Monday, February 28, 2011

A Moment of Enlightenment

Several months ago I signed up for the Hardrock 100 and Wasatch 100 Lotteries.  I was not drawn for Hardrock, for the second time, and I forgot to send in a check for Wasatch so I am out of both.  (With Wasatch you register on line but have to send in a check.)  That seems a little strange but that is the way they do it.  Because I failed to finish Wasatch last year, I have to run a qualifier race for Hardrock this year, before I can get in the lottery, next year.  Marye Jo and I decided Leadville would be good.  We knew where to stay, she knew where the aid stations are located, and I know the course.

Saturday I went to the Leadville 100 web site to register and to my dismay, the race was full.  I never imagined The Leadville 100 would fill.  I actually didn't think they really had a cutoff.  In 2009, the year I ran it, about 450 started.  Last year I read somewhere that about 700 started.  It is still six months until the race, and it is full!  I have been reading about how many new runners are entering the sport but that was a shock.  Over the weekend I started looking for another race that I can use to qualify for Hardrock.  To be eligible for the Hardrock lottery you must have completed one of the following races in 2009 or 2010.

  • Angeles Crest
  • Barkley
  • Bear 100
  • Bighorn
  • Cascade Crest Classic
  • Chiemgau 100 mile
  • Coyote Two Moon
  • Eagle
  • Grand Teton
  • Grindstone
  • HURT 100
  • Leadville
  • Massanutten
  • Plain 100
  • Superior Sawtooth
  • Tahoe Rim Trail
  • Tour de Mont Blanc (163 km version)
  • Wasatch
  • Western States

So I started down the line.  Almost every race was full and a few had a waiting list.  Of course there is always the HURT 100 in  Hawaii.  It has a 25% finish rate.  Another race with space available is the Plain 100 in Washington State.  It is unsupported, unmarked, no aid stations, no water, no pacers, no shirts, but they do give you a map.  I would end up in Canada somewhere and still not have a race to get me in the lottery for Hardrock. 

The two I found that I was considering, until today, were the Big Horn 100 in Wyoming and the Grand Teton 100.  Then I decided what I need to do is volunteer at Hardrock and get an extra lottery ticket.  Then I decided a better idea is to go out the weekend before the race and do trail work and trail marking, hangout in Telluride a few days then volunteer for an aid station.  That is two extra tickets.  After deciding all that, I decided to enter the Grand Teton race as soon as it opens next month.  The Big Horn, which looks like a great race, is June 17th and 18th.  I could not take off a week for Big Horn, then two weeks later take off over a week to go to Hardrock.  Not to mention that I might not be able to walk up a hill - or even walk.

Actually, the Gran Teton 100 probably will not fill, at least not too quickly.  The race starts at the Grand Targhee Ski Resort in Alta, Utah.  The resort is located on the other side of Cascade Canyon and a little north of the Grand.  The reason it usually does not have many runners is the race is held on a clover leaf shaped course that is 25 miles long.  To make matters worse, each of the four lap passes through the resort three times.  In addition to 12 trips through the Grand Targhee the race has 20,000 feet of climbing.  Oh yes, the weather can be really cold and bad.  (Snow storms, hail storms, electrical storms in August, bad.)  That does not make for an exciting run, but the logistics will be simple.  Everything I could ever need is just steps off the course in the room.  If I forget something, no problem, I will be back in a little while.  The Grand Targhee area is a beautiful and the views of the Tetons are spectacular. That will make up for a lot.

I talked to my wife, Marye Jo about the idea today and she said it sounded like fun, except for the trail work.  Here is what we decided to "try-to-do."  I will go out Friday, July 1st, by myself, and work Saturday and Sunday.  She will fly in Sunday and take a shuttle to Telluride.  The best way to get to Telluride is fly into Montrose, Colorado and drive about 90 minutes to Telluride.  You actually can fly into Telluride but that is really expensive and Marye Jo said the would never fly into an airport on the side of a mountain with a cliff on the usual approach side.  We will stay in Telluride until Friday when we will work one of the early aid stations.  We need to fly back Saturday.  Can you tell I want to run Hardrock?

A friend of mine, Todd Henderson started a run here in Alabama called the Pinhoti 100 in 2008.  He is also the RD of the Cheaha 50K, a very well know run with a brutal finish.  Pinhoti was my first 100 miler.  Actually, this is a great race.  It is a point to point run the follows the Talladega National Forest and climbs over Alabama's highest point, Mt Cheaha.  The fist half the race is tough.  All single track, typical southeastern trail.  After mile 52, Adams gap aid station, there are some gravel roads and easier running. Last year the Pinhoti filled.  If you plan to run any any 100 mile race, you had better register the minute it opens.

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