A Look Forward to Operating Hardrock – iRunFar


In two days, I’ve the respect of getting to start out the Hardrock 100 after a half-decade break. Not like my three earlier runs, I gained’t be heading into the race in peak health, however my current coaching has confirmed to me I’m match sufficient to complete (acknowledging that numerous issues can derail a race.)

What follows isn’t meant to be any form of cohesive dissertation. I suppose I purpose for it to be an correct pre-race accounting for myself that I’m sharing in case there’s something that others can glean from it. For ease of navigation, you possibly can soar forward to sections on On-Course Circumstances, Preparedness and Confidence, Shifts in Mindset, Help, Gear, and Ephemeral Ideas.

July 3 2023 - Hardrock 100 course - CDT

The Colorado Path and Continental Divide Path on the Hardrock 100 course throughout my remaining long term. Photograph: iRunFar/Bryon Powell

On-Course Circumstances

This 12 months’s Hardrock will likely be a 12 months of fireplace and ice.

The San Juan Mountains had a giant snow 12 months and there’ll be loads of snow close to the occasion’s excessive level of Handies Peak and much more later within the course. This’ll imply slippery situations in lots of locations, not simply on snow, however within the more-frequent-than-normal moist sections of path and tundra. On the upside, there’ll even be loads of water to drink on the course, which isn’t all the time the case.

On the fireplace aspect, it’s forecast to be a excessive of 80 levels Fahrenheit on Friday at 9,300 toes in Silverton, Colorado, the place the occasion begins and finishes. That doesn’t sound sizzling, however with a bluebird high-altitude sky, these are puke-fest temperatures. A good afternoon breeze is forecast, which matches up with our unseasonable winds of late. Additionally, it’s forecast to be extraordinarily low relative humidity, like single digits. This mix of wind and really low humidity may present a little bit of aid warmth clever, particularly for runners who moist themselves in creeks and at assist stations. However, it’s really easy to get fairly dehydrated in these situations wherein runners are unlikely to note a lot sweat aside from the very warmth of the afternoon. Additionally, I’d guess that the extraordinarily dry air may result in extra higher respiratory irritation amongst runners than most years.

Preparedness and Confidence

I’ve assessed myself at a B-level of health going into Hardrock. For a mess of causes (together with a protracted, exhausting winter, my troublesome Achilles, and a personally unsettled first half of the 12 months), I didn’t begin coaching in earnest till Could. Sure, I ran daily all winter and positively maintained first rate base health, however I didn’t run any lengthy runs after January and my total coaching quantity was modest.

In all actually, I thought-about not operating Hardrock this 12 months. There’s no approach I’d begin Hardrock pondering I had something lower than a a lot stronger than even probability of ending. Luckily, I turned a nook in Could. Of all issues, I really feel like a spontaneous hill exercise helped me course-correct. That run and a sequence of different hill exercises within the following weeks helped me construct calf power and confidence in my Achilles. Additionally they bought me again on the rehab prepare. Positive, there have been some health positive aspects to be made, however these had been true rust shakers that bought my physique and thoughts buzzing alongside once more.

Whilst Could wrapped up, I’d not run longer than 16 miles nor had I logged considerable vert, each points which I’d already be crushing by that point in earlier Hardrock buildups. That modified as I kicked off June with a 50-kilometer run/fish journey. Considerably surprisingly, it went rather well, with me feeling good late within the run, and even after two days of journey instantly thereafter. I adopted this with a busy week overlaying the Path World Championships in Austria, however with a twist. You see, the Alps soar skyward from the outskirts of Innsbruck. In simply three quarters of a mile from our condominium, I may begin climbing and never cease for 4,000 vertical toes, typically in bits of as much as 1,600 vertical toes per mile. That week, and through a barely extra relaxed week thereafter in Innsbruck and, then, Nuestift im Stubai, allowed me to get my vert on. Luckily, my physique held collectively.

Innsbruck Austria vert

Quick access vert above Innsbruck, Austria. Photograph: iRunFar/Bryon Powell

Again house late in June, I used to be lastly capable of run the San Juan Solstice 50 Mile in close by, however far-to-drive Lake Metropolis, Colorado. Ostensibly, nearly every little thing went rather well throughout Solstice. My legs and vitality typically held up and I used to be capable of eat rather well all through, with a deliberate easing over the lengthy stretch close to and above 13,000 toes on the Continental Divide Path. My predominant subject was heel blisters — a ultra-career-long nemesis for all 50-mile-and-longer races — that significantly slowed me on the very steep and rocky begin to the second descent and, admittedly, took the wind out of my sails. Though I shouldn’t have had any expectations, having the race go fairly darn nicely and operating almost 13 hours was deflating for a pair days. Luckily, that handed, even when it did give a snapshot of my health. Even on the end, I used to be fairly psyched to have almost doubled my longest run of the 12 months, whereas operating sturdy within the later miles and feeling fairly nicely on the end. That constructive evaluation was buoyed once I had no points within the days to observe other than fully cheap fatigue. My Achilles had been good, my quads weren’t crushed, and every little thing else labored nicely sufficient.

Precisely two weeks out from Hardrock, my expectations shattered on a run. I began exterior of Silverton, climbing Prospect Gulch for the primary time. All good. Nonetheless, as quickly as I began the steepish rocky descent, I had a pointy ache in my left aspect slightly below my ribcage. Two weeks earlier, I’d fallen exhausting sideways whereas descending on my final run in Austria. Somewhat than hit my aspect, I braced myself and had a pointy ache precisely the place this ache had surfaced. I made my approach painfully down Prospect Gulch and began slowly operating the now mellow descent. Strolling shortly adopted. I slowly walked/jogged the seven miles again towards city, hoping to hitchhike my approach again at any level, however no vehicles drove by. Ouch. I’d hoped to make a remaining coaching push the next three days, but it surely’d as a substitute be straightforward days whereas I healed up. Therapeutic was crucial. If my aspect didn’t enhance, I wouldn’t begin Hardrock. It was the form of ache that may have made operating 100 miles totally depressing, although it’d be tolerable if it resurfaced at, say, mile 75 of the race. Fortunately, it feels significantly better today, though I’m hesitant {that a} single dangerous slide on the slick Hardrock course may deliver it again immediately. Therefore, my choosing extra shoe lugging than regular in my gear part beneath.

Three days later, I got down to scout the Pole Creek and Cataract Lakes part of the Hardrock course for fish. (Extra on that later.) I’d deliberate for the run to high out round 20 miles, understanding it’d solely be a number of miles if my aspect harm. Effectively, a ravishing day spent operating … and kicking off my high-country fishing season became a splendid 27 miler. Apart from a lone off-road automobile a mile in and a mile from the tip, I noticed one particular person and their canine in 25 miles of dust street, Hardrock course, and the Continental Divide Path, all on the day earlier than the Fourth of July vacation. It was splendid. The run itself went very nicely whereas informing some Hardrock gear selections, most notably on the footwear aspect (extra lugging wanted.) That is approach nearer to the race than I’d usually cowl 27 miles and spend the higher a part of a day operating, however the dividends in confidence and, importantly, excessive nation enjoyment, certainly outweighed any fatigue that might linger 11 days later.

Shifts in Mindset

Yeah, so this 12 months’s Hardrock necessitates some shifts in my mindset.

Initially, this 12 months can’t be about efficiency, not like my earlier Hardrocks. Every time I’ve run Hardrock, I’ve aimed to run my quickest doable time. I don’t assume I’ve ever hit that point, however with my present degree of health, I’m not operating 31 hours and alter … or sooner. I’m okay with that. I’ve to be. That in and of itself was a giant mindset shift.

I’ve had a number of events to recount my 2014 Bear 100 Mile just lately and that induced me to learn the article I wrote after the race entitled “Experiments in Exuberance.” I ran that race primarily to get a Western States 100 and Hardrock 100 qualifier and, secondarily, to have as a lot enjoyable as I may. The handful of occasions I’ve learn the article since I wrote it, I’ve by no means didn’t smile. Happiness begets extra happiness. And I nonetheless relearn classes that I can apply at the moment and, certainly, hope that I’ll apply in a number of days throughout Hardrock.

I doubt I’d learn the feedback to the article in a really very long time, however I did this time and a pair of feedback struck me. A reader, Billy, kindly wished me luck into entering into Hardrock and, in my reply, I famous “I’m pondering I’d a lot want a ‘enjoyable’ 40-hour Hardrock to a depressing 30-hour end.” Though I’ve by no means cracked 30 hours, I’ve run fastish-for-me occasions at Hardrock and whereas every has been past rewarding, there’s been loads of distress the final third to half of every race, undoubtedly due partially from aiming to achieve my high doable efficiency. This time I’ll be aiming firmly at my most pleasant Hardrock efficiency. I wish to take up, expertise, and exude pleasure as a lot as I can throughout this loop across the San Juans.

A technique I intend to take pleasure in myself is so as to add in slightly fishing alongside the best way. No, I don’t plan on stopping for hours at a time like I’d throughout a devoted run/fish outing, however I’ll moist a line a pair occasions alongside the course. In idea, there are all 4 species within the Colorado grand slam of trout — brook, brown, cutthroat, and rainbow — alongside the course. As I write this the Sunday night earlier than the race, I’ve bought dialed in areas for the brookies and cutties, and plan to scout the one probably location for browns and rainbows within the morning. (Subsequent scouting means I’ll skip the “slam,” however have a enjoyable time fishing for a couple of minutes anyway!) Even one five-minute fishing try someplace on the course will deliver a smile to my face, as did my two unsuccessful makes an attempt in the course of the San Juan Solstice a number of weeks in the past. On the identical time, I’ve promised myself that I’ll eat an excellent bit earlier than any try and cease and fish, so, hopefully, I can no less than course of a pair additional energy whereas I take a quick pause in ahead progress.

Within the vein of shifting mindsets, however extra associated to cultivating an pleasant expertise, I’ve bought a pair different techniques tucked away. As in my first Hardrock, I plan to make a listing of a specific particular person (or folks) and factor to consider between every set of assist stations. A pal really useful a sci-fi audiobook that I began listening to throughout Solstice, actually loved, and have deliberately saved for race day. I’ll take tons of pictures like I all the time have at Hardrock, as they assist me take within the splendor. I’ll spend extra time in assist stations, each fueling my physique with actual meals and fueling my spirit with good chats with volunteers. As I’ll write about within the subsequent part, I hope to spend extra time than ever operating and chatting with my fellow Hardrockers.


Two weeks earlier than the race, I didn’t have any pacer or crew. I hate to ask something of anybody and I didn’t wish to pull any of my associates away from the iRunFar crew overlaying the race. I used to be at peace with this. I ran Hardrock in 2018 with solely the reminiscence of my expensive pal Invoice Dooper to information me and it was a rewarding expertise. I’ve by no means run Hardrock with no crew, however I’d finished lengthy ultras with no crew abroad and ran 66- and 75-mile self-supported runs final summer season.

Nonetheless, over beers at Avalanche Brewing Firm, a visiting Andy Jones-Wilkins requested if I had any crew or pacers. I indicated a giant ol’ zero with my fingers. After a brief pause, Shelly Jones-Wilkins, AJW’s higher half, requested if I needed a crew. It didn’t take me lengthy to take Shelly up on that, understanding it was conditional on her firming issues up. I’ve seen Shelly in motion as an all-star crew going again to 2007, particularly within the handful of occasions I’ve paced AJW at races. A couple of days later, Shelly confirmed that she was in with the bonus that their center son and iRunFar creator, Logan Jones-Wilkins, was additionally becoming a member of the crew.

I’m nonetheless wanting ahead to going into Hardrock with out pacers. I’ve been a spontaneously-picked-up pacer at Hardrock earlier than and wouldn’t hesitate to ask for one if the necessity got here up. Although, since I first wrote this, Logan’s stepped up as a doable pacer ought to I want one. In actuality, I hope to spend extra time with my fellow racers throughout this 12 months’s Hardrock. Now, I’ve spent a number of time with fellow Hardrockers within the first half of previous Hardrocks, however that not often works out for very lengthy later within the race. Not that the majority (any) of us at my level within the pack try to seize an additional place, however, slightly, paces are inclined to differ wildly part by part, runner by runner late within the run. With the shift in mindset described above, I hope that I’ll spend no less than a short while longer catching up with any runners who I’d encounter late within the occasion.


For essentially the most half, that is a straightforward gear 12 months at Hardrock. There’s completely no probability of rain all through this 12 months’s race and it’s forecast to be fairly heat, as nicely. I’ve bought loads of favorites on the attire entrance for these situations and I’ll persist with them.

I’ll begin with:

  • Patagonia Strider Professional 5″ Shorts — I like these. Interval.
  • Raidlight half-zip shirt — I’ll begin in an excellent skinny Raidlight half-zip that I don’t assume is made any extra. I’ve bought different favourite shirts total, however the mixture of excessive breathability and half zip is killer for the situations we’ll face.
  • Drymax Scorching Climate Socks — After going with Drymax Hyperthins in 2018, I’ll transfer again to the marginally extra cushioned Scorching Weathers this go round. It’ll be very moist on the course, so I’ll carry an additional pair of Scorching Weathers, swap out the pairs on the course, and dry one pair whereas operating.
  • iRunFar Headsweats Race Hat — That is my fishing hat. 😉 There’s a pad for storing flies caught atop the brim.
  • Salomon Adv Pores and skin 12 — This (and the five-liter model) have develop into my go-to packs. I’ll take the additional quantity of the 12-liter for Hardrock, particularly with some fishing en route. I solely want I had a shade lighter than darkish blue! Oh, and I’ll use a Path Quiver with it to alternately retailer my fishing and trekking poles.
  • Smith Pinpoint Sun shades — These are my go-to glasses and there’s no purpose to vary them.
  • Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer Hoody Jacket — After a decade of use, it solely comes out for particular events. It’s an superior full-zip hooded jacket that additionally occurs to be lighter than something that’s come since.
  • Jaybird Tarah Professional headphones — They may not make these anymore and I’ve switched to Apple Air Pod Professionals for my each day runs, but it surely’s exhausting to beat the battery life of those and I just like the tethered design.
  • Final Course Kicker Valve Bottle and Katadyn BeFree — I’ll positively deliver my tried-and-true Kicker Valve bottle for filling in assist stations. I could deliver the BeFree for dipping from streams … or I’d simply go the route I’ve up to now and dip from streams larger up, particularly as they’re flowing clear and copious this 12 months.

Additional gear with my crew and drop bag:

  • Patagonia Strider Professional 5″ Shorts — In case I wish to change shorts as soon as.
  • Additional short-sleeve shirts — I’ll probably have one other two or three short-sleeve shirts chosen from the identical Raidlight shirt, a decade’s outdated Mountain Hardwear Way2Cool shirt, and a Montbell Cool Mild T. All are nice within the warmth.
  • Additional socks — I’ll throw 4 or 5 pairs of socks into my crew bag (and one into my Sherman drop bag.) It could appear foolish to vary socks when the course will likely be so moist, however I feel footcare will likely be worthwhile.
  • Lengthy-sleeve shirt — Relying on the mid-week forecast for lows on Friday and Saturday night time, I’ll pack both a light-weight Columbia half-zip or a skinny Smartwool half-zip. (The Columbia shirt is packed for now.)
  • Montbell Tachyon Pants — Ultralight wind pants that I’ll choose up earlier than the night time.
  • Trekking poles – I don’t prepare with trekking poles, so I’ll use them as little as I can. I’ve bought a pair Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z Poles stashed at mile 30 earlier than Handies Peak and I’ll have some Leki Ultratrail FX.One Superlites in my crew bag that I plan on selecting up in Telluride at mile 75.
  • Gloves — I grabbed a random skinny pair of gloves from my shelf. I’ll deliver a pair of gloves to make use of from Sherman (mile 30) on, each to make use of on snowy sections and if wanted for cooler temperatures at night time.
  • Yellow tent spike — I’ll deliver a yellow tent spike from Sherman to go up Handies and perhaps choose up a second at Ouray for the snow climbs in a while the course.
  • Black Diamond Spikes — I’ve not determined whether or not I’ll carry the Distance Spike or Blitz Spike from Ouray onward. This is perhaps a game-day choice.

I’ve bought two details of drugs indecision as I write this the weekend earlier than the race.

First, not like earlier Hardrocks, I don’t have a no brainer alternative for footwear. I’m merely not sturdy sufficient to make use of my trusty New Stability 1400 street flats (with a forefoot rockplate) for all of this 12 months’s Hardrock. Drat!

So what’s a man to put on?! Whereas the Nike Pegasus Path has develop into my most frequent shoe on each roads and trails and I wore them for all 50 miles of San Juan Solstice, there’s fairly minimal grip and whereas that’s not been a consideration for me up to now, the slippery nature of this 12 months’s Hardrock course and a pre-existing torso damage has me wanting a bit extra chew this go round. I’ll probably depend on a rotation of footwear all through the race, with the Nike Pegasus Path 4, Craft Professional Endurance Path, and Inov-8 Trailfly Extremely G 280 being within the combine. It’s doable that I’ll put on the 1400s for the primary 9 miles the place grip gained’t be a difficulty, and even by to Sherman at mile 30.

I additionally don’t know what I’ll do for a headlamp. I began fascinated with this earlier than I had a crew, which sophisticated the battery subject contemplating a second night time is perhaps in play. I’ll probably choose up one in every of many short-usage headlamps at Sherman at mile 30, and have one of many Petzl NAO+, Petzl NAO RL, or an 18650-battery-based Nitecore at Animas Forks at mile 45. Ultimately, I’ll most likely defer to the NAO+, because it’s what I’ve used up to now.

Ephemeral Ideas

  • For the primary time, I’ll head into Hardrock with out burying myself in coaching for first rate stretches of time. There’s little question that I’m coming into Hardrock contemporary!
  • Whereas I suppose I’ll all the time discover my Achilles/calves, the much-reduced quantity means a lot lowered pressure on each. No, my calves aren’t as sturdy … however my Achilles additionally aren’t as burdened.
  • Taper tantrums are approach much less if you’ve not educated as exhausting.
  • I ate a bunch of stable meals at San Juan Solstice (yay, rice crispy treats!), and I hope to do the identical throughout Hardrock.
  • In all probability a facet of fixing mindsets, however I hope I can hold my coronary heart price not a lot larger than 130 beats per minute within the first half of the run. I did a good job of conserving it below management as Solstice, however purpose to do even higher right here … and much better than the early goings of previous Hardrocks!
  • I’m making ready my Hardrock plan and kit a number of days sooner than regular this 12 months. Hopefully, this implies coasting into Hardrock a bit extra relaxed this time.
  • Whereas I hope to not be centered on my temporal efficiency, my high day probably has me again to the rock round 37.5 to 38 hours … if I don’t fish too lengthy. I’d say that 39 hours is true round the place I’d end on a stable day, once more, minus the fishing time. Something after that and nonetheless below 48:00:00, it’s nonetheless a end!
2023 San Juan Solstice 50 Mile - high country runners

Excessive nation operating on the 2023 San Juan Solstice 50 mile. Photograph: iRunFar/Bryon Powell


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