Anna Frost’s Hardrock 100 Application Essay

[Editor’s Note: We don’t currently see a qualification-via-essay route on Hardrock 100’s qualifying standard page, but have heard of such allowances in the past. As you can see from the lottery list (pdf), Anna’s essay got her onto it. Inclusion in the lottery list, of course, does not guarantee entry. The Hardrock 100 lottery takes place on Sunday, December 16.]

I have to admit the first time I spoke about HR100 from the shores of La Palma – Canary Islands I questioned “why?”

As I approached the San Juan’s this July with TonyK he said to me, “do you still want to know why?”

I knew. I could see it. I could feel it. There was no explaining it.

On the dusty road of Silverton we stopped at the Mobius Café, along with all the other HR100 enthusiasts. There was an edgy buzz. Hal had a determined glitter in his eyes. Joe was bouncing off the walls. Dakota was snoozing with his book on the big sofa in the corner. Bryon Powell was on his 16th coffee and tinkering away on iRunFar.

Hardrock 100 2012 - Dakota Jones - Anton Krupicka - Anna Frost - Bryon Powell

Part of the Crew – Dakota, TonyK, Frosty & Bryon.

The banter continued into the dark starry night at the roadside camping near the final aid station. Wolfepaw, DBo and The Foote joined in. The air was filled with freedom and the power of the huge mountains. And soon these energies would be joined as the 140 lucky people took to their personal challenge.

Running past the little metal markers sparkling in the hot summer sun set me off giggling, laughing and breathing in amazement that this was really the race route.

I quickly realised that keeping this run to a limit of 140 was a gift. If you got in, you were a lucky one.

What I saw that weekend while crewing for Joe captivated me. I have never done a 100-mile run. I know, as TonyK has told me, I can’t comprehend the pain until amongst a 100-miler. But I have run through days and nights in adventure racing, I have felt the pain of 50+ miles, I have run when already aching from days on my feet in stage races. I am intrigued to go further. I want to feel the HR100. I want the huge beauty of the course and the people that are lured in by its presence to inspire me. To push me during the mental and physical barriers.

2012 Hardrock 100 - Mike Wolfe - Anna Frost - Anton Krupicka

Wolfe, Frosty & Krupicka preparing for Joe Grant’s arrival.

If I receive a gift of being pulled out of the lottery, I will live and breathe the HR100. It will be my light, my energy and my heartbeat and on run day I hope the mountains will share their power with me.

As a professional runner for Team Salomon, I will come prepared with a family of support crew to guide me through the tough times and friends from the running community to laugh and probably cry with the beauty of the summits and the determination from the valleys.

Please consider this as a heart felt application essay.

[Extensive exemplary accomplishment list omitted.]

Mobius Cafe ad

[Additional Editor’s Note: Since Anna mentioned Mobius in her essay, I had to note that the cafe is a Hardrock 100 sponsor as well as owned and operated by trail runner extraordinaire, Megan Kimmel.]

There are 53 comments

  1. LongRun

    I thought I heard a faint whisper from your "inner beast"…you the one that told Magellan to set sail, and Hillary to climb Everest, and Neil Armstrong to get out of the Landing vehicle and walk on the moon. Hope it gets you where you want to go…seems like it has in the past. Good luck.

  2. Slow Man's Advo

    So, If I'm correct here.. a well qualified professional ultra-runner submits an essay along with a long list of accomplishments in order to have a chance at a spot in a race with a pre-determined entry method.. thereby taking a spot (or potential spot, as she is only on the lottery list) away from another individual, who has completed said pre-requisites and complied with the well known and pre-determined entry method.

    So as ultra-running continues to gain popularity and attract more elite runners are we to expect that the well-known races will continue to fill up with elite's first? Or that they will be given preference to entering these events.

    Now, I'm sure Anna is a great person and wonderful trail and ultra-running advocate. I'm also sure that she has the stamina and the ability to complete a 100 mile race. I'm also a little curious why if so inspired she didn't go home sign up for another 100. (maybe one on the qualifying list) bang it out, do her volunteer work and then apply. She mentions this inspiration in July. I'm pretty sure that a couple of these qualifying race took place since then.

    So.. those were my first thoughts when reading this article…

    Also, remember that Anna would fit in the "First time runner" category. Effectively taking away 1 of 35 spots. That's a lot smaller number than 1 of 140.

  3. stack

    "So as ultra-running continues to gain popularity and attract more elite runners are we to expect that the well-known races will continue to fill up with elite’s first? Or that they will be given preference to entering these events."

    for some races… Yes

    next question.

    seriously though… is it that bad of a thing that she got considered? if 1/140 got in because they were an international elite woman then good for her and good for the race… not to mention she's not really 1/140… she's one of how over many thousand are in the lottery.

    i know there are only so many spots and this is a lottery in the first place but if this race said they were giving out 20 elite spots (15 men and 5 women or 10 men 10 women … i only said 15-5 to see if you were paying attention Ellie ;) then there would still be 120 spots open for the rest of us. A huge majority… people will always find something to complain about but this seems very fair to me. What if the race somehow was allowed to bump up from 140 to 160 and decided to use those spots for elites? Did that harm any of the common folk in any way… no but surely someone would cry that its not fair.

    If Anna gets in she'll be "taking someone's spot"… what she's going to do with that spot will surely do more for our sport and the race than many of the other entrants will. What about someone getting in from the lottery that is currently injured but hopes to get better in time for the race… you never hear anyone cry foul about that but it could be said that the 'taking someone elses spot' phrase would apply more aptly to them than someone like Anna.

    1. Greg

      The contention isn't that an elite runner might be given a spot; rather, it is that perhaps the status as an elite runner somehow exempts one from needing to qualify.

      Also, as has previously been pointed out, as a first timer it isn't one slot out of 140, it is out of 35.

      1. Jill Homer (@AlaskaJ

        A friend of mine was allowed to enter the Hardrock lottery last year through this provision. He'd never completed an official 100-mile run, but he did finish the Alaska Wilderness Classic, a 150-mile trail-less event in Alaska. He wasn't an elite runner, just qualified in other ways. He didn't get through the lottery, either.

        As far as lottery standings, I fit into the same category as Anna, and our chances of being drawn are about 2 percent. Yes, worse than anyone in Western States. That's the reality, but it's not technically impossible. Best of luck to her.

        1. Advocate

          Good to know about the precedent! So is the 100 mile qualifier not really a qualifier so much as a "can you seriously ve considered about to finish this thing?"..

          Also, I get that the statistical chances of being entered are still very low. 2% is still more than the %0 of the person that didn't get considered from their essay who didn't complete the prerequisites.

          1. Greg

            In the end, it is what it is. I don't have any real issue with it, but I don't really like it either. If there are standards, then go with them. This is my first year in the lottery not because I didn't want to be in the lottery last year or was previously uninspired by Hardrock but because I hadn't yet qualified. Moreover, it is noteworthy that the 100 mile qualifier isn't actually any 100 mile race. My first 100, Old Dominion, isn't considered a qualifier. So I went out and ran one that is! So be it; I waited, so can others, no?

          2. Matt

            I know of another on the applicant list who applied via the essay having not run 100, but has plenty of mountain and running experience. I suspect it's a lot more common than people realise. My understanding around the regulations was that it's there because 100's aren't common outside the US.

        2. Mike Hinterberg

          What Jill said (Good luck, btw!)

          There's a precedent for this for HR not related at all to speed or elitism, but traditionally to allow those that didn't have as much access to running a 100M to provide proof of capability. And it gives a lottery slot, not guaranteed entry. Doesn't bother me at all.

          Anna's essay, and HR's decision, appears to me to be based on the capability and desire, not a claim of deserving it more because of a perception of elitism. I find that refreshing, and disagree with stack's assumption above that "elite" runners necessarily give more to the sport. As Geoff alluded to in his column — also refreshing — there are different metrics to the "value" of runners and running, and he also observed that labels were often assigned externally, not by the runners themselves. (As but one example, you may be interested to know that one of the very last finishers in the HR in previous years is a prolific author and mountaineer).

          Considering the run's limited (by law) capacity to provide an amazing experience in our public wilderness, I continue to applaud HR's decision to balance entry based on both capability and desire. Fortunately, the new lottery vastly improves the odds year-over-year for continued entrants, so perseverance will help greatly if you don't get in the first year.

          1. stack

            re: "stack’s assumption above that “elite” runners necessarily give more to the sport."

            forget the term 'elite' (i read geoff's column as well and agree that some get caught up on the specific term)… lets just use examples of Geoff, Tony, Frost, Kilian as examples… a lot of us wouldn't know about some really cool races/trails if it wasn't for them. They have a following that looks for their results, sees where they are running/racing on places like IRF and of course reads their blogs and articles. I know a lot of people probably don't think HR needs more of a following and I'm not saying it specifically about HR but Anna even blogging her entry essay brings a different light/perspective to this race and I'm sure she would if she had a chance to race in it as well. Sounds cheesy but probably true that some young girl in NZ might read her post someday and dream about how cool it would be to run in the Mts in the USA and start running at home and become a lifelong runner because of it.

            Joe (or Jane) Schmoe has the possibility to have that same impact with someone in their life of course… their reach is just not as broad as the 'elite' types who have a large following.

            not to mention the impact with sponsors and other areas.

            in my experience every type of runner in an ultra serves a purpose and its good we have races with a good mix of all of them. From the front runners, to the mid packers, to the guy running in honor of a lost loved one, a woman running her first 100 after beating cancer, a 'regular' joe who's kids look up to their dad for doing something so great, to the sweepers who bring up the rear and pickup the carnage.

    2. Advocate

      So then Hardrock is "one of those" races. I didn't think it was. I thought that was Western States… so be it.

      so.. to the do more for the sport argument. Who's to decide how much someone is capable of doing for a sport? I (and I've heard of others who agree) started running ultra's due to the kinda off-the-beaten path mentality of many of the people involved in them. It seems with all these people "doing things" for the sport they're becoming more and more like a marathon.

      as to your 2nd argument about the injured person. agreed that's a sh*tty way to do things. There are 100 other arguments we could insert here not related to someone getting access to the lottery list due to said essay.

    3. Anthony Bishop

      If Anna is lucky enough to get a spot on the start list then I hope she does very well and makes the most of her opportunity.

      But what I think will frustrate some people is that it sounds like the Hardrock committee has either bent or broken their own rules of entry to potentially allow Anna into the race simply because she can run faster than other people. If a non-elite sent in the exact same letter I don't think they would have gotten the same response that Anna did.

  4. Nicolas

    Ok great! I never heard him speak of this very special race! I hope he get his chance one day…

    Same thing for Anna, if we need one reason : she is a very good ambassador for our sport and I think she inspire a lot of us and a lot of women…
    I also think it would be better if she had already run a 100miler, she obviously have the mental to but she seems to have been a lot hurt this year, more watchin' the race and travelin' than actually running them, so maybe 2014 after a complete season in 2013 and a first finish in a 100miler!

    Anyway good luck to her, to Kilian and to all of them who are willing to experience this insanity :D

  5. StephenJ

    1801 tickets among 619 people for 35 spots.

    Since Anna has never applied and not gotten in, she only has one ticket in the hat.

    If you've never run it, and were hoping for an early Christmas present this Sunday, this is kind of like hearing, "Sorry kid. Times have been tough. Santa might not be able to make it this year."

    [broken link to Hardrock ticket list removed]

  6. Pete

    Anna is listed as age 55 on the HRR100 entry list you posted. Do 50-year olds have any advantage or better odds in winning the lottery?

  7. Dom

    I hope you get in Anna! Dale has gotta have room for you .
    Statistically, the odds can be presented initially as "very low", but the way the way the lottery works is that the majority of accepted runners will have one ticket because that's the majority of entrants. Also those with 64, 128 tickets will increase everyone else's chances when they're picked because the rest of their ticets are removed. So, if I got in last year with one ticket, so can you!

    1. Mike Hinterberg

      "Statistically, the odds can be presented initially as “very low”, but the way the way the lottery works is that the majority of accepted runners will have one ticket because that’s the majority of entrants."

      I like the optimism, but roughly half of the new entrants have 1 ticket, and half have more. It is most likely that most of the new entrants will have had more than one ticket.

      "Also those with 64, 128 tickets will increase everyone else’s chances when they’re picked because the rest of their ticets are removed."

      This is true when they're picked, if you wanted to monitor your individual odds per selection during the lottery, I guess, but it's also that your individual odds would get "more worse" for every single-ticket holder not picked.

      As it stands, 1 ticket holders have a roughly 2.2% chance of getting selected (shown by Blake Wood's simulations), which is pretty close to the math shown by a friend here.

  8. Alex from New Haven

    I don't have enough brain-energy to consider the ramifications and ethics of the essay-as-substitute-for-tough-100-finish…

    I just know that as someone who is an ultra/iRunFar "Fan", I selfishly want Anna to toe the line. I want to see her at States racing Ellie. I don't care about what's right, it's Christmas and I want what I want. I want all my friends to get in AND all the "Elites" and I want everyone to stay healthy and everyone to finish and have amazing stories that I can read and hear about.

    Good luck to everyone, maybe one day I'll be brave enough to do this race.

  9. Danni

    Even though it will make me sound like a mean head, this essay to me would better read:

    "I am an elite but am nonetheless going to just randomly name-drop in case you don't already know that I'm an important ultra runner."

    I hope she gets in and am positive she's wonderful but I abhor her essay.

    1. Scott

      I see exactly what you're talking about and thought the same exact thing while I was reading it. Maybe she felt she needed to qualify herself in the letter in case whoever was doing the screening didn't know who she was?

  10. art

    I see absolutely nothing wrong with the essay route to the lottery.

    We're talking the lottery, not a free pass into the race itself.

    Hardrock is not your typical 100 miler as the 48 hour cutoff signifies.

    There are many activities out there besides official races that could serve as qualifiers for the "lottery".

    As long as the essay route demonstrates equivalent experience to the qualifying races, and not just a free pass, I'm fine with the essay route.

  11. Jason

    Slippery slope.

    I don't like the increasingly obvious ultra running caste system. My initial attraction to the sport was the absence of big $ sponsorships and celebrity. I greatly admire the amazing feats of those fortunate enough to make running their full-time job, but I also liked the illusion that we were on a somewhat level playing field when it comes to accessing these exclusive events.

    This is not a critique of Anna or her essay. She's a bad as$ runner and would do great at HR. I'm just expressing my growing frustration with the "scene" and elitist exclusivity.

  12. grant

    the "essay" was in place last year for those that live out side the US (or in a country where they do not have a qualifying race)- take a look at the list if you have not- most are US races, but more and more non US races are getting on there. Last year I was in the lottery with an "essay".. I just wrote what I have done- hardly an essay.

    This is from a e-mail I received from the HR in Oct- "we have decided to remove the Standard IV because a lot of US residents were using it when they could easily have acquired a qualifier. IF you have done something really outlandish that would qualify you, do submit an application to that effect"

    So there you go- US runners where trying it on well before anyone else…

    Good luck to all in the lottery- hope to see/meet some of you in Silverton some time!

  13. Dale Garland RD, HRH

    Hi Everybody,

    Just a clarification on this post. Anna's essay will be considered as part of her application to get her name submitted into the lottery. Hardrock has considered people who have not met our published qualaifying standards via an essay although those accepted into the lottery via this method are very very few.

  14. Blake Wood

    Hardrock was my first hundred, but that was way back in '94 when we had only 75 starters (but could have taken 100, if that many had applied.)

  15. Clark

    Thanks for clarifying Dale.

    Hi all, on the eve of the HRH lottery I thought I'd share another (long) perspective. For starters, I suspect few of you know me, as I'm not sponsored, not elite, and most importantly, NOT an ultra-runner. I am, however 1) a runner 2) a mountain runner 3) a runner who has completed two ultras, Bear 2011/Hardrock 2012, in that order. Some of you might find that last sentence quite disconcerting, and believe me, I understand. I have no idea why lady luck shined on me last December in my first lottery pull, but she did, and I am ever so grateful.

    For me, Hardrock became a destiny I somehow had to fulfill. You see, I moved to CO in the late 80's and quickly discovered the San Juan mountains in all their beauty and majesty, and have been recreating in them ever since – mountain bikes, skis, and running shoes. I've lived and breathed these SJ's for years, and have stories, good and bad, that might singe the hair right off some people's heads. To me, HRH was the only thing left – problematic being I'm NOT an ultra-runner, and had 0.0% desire to become one. Ergo, problematic being the pesky HRH qualifying standard – I didn't want to run 100M, I just wanted to run HRH. At some point I learned of the essay option, an option I considered and struggled with in my mind for years. Surely if anyone who had never run 100M could handle HRH it was me, I reasoned, however elitist that sounds (and in fact is). In the end, however, it was the recognition of all of you out there who ARE ultra-runners, who HAVE done the qualifier, and who in some cases have missed out in the lotto for years on end, that prevented me from trying that route. There is no possible way I could have toed the line in good conscience knowing I had short-circuited the process (however unlikely it would have been).

    Instead, I plugged myself into the HRH scene in 2010 (pacing) to see where it went. It was even more exciting than I had imagined – my racer did well, and I learned so much in the process. But it was still not enough, I mean really, who wants to go 100M just for a lottery ticket for another? Blasphemy, I reckoned. Until HRH 2011 that is, when I returned to pace again – this time a first-timer from France, otherwise known as the 'other' (not Team Salomon) frenchman. The experience was out of this world for me – it was his first trip to the US, he had no support, no crew, no pacer, no anyone. It didn't matter – he spoke decent but not perfect English, I knew where France was on the map, and it all worked perfectly in the end. It was magnificent! And, it finally compelled me to my qualifier.

    What does it all mean? To me, HRH is magical, majestic, in a way no other event is. It is not just a race, ultra or otherwise. To gain entry into it I did things I had never done, never thought about doing, and really never wanted to do. I did them because I had to (qualify), because I needed to (experience), and because I wanted to (honor). I understand the essay option for what it is – to provide opportunity to those who would not otherwise have reasonable access to a qualifying race, and I encourage anyone in that situation to use it. But likewise, I would caution anyone else from trying that route 'cheaply'. HRH is an experience to be earned, and the process of earning the opportunity is likely the only way to appreciate it fully. I carried the weight of that knowledge with me last summer and used it as part of my formula for success – failure was just not an option. And now, although I'm still not an ultra-runner, I AM a Hardrocker.

    Apologies for length of my essay, good luck to you all in the lottery!

    [P.S. for Dale/Andrea: I'll be looking for another great pacing hookup come July = it's all good so long as I can locate their country on the map, even Texas…]

  16. Slow Man's Advo

    I wanted to follow up from my original post to thank all of those who have given this topic pause. Thanks Dale, Thanks Clark. and Thanks to everyone else! I wanted to post my immediate thoughts to reading the article as I think conversation about these issues in our sport are important. (I'm also practicing my writing skills for future essay's…)

    I'm sure that Anna is a wonderful person and a very good advocate for the sport. I hate that this critique is in light of how she has decided to pursue this race but as future HardRock entrant it's a topic close to my heart. I've researched these other 100's and been thinking about where I want to volunteer my time so I can enter the lottery in the future.

    As a follow up to the topic, I think it's relevant to point out that some have said that the essay was in place as an opportunity for people who aren't in North America or don't have access to 100's on the qualifying list… (this wasn't confirmed, or denied, by Dale.)

    Anna has made it clear that she's a professional runner, for a company that invests heavily in sending athlete's all over the world to complete in events. The idea that her essay may be an avenue do to not having the opportunity to compete in a qualifying event is crap. In fact we all know she was pacing another runner at a qualifying event this year. She has every opportunity available to her to complete the stated entry process.

    I guess, in the end, if the essay is a potential entry method, I'd like to see it notated on the qualifying requirements on the race website for all the general, non-elite entrants, to consider as a potential entry method.

    1. Katrina


      What a beautiful essay! I'm a German non-elite runner who will be travelling to Silverton next July to "just" have a look at the course, help marking and help at an aid station. I'm already hooked on the course/race and I am determined to apply for the 2014 race (will run my first 100miler 10 days after Silverton).

      I'm in NO WAY "jealous" of you, but sincerely wish you ALL THE LUCK to get in. Awaiting you at "my" aid station!!! Best wishes, Katrina Z.

      1. Clark

        Awesome Katrina, that's the spirit of Hardrock! You don't have to be in the race itself to feel the magic, and I promise you'll fall in love with the San Juan's. I'm glad you brought up course marking, this is something I have not done officially yet, although I accidentally did it last year on a training run when I found most of the markers that had been set in one segment mysteriously down (might have been blown down by storm), so I reset them. I'd like to go set that section (Pole Creek) officially this year, not only because I want it done well, but also because it is my favorite part of the course (I had been running back there before Hardrock was even invented, such is it's beauty). Being from Germany you may not have ever seen an elk, but if that interests you at all, Pole Creek is a section you will want to visit. The three things to know about elk are: they are shy to humans, they bugle, and they are very big (could trample you easily, but they won't because they're shy). My pacer and I arrived in Pole Creek just after sun up this year, and our big shy friends bugled us on. It brought a smile to my heart.

        If I did not make it clear in my first post above, I did not enter the lottery this year, I had my day in the sun, and prefer to participate in other ways again, such as marking and pacing. If you or anyone else out there would like to set Pole Creek, perhaps we can arrange this thru Charlie or otherwise. Cheers, I hope to see you there and good luck in your own hundred!

        1. Katrina

          Clark, me and some friends will be in Silverton from July 1 -16. Just leave a note on the message board at Charlie's house! (Btw – the race director of "my race" the Chiemgauer100 – Gi Schneider – once was a 2nd place finisher at HR100 …

  17. art

    this question relates to the entire first timer category and not just to Anna.

    I finally seem to get that the 2^N ticket formula is dramatically skewed towards those who have been chosen in the lottery mulitple times but for some reason have never made it to the start line.

    what I don't understand is the committee's rationale for this dramatic advantage.

    I personally don't feel they are warranted this advantage, in fact if the DNS does not have a really good excuse they should be penalized in my view.

    1. Clark

      Good question Art, and while I'm not on the board or committee, after being around the race for some time my perception is this: the vast majority of those who DNS do in fact have a 'good excuse', and it is generally with great heartbreak that they relinquish their spot. And therein lies the key – they relinquished their spot in advance providing someone else an opportunity. I note this because over the years I have become aware of starters who DNF'd part way in, having known in advance they were going to (injury, illness, etc…), but were too stubborn to step aside. These are stories I accidentally overheard in coffee shops, restaurants, bars and what have you, and were quite disturbing to me knowing that numerous wait listers were in town at the ready. So in the bigger picture, DNS can be viewed as a noble gesture, and one I can respect

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