When asked pre-lottery by friends if I would run Hardrock should my name be drawn, I was pretty emphatic in stating that I would absolutely turn down the spot. The reasoning behind this fairly logical answer was not one of charity for others who might be better prepared for the immense undertaking, but simply because running such a beast two weeks after (hopefully) running full bore at Western States sounded incredibly painful and potentially dangerous, not to mention stupid in terms of UTMB preparation.
Then my name was drawn. And all bets were off.
I quickly rationalized that this would be a great chance to test my mettle in a way I have yet to test it. And besides, the chances of being drawn in the lottery are so slim that I may never get another chance at it. Then I saw the list of starters and felt further compelled to send a check for $250 to race director Dale Garland.
The event has never really been about the racing, but more about the experience. However, as regular readers of this blog might have gathered by now, I like to race (regardless of my chances of winning), and clearly the 2011 event has the potential to be one of the more competitive ones in the race’s history.
A taste of the competition:
Karl Meltzer (5-time winner)
Scott Jurek (‘07 winner, 7-time WS winner, US 24-hour record holder, and on and on)
Jared Campbell (defending champ)
Duncan Callahan (2-time Leadville winner)
Diana Finkel (3-time winner, 2nd overall last year)
Darcy Africa (2nd last year (4th overall) and winner of multiple 100 mile mountain races)
Jeff Browning (31st on the wait list - would be a great addition to the start list)
Up until about a week ago, I really hadn’t given the race much thought. Western States is absolutely my goal race for the summer -- no ifs, ands, or buts about it -- but now that I’ve started getting up into the mountains a bit more in my training, and the prospect of some high-alpine running starts to open up with the changing of the seasons, my mind begins to wander towards July and the San Juans.
I paced Nick Pedatella over the last 30 miles of the course last year just two weeks after racing Western States and, quite frankly, it was a slog. I got altitude headaches, we got lost for an extended period of time in the middle of the night, and Nick fell in an ice-cold stream at 4 in the morning and was borderline hypothermic for hours. I was ready to hand over the pacing baton to Ryan at mile 90 but he didn’t show, so I had to slog up the last huge climb (they’re all huge) to 13,000 feet over Little Giant without expressing my desire to sit down and stop (which is not good pacing etiquette).
My immediate post-pace thoughts are documented here, and as you might deduce from the prose and video commentary, I was far from enthusiastic about the event at the time of writing. But time has a way of romancing the pain and frustration. And I’m now fully excited at the prospect of covering the 100.5 miles, 34,000 feet of climbing, and 13 major passes of the Hardrock course…I think.
Of course I have goals for the summer, who doesn’t? As far as the WS/Hardrock double is concerned, there is but one goal (well there are multiple goals, but for fear of being ridiculed I’ll just mention the following): beat AJW’s impressive double from 2009, which I assume is a record:
Western States: 18:46:51
And then there’s UTMB, but I’m putting those thoughts off until July 9.
This summer promises to be epic.