Hardrock: What will YOU Do When You Get In?

On Oscars. Photo: JT

“You will feel the worst when you are high on the passes so get off of them quickly, your condition will return to good quickly.  I know this.  I have sat there on the passes with death coming soon but just know it will be a matter of minutes before you feel better if you get down.”

This is just one of many pieces of good advice I received from Scott Jaime, multiple-time finisher and a 2nd place overall in 2009 at the Hardrock 100.  More fun quotes from friends may be found on my race report here.

The lottery drawing is near.  The entry form states “on or around December 1st” entrants will be selected.  Last year I applied and casually followed the lottery with faint hope I’d be among the chosen few (the proud, the brave, the insane?).  The starters emerged via Twitter updates one by one, groups of five, through to the final one.  My name didn’t appear but there was still the wait list.  I ended up in the cruel position of 29th on the wait list.  Of the 500 people I asked, some said I had very little chance of getting in, some assured me not to worry – that I had a good shot at it.  Most of them simply said I was “on the bubble” and may not know until race morning; the most difficult answer to swallow, in my opinion.  With that mix of advice, I was partly excited, fairly scared, but mostly just assumed I wouldn’t be on the start line in Silverton in July.  In that state of mind I never trained specifically for Hardrock but rather relied on my race schedule and regular training in between.  I did end up getting into Hardrock just two days before the race, finished, barely, and am now consumed with the event, just like veterans warned I would be.  Put it this way, in a sport where runners’ cars seem littered with race and product stickers, I have one sticker on my car, the “Wild & Tough Hardrock Endurance Run”.

This year will certainly be different if I get in.  My entire year of running and training will have the singular focus of July 13th.  In that focus lies the inevitable need for structure, so even though I normally shy away from structure, this year I say bring it on.

Descent to Chapman. Photo: JT

Several friends, who are Hardrock vets, offered their insight into training they did for the race.  What will you do if you get into Hardrock?  If this is your first time applying, what are you most concerned with about the race?  I ask because those concerns usually provide the answer to structuring training.  If you’ve run Hardrock before, what is it that draws you back?  What will you do for specific training to be ready?  Does your location/state provide you with ample terrain?  If not, how do you adapt to get ready?  How does Billy Simpson, six-time finisher of Hardrock, train at the low altitude and in the mellow hills of Tennessee?  Head to the Smokey Mountains twice a week?

What are your thoughts on Hardrock?  Do you have interest in running it?  Ever?  If you do and you get in, what will you do to ensure you kiss the rock?

Meltzer Invades Alabama: Pinhoti 100 Preview

Photo: Race website

Like a shark, the Speedgoat must keep moving to stay alive.  Even with a bulging disc, suffered during Hardrock this year, he continued to stay active during recovery with long hikes.  Karl is back this weekend to run the Pinhoti 100.

In its 4th year, the Pinhoti 100, is one of those secret gems.  The point to point course boasts 16,200 ft of climb on mostly (80 miles worth) singletrack trail, gnarled with roots and rocks hidden under fallen leaves.  It’s like a day/night-long run in a booby-trapped forest.  Karl comments about the race on his site, “It is very well organized to boot. Todd Henderson, the RD does a great  job marking and has great aid station personnel.”  The race is full with 132 registered runners ready to enjoy the Pinhoti trail as they “make their way over the highest point in Alabama while navigating over rocks, through creeks and across beautiful ridge lines of the Talladega National Forest.” [race website]  The high point of the course, Mt Cheaha at 2,413 ft, is also the highest point of Alabama. [Wiki site]

Karl Meltzer

Karl Meltzer set the course record here two years ago with a 17:12.  He says, “I feel great.  I’ve put in five weeks of training at 10,000′, so I’m ready for sure.”  The only person to have come within two hours of that time is John Dove from Georgia, who’s run all three previous installments of the event.  John’s best time was en route to his win here last year in 19:01.  John will have his hands full trying to fend off Pennsylvanian Angus Repper (past wins at Sawtooth 100 and Virgil Crest 100) and Kentuckian Troy Shellhammer  who’s had a nice little season with a 16:12 at Umstead 100 and 7th place at UROC 100k.

For the ladies, Jill Perry from New York looks strong coming off her win last month at Oil Creek 100.  Is she recovered enough to muster the power to race hard against young Tennessean Sarah Woerner?  Sarah is the defending champion at Pinhoti (24:42) and has put together a solid season filled with sharp performances at a variety of distances.

The weather forecast looks nearly ideal with partly cloudy skies, highs in the 60s and lows around 40.  Hope everyone has a safe, fast, and fun race.

Pinhoti 100 elevation profile. Photo: Race website

Mt. Masochist 50 Mile Race Preview

Friendly looking course profile...

Clearly, with the name “Masochist”, the Mt. Masochist 50 must be great for 50 mile beginners.  Right?  That’s what the website says in it’s intro: “The course itself is a challenging combination of roads, jeep trails, and single track that can cause even the most experienced runner to breathe a sigh of relief at the finish line in Montebello, VA. Ample aid stations and tried and true organization makes the race a perfect first 50 miler.”  A point to point course from Lynchburg to Montebello Virginia, climbing 9,200 ft with a cut-off of 12 hours means it would probably be a good idea to cut your teeth on another (maybe a few) easier 50 milers.  The Mt. Masochist 50 began in 1983 with David Horton turning over the race direction duties to the capable Clark Zealand in 2007.  They work together on a series of events aptly called “The Beast Series“.  With over 60,000 combined feet of climb in the 6 events, these races will break your heart and your feet.

Mt. Masochist is one of the unique races where consistency isn’t the norm.  It brings out the best in some runners you wouldn’t expect to do well and can cause otherwise speedy runners to sputter.  It takes guts, speed, smarts, and patience, just ask Scott Jaime, last year’s winner.  Geoff Roes owns the eye-popping course record of 6:27, which he set in 2009, blowing by Mackey’s course record by 21 minutes.  To run that time on this “Horton miles” long 50 mile course that starts at near zero feet elevation and climbs and drops continuously to over 4,000 feet is remarkable; a record that should stand for quite a while.  The women’s record hasn’t even been within shouting distance for the women’s winners since Nikki Kimball set it in 2006 (7:47).  I doubt we’ll see Nikki’s record go down this year but if anyone on the start list has the ability to break it, Sandi Nypaver is the one.  However, I’m going with my gut here and picking Alyssa Wildeboer for the women’s win.

Alyssa Wildeboer at Leadville. Photo: Alyssa's ultrasignup page

Alyssa has vast experience on the MMTR course, having run it six times.  More relevant is the fact that she has refined her ability in ultras over the years.  She cranked out a 3rd place 8:54 at MMTR last year and carried that momentum into 2011, her best year yet, with a 4th place in a tight women’s race at Leadville, 4th and just out of the money at Cheyenne Mountain 50k, and 1st at Devil Mountain 50k a month ago.  Unless either she or Sandi run into trouble, it’ll be a hell of an exciting race.

Those nasty green shorts either make Jon faster or the competition blind. Photo: his ultrasignup pic

Eco-X has “seedings” up on their blog but it doesn’t make much sense to me other than the picks for men/women wins.  The list has Eric Grossman as the #1 seed but doesn’t even list Ty Draney’s or Josh Finger’s names.  Ty hasn’t had much of a season racing in 2011 with just one event (Pocatello) but I know Josh has been active, which I witnessed personally at the Ice Age 50 mile where he took 5th (I was a distant 7th).  Josh also just (I mean like last week) cracked out a 6:33 at Tussey Mountainback 50 miler for 5th, which needs to be taken into account, since he takes a while to recover from what I’ve seen.  I’m not saying either has a shot at beating Grossman (except maybe a sharp Ty Draney) but those two would be on my top 5 or at worst top 10 picks.  To not pick Eric Grossman for the win here is swimming against the tide, going against the grain, going out on a limb, whichever silly cliche you prefer, but I’m going with Jonathan Allen.  It’s not that thin of a limb I’m going out on.  Allen did run for 5th in 9:26 at UROC, over a half hour faster than 8th place Grossman.  Mix in other speedy guys like Brian Rusieki and local favorite, Frank Gonzalez and you’ve got yourself a competitive race for top 5.

Either way, Mt. Masochist is a late season classic that’s sure to please both participants and us fans.