Here at Ultra168, we’re big fans of some of the gnarliest, toughest racing around and Hardrock 100 fits slap bang into that category. The race has a certain allure this year as returning champ from last year, Kilian Jornet is back, along with fellow Salomon team-mate, Anna Frost, and later on tonight AEST, the runners will be kicking off into the ‘montanes’.
Beginning as we always do with the ladies, it really is a two-horse race between Anna Frost and Darcy Piceu. Everyone knows Anna Frost and her strength and racing prowess has seen her name become synonymous as one of the strongest mountain runners in the world today. The trouble is, she’s very inexperienced over the 100 mile distance, especially one so big on ‘vert’.
There’s no doubting Anna has all the skills and capabilities to win this race, but given she’s only previously raced one other 100miler before. This is a massive step into the unknown. But the thing in her advantage is the time she’s spent on the course prior, basing herself up in the mountains for the past month or so and training her proverbial nuts off.
One hundred mile racing is so different to racing say 100kms however. While it might only be another 60kms in distance, it’s certainly not simply another 60% in terms of time. Once you begin to step over the 100kms distance, the body reacts and responds in different ways and Hardrock is no course to be testing this one out. With 33,000 feet (10,000 m) of climb at an average elevation of over 11,000 feet (3,400 m), things can get hairy out there. Just ask Adam Campbell, who finished third last year and got struck by lightening on the course last year!
Last year’s race, which also had just as an illustrious line up as this year’s, saw some major casualties on the course.
But what of Anna’s main rival to the title in Darcy? For the uninitiated, Darcy is a three-time Hardrock champ, with all of her wins in the 29-hour range. In short, she’s pretty freaking awesome at this race and is well-known in the US as being one of the strongest mountain runners going. Darcy has some really solid form going into this race, winning the Big Horn 50 Mile as well as placing third at the Quicksilver 100kms in Boulder.
For Anna, there’s no doubt that mentally, she’s one of the toughest going. But will her body be able to meet her mind? We think she will, which is why we’re giving our fellow antipodean the nod for this one.
But what of the mens? If we’re honest, the line-up is more competitive with the likes of Kilian Jornet, Mike Foote, Adam Campbell, Jared Campbell and Iker Karrera taking centre stage along with a few others too.
When Kilian lines up for a race such as Hardrock, it’s very difficult to look beyond him for the win. He has so much in his favour, last year’s champion, current record holder, plus he’s been ascending pretty much every high altitude peak known to man in the last 12 months. He’s warmed up with a sparkling win at the Mount Marathon race a few days ago – watch this man rock this race once again – new course record we say.
But the likes of Iker Karrera I’m sure will have something to say about that. These guys run each other pretty close all of the time, and know each other well by virtue of being Salomon team mates. Word on the street however is that Iker is not 100%, suffering some pain in his hip in the weeks leading up to the race – see more here.
Canadian Adam Campbell had a great showing here last year, finishing third despite the addition of a lightning strike during the race. Adam’s been quiet this year with little in the way of race form to talk about. Maybe he’s saving it all up for the big one later today 🙂
Fellow North American, Mike Foote is another name to watch out for having previously finished third here a few years back. He’s also one of the few Americans to do well at UTMB too, so you know he’s at home in the mountains, so expect a strong showing from this lad. To date this year, Mike won the Yakima Skyline Rim 50km, but also finished fairly far back at Transvulcania too.
Another US runner gunning for a podium spot is eternal bridesmaid at this race, Troy Howard. He’s a handy man over the 100 mile distance in Silverton, scoring himself a highly credible 25:20 back in 2013. He’s a highly consistent runner, warming up for this race by winning the Destin 50km Beach ultra, but also scoring a second place at the infamous Wastach 100 miler last year.
Also a special mention to irunfar editor, Bryon Powell who will be running his first Hardrock instead of reporting on it. All the very best to all runners and we’ll keep updates as regularly as we can on the Ultra168 Facebook and Twitter