Ultra runner Patty Bryant of Santa Barbara finished 91st in the 22nd Hardrock 100 Endurance Run held over the weekend in Silverton, Colo. This 100-mile run is at an average elevation of 11,000 feet and seven of the top 15 runners in the world ran in the race, climbing mountains and fording streams to get to the finish line.
More than 1,200 runners applied and only 140 were accepted to compete in what many believe is the toughest ultra run in the country. In addition to elevation and streams, the challenges include running at night, lightning storms and north-facing slopes with snowpack.
Bryant prepared. In addition to her training schedule of long runs, she found volunteers to crew for her and other runners to pace her the last 50 miles. And she filled drop bags of special foods and equipment for pick up at one of the six aid stations. There were 13 aid stations in all dispensing small refreshments.
The course is a loop out of Silverton, going through Telluride, Ouray and Lake City before returning to Silverton. In between is 67,894 feet of elevation gain and loss. The high point is Handies Peak at 14, 048 feet, with other passes at more than 13,000 feet.
Just to run the race, Bryant had to qualify with a fast finish in the Leadville 100 and to win a lottery. Of the 140 entries, only 100 finished in less than 48 hours, the cutoff time.
The tendency to quit can be overwhelming. At Grouse Gulch aid station at mile 59, there are two ways to go: several thousand feet up or several thousand feet down in one of the vehicles beckoning to those too exhausted or mentally unable to continue. The 30-minute drive into town where a warm bed and hot shower is mighty tempting.
— Bob Zeman is a local freelance writer.