Ultras: Times Are Changing

A Day in the Life51 Comments

Hardrock 100 2012

About a week back, the Western States 100 board changed their qualifying list to basically kill off the 50 milers that they had. Many had asked for this change over the past few years to ease up the lottery pressure. I was one. I thought it was a good move. Western States is the original and its limited in size so I felt this was a good move by that board.

Fast forward to today when I see the Hardrock 100 changed its qualifiers for 2015. I was short of shocked but I had a feeling based on an Elevation Trail podcast I heard recently. So things remain the same for the 2014 lottery which occurs next month. I am locked and loaded there. You get a 2 year window so relying on my WS100 and/or LT100 from 2012 to put me in the hunt. Plus, I have 3 other prior attempts so my tickets are starting to add up at 2 to the 4th power. If my math is right and its getting bad these days — I should have 16. Not bad. Starting to feel lucky.

I have been waiting this fall to schedule next year because I figured if HR100 does not pan out then the obvious move is to go back to Leadville in 2014 to keep my HR100 qualifier alive plus try and finally slay the big buckle demon. Plan A and plan B. Its OK. I kind of liked it. Back to work.

But then today, stuff turned upside down on me in a single post. LEADVILLE WAS REMOVED AS A HARDROCK QUALIFIER. WTF? Well, apparently, all the whining everybody did about the race this year backfired, sort of. Part of me wonders if its the race management or the racers at fault. 100s are hard…get over it. Every one is hard for a different reason. Its hot as hell at WS100 some years. Barkley just seems like a scavenger hunt. HURT 100 is humid as hell in the jungle. Whatever. If you want easy, go run a fucking 100 miles around a track. Wait, that sounds hard too. Well, my point is that Leadville 2012 threw in a lot of dealing with a big race. It was a factor for some and others didn’t give two shits about it. And so when the race was over, everyone bitched about it. What a bunch of babies? Run your 100 miles. I can’t imagine if they weather would have been bad. Fucking Ken can’t fix that one? Lame. I am writing a letter. Or better yet posting on your Facebook wall so all the losers who are on Facebook can see my rant. But I digress. Run your race. Accept the suck. Move on. If you can’t, then it might just be a pussy race as JT said.

That aside, race management could do better. Sure. People told them. They hopefully listened. They are a quiet bunch though. We will see if it pays off next year. Until then, we won’t really know. However, the people at Hardrock seem to have taken that and put it against the race to the point of specifically calling out this race. While I don’t know any of their board personally, I wonder if any of them attended the race. Saw this? Is this based on the blogs and hearsay from the day? Or did they witness this? I was in Leadville. I ran. I host lots of runners. Many of them had fabulous days and had no complaints about the experience. They came for a big race and got it.

So what did they say:

A note about the 2013 Leadville 100: The Leadville 100 includes many of the features that are important for a HR qualifier: high altitude, long climbs, potential for mountain weather, and more. However, the 2013 Leadville 100 ignored other traits of importance to the HR: environmental responsibility, support of the hosting community, and having a positive impact on the health of our sport

I don’t know what examples they have specifically but I know a lot of things that contradict this. There has been a consistent effort to make the races green. All that annoying sorting of compostable stuff at aid stations? Yep, they did that this past year and maybe before. That seems good. I hear the complaint about race size and too much foot traffic. Please. 1/2 of this god damn race is on a road for fuck’s sake. I never feel like I am impacting nature in that race. We saw nature impact nature in Boulder this season with the floods. I end up seeing more people outside enjoying the trails and then developing a respect. And stupid things like flag clean up…its gotten better. I used to go out and pick up remainders. This year there wasn’t much near my house. And the cars at aid stations? Wah. Again mostly on roads, where cars go. And of course, there is no trail work requirement at Leadville. Wah. I am so over this thing about volunteering at a same type event. What if I want to help disabled kids with my spare time instead of shoveling dirt to make a switchback more palatable? Its fucking nature. What’s with all the grooming?

So then it talks about support of the hosting community. Really? They have an economic impact study. Money is good for the town. This is a ravaged town with a very odd work ethic now-a-days. I own a house there as you may know and I encourage any type of tourism through the town. The town does have a love hate with it depending on the local you talk to. But mountain people are weird. Quote me on that. When I went to the Hardrock 100, I was in Ouray and eating breakfast. The topic came up about why we were there and I mentioned the race. What race? They had no clue. Nobody there cared…because there was no economic impact. The community didn’t support it because its too small to care.

Finally, having a positive impact on our sport? I might argue this sport wouldn’t be what it is today without that race. WS100 started it all. LT100 helped bring it mainstream. Born to Run helped too. Everybody knows the legend. Even the tie to Lance and the bikes has people chattering and lumping it all together for some type of extreme endurance shit. I like that. So they had some bad mojo this year….you throw the whole thing out? That’s just odd.

Well, whatever. I wasn’t even going to write this post but I feel like I have gotten away from just speaking my mind on my blog lately. Who needs it? I don’t feel like dealing with people lately. But its making me weaker I think. So I am throwing this out. I wanted to defend Leadville a little bit since there were others claiming this was the best move ever.

The only way I think this is a good move is that Leadville just has too many racers so its saturates the pool. So Leadville has like 1000 runners and Hardrock has like 140. So we are an order of magnitude different there. So even if only 1/2 of the Leadville field finishes, and then they all apply for Hardrock, then each spot has like 5 candidates. And that’s not even how the lotto works because there are different pools. But anyway. I don’t see how it matters that you choose Leadville instead of some other race. They are both 100s and they both are worth a spot. If Hardrock really wanted to be cool, they would do a qualifier slot at each like the WS100 folks do. That’s the ticket. Then you encourage the diversity in racing qualifiers. But they don’t. They still lock it to the lottery and leave people like your Antons and Killians and such on the sidelines trying to get in like the rest of us. Oh, its fair — but that doesn’t make it right. Races are for competition not charity.

So now what do I do? Well, that’s a good one. I will see what this December Hardrock lottery brings. I am not anti-Hardrock now by any extent. I just disagree with their move. It seemed reactive from a judgmental 2nd hand position. Maybe I got it wrong but that’s my take with the info they gave and what I saw running the race myself.

If I don’t get in, then the real decision comes. What to do now? Go back to Leadville and chase that buckle? That’s the easy home court move. The downside is that I fall out of the qualifier pool for the next year. Do I care? I don’t know anymore. Leadville was the original ultimate challenge. Then you get inside and that escalates to Hardrock. Ok, sign me up. But ultimately, my buckles I do have are in a box in my closet. Nobody cares. It only matters if I care. And I get bored easily.

Or do I have that qualifier thing empty? Say I step away for 10 years from trying Hardrock? Can I then not run a qualifier but put into the lottery based on all those prior years I tried? I think the answer is no. My interpretation is that you have to have an “Active Qualifier” (meaning that finish in the last 2 years mostly) then you get in the game then you count up the # of DNS you had lifetime?

Or do I take my game elsewhere? Looking at the list, the only races that seem reasonable or interesting are Bighorn, Bear, Run Rabbit Run. Steamboat seems like the choice to me there with what I know if I was only doing only one 100. Bighorn is early if you wanted to double up. Or do I scratch that other itch and get a 29er and go for that other title in Leadville. I don’t know right now. Running isn’t in the forefront of my life currently. I mostly do it right now because it makes me feel good.

That’s my rant. Back to work.