2010 Hardrock Ultramarthon Report
July 24th, 2010

David Coblentz, Los Alamos, New Mexico

"Time, time, time look what you've done to me ...."

11am, Sunday morning, The Silverton High School Gym. Dale Garland comments on the 40th place runner while handing out the finisher awards: "... there weren't many desserts out there but this next runner found a piece of humble pie..."  a good summary of my Hardrock 2010 effort.  This Hardrock finish was by far the toughest - not because of tangibles (the course or the weather or the feet) but due rather to the intangibles or let's call them the "idiopathic maladies of Hardrock".

Sometimes it's hard to articulate just what, or when, or where it goes wrong.  I *thought* I was in control, I *thought* I was running a "coyote gait",  I *thought* my mind was in the "right space".  The weather was great, my fueling seemed good,  I knew the course.  OK, so I made that wrong turn just 4 miles into the run - looking down and back (!) onto Mineral Creek and seeing other runners crossing the stream far below.  Spent the climb up to Putnam Basin regaining my position.  A bit of stress.  But I was moving well through KT and Grant Swap Pass and the descent into Telluride was under control.  I was feeling strong.  It was shaping up to be a fine fourth running of the Hardrock 100.


Telluride, Mile 28: All's well heading out of the aid station and ready for the climb up to Virginus Pass. Fully supported by my crack team of Hardrock crewing veterans

I was a bit behind my splits climbing up to Kroger's Canteen (mile 33) where I was running with Garrett Graubins.  Cresting Mendoza Pass I comment to Garrett that we were 'slipping' a bit in our predicted splits (he was running with my 2008 splits in mind).  Laughing a best he could in the thin air he commented that we had long ago and that we should forget the splits.  He, in fact, was running without even a watch.  Wise. 

With a little push down the 8 miles of dirt road dropping down from Govenor's Basin into Ouray I was back on track.  I was feeling particularly good at this point and even passed Betsy Kalmayer with a good surge.  A worrying thought was growing in my mind that I was getting a bit dehydrated and maybe pushing the pace a bit too hard -- should have paid more attention to that little voice. But Ouray (mile 44) was good fun - was great to see the crew and pick up my pacer Brian Crone who would be with  me for the next 56 miles.  Night and day.  I didn't spend much time in the aid station; I was chopping at the bit to get back to the task.  With just a bit more pushing I could be back on my 2008 splits. 


Ouray, Mile 44. Still having fun. A little help with getting the tuna down from my crew. 

But just a few hours later I found myself under a blanket at mile 52 at the  Engineer's aid station mumbling to Blake Wood to tell Kristine to leave my down jacket and a chair at Grouse and to go back to Silverton to trade off the kids with Tari.  I'm still amazed and more than a bit bewildered at how fast my run went south.  By the time I dragged myself into Grouse (mile 58) the wheels had come completely off.  On reflection I was only 15-20 minutes off my 2008 splits but at the time I had convinced myself that I was crumbling.  It's such a mental game; but every year I forget. 

Engineer's aid station, Mile 52.  Blake Wood offers condolences.

One big problem was that this year I *knew* what the climb over Handies in the wee hours of the morning would be like.  And then the rest of the 13+ miles into Sherman.  And then the climb out of Sherman and over to Pole Creek.  And, and, and....  If only the cognitive mind could be shut off. 

It's hard to recall exactly how bad I felt, but I was convinced the only way to salvage the run was to sleep until dawn and try again with a new day.  Hey, it worked for Sherrie Kae Mahieu - twice.  Happily, with a bit of coaching and motivation and 'tough love' from Kristine I put it back together with only a couple of hours rest in a chair.  I wonder now if I should have left Grouse as soon as possible and sought to recover with a slow hike over Handies - it worked in 2007 at Telluride after all.  But then again many things that make sense in the light of day and the comfort of the chair are at odds with the reality of the moment mid-Hardrock.  In response to such comments Kristine only give me *that look* and reminds me of what I did and said at Grouse.  Happily, as a general rule, "what happens at Hardrock stays at Hardrock."

Runners I had leap-frogged over the first 50 miles were now coming into Grouse.  I was trying to warm up with a cup of chicken soup that was tasting surprisingly good.  Things were getting better.  And then some runner began vomiting into the trash barrel inside the aid tent.  Hard to ignore.  The soup was threatening to make a return appearance.  Tom Stockton arrived, with fire in his eyes.  When he left I gave him as hearty a cheer as I could muster, convinced it would be the last time I'd see him until Silverton. 


Dawn, Saturday morning at 14,000 atop Handies Peak -  A new day, a new run!

Actually, I was feeling a bit better now that the splits were out the window and I was giving myself permission to run in the mid-pack.  Well enough to rouse myself out the chair and hit the trail over Handies right around 2am.  I know the sun would rise just as Brian and I would reach the summit and it made all the difference knowing we would only have the climb in the dark. The descent into Sherman (mile 72) would be in the daylight - and with the dawn would come, presumably, rebirth. And sure enough, as we entered Sherman, there was Tom and Jason and Roger Jensen -- hey, maybe things were going to be alright; I wasn't moving as slowly and my mind had convinced myself. 

Cunningham, Mile 90. Back on track. Crew in Blue. Hard-boiled eggs and a cuppa espresso and I'm ready for the last climb!  hadrock_cunningham

And somewhere between Sherman (mile 72) and Pole Creek (mile 81) - my run indeed transformed.  I was running with Blake Wood, Kirk Apt, Tom Stockton.  We shared stories and admired the scenery. We pass some, some passed us, but it didn't matter any more.  The race had morphed into a run and all was good again.  Somewhere in the marshes of Pole Creek I awoke to a new attitude about Hardrock - I started to understand what Kirk meant by it being the journey that's important or Roch Horton's observation that Hardrock is about living your life in a day. 

I move well over the final climb to the top of Little Giant and into Silverton.  37:44.  Not my fastest Hardrock but my deepest Hardrock experience.  After past finishes I had a strong feeling of individual accomplishment.  After Hardrock 2010 I had a strong feeling of community.  Indeed humble pie never tasted so good.  I wonder what will be served up at Hardrock 2011....


Silverton and the rock. With my patient and hardcore Hardrock pacer, Brian Crone.  Hey, it's still light out.  Victory without winning. 
37:43 -- 40th place out of 100.  With all thought of the long dark night forgotten.

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