent its use the very day it tirns out to be usefull right ?

      If they want to be more strict they can changé the rule for next year and everybody hope they will at least clarify.

      Still the rule never said he had to be DQ, the fact he could does not mean he should nor that the décision can be made without even consudering the other races orevious décisions (utmb fir instance).

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  • I really feel for Xavier, the water he took on from his girlfriend would not have altered the result of the race ( apart from the DQ ) he was a long way in front and had earned the win. The DQ is way way to harsh and goes against what I thought was the Hadrock spirit.I really hope Xavier moves on from this and continues to race as he is a great runner and I for one will be cheering him on.

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