Xavier Thévenard’s 2018 Hardrock 100 Disqualification

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

There are 215 comments

  1. zzzz

    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.

    1. Jessica Harris

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

        1. Guy

          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.

    2. Some name

      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.

  2. Brian B

    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.

  3. Spencer

    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.

    1. Jeff T

      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.

    2. Matt

      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.

      1. Matt B

        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.

    3. Meghan Hicks

      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.

      1. Aaron Stewart

        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.

    4. Noanie

      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…

      1. jorvack

        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.

  4. Jeff T

    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.

  5. Barry Luck

    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!!!

    1. zzzz

      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.

  6. Not cool at all

    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.

    1. Joe

      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.

      1. Mark YM

        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.

        1. Poban

          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.

  7. Brian Haviland

    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.

    1. Trinity

      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.

  8. Trevor

    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.

    1. zzzz

      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.

      1. Trevor

        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.

        1. zzzz

          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.

          1. loic

            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.

          2. loic

            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 !

        2. Joe

          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.

      2. Nathan Westlake

        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.

        1. zzzz

          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.

          1. Lee

            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.

          2. zzzz

            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.

      3. Nadine

        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.

  9. Mike Miller

    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.

    1. CLF

      ^^^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 4×4 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!

  10. 1834277

    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.

  11. Abran

    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]?”

    1. Meghan Hicks

      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!

  12. Seg

    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 ?

      1. Joe

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

    1. Joe

      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.

  13. Alex Stroup

    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.

  14. Conrad

    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.

  15. Eric. D

    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.

  16. Doug D

    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

  17. Justin

    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.

    1. Conrad

      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.

  18. Mike

    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.

  19. Tim

    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?

    1. loic

      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).

  20. Terence O

    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.

  21. Stan A

    Thanks irunfar for the awesome race coverage and a place to discuss the race and DQ. Thanks Dale Garland for being an RD and making the tough calls. Thanks XT for running fast and inspiring all of us. This is a bad situation for everyone. However, I thought that it was actually quite gracious of the RD to allow XT to finish the race unofficially rather than force him to quit immediately. I was disappointed that XT chose not to finish the race unofficially as I would have liked to have seen his time and I also think that it would have demonstrated an amazing level of sportsmanship.

    For me the saddest part of a sad story is that XT and his crew weren’t immediately forthcoming about their rule violation when questioned the first time and that their stories changed over the course of the race. I don’t believe that XT intentionally broke the rules, but I do have to wonder if he and his crew intentionally tried to conceal the violation given their story changing with time.

    1. zzzz

      That could easily be understood as not understanding that they had done anything wrong in the first place coupled with things lost in the translation. The article even mentions the translation issue, which was not resolved until later.

    2. Stjepan Tomislav Svaljek

      I don’t think his sportsmanship has anything to do with not finishing the race unofficially. He was obviously disheartened by the decision, it’s a human reaction on his part. Of course it would be better if he had finished the race, but it takes a tremendous amount of sheer will (if nothing else) to do that after being in front the whole time and then DQ’ed near the end of the race.
      He did what he did, but the rules should have been more clear – if a runner receives aid outside the aid station it is an immediate DQ. No room for interpretation. End of discussion.

    3. loic

      As long as we don’t have détails it is highly spéculative. The changé might be minor and the stakes made them think againe more carefully…

      Maybe we will know but does it matter for the décision ? They did not ground the decidion on anything ekse than aid and all said “no malicious”

  22. Kevin

    I really appreciate all the thoughtful commentary and can see both sides of the argument. I think all runners can appreciate that little leeway should be given to cheaters.
    However I think that the slippery slope argument is a bit misguided in this context. Having just read the rules on the Hardrock website, it does state that what was done was a clear violation. However, it does not say that the penalty is a DQ.
    Since the RD stated this had never happened before and had never had to hand out a penalty he had a fair bit of discretion he could have employed.
    Why not give a time penalty, albeit an arbitrary one, since the infraction by all accounts was realitivey minor in regards to helping him win
    Then, after the race he can clearly state in the rules that any infraction of this sort, no matter how minor appearing is an automatic DQ. Therefore no future slippery slope mishaps. All racers from 2019 on know the unequivocal consequences. I feel that Xavier simply did not.

  23. Ben Lewis

    1. This sounds like a very tough situation for everyone involved. Thank you all for your courage, integrity, and professionalism in engaging with this article and thanks iRunFar for publishing it.

    2. It is easy to debate the merits of certain decisions in hindsight but making these kinds of decisions as a race director in the moment is very hard. In this respect it sounds like the directorship went above and beyond here in trying to ensure this response was considered and fair – despite circumstances (terrain, language) that were immensely complicated and a situation that was likely to provoke controversy and strong feelings. We can debate the outcome of those deliberations but this sounds to have been a reasonable and thoughtful process.

    3. (It also bears mentioning that it is an immense privilege to care deeply about an issue like this- or take part in the event itself in any fashion- instead of, say, not dying from malaria, having clean water, or simply surviving economically.)

    4. There is certainly a degree of absurdity to the end result (getting DQed late in the race for a seemingly minor and unintentional infraction), particularly in an event like this which- as anyone who has run it can attest- becomes an experience about immensely MORE than just finishing place and time, and which, as an event, strives to embody a broader ethos of mountain adventure and camaraderie.

    5. Nonetheless, the rules are clearly written and it is all runners’ responsibility to know these and abide by them. Xavier is a professional runner: as such this responsibility is MORE pronounced, not less. While I can certainly empathize with his frustration and sense of loss given the tremendous investment leading up to the run, that investment also by necessity should involve knowing the event rules and expectations: that is wholly his responsibility, even if there is some degree of arbitrariness to these rules (which is the case with all sets of rules involving sporting events).

  24. Greg

    The Hardrock rules are laid out in a nonchalant tone, with ample humor and lightheartedness becoming of their “run” not “race” ethic. After all, rule #1 is “no whining.” A disqualification for an infraction like the the one for Xavier was DQ’d is excessive. This should merit a verbal warning for a first infraction, especially given the down-to-earth nature of the approach to the rules.

    After a 24 hour cooling-off period, I think a lot of my frustration is that this decision Is that this is just another example of the insular nature of the Hardrock race management. The first and most glaring of these being the yearly contrived and anachronistic lottery.

    The positive for me is that irunfar continues to impress with thorough and attentive coverage of the event and controversy.

    1. Terence O

      I agree Greg, would people say rules are the rules if someone was DQ’d for mentioning the race is hard and the RD deemed it whining?

  25. Sabine H

    I think it is now unanimously accepted that Xavier has broken the rules by taking food in the parking lot – however little it was decisive for the race.
    The point of discussion is punishment. If Hardrock 100 and other races should learn a lesson from this, then it is that there should be a list of punishments for individual wrongdoings. Perhaps with a certain margin, over which the Race Director or a previously determined committee then has to decide.
    Just like in real life or criminal law: Fortunately, there is not only freedom and the death penalty (or life imprisonment). It’s a wide range of penalties. And – at least here in Europe this is common – the respective maximum penalties for the infringements are known in advance.

        1. CC

          How can anyone know if it was “just water, not food?” The transcript clearly states the back was open and they were around it when Russ arrived and that they were there 3-4 minutes. Also that they were doing something with his pack at one point. I am still perplexed at why he didn’t get this “aid” in the Ouray aid station just 2 miles earlier where it was legal as everyone else I saw did.

  26. Stefan

    In reading the accounts of Tony Rus and Xavier the images of Javert and Jean Valjean crossed my mind for some reason.

  27. Ron

    For me, an Israeli working in both the US and Europe for over 20 years, this is just epic “Americans don’t speak French and French don’t speak American (English)” – this is far more than language in the literal sense, its culture, its attitude and above all its about values. America is a >250,000,000 people nation with huge diversity and spread over a huge piece of land – that has created a culture of ” rules”- the rules rule above all. the French are a lot less diverse and so culture has a lot more room. As a bi-stander with love for the sport and love for the differences in people and cultures I can see the impossibility of both the facts and the reactions, humanity is all over this story. let’s just keep running in these majestic nature. #peace #out

    1. Tim

      325,000,000, and good point on the culture of rules, as an American expat of several decades, I’ve noticed this difference too.

  28. Nick

    This Tony Russ sounds like a true hero…

    More seriously, something I haven’t seen mentioned yet is how film-makers (Jamil Coury, Billy Yang, Myke Hermsmeyer, etc.) and gangs of buddies (Coconino Cowboys anyone?) routinely provide tremendous advantage over lonelier others between aid stations, whether at Hardrock, Western States or other races. Walmsley took a wrong turn at WS 2016 when he was on his own, but he was prevented by Dylan Bowman from doing it again at Lake Sonoma this year. Some films show him running with what looks like five pacers at a time. Yang, Coury et al. provide encouragement, a mental boost, and who knows what to famous US runners at major races all the time.

    Seems like our sport is up for a major overhaul.

    1. Tim B.

      Wrong turn info from a spectator seems acceptable, but they also provide critical verbal information such as time gaps between competitors, appearance of competition, strategy, and reminders to eat/drink. If this information is not provided equally to all it is unfair. Accountability and integrity are a good thing in sport.

      1. E

        If a random spectator gives information how is that unfair or even something you can control? Or maybe I am misunderstanding your point.

    2. Jamil

      I can’t speak to other on course media, but I work hard to maintain a “fly on the wall” attitude when filming at events. I strive to not speak to competitors even those who are my friend and never run near someone for more than a couple minutes at a time before moving to the next runner in line. I am often asked how such and such is doing and if I don’t stay silent I say sorry I’m media. Giving updates or encouragement would be a boost that I don’t feel comfortable giving in that situation. I can’t prevent any boost received if I run alongside someone for a couple minutes but try to apply proportionally to those I am covering in a race. Thanks for brining that topic up. I’ve thought about publishing some raw footage showing some of that interaction on my part.

  29. Tom

    Xavier clearly broke a rule, but does this kind of infraction warrant a disqualification? Unless an incident is viewed as a clear attempt to cheat I’d like to see race organizers have the option of adding a time penalty. In most sports there are levels of penalties. In my opinion, he was basically thrown out of the game for a relatively minor foul.

  30. Gaël

    I’d be very interested in knowing what his peers, other elite athletes, think of all this. Is it cheating, not cheating, cheating only a little bit… ??? Because what happened reflects on all of them. Can we trust the elite? Has any of them ever done something like this before at Hardrock? At UTMB? Why not? It sure seems easy to violate the rules without being noticed in those mountains. Since there’s money involved, sponsorship, recognition, why would we assume that the elites don’t do it on a regular basis and that Xavier just went with the elite flow? Is Xavier the tip of the iceberg? How do we know he’s not?

    1. SageCanaday

      No I wouldn’t trust all the “elites.” It can be quite lucrative to be a sponsored ultra-trail runner at this day and age. I’ve seen guys cut switchbacks at UTMB (you’re not supposed to…granted there aren’t that many big ones that would really help gain and advantage that much). The bigger issue is PEDs though. We look at “marginal gains” and these little things when the big gains would be loading up on testosterone, EPO, HGH etc. Guys who have been top 10 at races like UTMB have already been busted for EPO. The sport is for sure not 100% clean…especially at the top level. If we want to worry about rule breaking look at the big ones like PEDs first IMO.

      1. AT

        The irony with PEDs, it’s not the magic potion all believe it to be. Might it be an extra boost? Maybe but also a recipe for disaster. Athletes are likely to experience various ill side effects with Test, HGH and EPO, as there are so many variables to add up within their blood profile for these supps to work. I doubt many receive expert level analysis while on the sauce, and even then, there is no promise. I am not an elite runner, but was in college and HS during the same time as you Sage, at the height of Lance Armstrong and Barry Bonds. From my side of the tracks, there were many fellow competitors and sadly friends that fell victim to the “I am on this, this and that,” belief, and I saw more cases of negative outcomes vs anything performance enhancing. Some may disagree with this stance, but PEDs are a blanketed term anymore, and the other outcomes seem to be forgotten about. Sorry for the follow up rant, and all due respect to you.

        In regards to the race, a truly unfortunate outcome, I was stunned when I saw it on twitter. Browning is a legend, and it’s unfortunate this story will always be attached to the 2018 race. Like all things in life, let it be a lesson. Happy running.

  31. AJW

    Here’s something I find amazing: A decade or so ago I was running with Bryon Powell when he told me about his idea to quit his lawyer job, move west to live with Meghan in her trailer south of Yosemite, and start a business with an ultrarunning website. I have to say, I couldn’t imagine at the time that years later Bryon’s team would be doing world class level investigative journalism about one of the biggest stories in the sport in recent years. Way to go Bryon! You’re a true visionary.

    PS – Good run last weekend!

    1. MarkYM

      That’s an interesting question. I’ve often offered food, water and other supplies and gear to other runners during a race. And I have never been refused on the basis of concern about breaking race rules…and the offers are often readily accepted. But it occurs to me that giving aid to another runner (almost always a stranger) could be abused if, say, they were running club teammates competing directly with other runners….or if 2 friends ran together with the stronger runner deliberately loading up with the intent of passing along food and water along to the less-strong runner between aid stations. This could be a big problem if elite men were muling (not sure if it fits the exact definition) for their elite female competitors given that a fast male who is too far back off the male leaders to contend for a podium spot might still be able to give aid and assistance to the eventual female winner. These are things that you hope never happen – but would be very difficult to monitor, much less stop. Ultimately, in such remote locations over such long distances its only the integrity of the individual competitor that ensures the integrity of the sport.

      1. David

        I actually think this “rule” could have some dangerous unintended consequences. Say a competitor is in severe danger – do you deny them aid fearful of being disqualified? And I’m not just thinking about dehydration – what about a serious injury suffered during the race.

        As the RD, I would encourage racers to look out for each other and if anyone ever “throws away” a race to help a fellow competitor – they’ll receive free entry into the next years event. We need to look out for each other – it’s just a race.

        1. Markus

          You can always help your fellow competitor.
          And if somebody suffers a serious injury and would get outside help, he/she probably would not be able to continue anyway.

          In Xavier’s case he was leading and took unfair advantage of his crew. It was not just a sip from the water bottle. I think he spend a couple of minutes with them. We don’t even know what else was exchanged there.

    2. Jake Brewer

      Simply, the punishment was far too severe. I don’t get how runners can drink mouthfuls from a creek yet Xavier has a few sips and he’s disqualified? Sure, he broke a rule. Even he says he should have been punished, but because it was a simple mistake and not malicious (I hardly think a few sips of water would put him at a major advantage when he already had such a huge lead) I’m sure there could have been a more appropriate punishment. It’s just a shame. Jeff ran his heart out but if I were him I’d probably feel slightly strange out it all.

      1. Joe

        Jeff Browning is sponsored by Altra. Dale received a lot of money from Altra; they were a “diamond” level sponsor of the event. Dale and Hardrock organizers have a history of impropriety (reference the lawsuit; google “hardrock 100 lawsuit”).

        1. Poban

          I went ahead and googled it. It seems a bit unfair to say they have a history of impropriety… here’s a choice quote from the trailrunner mag article –
          “No lawsuit has been filed.”

          I probably shouldn’t have replied because I don’t really want to discuss the topic, but the only thing I would agree with is that the HR lottery is a pain in the ass for all of us who want to run it and have slim chances of ever getting in… but that’s life! Plenty of other beautiful races to set our sights on. And this controversy has me thinking that maybe some people will be “turned off” by HR and the lottery pool will get a little bit slimmer :-)

  32. Melissa

    Great reporting! The rule about no aid between stations was clear and fair, giving an equal footing to all racers. It was a hard, but correct decision by the race director. I dislike the concept of time penalties, as then the penalty becomes a strategic decision. Even worse are time penalties created during a race, because it creates unequal conditions for all racers — if other racers knew that they would only get X time penalty for doing something, would they have chosen to take the penalty to make their race support a little easier? Shouldn’t all racers have equal opportunity? Kudos to the race director for keeping a level head and doing one’s best to keep a level playing field for all racers.

  33. trampsliketom

    Firstly, an excellent unbiased account of one of the more contentious episodes in Ultra running for a while now. Kudos iRF!

    Personally I think the RD and Committee did the right thing in the circumstances. With no established/communicated time-penalties in place on how to handle such infractions, to DQ was the cleanest of many messy options. Imagine for example, a scenario where XT is given a 1-hour penalty and Bronco comes in at 1h01m behind him, having not known he was technically a minute off the win until Silverton.

    That being said, I hope this episode encourages Hardrock and other races to update their rules to avoid another situation like this (as XT points out a lot of Euro races have these far more clearly stated).

    For my $0.02 it should be something like 60 – 90 minutes (i.e. enough time that nobody will do it) for aid from a source that other runners could not reasonably also benefit from, and that penalty be served ASAP at an aid station (so the field is essentially reset), where the runner may only receive aid (unless in medical distress) for a set amount of time – therefore negating some of the additional benefits that may come from being served a time penalty.

    A horror situation for all involved, and a lot of sympathy for Dale as well as XT. Onwards!

  34. Gaël

    Just to be clear : point 4.1 of the rules named “4.1 Do You Want a Crew?” states : “Finally, runners are not allowed to accept aid between aid stations. Any runner who takes aid where they should not may be disqualified”. Consequently, the question about whether or not Xavier should have been disqualified is not worth discussing any longer… “Am I wrong? Am I wrong” would say Walter Sobchak in The Big Lebowski ;-)

    1. Duke

      “may be disqualified”. In other parts of the rule book, there is more certainty, i.e., “runners in vehicles… you will be disqualified”. Drones are explicitly called out for disqualification. Section 4.4 about giving runners aid says nothing about penalties. Section 11 says a crew ignoring any of the commandments, including aid outside an aid station, “puts their runner at risk of being disqulalified”. Not saying the decision was fair/unfair, right or wrong, just saying the outcome is not clear at all.

  35. Sara

    I have never ran a 100 miler, but I have crewed and paced several, the latest being Western States this year. The first thing I learned as crew, and which has always been very clear to me, is that you always read the rules of the race and that you never crew outside the designated crew access points. Because violating the rules could get your runner disqualified. That is the risk you run in a lot of races. Xavier should know this and his crew should know this. Also, the runner is ultimately responsible also for the actions of his/her crew. I get that it must be heartbreaking to be DQ’ed after 90 miles, but I respect the decision of the race organizers. A lot of races rely on the goodwill of local authorities and local communities. If everyone were to think that it was OK to meet up with their crew whenever, wherever, you make life very hard for the organizers and risk sabotaging the sport we all love.

    1. loic michel

      I suite agréé with your ruling proposition but we zll agréé that it is not written assucj in the book.

      Let me remind you that their crew were their wife and they took the initiative of the meetup not the runner.
      If nit malicious nor imoact whu so harsh ? To set à précédent ? Then it is a very bad one and they should rather stick to what they wrote stay Nice and rewrite rules.

      Nobody would have complained with 1h penalty and the would get à suiet time to correct and clarify their rulebook.

  36. Malcolm Webb

    Xavier violated the rule. There doesn’t appear to be any question about that. The rule says the penalty may be disqualification. That would be appropriate for a serious violation. In the race directors FB post, he refers to a “substantial” violation, but there is a real question over whether this was a substantial violation. Also, while the race director can disqualify for this violation, he didn’t have to. He retains broad discretion under the rules to make decisions. The race director, in exercise of that discretion, could have chosen another remedy, which could have included a time penalty, that was more of a proportionate response to the violation. In my view, the race director made a mistake in the decision to disqualify in this case where the violation did not appear to be substantive and there were other penalties that would have been more proportionate.

    1. Joe

      Or maybe.. the race director gave the win to Jeff Browning because Jeff is sponsored by Altra. Important fact: Altra gave the race director a lot of money before the race. Altra was as the biggest sponsor of the event!

  37. SJB

    Thank you, Meghan for your fair and balanced reporting of this, in spite of your post-event sleep deprivation.

    This has been an unfortunate situation blemished a wonderful event that I have been privileged to participate in as a crew member, pacer & media volunteer. Dale has shown himself to be a man of high integrity who truly cares about the runners and protecting the integrity of the run. I trust that the infractions committee investigated this as quickly, fairly and thoroughly as they were able, under very difficult circumstances. I’m sure they didn’t make the decision to disqualify Xavier lightly.

    I think there is room for disagreement as to whether the penalty for the infraction is fair and I can understand why some disagree with the committee’s decision. I certainly can see why Xavier would be deeply disappointed in being unranked as a finisher, having done so well for 91 miles, with the end in sight. He’s a talented runner who has what it takes to finish first and it’s understandable why he’d be upset with the penalty he received.

    That being said, what stands out to me is how Xavier doesn’t own up to the fact that he and his crew brought this whole thing upon themselves — albeit without malice — and his actions have cast a dark cloud over this year’s run. While he has admitted to breaking a very clear rule that is standard in ultra races, he has minimized (“only a sip”), deflected (“people were spraying water / a woman was giving sweets”), excused (“too many things to manage with the pain”) his actions. Like him, every other participant has invested many hours of training and preparation for this run and followed the clearly stated rules. To assume that Hardrock’s relaxed atmosphere means that rules can be broken without significant consequence is disrespectful to those that organize and participate in the run. I would have hoped that Xavier would have taken responsibility for his mistake, graciously accepted the outcome and apologized for having put the Dale & the committee in this terrible situation to begin with.

    Having been involved in all the Rocky Mountain 100-milers, I’ve seen firsthand how special Hardrock is. It’s a competition not so much against other runners but against the course itself. For 25 years it’s been a place where non-professional runners go out and challenge themselves and accomplish something mentally & physically epic. I’m saddened that this rule-breaking and Xavier’s response to the consequences have cast a shadow over a run that I and so many others look forward to being a part of. I hope it’s the last time that this special event is marred in such a way.

    1. Joe

      Dale has not shown himself to be a man of “high integrity” with this decision. Quite the opposite. Fundamental fact here: Dale gave the win to an athlete (Jeff Browning) who is sponsored by a company (Altra) that paid Dale a lot of money before the event. Reality check, this makes him look really bad.

      1. loic

        Bright insight, It light sound bold but it is square reasoning.
        Honestly it is sadly the bestway I have to rationalize this décision !
        That is shocking !

  38. Chris Cantwell

    Great Job Meghan! Thank you all for trying to share a little clarity on an unpleasant situation. I’m certain it is not pleasurable trying to find out all the facts. Keep doing what you do and hope to bump into you all again someday.

  39. Mike

    Not sure I should post this as I genuinely don’t intend to question Xavier’s integrity by making a speculative post, but I think it is somewhat relevant given what just happened. Hopefully coincidental but I have always been surprised XT’s pack at UTMB (& other races) is so small, & minimal looking when (specifically at UTMB) there is a large mandatory gear list. Perhaps he is an ultra-minimalist (maybe even to the point of stretching the rules by packing ladies tights to fulfil the “race leggings” requirement – don’t laugh as I’ve heard other runners doing just that!)? Weather-allowing, I like to pack minimally myself with the latest ultra-light gear and yet still I don’t know he fits all his mandatory gear in his small Camelbak pack, when all other runners look to have their packs stuffed full! If you’re not sure what I mean, search for pictures of him at UTMB, then look at the required gear page! All that said, like all runners, he has to have his kit checked so I would presume he doesn’t cheat in this regard, and in regards to the Hardrock incident I would equally like to take him at his word that it wasn’t intentional cheating, rather more of an innocent, careless mistake.

    FWIW, moving forward I hope Hardrock will introduce a more serious & comprehensive rules list including time penalties.

    1. @mike

      My understanding is that at euro races, and especially things like UTMB, they do extremely thorough checks of the mandatory equipment your need at every aid station. Or at least extremely regularly throughout the race. Hard to believe you could get away with it with all the checks.

    2. loic

      Freedom of expression is also à Freedom to gey’t wrong. Your concern was raised about Kj and many other’s so that’s à FAQ

      In utmb the runner are super checked but the élite really pack absurdly light. For instance tgey have surgery gloves and 180g insulation packs like nothing.
      super tight with nothing more than mandatory.

  40. Wayne

    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.’ …

    way to go Jamil,,,,,,Talk about a hypocrite.

        1. Nick

          just because something is wrong (by some standard) doesn’t mean it’s right to report it, especially when the standard is so fuzzy

          1. Dave

            “By some standard”
            Do you mean the rule book? So if something is wrong by the rule book, you’re suggesting it’s wrong to report it? I get you can be upset about the disqualification, but it will never be wrong to report somebody breaking the race rules – especially if it is confirmed he did actually break the rules.

            1. Nick

              The standard is fuzzy, notwithstanding the rule book. And again, just because something is wrong doesn’t mean it’s right to report it.

      1. Joe

        It is surprising that now one has brought up the money trail or the fact that the “winning” runner is sponsored by Altra. The race directors who made this highly questionable decision certainly received a large amount of money from Altra, since they were the top level (“diamond”) sponsor of the event. Jeff Browning, the runner they gifted this “win” to is sponsored by Altra. Jamil Coury, the person who triggered the investigation, also runs a company, Aravaipa Running that is partnered with Altra. Does Altra plan to capitalize on this “win” in any way, like advertisements with pictures of Browning the “Hardrock 2018 winner”?

  41. Trevor

    are we really not able to differentiate between swigging a beer in the moment between a crew vehicle deliberately driving to an out of the way point meeting the runner? Like, why was his crew there at all? What ultras are you guys running where crew is meeting runners in between aid stations?

    1. loic

      Well in europe you can have your family, friends, unknown New friends and fans all along utmb so for a champion like Xavier he is used to meet friends and supportive people all along the way.

      You have to imagine that he does not speak english well so he spoke just à little with Jason and Kj in 2016 in hours of racing. So yeah it sounds logic for his crew to go cheer him in between as hé was quite alone ahead.
      Realky does not sound suspect to me, but I assume hé might avoid that in the future !

      This guy is an amateur with à réal job as a coach in cross-country ski and hé his not an agressive competitor. Hé didn’t race teack in collège and stick to his birth mountains, very rooted authentic Mountain man. As hé is very close to the “alerican touch” to ultra running. Actually hé is réal close to many casual ultra runner in France, juste way stronger !

  42. Stephane Huser

    First I would like to take this opportunity to outline the great work you are doing IRF and thank you for this.
    Then about what happened I must say when I read the news while following the race I was very disappointed and quite upset.
    After reading all the information and comments (especially the comments here which most of them are moderate compared to others over Twitter or FB) I feel sad for both sides.
    I take it that RD and committee had a tough call and made their best to weigh and take the right decision.
    Also Xavier and his crew clearly made a mistake and admitted it.
    The point is about the proportionate punishment and the reasons which led to it.
    Taking into consideration whether or not it was intentional and whether or not it gave to Xavier a decisive advantage should have been the justification to DQ him or choose a lighter punishment like time penalty for example.
    Intention really don’t seem to be the case here (they did not hide at all) and the advantage was rather small knowing that 2 miles before he refilled his bottles at Ouray aid station.
    For those who don’t know Xavier he is a humble and genuine ‘mountain guy’ not known at all for any kind of ‘bad things’ on races (quite the contrary).
    I hope he will overcome this and come back in Silverton as I feel like he is very sensible to the spirit of the Hardrock and its community.
    I also hope Hardrock will stay the same special “Endurance Run” with the sport spirit I thought it had and still think even if I have a reasonable doubt that the decision would have been the same for a Jeff or a Jamil in the same situation.

    Final word for Jeff Browning who did a great race and who is such an incredible and consistent runner (32 100milers if I well remember… man!), an inspiration (even for a French runner like me;)!

    Keep going Xavier, Jeff, Dale, IRF and the whole community.

    1. loic

      Wgat à blue helmet.
      I also tjink there was à serious bias. They wouldn’t have ever gone that harsh on an american star that is related to their sponsor.

      Maybe you underestimate how serious deep and sad this décision is for ultra running if such kind of corruption kicked in even inconsciously.

  43. Paul

    I wonder what the long term impact will be for XT. I suspect he will have much higher name recognition than he would had he just won the race without any controversy.

    I doubt any of his sponsors will drop him over this. They probably love the added exposure.

    (I’m not suggesting that was his motive for the outside aid)

    1. Joe

      I will be surprised if no legal action comes from this. I won’t be surprised if Xavier’s sponsors sue Altra or the Hardrock race organizers. The Hardrock organizers have a rather significant history of legal issues regarding all kinds of impropriety related to this race. Everyone connected to this bizarre DQ decision has clear ties to Altra. That would all be relevant in court.

      1. Chris

        You would not be making these baseless accusations if you were not hiding behind a wall of anonymity. In fact, I’m surprised your attacks don’t violate community standards as they could be loosely construed as libelous.

      2. Seg

        Xavier and/or xavier sponsors will not sure anyone, this is so silly !
        Xavier is french and french people are not sue-happy people. As an example, they don’t sue a fast food chain because a coffee mug is too hot….. This is purely an american thing and I bet my money that this comment was written by an american person.
        Xavier will move on and hopefully he comes back to Hardrock, gains probably 2 mins by not stopping to say hi to his girlfriend at the bear creak junction with the million $ highway and finishes first just like he deserved.

      3. RadekFab

        I cannot believe all these subjects being brought up to the surface in all these discussion posts, just to mention some: EPO, intentional cheating, sponsorship interests, lawsuit… I never want to be (even as a mere fan and trail running amateur) a part of this in any way. I will remain as distant from races as I can be, I will be running till I drop in the loneliness of the forrests and trails. That is where TRAIL RUNNING is for me and always will be. I never want to see the beloved trail running scene becoming another “professional road cycling like” scandals making giant. Last week I even found on the web some conspiratorial theories about Kilian Jornet never climbing Everest and so on. Do we people really have to ruin every sport discipline? Please let us not do it with TRAIL RUNNING!!!

  44. zzzz

    Everyone is underestimating the effect of culture in this. It’s not a coincidence that the only, or one of the only non-Americans in the field was DQ’d. I’m Asian ethnically, Asian-American, I guess, but people, including me, don’t like the hyphenation – but needed for this story. Growing up I’d have my two non-English speaking grandmothers visit us in the US. They would do things in public, restaurants for example, that cracked me up. I’d tell them, you can’t do that in America. They’d say why not? They just didn’t understand, even when you explain it to them. It just doesn’t make sense in their world. So they laugh, and keep doing it. It’s not as simple as telling them this is the rule. And it’s clearly not malicious. Same exact thing with Kilian way back when he was cutting switchbacks at Speedgoat (?).

    My take is that Xavier’s crew, the girlfriends, likely had absolutely no clue that it was against the rules to provide aid. You say, well the crew should know – it’s in the rules. Well how would they know? Xavier would be the one to tell them. But Xavier obviously didn’t have a full grasp of the rules, including how serious onlookers might take the rules. That’s something an American would not be confused about – they know all about people that are nit picky about things like that, but he isn’t exposed to that in Europe. He said that the contrast between the easygoing nature of the race and the harsh DQ perplexed him, and I can totally see that, especially since he came from a different culture.

    People mention the car like it’s a big conspiracy. I don’t get that. Imagine two young women seeing on a map that they can see their runner if they go down that road. They go, park, open the hatch to hang out outside the car and wait. It can just as easily be viewed as innocent, though ignorant of the rules, if you can put yourself in their place for a minute in your mind. The observer himself said they weren’t trying to hide or do this in secret or anything like that. The race management themselves said that they didn’t believe it was malicious cheating.

    1. Joe

      What a coincidence the race directors who made the decision to DQ Xavier received a large amount of money from Altra, the company that also sponsors Jeff Browning, the runner they gave the win to. And Jamil the guy who apparently got the ball rolling on the DQ, also runs a company that is partnered with Altra (read as receives money from Altra).

      1. Jeff T

        Hard disagree. I seriously doubt that in the moment Dale and Jamil were thinking “Sweet, an opportunity to make more money from Altra by disqualifying XT.” Come on.

        1. Stefan

          Perhaps. On the other hand, it’s quite easy to imagine a situation where the rules committee’s final decision could be swayed (even if only subconsciously) by a fear of how Altra might react. The rules committee certainly had ample time to consider this as it took many hours for them to make their DQ ruling. Would Altra (or a proxy for Altra) have launched a complaint and/or considered withdrawing support for HR in the future if Xavier had gone on to win despite a time penalty? The financial and/or promotional incentive for Altra in having a HardRock 100 Champ on their team is certainly there.

          1. Alex Jones

            AJ checking in on this one. I have thedocuments proving Xavier was paid off by Altra to throw the race. Look into it.

        2. Karen

          I don’t think the RD wanted to DQ Xavier. He had the responsibility of upholding the rulebook which I stand behind. If Xavier could not read the rulebook then he should have received help from a translator. Hardrock had no precedent for this, so a very difficult decision.

    2. Shayne Burwell

      That is a great perspective to provide. I’m sure there was no French rule book and their grasp of the rules before was probably affected by this.

    3. loic

      I am frenchand luved in the us and I totally aprove your pist.
      Lots of bias in the us, proud easily tend to bias and sometimes worse.

      American people are the most biased population I ever let while teavelling (mostly europ).

      Addind the altra and closely tight community there is à biad for sûre. And consistent witj the “harshness shift” in the décision.

      It it makes xav famous in the Usa I think hé does not care much !

  45. Branden

    For some reason this forum and the topic at hand cause me to reflect upon the whole tofol and iker running together situation for utmb 2014. They clearly muled for each other and offered each other aid. IMO that is cheating, I said something and people blasted me for it. Can’t help but laugh at how the tides have turned. If the rules state you can’t do something, then you have to suffer whatever the consequences the organization decides upon, it’s really that simple. So whereas Xavier only took a sip of water, it clearly states in the rule book that it is not allowed and thus you must be willing to pay the price. From my personal opinion and experience, anyone who breaks the rules or accepts help form outside the parameter….hell …even pacing …it defeats the purpose and the sole reason for running these races. I think all races should not allow pacers, but that’s my opinion. The feeling you get from running through the mountains on your own two feet without any extra help is a feeling that is unlike anything else. It is a feeling of contentment and leaving your heart and soul out on the trail.

    1. loic

      I agréé with you, muling is beyond some line.
      The european race do not allow pacet and I see no reason to allow them. Those athlète can care fir themselves !
      And in terms of fairness… Shocking !

  46. Jeff


    This whole Xavier DQ scenario, rightly or wrongly solidifies my intention never to enter the Hardrock Lottery or care about this so-called fun run that has a winner, i.e. a bad-faith race, ever again. I gravitated towards trail running after being disgusted with doping in pro cycling (and even amateur cycling races I was involved in). Given (as Sage C. notes) that ultra running is not 100% clean and imho now has DQ decisions that make the Tour de France commissaires look like geniuses, I plan to put down the ultra Kool-Aid for a bit and indulge in the Pyrennean TdF stages over the next few days. A whole different level of spectacle, athleticism and hypocrisy — they shoot horses, don’t they?

  47. crazy ise

    Like so often in life, at the end there are only losers….

    at least the hardrock-rules commity has the opportunity to make things right in the results of 2015 and dq Jamil Coury for taking a beer outside the aid station.
    I have now a much better understanding what it means, when people talk about the hardrock-family and community.
    Putting on rules and put no penalty in place in cases of a violation is certainly an interresting approach in jurisdiction.
    Very sadly a bad taste will remain….
    Whenever and wherever money takes over, things happen, you would never have seen otherwise….

    1. loic

      I sadly agree,
      From France with an experience in the us I found quite “overvalued” this “community” thing as it seemeds to be à lot of word but rare examples. Many runner find a group to sneak in (sounds like highschool) but for some circles of Rd/sponsor/youtubers it has lead to weird mixes.
      Jamil’s vid often passed over me as I couldn’t get tigether the “friendly/casual” talk with this ton of race result and gears.
      I much prefer people filming their own ultra expérience, and in France we zre gifted with à ton that do not bragg as the american do.

      Seems soooo “fake usa” to me !
      This story really fends the fog.

      But in a way the way those “cool sellers” manage to put in a box and market Anton was quite à warning.

      The upside is that manny runners are really inspiring unlike walmsley and some other gone nut zbout record and faking to be cool as they are just shallow (from interviews).

      I understand american hardly love Xavier because very few translated interview. But trust me he really rocks when talking french without the languag/formal barrier !

  48. BT

    To be honest, if irunfar does an investigative piece like that, I’d expect them to mention all aspects of the story. and the fact that jeff browning is sponsored by altra and altra is one of the main sponsors of hardrock should at least be mentioned in the article.

    1. loic

      Well I agréé but it is quite à bold znd rusky step to do as a journalist.

      But now they can(should?) write that some people think so !

      Honestly I feel they made a great job to lay things flat with à compréhensive view of persoectives.

      Hat off to I run far.

  49. JTB

    Ok – the facts and the rules have been covered by now.

    But once the RD had all the facts straight, what is the DOWNSIDE of saying ‘1 hour time penalty served in the aid station’ and then making a statement after the race, explaining what happened and why and then updating the rulebook for the next year?

    Where’s the ‘con’ to that course of action? Do we really think the 2nd-4th place finishers would’ve heartily complained about it?

    That’s the biggest disappointment in this whole saga to me. I genuinely think that’s the most logical solution that’s fair to everyone in the current situation AND clears it up in the future.

  50. Conflicts of interest

    To be candid: This site isn’t going to be the place where any sort of honest discussion happens.

    The owners of iRunfar have a vested interest to acquiesce and agree with Hard Rock organizers, as they greatly benefit financially from covering this race.. and from gaining entry into this race.

    (Somehow despite low odds in the “lottery” (wink) , their writers/editors get chosen to run this race quite a bit)

    1. Poban

      ….? are they deleting posts? are they censoring anyone? did I miss something?

      the reason Bryon and Meghan have been picked in the lottery speaks to their level of experience / time spent in the sport. they’ve likely both been entering the lottery for years. they’ve definitely both been running trails for a long time.

      do they benefit financially from covering the race? well, it’s their job, so technically they do. but if you think for one second that B+M are rolling in dough because of IRF, and specifically because of any ONE race that they cover, you are way off base.

      lastly, I want to say that there are clearly lots of people who disagree with the DQ, but when it comes to the Altra conspiracy or the nationalistically motivated reasons for the DQ etc, it’s got to be a very small vocal minority (or even one person from letsrun??) who are pushing some of those ideas. if you aren’t seeing your agenda take off it’s likely because most of the regular readers of this site find the ideas implausible (and rightly so!).

      1. zzzz

        I’m not saying it’s a nationalistically motivated DQ, though maybe others have said that. I’m saying that the different culture and language had an effect on Xavier’s behavior and understanding of consequences and nit picky type people. And I explained why in a way that some people might not get on their own, not having family or friends that are foreigners.

        And yes, I’m on letsrun, and purposely posted under the same user name for people who read both. Tbat doesn’t. That doesn’t mean that I’m new here. I normally post as Lightning or whatever.

    2. Meghan Hicks

      Conflicts of interest,

      What kind of conversation would you call honest if not the one happening here? We are continuing to host a difficult conversation, allowing comments that are well beyond our comment policy in both tone and intent in the hopes that we as community will end up going somewhere good at the end of all this difficulty.

      And to be clear, iRunFar hasn’t yet publicly expressed any opinions on the matter, as it has been most important for us to: 1. present the facts as we were able to understand them, and 2. host an open conversation without our voices/opinions yet influencing anyone in the community.

      1. Will Thomas

        Thank you iRunFar for delivering news in a fair, unbiased fashion. Trying to get down to the facts and report those facts to the public, without iRunFar’s opinion attached is something that is missing in our national news outlets today. If there is any lesson to learn in all of this, I hope the iRunFar community’s realizes how lucky we are to have a trail/ultra running media outlet is dedicated to delivering unbiased news. Thank you!

  51. Billy

    Hacked from Hardrock server…………

    …..draft resolution setting forth new penalties for rules violations during “run”…… work in progress….. final draft to be adopted upon consideration from board…..

    violation description

    – Goofy runner stealing, and ingesting cherry from bystander’s non-alcoholic Shirley Temple- *Penalty: DQ

    -Aspenite and 10 time finisher inadvertently dropping Hansel and Gretel trail of 80 Gu packet tops – *Penalty DQ

    -Daughter of prominent NY developer/politician installing, and utilizing funicular to access Kroger’s canteen- *time penalty 1 minute

    -Catalonian runner found to be running sections of course while hooked up to intravenous drip of mountain goat testosterone- *time penalty 5 minutes

  52. Stjepan Tomislav

    Given that the disqualification of XT generated this much (heated) debate in the community, it’s clear (at least to me) that the decision is controversial and that the rules should have been more definitive in the first place. Aid outside the aid stations should be strictly forbidden, with the penalty of immediate DQ. The racer would then be absolutely clear on what was going to happen should he choose to go against those guidelines.
    I have an enormous respect for the whole community and appreciate the all around efforts involved in the organization of Hardrock on a yearly basis. I sure hope to be lucky enough to toe the line in Silverton one day. But I do have to side with the folks which think that the punishment was too severe for what XT did. This is a hard life lesson, both for the racer and the race committee. I am sure none of the involved parties had any malicious intent, it’s just a set of unfortunate events. Hopefully HR 2018 and the bitter aftertaste it generated will in the end change things for the better for future iterations of the race.

    1. zzzz

      Or, how about relaxing the rules a bit? Why does when anything happen, people want more and more rules? I’d say relaxing it to ensure that there can be more of a judgment call would be better.

      Also, I think spectator aid should absolutely be allowed. It’s just a natural thing for spectators to want to do, including many that won’t be aware of aid restrictions. It’s also natural for someone to accept aid from a friendly face. Sure, I’ll take that beer. If you strictly ban that, you’ll get so many inadvertent cases of aid that you’re guaranteed a lot of DQs if, for example, you required everyone to be monitored 100% (like a body camera, or in some distant future, a drone with a 48-hour battery life following each runner) rather than only get random or possibly biased where people are judging some things as OK because they could imaging accept that kind of aid, and others not OK.

      1. Tim B.

        Rules set a clear expectation and reduce the need for a judgement call, as was the case in this instance of receiving crew aid outside of the designated area. Individuals with integrity know and follow the rules, and don’t need to be monitored. When violations occur, it is up to those with integrity to make the offender aware of the rule and report the violation to officials. Enforcement of a rule is not solely about the individual violating the rule, it is more about respecting and preserving the integrity of the event and individuals following the rules. It’s unfortunate for the offender, but he ultimately made both the choice to ignore the rule and later decline the opportunity to finish unranked.

        1. zzzz

          There are races where the rules are simpler. For example, not having rules that mention aid at all. Those races go off fine, and you don’t have any controversy about aid in those races. That’s what I mean be relaxing the rules as an alternative to tightening rules. The races will still have “integrity”, but won’t have to worry about DQing people for aid.

          If you need to limit where people can park or whatever, overcrowded roads/trailhead concerns or due to permits, give parking tickets to those parked in the wrong places. If someone hikes in to give aid to a runner, or to any runner, but parks in a legal spot, good for them.

  53. Dean G

    I’m genuinely perplexed by the tone of Xavier’s interview. Does he really not see the distinction of crew versus not-crew? Is it a translation issue? His attempt to equivocate is off-putting.

    Let me help. If a woman hands candy to everyone – you got candy.

    If you stop and meet with your crew somewhere – they could hand you anything. Maybe even more than you are admitting to.

    I’m not saying this happened. I’m saying that’s why people treat crew meetings so differently. Crew are armed with anything their runner might need. Their sole function is support.

    Also – the one thing we actually don’t know is what Xavier and his crew said to Dale when. We know there were conversations. We don’t know exactly what was said.

    Is it possible that Xavier and/or crew’s initial assertion of the event not happening might have colored people’s ability to trust what was said after?

    DQ, time penalty, or wait til after the race. None of them sound all that great, do they? I wonder if something colored the decision. (And no, not Altra, I mean human factors. The way we communicate)

    1. loic

      Sorry but it has never been szid one should be forbiden to meet crew put of aid station under the sfntence of DQ.

      It has never been written, wich implies some indulgence for first reported case. But seriously it has never been written beczuse it is obvioudly excessive, it puts à crazy stress on crews. And sorry but crew people are nonnofgicial so Who is in your crew or not ? Trust Kj as thouthand of people Who would happily give him water or some food.

      And happily it doesn’t take to be Kj to get help along trails. I gave water several times to fellow runners and got helped many times to strap or even even got à spare headlamp. That is the very basis of solidarity in Mountain especially. In Europe oeople run without oacer are family comes generally only coleat one or two points in the ultra so of course we befriend and help each other.

      So that’s why this slope Rd took is so dangerous. If people stop to help each other in any way some are gonna die someday and likely on hardrock handies !

      I remember that KJ got helped by mike for his shoulder, that deserves respect not DQ !

      Well indeed à 1h penalty as done in utmb and other races looks Nice to Everyone.
      Maybe even Jeff ! (actually no clue)

  54. Federico

    First of all thanks IRF for the space and the coverage.

    My point of view of the situation is that all punitive systems in civilized societies conserve or should retain a proportionality feature.

    Clearly that has not happened in the sanction imposed by RD to XT.

    More than 90% of those who have written believe that the sanction was exaggerated and even the RD Itzel expressly stated in its statement that there was no bad faith for XT’s prye.

    n this sense, the same penalty can not and should not be applied to those who have been negligent as to those who have been cheating.

    That being the case, the sanction against XT was unfair and arbitrary.

    Greetings from Argentina!

  55. Dean G

    To quote from the article in the piece with the RD:

    “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.”

    I think a lot of people are focusing on the wrong issue. Answers changing dramatically, even if it’s innocent, is very problematic for an RD I would think.

    1. zzzz

      I’ve already said this before, but it’s very easy to understand in terms of him not fully grasping the rules ahead of that, so brushing aside what he thought was innocent. Also, they didn’t have a French translator in that previous conversation. Between those two things, and being confronted and asked a weird, lawyerly-sounding planned question, and it’s easy to see the answers changing.

      1. Dean G

        Zzzz, I would agree with you — but actually they DID have a translator before and after the answers changed (see Dale’s interview above). That’s my point. Dale says they missed their chance at Grouse but spoke at Sherman WITH the Translator. And then Dale was contacted later by Xavier’s team and they spoke again at Cunningham WITH the Translator.

        I think this change makes it tricky on the RD, I’m not saying I can’t imagine the change, I’m just saying it makes it hard on the RD. And might have impacted the decision. Surely that’s not hard to understand.

        Curious what Speedgoat thinks, being he’s both an RD who has dealt with issues in the past and is a Hardrocker who knows the course.

        1. zzzz

          I can see why people think it’s being deceptive, and in some ways it is. But it’s natural to try to brush things off if you really don’t think you did anything wrong. I’m sure everyone has experience this in their own personal relationships even. It’s the wrong metric to look at when looking at intent.

          For similar reasons, you get people saying the wrong things then changing their stories when confronted by police, even in cases where it turned out they did nothing wrong. It’s an off-the-cuff response. It’s one of the reasons you sometimes have people convicted for things that they didn’t do. I’d not look to what someone says in the heat of the moment as something said as a deliberate lie.

          1. zzzz

            Continuing that second paragraph, since I probably didn’t make it clear why it’s a similar situation. People are sometimes convicted for a crimes that they didn’t commit (later turned over by DNA evidence) because they changed their stories, perhaps about things like their whereabouts. The prosecutors point out the changed story, and the person gets convicted.

            That’s more of a legal move to try pin someone down. In a situation like this, it makes more sense to just accept that the answer will be different if the person is still trying to run, and brushing off what he thought was not trying to cheat, than when he is pinned down by the race director and given a “did you do this?” with a carefully worded question.

          2. zzzz

            To simplify, trying to get away with something is different from intentionally trying to cheat. There’s no foul intended.

  56. Alex

    I’d like to congratulate Meghan and IRF on a well written, methodically researched, and logically presented piece of ultra running journalism. It’s a shame that this comments section is being used as a message board for tin-foil hat wearing conspiracists who have nothing better to do than spread paranoid baseless rumours. For the record, I would listen to any credible evidence that there might have been an ulterior motive behind the decision to disqualify Xavier, but there certainly isn’t any such evidence in this comments section.

  57. ViewFromThePeanutGallery

    Way too harsh! Xavier clearly won the race given his commanding lead at the point he was DQ’ed – it’s too bad the decision was made to not have this fact reflected in the official results. He clearly broke the rules and clearly should have been penalized – but a severe time penalty would have been more than sufficient for such a minor non-malicious infraction. Imagine if an hour would have been knocked off his finish time – would this article with over 100 comments even exist? Probably not – the story would have been: dude messed up, RD made a tough decision to levy a severe time penalty – don’t forget to follow the rules! End of story…

    Instead we get to have not-fun conversations about candy-from-spectators, beer-swilling outside aid stations, etc. I’ve even seen calls for Rule #1 be enforced – there was whining on the course, more DQs!

    In the end, it’s just sad. Integrity is more than just strict adherence to a rule set – it’s recognizing what’s at stake and adapting to the conditions as they’re presented.

    Thanks for a great article (and the time and effort taken to create it) and providing a forum for discussion!

    1. Zak

      According to C.S. Lewis, the definition of Integrity is:

      “Doing the right thing. Even when no one is watching.”

      Would that apply more to Dale or Xavier?

      1. ViewFromThePeanutGallery

        yeah, so, that quote from C.S. Lewis is really a moralistic definition of integrity. I don’t think anyone, including Dale, thinks Xavier did something unethical – he made an inadvertent mistake. So the question of integrity is about the nature of HR, not the ethical behaviour of the participants. As Dale stated, his decision was based on maintaining the integrity of the race. I totally get that – however, here’s the thing – when asked why he didn’t levy a more reasonable time penalty vs. a DQ:

        “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 it sounds like the decision was made not to create policy-on-the-fly. Well, there’s never been a DQ at HR, so like it or not, policy is being made. The question is whether you’re going to enact policy that fits the situation or you’re going to rigidly follow a set of rules created in the past that may or may not apply to the present. The decision that was made has no heart – a computer algorithm could have produced the same result. I hope HR sees the error in what occurred and has the grace to admit a mistake was made and issues an apology to Xavier and the community. The results are fixed and can’t be changed – but things can still be made right. It just takes heart.

  58. Meghan Hicks


    It’s time for us to post a reminder that iRunFar has a comment policy, https://www.irunfar.com/irunfar-comment-policy. If you haven’t read it, please do before commenting. Unfounded accusations about people and brands are against policy. Personal attacks on people are against policy. Intentionally inflammatory language is also against policy.

    As we have said many times on iRunFar in the past, speak here like you would speak to others with whom you are trail running. When we trail run, we debate, disagree, and sometimes even legit fight. But in person with each other, we are almost always civil and constructive. This is the simple sniff test of commenting on iRunFar: would you say what you are saying here to someone in real life?

    I personally believe we have the ability to grow productively as a community out of what happened last weekend if we choose to make our conversations about it productive. Please choose that path here on iRunFar. Thank you.

    1. CC

      You all have gone well beyond your policy in allowing some of the comments. Not sure if that is a good or bad thing but understand you are in a tricky position, damned if you let it go and damned if you don’t allow it in some folks eyes. If one reads through the comments, there are very few that are actually constructive. Take Care.

  59. Claudio

    Did the crew miss Xavier at the Ouray aid station? If so, that would pretty much explain everything. He might have arrived at the aid station earlier than his crew, thus they could have tried to meet up somewhere else. I wouldn’t call this “cheating”, although out of the rules. This race seems to me a “take or leave” thing, a magnificent adventure on a side, based on anachronistic practices on the other side (crews, pacers). While Xavier is likely a true passionate of the adventurous side of the race, he might have been hit by surprise when the race director has applied to a strict enforcement of rules. To use his words, in a “context” like this, he thought he wasn’t doing anything wrong.

    1. Poban

      Claudio – they did not miss him at the Ouray aid station.

      The RD doesn’t seem to think it was egregious cheating either, but a clear violation of the rules. The problem is that if he was allowed to finish, could his time be fairly compared to others? So a time penalty does seem like it would make sense, but then how much? That gets complicated, especially since it’s not a practice with precedent in the USA (correct me if wrong, does anyone know if time penalties have been used much in USA races?).

      I think I would have been happy with an asterisk next to his time marking it as technically invalid in the history of HR results, but clearly as the winner on the day.

      iRunFar clearly chose to not publish the photos taken by Tony Russ, so I won’t link to them here. Needless to say, if anyone really wants to see them you can search online. I suggest doing this – it definitely made me a little bit less sympathetic to XT’s case, though I still have mad respect for him and he is a great athlete.

      1. Claudio

        Poban, thank you for the answer. Well, while basically I do agree with you on everything you say – and yes, I have seen the pictures – yet I wonder on a side note whether this race, which apparently benefits of a substantial sponsorship, is not ready at this point for the next level (the standard, I would say, is set by European events like UTMB or Lavaredo Ultra Trail). Couldn’t this unfortunate accident be a (sort of) crossroads for the organizers?

  60. Peter

    Really sad day for Ultrarunning. He was light years ahead, gives the whole thing a really bad taste. He was unbeatable on the day, no matter whether he git a bit of water or not. We are not at the Olympics. A lower penalty would surely suffice and a friendly reminder to crew and runner about the rules. I am also shocked that some people are so eager to report such, for me minor, violations, especially given the fact that XT was unbeatable on that day.

  61. Sean

    The one thing interesting being missed in this discussion is that Xavier opted not to continue on. I totally get the disheartening feeling, but this to me flies in the face of peoples description of him. By this I mean the description that he is a mountain man, he does it for the love of nature, etc. Many of these sentiments exist in the comments above. Had he chosen to continue on and finish the race the RD’s would have then been able to amend their decision. Even if they had not immediately revisited the DQ, maybe the light of time would have changed things. Even the RD’s never amended their decision there would be an understanding in the ultra world where his performance would rank. Regardless it appears mistakes may have been made all around.

    1. Poban

      I thought about that, too. plus it may give personal satisfaction, though you know your results are ‘invalid’. but I think it actually ended up being a nicer thing for Jeff Browning for XT to have not finished. I don’t know if that was on his mind at all, but it helped to make Browning’s win feel more like a win (which it was!).

  62. Paul

    I’m not sure “he didn’t gain any benefit” is a valid argument for a light penalty. Hypothetically, let’s say the infraction was littering instead of outside aid. Let’s also say (hypothetically) that a runner denied littering but then was presented with a video showing her intentionally littering and then she admitted to it.

    Personally, I would be completely on board with a DQ for littering (and lying about it) and I think most other folks here would agree.

  63. Hugh

    As a middle of the pack trail runner (South African who dislikes Altra – so hopefully unbiased) I always make sure I read the rules prior to competing in an event – XT is an Elite sponsored athlete and as such has a duty to his sponsors and team to ensure that he is fully acquainted with the rules (so does the team by the way). Unfortunately if you break the rules you break the rules and therefore must face the penalty. Society has become very tolerant of rule infractions and making thousands of exceptions only complicates things, as such setting a strict precedent can be good thing. It should however be uniformly applied going forward. Thanks iRun Far, for hosting such an interesting discussion.

  64. Lost In Translation

    the whole thing is just so very unfortunate. i don’t believe XT meant to violate any rules, but he did unknowingly, and undortunately ignorance is not a waiver from the rules. there is of course also the language barrier and cultural barrier where he’s just going to interprate what happened so very differently. and for this reason, i’m not willing to flat out call him or his crew liars either. when confronted with the questions, i don’t even think they understood what they were being asked, interpretor or not (although good on Dale and the committee to go so far as to seek out an interpretor) was the DQ too harsh of a punishment? perhaps. but that’s what the Hardock committee had in place at the time, never expecting that they’d have to actually enforce an infraction. if they had just arbitrarily come up with a time penalty on the fly, that would have come off as even more hairball and amateur. we’re talking about a race that changes direction every year, a race where lightning storms randomly create time penalties of their own! i am certain that this was not an easy decision for Dale and he committe, but they had no choice. it was just a lose/lose situation from the moment XT met up with his crew in the Bear Creek lot to the moment Tony Russ saw it all. also, correct me if i’m wrong here, but wasn’t the Bear Creek Trail closed to ALL except Hardrock participants and their pacers coming out of Ouray (no crew, spectators or day hikers allowed) due to the recent flooding damage and delicate condition of the trail that Trujillo and other volunteers worked tirelessly to repair so that the race could go on without a massive detour? pretty sure i saw posted signs at the trailhead as well, so wasn’t this Tony Russ guy also in violation? hmmmmm. sounds like nobody was free from wrongdoing here….

  65. Bud Phillips

    As a five time HR finisher from long ago, I have faith in Dale and the rest of the staff in their decision making process. It was a hard decision, and I am glad I did not have to make it. The rules are clear, and XT screwed up – the issue is was the punishment too severe? I was not there, so I will go with Dale’s decision. If XT and anyone else is that upset about the decision, and many apparently are after browsing the comments, you do not have to enter the lottery or show up for the run. No one will miss you, and plenty of other runners will take your place. Have a great evening.

    1. Emerson Thoreau

      Bud, your name is as straightforward as your take: the guy violated the rule, Dale has complete discretion, and anyone who doesn’t like it can vote with their feet — pardon the pun. I doubt entries will decline one iota, as if any of the hard cores would care…

  66. Buzz Burrell

    A few thoughts – – –

    1. Speculation that JT received unequal treatment for any reason, including nationalistic or especially sponsor favoritism, is utterly ridiculous, so please just drop all that. Reading some of the Comments above is like reading that aliens from outer space have secretly taken over the US Government (which unfortunately, I find more believable ;-)

    2. He clearly broke the rules, which you can’t do in any sporting event, so for there to be a consequence is completely expected and normal. And it’s a tragedy, since he’s a great guy and would have easily won regardless. And keep in mind, wherever you go and whatever you do, you follow the laws of wherever you are – not knowing them is no excuse.

    3. While the runner is always ultimately responsible, note that this tragedy is on his crew. Runners focus all their energy on moving forward; the crew should be managing everything else – they really blew it. One also notes the water was given on the longest stretch w/o potable water on the whole course, on the lowest and hottest section, so the aid given was not casual nor inconsequential.

    4. JT’s suggestion that a lesser penalty could have been imposed is reasonable. “Relegation” is common in cycling for example; a time penalty is imposed for infractions while a DQ is reserved for intentionally causing harm. And the HR100 Board’s assertion that there was no formula or precedent in existence for such a time penalty is also correct and reasonable, so they simply followed the clearly stated rules rather than inventing something on the spot. I presume they will develop more detailed protocols for the future.

    5. A sad situation – sincere condolences to JT – and hearty congratulations to everyone else including Jeff B, and a big thanks to all those who work to make this event possible!

  67. bud phillips

    Mr Burrell – Thanks for your excellent and easy to understand comments – probably the best of the many in this long thread about the DQ situation.

  68. Markus

    This might be a big opportunity where US ultratrail running can grow on.
    It’s not like we didn’t have rules before. The problem I see is, that in most cases the rules where never really enforced. But some exceptions come to mind when Hans Dieter Weisshaar (The first runner with 100 x 100 mile races) got a DQ when he threw a banana peel away at Javelina Jundred, I believe.

    Per definition a sport is doing something within a set of rules. We need rules and we need rule enforcement.

    Xavier Thevenard thinks he just got one swig out of a water bottle and the punishment was to harsh. Would have been a time penalty of 1hour per swig enough? How much do the minutes with the crew help. It seems he spend a couple minutes with them? 1 minute with crew at a illegal spot another hour penalty?

    This is not the first time that runners and crew did not the right thing but it is maybe the first time we start talking about it.

  69. The Woodsman

    Not too relevant, but I was working Grouse Aid when Xavier came in. He and his pacer looked worried about something, and his crew was hoovering around him outside the tent, kind of hush-hush like. I knew they weren’t too worried about Jeff B (over an hour behind at that point). Xavier was holding his right quad as he checked in, I so I assumed it had to do with an injury or something. The interpreter used by HR was also working Grouse Aid and I saw him and someone else talking to Xavier and his crew for a couple of minutes, so I can back that up. Xavier and his pacer then left. Not moving as fast or as certain as I would’ve expected. Jeff came in an hour later looking incredibly fresh, executed an aid station stop that would make a NASCAR team proud and confidently pounded up through the swichbacks above Grouse under a rainbow. I really thought he had a chance to overtake Xavier (didn’t happen obviously). Some time later there was some hush-hush traffic on the HAM radio that we all kind of looked at each other like “what?”. Then Silverton started begging Grouse to send the translator to Cunningham. Grouse kept replying his family was with him and it wasn’t optimal for him to leave. Eventually they worked something out and the translator left for Cunningham. Lots of suspense.
    Personally, I wish the rule book had allowed for a lessor punishment but it did not. The race committee would’ve been criticized either way, DQ or not – it’s a no-win for them. Feel bad for Jeff too, but his performance earned him the win fair and square. Great guy, and consistent. Over 100 Ultras with only one DNF!

  70. Mike

    I find it ironic that many comments are focused on a conspiracy to DQ XT but utterly miss the fact that could not have been DQ’d if he had followed the rules in the first place. Other comments focus on how strict european races are and use that as justification for why XT made his decision to break the rules at Hardrock, citing the “laid back” culture. Help me understand how and why someone who is used to racing with very strict rule enforcement would believe it was okay to break them in the USA?

    XT was also offered to continue on and not receive a placement/official time. He declined. He could have chose to continue, and I’m sure many non “top runners” would have gladly done so. XT clearly didn’t care about just finishing as he rejected that option.

    Lastly, someone else posted something to the effect of, had XT known breaking the rules by having his crew provide aid outside of an aid station would have him DQ’d, he never would have done it.

    In my view, XT either didn’t bother to understand the rules and inform his crew, or he took a calculated risk that breaking the rules would not significantly impact him. Either way, it’s pretty simple. He broke the rules and a penalty was enforced. I’m not aware of any precedent for time penalties for breaking the rules at least in ultras in the USA. In general in almost every ultra, breaking the rules will result in a DQ, no other options.

    1. Claudio

      I am European (from the Dolomites) but I live in the US since 3 years: have raced both in Europe and North America. I wouldn’t say European races have strict rules. There are clear rules in Europe but, generally speaking, the main thing is that in Europe the races are organized better. I read here below that “it took forever to find a translator”: well, that is bad organization. Imagine if Thevenard had been in trouble, injured, lost… And I’m not saying here all races in the US are like that (I run every year The Rut in Montana, which is a terrific event with great organization). But sometimes when I read things like “if you don’t like this race you do not have to enter the lottery, no one will miss you”, well, that’s not nice: why don’t you open your eyes, there is a world out there. Doing the Hardrock every year 10 years in a row is great but… why don’t you take a break and go racing in the Alps for once, do something different. And, last but not least, calling Thevenard a “cheater” is just as stupid as is the theory of a conspiracy against his win.

      1. The Woodsman

        Having volunteered at HR this year, I can say I have not seen a better organized race in U.S. It’s on-par with the European races I’ve done. The absence of a translator for every foreign-language nationality in the field does not reflect poorly on race organization, that’s simple not a contingency they should have to plan for. When I race in Europe, I don’t expect them to speak English. Finding a translator for XT was a courtesy, and a necessary part of due-process in this case. Having translators at every corner where you could make a wrong turn or fall and get hurt is a laughable expectation. As you know, most European athletes speak passable English. This was a rare case where a translator was needed to make sure the rules were clearly understood.

        1. Claudio

          Hey, Woodsman, did I write that a translator is needed “at every corner where you could make a wrong turn or fall and get hurt”?!?
          Also, you say that when you race in Europe you do not expect them to speak English. So, tell me please (out of curiosity), where did you go, which race.
          And finally… when it is about volunteers, I can only say “thank you”: whatever the result is, it comes from the heart and the passion for this sport. So, thank you Woodsman for having volunteered.
          And please be aware I am not writing here with the aim to be antagonistic (well, at least you find me “laughable”). I am just trying to be constructive and drive the attention of someone to the point that, if you just say “it is what it is: you don’t like it, then do not enter the lottery, no one will miss you”, eventually you will end up with a sort of a picnic among buddies, instead of an international trail running event.
          this is my opinion

  71. The Woodsman

    See my comment above. One reason it took so long for the DQ because it took them forever to get the translator from Grouse to Cunningham. He really didn’t want to go to Cunningham in the dead of night and leave his family at Grouse where he was working the AS. They needed the translator to complete the investigation.

  72. Bud Phillips

    Claudio – I think it was my comment you quoted, “it is what it is: you don’t like it, then do not enter the lottery, no one will miss you”. After reading the various comments since mine, I standby the comment. If you do not like the way Hardrock is run, then don’t try to enter it. That makes perfect sense to me. And if you go away, it means the 2000 applicants to the lottery will have a better (minimally better…) chance to get in. That also makes perfect sense to me. I have faith and trust in Dale and the Hardrock organization since I did my first HR back in 2000. I also think that the staff might consider using ten slots to invite competitive, including US and international, elite women and men runners (five each) to increase the competition and interest in Hardrock. Perhaps this has already been considered by the staff. These elite runners would obviously have to have an understanding of the rules and the penalties to avoid more DQs similar to the apparent controversy that happened this year.

    1. Claudio

      Thank you Bud. I get your point, makes sense. Well, ultimately you’re conceding that somewhat there is room for improvement, and that is exactly what I’m trying to say. Also, ref. other comments, I would add that calling Thevenard a “cheater” is the fruit of an unfair, black-or-white, brutal and primitive analysis of the facts. We can do better.

  73. bud phillips

    Claudio – I do agree regarding the comments that called XT a cheater. He simply screwed up and paid a high price, and using the term”cheater” is uncalled for, and actually an embarrassment for the Hardrock and US ultrarunning community. Hopefully, that sort of name calling can be avoided in the future. Have a great day.

    1. Claudio

      Bud, at the end of this discussion, while I’m happy that I had the opportunity to express my thoughts, at the same time I feel I’ve learned from you how strong and special should be the community who started and made big this Hardrock 100 thing. It is something bigger than the competition and its rules. Thank you!

  74. kase

    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

    So i looked at the Runner’s Manual and to my surprise it shows that HRH does not have any Rules in place. How did i came to this conclusion ?

    First it clearly stated that their Rules Summary contains only “Guidelines” so its up to the runner to follow his/her best judgement,

    Second the list of 11 points could never be rules, because there can not possibly negative consequence (specific for rules) like disqualification for whining, not enjoying yourself or refusing to kiss the rock;

    Third it clearly say that the course Director has the final say, so he could have decided whatever and was not bound by any “Rules” because they don’t exist;

    This means that disqualifying Xavier was not necessary at all and was subjective and arbitrary and completely counter to the spirit of trail running and all it supposed to stand for

    1. Dylan

      It doesn’t mention penalties in the summary, but in the rules under section 4.1 it reads:

      “Finally, runners are not allowed to accept aid between aid stations. Any runner who takes aid where they should not may be disqualified. ”

      I’m not saying it was fair to DQ him, but it’s incorrect to state no rules were in place, unless this was updated after the race…

      Source: http://www.hardrock100.com/files/manuals/HR100-2018-Hardrock-Runners-Manual-Part1.pdf

      1. Jakub

        Dylan, if that was a rule, it would clearly state what happens if you violate it. This “guideline information” only says that the runner *may* be disqualified if they receive aid outside the designated area. The race director had as much freedom to come up with a reasonable punishment as they wanted, they weren’t constrained by rules. Yet they chose the harshest sanction. Why? And the answer that they were lazy or scared to think through a proportional punishment (relegation/penalty) is hardly a valid reason.

        Also, I would like to see a statement from the HR organisers that prevents this kind of disproportional treatment in the future – preparing revision of rules, handbook with clear sanctions, etc. Yet there is nothing to this effect on the entire internet. It really contradicts the stated sentiment that the organisers were unhappy about the whole situation. They would try to do something about it if they were indeed sorry. To top it off, they invited Xavier to enter the lottery for the next edition! Are they making fun of him? The lottery where veterans, aka friends & buddies, get an entry to hike the loop every year. While this point might seem cheap, it isn’t. Look at the odds and the number of reserved places for each category.

  75. Bud Phillips

    Alain, I obviously read a different HR finishers list than you did. XT did not finish? Kind of hard to win when you don’t finish the course?

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