20 July 2014

2014 Camp Hardrock: Days 1 - 2

Never lose an opportunity of seeing anything beautiful, 
for beauty is God's handwriting. 
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
(This is the first of five blog posts, covering my nine days at Camp Hardrock.)

This year, I had the fortune of being able to spend some quality time in the San Juan Mountain range during the week leading up to the Hardrock 100. The plan was to do some adventure runs and volunteer at the race, helping Dale Garland and Lois MacKenzie with prep work as well as Bryon and Meghan with iRunFar. If the opportunity to pace a runner presented itself, I was ready for that too. Thankfully, I was able to do all that I had hoped to do and took a boatload of pictures in the process. Bear with me as I get each of these posts out piece by piece over the next week as I continue 100 mile training and running a household...

For those unfamiliar with the Hardrock Hundred Mile Endurance Run, it's an ultramarathon that starts and ends in Silverton, Colorado. The looped course, run in the opposite direction from the prior year, travels through Telluride, Ouray and near Lake City, through the rugged and beautiful San Juan Mountains. The course crosses thirteen major passes above 12,000 feet and includes going over 14,048 Handies Peak. Participants who finish the run and have kissed the hardrock will have climbed nearly 34,000 feet at an average elevation of 11,000 feet. It's considered a post-graduate run and one of the toughest 100 milers in the world. Due to the difficulty of the run, participants are given a 48 hour cutoff to complete the run and earn their finishers shirt and print. It's nickname is Hardwalk, due to the difficulty in running (or trotting) the entire course and not blowing up.

140 participants are chosen from a weighted lottery which favors those that are veterans (completed the run at least five times). Elite runners have the same odds of getting in as anyone else and this year the race was stacked with fast guys, including the top mountain runner in the world, Kilian Jornet, running his first Hardrock.   

My huz and kids flew out to Connecticut to visit Grandma for an overdue visit while I headed to Red Mountain Pass to camp with Eric, Chris, Kari and a few others. This was my first time solo camping and I had a new tent, pad, two burner stove and portable table. I wasn't camping, I was glamping!

I stopped in Ouray (YOUR-ay, as in Hooray) to grab a coffee and change clothes and saw 2014 Western States champ Rob Krar and his ultraunning/food-blogging wife, Christina Bauer as they were hiking in the area. I've really enjoyed watching Rob rise to the top of the sport the past couple of years and think he and Christina are pretty awesome. I've met a lot of the elites in ultrarunning (all super friendly and down-to-earth) and this was probably the first time I was a babbling a bit from my excitement as I fangirled them both. I look forward to seeing them again at Run Rabbit Run in September. 
Rob and Christina
It started raining shortly after I arrived at camp, so I sat in my car for about 90 minutes before finally venturing out to start making dinner and pitch my tent. I managed to get both done just before dark. 
It isn't called Red Mountain Pass for nothing
FR 825 has no sign. This helped.
Photo: Chris Gerber
Photo: Chris Gerber
Photo: Eric Lee
Pitched my tent up on the ridge
View from my front porch
I woke up early and drove to Silverton planning to hike one of the local trails. Ran into Joe and Seb at Cafe Mobius and headed up the Highland Mary Lakes Trail, just past Cunningham Gulch. I got some beautiful shots of the lakes on my four mile trek up and down.

When I got back, I ran into folks at Avalanche and later on I saw Kilian at Mobius. I happened to be wearing my Mt. Marathon shirt and used it as an opportunity to encourage him to run it along with other Grand Prix races in the summer racing series. He seems keen to run it, it just has to work with his travel schedule.
Stellar views on the Million Dollar Highway
Joe Grant and last year's winner, Seb Chaigneau

Little did I know I'd be pacing Robert (far right) this year 
Just say no
The Rock Star of mountain running
Exploding eggs
Chris, who was running his 5th Hardrock and pacer Kari
It was a great start to my week at Camp Hardrock -- meeting and catching up with ultra pals, running beautiful trails, fangirling and discovering that camping is fun. I was excited for the week ahead. 

More adventure running to come in days 3 & 4. Stay tuned!

Happy Trails,


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