In a historic year at the Hardrock 100, the top-three men all broke the previous counterclockwise course record of 23:28:00 set by Kilian Jornet in 2015. François D’haene (pre-race and post-race interviews), Dylan Bowman (pre-race and post-race interviews), and Ryan Smith filled the podium, all finishing before sunrise on a beautiful Saturday morning, with D’haene exactly one hour ahead of Bowman. What’s more, D’haene’s time was also the fastest time ever run on the course, bettering even Jornet’s clockwise record of 22:41:33 run in 2014.
Returning champion Sabrina Stanley (pre-race and post-race interviews) missed Diana Finkel’s women’s course record of 27:18:24 set in 2009 by less than four minutes, running a strong and gutsy race throughout in her trademark style. Courtney Dauwalter led for much of the race until she was forced to drop out of her Hardrock debut due to stomach issues, leaving an open path for Stanley to the finish. Darcy Piceu (pre-race and post-race interviews) and Meghan Hicks (post-race interview) rounded out the women’s podium.
More broadly, after a two-year absence, runners were raring to go for 26th Hardrock, held on July 16 through 18, 2021 in the San Juan Mountains of southwestern Colorado. The race had been canceled in 2019 because of snow and avalanche danger, and in 2020 due to COVID-19 restrictions. That meant that all of the runners making their Hardrock debuts were originally drawn to run the 2019 race and, then, waited more than two-and-a-half years to push themselves physically and mentally in one of the hardest mountain races in the world.
Runners making their way up the first climb less than one mile in with Courtney Dauwalter leading this pack. Photo: iRunFar/Olivia RisslandWith a 48-hour limit, many runners are pushed to their breaking point, whether due to the 33,000 feet in cumulative elevation gain, the punishing average of 11,000 feet in altitude, or the inability to keep food down after a full day (or two) of hard work. The 100.5-mile loop takes runners through Silverton, Ouray, Telluride, and across the mountains and valleys in-between: even attempting to complete the course is an accomplishment in and of itself.
The 2021 Hardrock presented almost ideal conditions for runners: minimal snow on the course, as well as cool conditions and some rain and thunder but no hellacious hail or lightning. In the alpine tundra, women and men commented on the fields of wildflowers, blooming just at the right time to provide runners with a nice vista to ease the inevitable physical pain that comes with running 100-plus miles.
A special thanks to Kailas for making our coverage of this year’s Hardrock 100 possible!
Thanks to Squirrel’s Nut Butter for their support of our Hardrock coverage.
From the start, François D’haene pushed the pace. Until after Burrows aid station, about one-third of the way through the race, eventual second- and third-place finishers Dylan Bowman and Ryan Smith hung on tight, staying within five minutes of D’haene. But once the French athlete picked up his first pacer, the speedy Jim Walmsley, he began to put distance between himself and the rest of the field: a distance that only lengthened as the race progressed.
Early on in the race, the fourth- through 10-place men ran within one hour of each other with that group including 2018 champion Jeff Browning and Frenchman Julien Chorier, but that distance lengthened as night fell. By the time runners arrived at the Telluride aid station at mile 72.8, Chorier was in fourth with a comfortable 34-minute lead on Browning.
By KT aid station at mile 89.1, Troy Howard and Nick Pedatella were running neck and neck for sixth and seventh places, with Trevor Fuchs close behind, and only two miles ahead, Browning pulled cemented himself into fifth position.
While men in places four through 10 were vying for position, D’haene, Bowman, and Smith entered Silverton and kissed the rock, all of them faster Kilian Jornet’s counterclockwise record of 23:28:00. D’haene not only bested the counterclockwise record, but Jornet’s overall record of 22:41:33 set in 2014. All three entered the chute resolutely, happy to have completed the race, but obviously grateful for the challenging day in the San Juans.
2021 Hardrock 100 Men’s Results
- 1. François D’haene (Salomon) – 21:45:50 –New counterclockwise course record (Previous: Kilian Jornet, 23:28:00, 2015) and overall course record (Previous: Jornet, 22:41:33, 2014) (pre-race and post-race interviews)
- 2. Dylan Bowman (The North Face) – 22:45:50 (pre-race and post-race interviews)
- 3. Ryan Smith (La Sportiva) – 23:24:29 (post-race interview)
- 4. Julien Chorier (Hoka One One) – 25:56:57
- 5. Jeff Browning (Altra) – 26:58:16 (pre-race interview)
- 6. Nick Pedatella – 28:27:47
- 7. Troy Howard – 28:33:51
- 8. Trevor Fuchs – 29:19:42
- T-9. Kevin Shilling – 30:33:20
- T- 9. Mick Jurynec – 30:33:20
2021 Hardrock 100 Women’s Race
In signature style, Sabrina Stanley went out in front — she made it clear in her pre-race interview that she was here not only to win, but to break the women’s course record (previously set by Diana Finkel in 2009, 27:18:24). First-time Hardrocker Courtney Dauwalter (pre-race interview) moved up steadily, and by the Maggie Gulch aid station at mile 15.4, she and Stanley were running neck and neck. Past the 50k mark at the Burrows aid station, Dauwalter had put a 32-minute lead on Stanley and kept that distance through Ouray. Unfortunately, Dauwalter experienced stomach issues even earlier and was unable to keep any food or fluids down. She looked in good spirits heading out of Ouray, but dropped at mile 62 along Camp Bird Road after that, unable to continue.
Stanley pushed on through the last section of the course through darkness, and it looked for a time she may have the course record in hand, running nine minutes under the old record by the last climb at mile 93. She pushed hard and ran strong to finish in 27:21:49, the second fastest women’s time ever.
With Dauwalter out of the race after Ouray, it was a race for the final two spots on the podium. Hardrock legend Darcy Piceu (pre-race interview) looked smooth and happy throughout the race, met by her daughter at multiple aid stations, sitting for a few minutes and gulping down ramen and ginger ale. At Ouray, Piceu had an almost two-hour lead on Meghan Hicks of iRunFar (in fourth prior to Dauwalter’s drop), but Hicks threw the hammer down and flew down descents according to her pacers, and shortened that lead to 46 minutes at the final aid station, Putnam Basin at mile 94.7.
Thunderstorms moved in as the women went across the final water crossing, but eventually crossed the finish to sunshine and cheers from the crowd. Piceu’s runner-up finish means in all eight of her Hardrock starts, she’s finished first or second place, and incredible accomplishment with her remarking after the race that was the hardest one yet! Hicks rounded out the women’s podium, greatly improving on her previous two Hardrock’s (2015 as seventh woman in 39:02:58, and 2016 as fifth woman in 34:25:25) by finishing third in 33:05:02.
2021 Hardrock 100 Women’s Results
- Sabrina Stanley (adidas Terrex) – 27:21:49 – Only 3 minutes 31 seconds off the previous course record (pre-race and post-race interviews)
- Darcy Piceu (Hoka One One) – 32:08:26 (pre-race and post-race interviews)
- Meghan Hicks – 33:05:02 (post-race interview)
- Olga Nevtrinos – 36:35:26
- Heather Brooks (La Sportiva) – 38:09:00
- Betsy Nye – 39:36:00
- Pam Reed — 41:56:00
- Barbara Olmer — 43:22:00
- Marta Fisher — 45:21:47
- Betsy Kalmeyer — 45:47:17
Thank you so much to the team who helped make our race coverage happen day(s) and night(s), all over the course, in all kinds of weather, as well as in front of computer screens around the world. We are so grateful to Alex Potter, Marissa Harris, Ellie Greenwood, Olivia Rissland, Adam Gerard, Kim Wrinkle, Ashley Saloga, Bill Schum, Charles Johnston, Eric Senseman, Joe Grant, Mason Osgood, and Corrine Malcolm.