Focus this week moves over to the US once again for another of the big ones in our world, the Hardrock 100. There have been plenty of hand grenades thrown across the Atlantic in recent weeks between the US and France regarding some membership thingy, but all that lays to rest as the running does the talking.
As a slight aside to the contenders however, it appears that if you want to get into this race, you need to live in Dunedin, New Zealand as evidenced by the start list below.
It’s a bit of a secret that due to the geological positioning of Dunedin in relation to Silverton, there’s a secret magnetic pipe under the Pacific Ocean, which becomes ‘activated’ (think almonds), when the draw takes place.
The pipe instantly recognises any names bearing a location of Dunedin and magically ensures they come out of the draw. Other Dunedin runners, Matt Bixley and Croydon Paton are eagerly awaiting next year’s draw to continue the presence of two Dunedin runners taking place in Hardrock each year. So if you want to run Hardrock, I suggest you pack up your bags and move to Dunedin pretty sharpish!
On a more serious note, Anna Frost returns to Hardrock as the current ladies champion, but there’s still a cloud as to whether she’s going to start or not. For us down under, the two other big names to keep your eye on are French ladies Caroline Chaverot and Natalie Mauclair.
Caroline is pretty much the woman to beat as far as ladies ultrarunning is concerned right now and in the last year or so has won the Marathon du Mont-Blanc 80k, the Skyrunning World Championships, Transgrancanaria,UTMB, Madeira Island Ultra Trail, the IAU Trail World Championships, the Maxi-Race Annecy and Lavaredo. If her body is still holding up after all of that, she’s the lady to beat. But as we know, anything can and generally will go wrong in a miler.
Natalie has the credentials to take Caroline all the way, with a similar number of wins in a similar number of races over the last three to four years. Those include UTMB, the IAU world trail champs, second at the MdS (2016) and Lavaredo (2015).
Another lady to watch for is Darcy Piceu, a three-time former winner of this race and also three second places too. That’s quite some record and it would be a brave man or woman to bet against her finishing on the podium again.
For les hommes, the big showdown is between some fella called Kilian and Jason Schlarb.
Kilian hasn’t done a lot of racing in the last few years, instead he’s been off doing boring stuff like summiting Everest twice in a week with no fixed ropes or oxygen – pretty standard stuff really. Despite his apparent laziness in setting FKTs for the seven summits around the world ( I mean come on, who can’t do that!), he raced the Marathon du Mont Blanc a few weeks back while in red blood cell overload to beat a quality field containing Sage Canaday and Max King to name but a few. Oh and he’s won this race three times already – I guess his credentials are ‘OK’, but I for one am still questioning whether he has enough points to race this or not.
Jason Schlarb ran an awesome race last year to tie in first place with Kilian – that was pretty special and it was also special for them both to finish like that. It shows really what types of runners both of them are in that the win is not important, but the experience is. Jason hasn’t done a lot of racing recently, which suggests that he’s getting ready for the big one here – What’s the bet on another handhold? Hold the fort, I’m off to the bookies!
Two other names to keep watching on your computer screen refreshes are Mike Foote and Iker Karrera. Mike finished second here a couple of years ago and loves the ‘montanes’, with good performances at UTMF and UTMB. Definite podium contender.
Iker was a dominant force in ultra running a few years back, with podium finishes at UTMB, Lavaredo and Tor des Géants. He’s one man who can hold the mantle to Kilian and Jason on his day, so hoping for a good performance from him.
Finally a big shout out to Grant Guise from New Zealand. He finished top ten last year (that’s pretty darn cool) and I’m sure he’ll want to go a little better this year to ensure he’s not the worst performing runner from Dunedin to finish Hardrock 🙂 Best of luck mate.
Feature Image Credit: Grant Guise