Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Western States/Hardrock Double

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)
Nathan Yanko
Pete Stevenson
John Anderson
Matt Hart
Dakota Jones
Kevin Shilling
Glenn Mackie
Christian Johnson
Garrett Graubins
Nick Coury
Ryan Cooper
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).

Not so little, but definitely a giant.

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
Hardrock: 28:09:09

Combined: 46:56:00

And then there’s UTMB, but I’m putting those thoughts off until July 9.

This summer promises to be epic.


  1. good luck man, sounds epic indeed!

    if you (or anyone else signed up for hardrock) wants a pacer or someone to run behind you with a gurney, let me know. i want an excuse to be a part of the race

  2. "This summer promises to be epic."

    Hell yeah! Can't wait to see how both of those races go for you, hard to pass up a lottery spot on such a beautiful course.

  3. Senor Comadreja - I have Aaron M and Scott J lined up as pacers, but should either one of them fall through (and you're still available) I'd be honored to have you stretcher me off the course.

  4. Holy Sh*t... how does it feel carrying around those 20 pound solid steel gonads you got! That is bad ass.... Wish you luck in both, although I don't think luck is in your vocabulary.

  5. I don't blame you for taking a stab at HR even after states. Like you say, who knows if/when you would have another shot at HR. Definitely a race to experience at least once!

    ps., is one of you other goals to run 23:XX ??

  6. Waiting for some genius commentary from Cloud or that you are the blob of the decade or something.

    Nick - love watching your journey. Wish we could share more runs together.

  7. "But time has a way of romancing the pain and frustration."

    So true...and that is some heavy romance going on there based on your position last year. Intense! And totally psycho sounding from my perspective. And yet, from your position and experience level, I can see how that would be really cool and exciting. I'm just over here day dreaming about the day I may run one 100 miler, some day off in the far distance. But those a! I'm psyched to follow your journey on that.

  8. Hard to pass up the Hardrock golden ticket. :) Good luck!

  9. Epic summer indeed! Mentioning me on your list is very kind of you and I appreciate it, but I will truly not be "racing" this one. I hope to have a good day and night in the San Juan and as Mr. Campbell told me "sub-48 is the goal". I have a feeling you're going to do great, good luck with the rest of your prep and see you in Silverton.

  10. good luck mate , hope run goes well .Sound like a great challenge and a lot of fun .Love to hear from you on the result cheers Andrew

  11. I just cannot even comprehend a 28h HR period...much less right after WS.

  12. Make sure to pick up a white skin suit from mr. Jornet at states. That should help the hamburger quads late at HR :)

  13. I think that's frickin' awesome. Go for it, man.

  14. Thanks guys -

    Ward - Lol, 20 pound gonads. Now there's a handicap. Reminds me of Buster Gonad from the comic book Viz: 'The guy with the unfeasibly large testicles.' Probably got to be British to get that reference.

    Nick - Can't say I haven't given it thought, but definitely not this year. 26/27 and I'll be super happy.

    GZ - agreed. I'll def light up the bat sign next time I'm down in Boulder.

    Christian - classic sandbag talk. I know you've got goals beyond just finishing.

  15. Good luck Nick! Can't wait to see how you do.

  16. Nick, this is the most exciting goal prospect for the year - yeah, like crazy AJW that year. Or Scott Jurek's from 2005, when he did WS/Badwater double? These things make everything so exciting! When elites are going balls out for extra experiences! I am thrilled to be there to watch it (even if not run it)!
    BTW, which gal got married?

  17. Kate Middleton, now the Duchess of Cambridge (or something like that) - a silly reference to Meghan Arbogast aka 'The Queen'.

  18. When I was running today, I thought of you and WS and HR double. You would be a fool not to run Hardrock, it's an amazing route and great experience.

    I do believe AJW has the double record. If I ever get in WS, I'll be doing the same. I used to think a few years back that my Hardrock-Wasatch double was big. It was definately spread apart about 8 weeks. Two weeks apart is a different story.

    Keep the pacers at home, don't bring a mule, they can be stubborn. :-) It is gonna be a great race this year.

    I"m going for the "San Juan Double", SJS and HR, but they are 4 weeks apart...piece of cake.

    Glad you'll be on the start line!

  19. How the hell did I get onto that list? I'm with Christian. Count on me for sub-48:-) And I would have bet money last year that you'd be in the race for sure after your comment, "This race is absolutely absurd."

  20. Thanks Karl - looking forward to it.

    Pete, I've seen the beard, how could I possible leave you off the list!? And enough of this sandbagging already - I know exactly what your time goal is (we talk about this stuff on a regular basis), and it certainly has nothing to do with a 4 and an 8.