Thursday, July 17, 2014

2014 Hardrock 100 Endurance Run: Race Report by Mick Jurynec

2014 Hardrock 100 Endurance Run

Time: 28:28:54, 8th place overall.

Fuel: Fuel100 Electro-Bites (Salty Vanilla and Apple Cinnamon) and CarbBoom! Gels (Grape Pomegranate) – Way too many to count. 

I had as close to a perfect run (for me) as I’ve ever had at a 100 mile race.  The only other performance comparable to this was my first 100, the 2010 Wasatch 100.  Given my level of fitness, which was good, having only seen ~ 10 miles of the course, and living at 5000 feet above sea level, I can’t complain too much about my run at the 2014 Hardrock.

What worked:
Not having any goal/splits besides finishing.  From Burrows Park to the Finish I didn’t even have a watch.  All my best races have been this way. 

Going out 1 week before race day – I have no doubt this helped me above 11,000 feet on race day.

Heat training – Great for overall fitness and increasing lean muscle mass.

Easy pace – I kept the climbs and descents easy all the way to Telluride.

Pacers out in front instead of following me– I had Kirk and Jen stay in front of me like a rabbit.  I’ve never used pacers this way before and it worked well.

Training with wet feet all spring – My feet were wet for 28+ hours and I had no foot problems.

Lots of shoes.  Ready for all the water.
Fueling with a combo of Electro-Bites and CarbBoom! – I never really got sick of gels because I mixed in the salty Electro-Bites early on in the race.      

I never got lost, but did spend ~10-15 minutes looking for markers over the entire run.

What didn’t work:
Not much. 

I would have liked to see the entire course before the race.  I only previewed ~10 miles before hand.  Knowing the course from Sherman to the Finish would have been really valuable.  That said, I truly enjoy running a course I’ve never seen before.    

Humidity – The humidity was hard on me through the midday hours.

Here’s the long version broken down into sections between aid stations.
Getting to Silverton:
I’m lucky when it comes to ultra lotteries – I got in on my first try at Western States and both Jen (1st time) and I (2nd time) were picked for the 2013 Hardrock 100.  Jen pulled out because Mara was due right around the race date and I gave up my spot the Wednesday before the race.  So no Hardrock in 2013, but we had a beautiful little girl a few weeks after the race. 

I had a plate put in my toe in early November and I had done zero exercise besides hangboarding leading up to the WS and HR lotteries, which were being held on the same day.  I REALLY wanted to get back to WS after a poor run in 2012, but was also excited to give HR a go.  I didn’t get picked for WS and as soon as I switched over to the HR lottery, I saw my name pop up on the Twitter feed.  Silverton here we come!  Unfortunately, Jen didn’t have any HR luck this year. 

Course preview- Gouse to Handies
I finally started walking again at the end of December and my recovery went extremely well.  I built up slowly and had a good run at the Zion 100k.  Although I wasn’t in great shape, the plate in my toe didn’t explode and I was confident that it would be ok start ramping up the training for HR. 

A relaxed crew!
After I built a good base, I went right into specific training for HR.  This meant all vert with very few long flatish or long road runs.  My staple weekly long run was about 23-28 miles with about 11,500 feet of gain.  I worked on hiking fast and busting my quads on the descents.  Once the end of June came around, I felt fit and not over trained – which has been a bit of a problem for me in the past.

Even though I live at 5000 feet above sea level and got a number of good runs in between 8,000-11,000 feet, I decided that I might not have another opportunity to run HR again for many years, so I headed out to Silverton 8 days before the race to try and acclimate to the high elevation in the San Juan Mountains.  The first 36 hours were hard as I had a throbbing headache while checking out various parts of the course.  I felt better over the next several days and spent most of my days between 12-14,000 feet and slept around 11,500 feet.  I felt really good leading up to the race, slept well, and was excited to see my crew (Jen, Mara, Rebecca, Kirk, and my dad) on the Wednesday before the race.  
Panoramic shot on top of Handies

The Hardrock 100:
I had a good night of sleep and was up shortly after 4am.  We headed down to Silverton from Red Mountain Pass and checked in.  There was so much energy at the start line, especially with all the buzz about the huge number of fast guys running this race.  Dale Garland gave us the final count down and we were off. 
The Start.  Matt Trappe photo.

Start to KT (split – 2:43 – 1*):    *= Number after split time is time spent at the aid station 
It was humid and wet.  I kept an easy pace and told myself that I would walk all the ups and only run the flat (yeah, flat! right) and downhill sections.  This was a long climb and despite sweating a ton, I was in a great mood.  At the top of the first climb I was running with Jeason Murphy and Ted Mahon.  I slipped a handful of times on the wet and slick tundra and ended up on my back more than once – I was caked in mud and felt like a pig in shit.  Good thing we had many streams to cross.  We arrived at the KT aid station and I was in and out just ahead of Jeason and Ted. 

Easy going early on.
KT to Chapman (split – 1:41 - 2):
After a short climb, I traversed a bit and felt like I was running strong with an easy effort.  I saw a few runners ahead of me, but didn’t care one way or the other.  There were tons of spectators ringing bells and cheering on the trail leading up to the climb past the iconic Island Lake to Grant Swamp Pass.  At one point before the pass someone had an airplane/drone that was flying above us probably taking photos.  Cool.  I managed to catch up to Jared Campbell and Stewart Air just before the pass.  The descent off Grant Swamp is full on scree running at its best.  I watched Jared descend and decided to take a slightly different line – more scree and less pebbles/mud.  We descended into Chapman Gulch on a superb single track without much fanfare. 

Chapman to Telluride (split – 2:26 - 3):
This was the hardest climb of the day for me.  It was hot and humid out of Chapman and the pitch of the climb felt like it kicked back quite a bit – it was about 3000 feet in 3.2 miles.  Once we got above tree line, the air cooled off a bit a breeze kicked up.  CarbBOOM! and Electro-Bites continued to go down well, but I was getting really thirsty and drinking a lot of water.  I made it over Oscar’s and dropped into the stunning Wasatch Basin above Telluride.  This section was one of two spots that were my favorite on the course.  The descent in Telluride was amazing - open meadows with tons of wild flowers and nice single track trail.  As you drop the canyon gets steep and narrow and the air gets heavier and hotter.  Felt great all the way down to Telluride and managed to fill up my water bottle a few times at stream crossings, which helped keep me cool and hydrated. 

Telluride to Kroger (split – 2:01 - 1):
I was psyched to get into Telluride since this was first place I would see my crew- Jen, Mara, Rebecca, Kirk, and my dad.  They provided a flawless transition for me and I was off through town and on my way up to what’s called the ‘highest aid station in ultrarunning’ – Kroger’s Canteen.  Same as the last climb – hot, humid, and slow until I got above tree line.  I tried to start pushing the pace a bit here, but that wasn’t happening.  Just before Virginius Pass (13,100 feet), I pulled over to have a gel and let Jared and Ted go by.  I started the traverse over to Kroger’s and couldn’t figure out where all the noise was coming from.  There were steeps peaks all over except a small pass that was no more than 12-15 feet wide.  This was Kroger’s. 
Heading out of Chapman Aid Station.  Denver Post Photo.
Kroger to Govenor (split – 0:32 - 2):
What an aid station!  You have to Google it to get a good idea as to the setting.  As I look down the next 1000 foot descent covered in snow and I asked ‘What do I do? Slide down on my ass?’  That got a good laugh and the response was, ‘Only if you want to lose your ass!’  So I used the fixed rope to work my way down the first pitch and then ‘skied’ the next 2 down to the Virginius Mine.  I ran down the road to the Governer Basin aid station with Shane Martin and he gave me a quick update on the front runners.

Coming into Telluride and looking for sugaaarmoma's!  Thanks for the great video, John Sharp.
Govenor to Ouray (split – 1:11 – 7):
I drank almost a liter at the aid station and filled up my pack.  The next section was ~11 miles on a dirt road.  I felt great and opened it up here.  I’m not sure what my pace was, but it felt fast.  I caught up to and passed Jared and was close to catching Ted and someone else in front of him, but I had to back off because all that water wasn’t emptying from my stomach.  Way to much sloshing around in the gut.  This caused me to walk for a bit before I was able to pick it up to a SLOW run again.  I worked my way slowly into Ouray to see my crew.  I got excited to see them again and I was ready to pick up Jen for her first pacing duty of the day – Ouray to Grouse. 
I spent a few minutes eating and gearing up for the next long section.  This was also the only place during the race where I made a shoe change.  In hindsight, I wouldn’t have changes shoes here.  It was nice to put on dry socks and shoes, but surprisingly my feet weren’t bothered by being wet the past 12 hours.  This was probably due to the fact that I trained all year with wet feet and that the Altra Olympus is the most comfortable shoe I’ve ever worn.  To help them drain a little better, I used nail to poke 6 holes around the base of the shoe.  I think this helped. 

Ouray to Engineer (split – 2:40 - 1):
It was hot leaving Ouray and Jen and I mostly walked our way to the Bear Creek Trailhead. She tried to get me to run some of the short downhill and flat sections, but my stomach still wasn’t emptying well.  We made our way up the shale switchbacks and got onto the trail that was cut out of the rock by the miners. This was my other favorite part of the course.  There was solid rock on your left, a narrow single track trail, and then a ~500 foot drop off to the bottom of Bear Creek on your right.  Not so scary going up, but I was imagining what this section might be like in a counter clockwise year.  Catching a toe might result in a not so favorable outcome.  As we steadily worked our way up the trail it started cooling off and the volumes of food/water in my stomach started to go down.  A handful of miles from the trailhead, we passed a sick looking Tim Olson who was sitting off to the side of the trail.  Jen set a great pace out in front and I was so looking forward to dusk and the idea of running all night under a full moon.  We arrived at the Engineer Aid station, thanked the volunteers, and continued to Engineer Pass. 
Refueling at Ouray.  Jen ready to crack the whip.
Engineer to Grouse (split – 1:39 – 5):
I was getting a second wind as the sun was going down and it was starting to get cool for once.  We saw a few people working their way up to the pass and noticed that we were catching one of them.  As we got closer it turned out to be an injured Joe Grant.  He pulled a muscle and was trying to get down to Grouse to call it quits.  I’m not sure how, but he found someone with a mountain bike and he was going to ride his way down the road to Grouse.  Just as Jen and I crested Engineer Pass Road it started to drizzle.  It felt so good.  It would rain (hard and soft) for the next 6+ hours.  The run down to Grouse was pleasant and a few miles down the thunder and lightning show started, but the storm was heading west (opposite of Handies) and the lightning was never that close to us.  We made one stop to put on rain jackets and headlamps – it was now getting dark and it was pouring down on us.  We were both soaked, but our pace quickened as we got to the Grouse Aid station. 
Grouse to Burrows (split – 3:17 – 1):
At Grouse they told us that the storm cell was moving back east over Handies.  Great.  Just the direction I was heading and I was going to be alone for the next 14.5 mile stretch from Grouse to Sherman.  My dad and Kirk resupplied me and I grabbed some extra clothes just in case I had to hunker down for a bit.  The rain slightly let up and I started the long push up to American-Grouse Pass and then the final stretch up to the highest point on the course, Handies Peak at 14,048 feet.  As I started up the initial switchback I saw a few headlamps coming towards me.  It was Dakota Jones and his pacer heading back to Grouse to call it quits.  He had some ankle issue.  The rain and cool weather really refreshed me and I made good time up Grouse.  I also had quite a few rabbits in front of me.  It was hard to tell for sure, but it looked as though there were 4-6 other groups in front of me.  The lightning was never that close to me except for one strike.  I made a habit of seeing the lightning and then counting one-one hundred, two-one hundred, etc.  Most were well into the 6’s, but just before I got to the pass I was startled by a flash that was only a second away.  Yikes.  That was the last flash that was anywhere near me for the rest of the storm.  I got to the American-Grouse Pass and saw that there were 5 groups making their way up Handies.  The rain had all but gone away and I pushed hard up to the summit of Handies.  Just as I got to the peak clouds rolled in, it got cold, and I didn’t waste any time getting down.  As I started my descent the rain picked up again and it was slow going over the rough, loose, and slick terrain off Handies going into Grizzly Gulch.  The rain was coming down pretty hard and the more it rained and the cooler I got and the better I felt.  I wore shorts, a t-shirt, and an ultralight rain jacket.  It was the perfect amount of clothes.  The single track into Burrows Park Aid station was soaked and slick.  I slipped a few times and almost snapped my poles so I slowed down a bit even though I had almost caught a pair of lights that were moving in and out of the trees.  I made my way to Burrows Park Aid station.
Dad after a white knuckle drive over Cinnamon Pass.
Burrows to Sherman (split – 0:42 - 9):
At the aid station Darcy Piceu was there with her pacer and I overheard them talking about how cold she was.  I grabbed cup of Sprite and as I was leaving one of the volunteers told me I was in 10th place!  I hadn’t asked all day and this was the first time I learned where I was in the standings.  Knowing this gave me a needed kick in the ass and I ran a the road at a brisk pace down into the Sherman Aid station where I would see my crew again and pick up my next pacer, Kirk.

Sherman to Pole Creek (split – 3:06 - 1):
I was psyched to see my dad, Kirk, and Jen at the aid station.  I asked how the drive was and all they said was, ‘Let’s not talk about that.  We are going back the long way’.  After talking to Kirk once we started running, I learned that the drive from Grouse over Cinnamon Pass in the rain was horrible and downright dangerous.  Yikes.  Sorry guys.  I’m glad they made it- I got the shit out of my shoes, drank a bunch of Sprite, and had a bowl of soup, which was actually really good.  Kirk and I then made our way back out into the persistent rain and worked our way up to Pole Creek.  I think I ate and drank too much/fast at Sherman and just as we started the climb I felt nauseous.  Our pace slowed and we moved along without saying much.  Kirk gave me the word to eat and I almost puked at the thought.  I told him give me another 30.  He did and I requested another 30.  And another.  He told me either I eat next time or we stop and rest.  At the next feeding time, I sat down on a rock and put down a gel and sipped some water.  Not too bad.  This was the longest stretch (1.5 hours) all day that I went without food.  We got up and were back moving and on the normal eating schedule.  The Pole Creek section was hard.  It was super wet, with lots of deep puddles hidden by the overgrown willows.  There were also a few cross country sections that we moved slowly over.  We saw a few headlamps in the distance and one set somewhere behind us.  After crossing the nth stream on this section, we made the final little push up to the Pole Creek Aid station.    
Pole Creek to Maggie (split – 1:19 - 3):
We took off out of Pole Creek and jogged a few of the flatter sections that led up to the Maggie-Pole Pass and I tried to count how many sets of lights were in front of me – I think 3.  The food was starting to be digested and I was feeling better as well, which reflected in my pace.  I began to move ahead of Kirk and I’d hear him yell at me to eat.  Check.  The sun was rising and I was really starting to wake up and get a second (or third/fouth?) wind.  This is the first 100 mile race where I’ve run through the night, so I had no idea how profound the sunrise would affect me.  I had just awoken!  I pushed the final climb and out of Pole Creek and I caught a staggering Diane Finkel who was being pushed up the hill by her pacer.  That’s too bad.  Her day would end at Maggie’s.  I took it easy into Maggie’s as I wiped out once on a slick part of the trail. 

Dropping into Cunningham.
Maggie to Cunningham (split – 2:11 - 0):
As I got into Maggie’s Ty Draney and his pacer Luke Nelson were just leaving.  I packed up my coat, put on my hat, and began working my way to the last aid station, Cunningham.  Just as I was leaving the aid station Ty was puking while Luke was laughing at him.  I wished them luck and kept moving up to Buffalo Boy Ridge - 8th place now.  Unknowing at the time, we left Sherman ahead of Ted.  About half way up I saw Jared Campbell and his pacer, Matt Hart, just cresting the ridge.  I was maybe 10-20 minutes behind them.  I didn’t see which way they went on the ridge and didn’t see the next marker, so I went to the right, which seemed the natural way to go.  I did a few short out and backs and spent a few minutes looking around and finally backtracked to the ridge.  I made a left and shortly found the next marker.  At this point I thought we had a short traverse and then it was all downhill to Cunningham.  Not so.  I saw Jared and Matt making their way up another climb.  Shit.  I made the climb and the tough cross country section to the final tough descent into Cunningham Gulch.  I saw Jen down below and I was ready for this run to end.  I had run 2 hours longer than I ever had before (2010 Wasatch - 22:21).  One last big climb left.  Ugh. 
Almost there.  Mara telling daddy to move his ass.
My favorite part of the day.
Cunningham to Finish (split – 2:24):
I got into Cunningham and Jen asked if I wanted her to run with me on the next section.  Her sister Rebecca was supposed to run with me, but Jen asked her to baby sit while my dad got some sleep.  The drive back from Sherman took 3+ hours and they were cooked.  I said absolutely.  I sucked down a gel and a No Doze and told Jen to make me eat every 30 minutes.  We were off.  Just as we left, Ty and Luke were almost at the aid station – maybe a few minutes back.  I actually had left the aid station 7 minutes ahead of them.  Shit, I thought, they are closer than I thought/wanted/hoped.  I always run my own race – that is until the last 10 miles or so, and then it’s on.  You are going to have to work really hard to pass me.  In all my 100 mile races, I’ve never been passed at the end.  We’ll that’s not entirely true.  I got passed at the last aid station at WS, but that doesn’t count!  I take pride in this.  I was ready to bust up that last hill, so I told Jen to get in front of me again and made me try to catch her.  I was leaning into my poles with all I had and she was moving so effortlessly.  This last climb felt so much steeper than it did when I scoped it out over a week ago on fresh legs!  I had to stop to eat a gel and we were at the base of the last pitch.  I just put my head down and slogged it up to the top.  Just as we got to the top I saw Luke at the base of the last pitch.  I asked Jen how long until another gel.  18 minutes.  It was hard to do simple math, but I had my last gel where Luke now was, so I had 12 minutes on them.  I took a breather over to the Little Giant Saddle and gingerly made the transition to downhill running.  In a mile or so we hit the dirt road and it was on!  I bombed down the road and Jen said she was having a hard time keeping up.  This was good.  I was running hard and it was difficult.  Rebecca met us just before the Arastra Gulch Road and I did a bit more math.  We had ~7 miles from the top to the Finish.  Even if Ty made time on me up the hill, say I had 7 minutes on him, he’d have to run over 1 minute/mile faster to catch me.  No way.  My pace slowed until we hit the single track.  My deprived brain got scared again and I told Jen and Rebecca to keep looking back for Ty and I picked it up again.  I was running scared again.  We hit the Silverton Ski Hut and I finally relaxed.  We cruised into town and were greeted by my dad, Mara, and Kirk.  I grabbed Mara, ran into the finishing chute, kissed my baby first, and then the Hardrock at 28:28:54!  8th place!  It was surreal.  Dale congratulated me, I muttered something about that being a serious course, and was finally able to fully relax.  I ran the 3rd fastest Cunningham-Finish split just behind Scott Jamie and nowhere close to Kilian Jornet. We sat around watch others come in before I needed to head back to the cabin and take a nap.  What a day.  What a course.   

Total Time at Aid Stations – 0:36
Smooching the rock.
Not a bad group to be part of.

Final Thoughts:
Congrats to all those that toed the line at the 2014 Hardrock 100.  Thanks to all the volunteers and those involved with the race.  You made my time out there so enjoyable. 

The Hardrock course is simply awesome.  Hardrock is so much more difficult than any other 100 I’ve ran.  I definitely underestimated the difficulty of the course.  For me this difficulty came in 2 parts: 1. The elevation.  Although I never had any symptoms of altitude sickness during the race, my pace definitely slowed above ~11,500 feet.  2. Distance of the climbs.  The climbs are so much longer and relentless than anything we have here in the Wasatch.  Most of the pitches weren't too steep, they just went on forever.  Some of those long grinds were tough, especially in the stagnant and humid air. 

I can’t wait to return to Hardrock again.  I loved everything about the race.  Hopefully my lottery luck will continue.  Hopefully Jen will get I next year and I can pace.  The San Juan’s are a gorgeous mountain range.

I know I’ve been lucky to get into Hardrock.  It’s a privilege I don’t take for granted.  That said, it really is a magical race and place and I hope that the HR board doesn't allow any more people into the race.  Please keep the limit at 140!  I think allowing any more people would do a disservice to the spirit of the race and to the past, present, and future Hardrockers. 

Fuel100’s Electro-Bites are the most innovative fueling source on the market right now.  100 salty calories of mostly potato starch, coconut oil, and agave syrup.  Gels are indispensable for me during a 100 mile race.  The only gel I can eat for 20+ hours is CarbBOOM! – Great taste and consistency.  Alternating between gels and Electro-Bites kept me moving forward all day.  Thanks for the awesome products guys!   
Happy feet.

Finally the most important part of my run: A special thanks to my wife Jen, daughter Mara, my awesome dad, Rebecca, and always reliable running partner, great friend, and longtime pacer, Kirk.  You guys made the day so special for me.  I obviously wouldn’t have had the race I did without you guys! 

Part of the super crew.

My photos and other links to the 2014 Hardrock 100:

Here are a lot of photos from my time around Silverton and the race.

Here are a few photos of me in a Denver Post story about the 2014 HR.

Here’s a great HR summary by Matt Hart.  

iRunFar’scoverage of the HR100.


  1. Excellent report and HUGE congrats on finishing Hardrock! The pictures from that course are unlike anything I've ever seen. Can't imagine what it must have felt like to kiss that rock. Well done!

    1. Thanks Cory. Too bad you weren't out there taking photos!