Just as I finally feel like I've caught up with work, family, and life in general post-Western States, the train is getting ready to pull back out of the station.
I'm heading out to Gunnison after work on Thursday to stay with my good buddy Ryan Burch, and then Friday morning we'll be heading down to Telluride to access the first crew point (28 miles) on the grueling Hardrock 100 course, which kicks off at 6:00am Friday.
The plan is to catch the early action in Telluride and help out our runner Nick Pedatella with anything he might need, and then head over to Ouray (mile 42) where Ryan will assume pacing duties for the next 28 miles. I'll then head over to Grouse Gulch aid station (50 something miles) to check in on the action there, before driving out to the Sherman aid station (70 miles) from where I'll be pacing Nick into the finish through the night. Gonna be a long day/night.
I'm not really into the Twitter thing, i.e. I don't have an account, but I'll be taking some pics and video from the early aid stations, so be sure to check the blog Saturday (early and late afternoon) for some (almost) live footage, which I should be uploading from Telluride and Ouray once we've helped Nick through those aid stations.
So who's gonna' win? Tough to call really. Meltzer seems to like his chances despite the various injuries he's currently carrying, but I don't see it myself. I'm picking teammate Scott Jaime for the win with a time in the 26-hour range. I'm also pulling for Nick P of course, and hoping that Ryan and I can help pull him through to a podium finish. Last year's runner up Troy Howard is also running, but he had a rough time at Western States two weeks ago, and I just don't see how you come back from that within two weeks to be competitive at Hardrock. I prefer John Anderson for the podium this year. He's a tough Boulder-based mountain runner and I'm sure he'll be ready. I'm also pulling for buddies Brooks Williams and PittBrownie to have great races too.
Top five men: Scott Jaime, Karl Meltzer, Nick Pedatella, John Anderson, Jared Campbell.
In the women's race, I like the head-to-head between Darcy Africa and last year's winner (and course record holder) Diana Finkel. Both are great endurance mountain runners, but I'm definitely pulling for teammate Darcy. Former winner, Betsy Nye should round out the top three.
Stay tuned Saturday afternoon for some footage and commentary from the early stages of the race.