5am Saturday (2022 date TBD), Silverton, Colorado.
This is not a normal run! This free, fat ass style run is meant to be nearly impossible to finish. Being experienced with off trail travel in burly mountains like the San Juans is required and pretty much essential to safely competing in this race. There are numerous hazards to a run like this and participation should not be taken lightly. Support is very limited compared to a normal trail race and rescue could take hours.
Expect about 19,000ft of elevation gain, and to go over 6 peaks that are about 13,000ft tall or higher plus one more that is over 12,500ft. The terrain will be a mix of dirt and 4WD jeep roads (20%), single track trail (14%) and plenty of off-trail miles (66%). Due to the steepness, the altitude and the rugged footing expect to average less than two miles per hour at best, unless you're one of the best ultrarunners in the world with excellent navigation skills and excel at steep and rugged terrain and then maybe you'll average close to three miles per hour, maybe. Also the course will not be marked -- you will need to carefully follow the map and written directions to stay on course and (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED) use the GPX file with your GPS watch and or phone app like Caltopo, Gaia GPS, MotionX-GPS, Backcountry Navigator or others.
This being a free, small scale, fat ass style run you will not be pampered like at a normal race, nor will you get much support or free stuff like t-shirts or prizes. There won't even be aid stations but you can have crew.
All runners for this fat ass run must be experienced ultrarunners with ample experience running/surviving in the mountains. Ideally you have run tough mountain 100 milers like Hardrock, Barkley, Plain, Wasatch, The Bear, Bighorn, IMTUF, etc. and have experience running at high altitude (over 8000ft) and have plenty of experience running/hiking on very rugged terrain, such as scree slopes, boulder fields, river crossings, exposed ridges, avalanche chutes, etc. A large portion of this course is not on trails or is on trails that are not normal so you should be used to traveling in the mountains on your own under difficult conditions, if you're not used to doing that kind of thing then this is not the run for you, sorry. You will need to sell us on your abilities, otherwise your application will be rejected after it's been reviewed.
For those of you who don't know John, he's one of the founders of Hardrock and a pioneer of the sport having finished 3rd at Western States back in 1978 in under 20 hours. When James first met him in 2004 he was in his 60s and was on the tail end of his running days but he could still get up and down the San Juan Mountains like a mountain goat and he was organizing a bunch of difficult mountain fun runs in cool places all over the southwest United States. John and Charlie Thorn were the masterminds behind the current Hardrock course and spending days with them out on the trails was always fun, educational and inspiring. John is not running the trails anymore these days but a run like this is just the kind of thing he'd do all the time when he was younger and I'm sure that if he could he would be the first to sign up. Thanks John for all that you've given to us!
This update will mention some stuff you should have/get and also some of our latest thoughts on the course.
We will have some required equipment and also some recommendations. There are also a few things that are at least recommended and might become required, depending on course conditions.
Definitely required items:
Possibly required items:
Other useful items:
The course GPS track will be published a week in advance of the race. Overall, the course will be similar, but not necessarily identical to prior years. So, the general idea is a couple of the Kendall high points (see below), Macomber Peak, Point 13254 (“Hancock Peak”), Anvil Mountain, Bear Mountain, and Sultan Mountain. Here are some notes on possible changes.
The old course climbed the western two Kendalls (“Kendall No. 2 Benchmark” and “Kendall Mountain”), starting with several miles on the Kendall Mountain jeep road. We are exploring more interesting routes with less road. One possibility is to climb the eastern two Kendalls (“Kendall Mountain” and “Kendall Peak”) starting with Banana ridge (i.e., ascending the old descent route). From Kendall Peak, we have three ideas for descending: Blair Gulch, Woodchuck Basin, or Arrastra Gulch. We were in Blair gulch yesterday--it’s pretty neat and seems like it will work.
No changes, but there is an additional option. If you’d rather go up the grassy avalanche chute than through the aspens, that is permissible. It’s less direct, but also less vegetated. We’ll draw two lines for this section.
No changes. As of 7 days ago, there was still a small cornice blocking the ridge between Boulder gulch and Cement creek. This will most likely be safely passable by race day.
Before the Anvil Mountain climb, at the checkpoint at Cement creek, two different cutoffs will apply.
The earlier cutoff is for people who have a shot at the full 50k. If you make this cutoff and wish to try for the 50k, you’ll turn right on the Anvil ridgeline to reach the Anvil summit and continue with the rest of the course. If you don’t make the cutoff or want to drop down to the 35k, you’ll turn left on the Anvil ridgeline to reach town and an early finish. Note that the cutoff and your decision applies at the checkpoint, even though the actual fork between the two courses is much higher up. Please be sure to communicate your decision (if you are eligible for one) before you leave the checkpoint.
The later cutoff is for people who have a shot at the 35k. Those that wish to continue on with the 35k course may do so. If you miss the cutoff or refuse to continue on with the course, you can still return to town under your own power via the Mushroom trail.
For those in the 50k, we are considering a safer descent off of the Anvil summit. Just west of the highest summit is an avalanche chute running south--once you’re down the first 100 yards or so, it is much more stable than the traditional way down. It’s also a lot of fun zooming between young conifer trees. Our track will show how to connect to the Zuni Gulch and Rainbow trails lower down.
It seems probable that the Mineral Creek crossing will be ok. However, if it is too high to ford safely on race day, we may implement an alternate route for the final set of peaks. Instead of fording the creek at the traditional Hardrock crossing point and climbing Bear and then Sultan Mountains, continue SE on the Rainbow Trail to town, cross the creek using the US 550 bridge, climb Sultan Mountain, Grand Turk, then Sultan again before finishing up back in town.
Eric Robinson 510-292-0287 firstname.lastname@example.org
Ginny LaForme 510-295-9695 email@example.com
I wanted to get you guys a visual representation of the course ideas mentioned in the earlier email from today. A tentative map is here
In Fat Pink is the 2019 version of the 35k. In Blue is the added portion that would have made 50k (but that didn't happen in 2019). In Orange are the changes that we're contemplating.
While this isn't the course map (yet), it shows what is likely or possible. Scouting the course (or probable course) is encouraged!
You can download any or all of the map objects by using the Export button at the top of the Map Objects panel on the left side of the screen. If for some reason that panel is hidden, try CTRL-O on a PC.