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Hardrock....finally!

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  • Steve Pero
    I remember back sometime in the early 90 s, seeing on the cover of Ultrarunning a picture of a runner going across a scree slope at an incredible angle and
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 19, 2001
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      I remember back sometime in the early 90's, seeing on the cover of Ultrarunning a picture of a
      runner going across a scree slope at an incredible angle and couldn't imagine doing such a
      thing...but also seeing something that looked exciting and impossible and there was a part of me
      that wanted to attempt this sort of thing. Back then in my early days as an ultrarunner, I would
      talk to people about Hardrock. What is it like? How do you train for something like this? This one
      I just had to do someday and was my long range goal.

      Back on November 1st, I put Deb's and my applications in the mail and soon we received the
      letters. Deb was accepted and I was on the waiting list...bummer. From the day we sent it in, my
      goal was to run with and kiss the rock with Deb...now I had to wait. For almost 6 months, I
      consistently email Dale Garland (RD) about where I stood and told him that I would be there ready
      to run whether I got into the race or not, planning on at least to pace Deb from Ouray to the
      finish.
      Three week before the race, Dale emailed me and gave me the good news...I was in !!!!...and I was
      ready...

      We headed out on June 29th to get in our two weeks of acclimating to the altitude. We had our work
      cut out for us because we live at 30 feet above sea level, a huge disadvantage in the San Juans.
      Our plan was to join Charlie Thorn's course marking team every day, this way we would acclimate
      slowly while not breaking down physically by running ourselves into the ground, which is easy to
      do when you should be tapering. This plan worked well and by day four I was feeling much better
      after having an awful day the day before, going over Handies Peak (14+K). Deb was doing just fine,
      but her asthma was starting to act up and she developed a nasty cough. We went to the Silverton
      doc and she recommended that Deb stop the albuterol she was taking and rest up...of course we
      weren't totally acclimated yet, so we kept it up until the week before and began to take it easy.
      On Wednesday before the race, we hiked up Kendall Mt. (13+K) to see how Deb's lungs felt and to
      give her some confidence. She had a great hike up and we sat and had lunch up there for a bit and
      then headed down.
      One incident that happened during our course marking was while glissading down Virginius pass, I
      hit a rock that was buried under the snow and smashed my tailbone, then tumbled down the
      mountainside cutting up my elbow and hip real bad...there was blood all over the snow and I was
      thinking my race was possible over due to a possible cracked tailbone.

      Race morning started with the usual excitement and breakfast at a local restaurant at 4am...tons
      of pancakes, eggs, hash browns, bacon and coffee, just what we needed to get us to the first aid
      station at KT...
      We started easily, maybe midpack and our goal was between 38 and 40 hours, which we considered
      doable, considering our fitness from MMT100 and our acclimating the past two weeks, but after a
      couple of miles I realized that Deb was falling back in the field, so I waited for her and she
      said she was having trouble breathing and was getting her tunnel vision, which is when she starts
      to lose her eyesight when working too hard. We were now running in the back of the pack, which we
      both knew would make us have to adjust our finish time...we were now talking about just finishing!

      This continued for quite sometime and Deb started to feel a bit better as nighttime fell, and we
      started to pass runners and make up some time, but we were still chasing the 48 hour cutoffs,
      which was making me nervous and made the run not fun at all.
      After the tough climb up Engineer Mt.(13+K), we had a long road run down into Grouse
      Gulch...during this run Deb's race came undone. She was beginning to bonk because we were told
      that we had only 15 minutes to leave the Engineer pass aid station and passed up eating, this was
      incorrect and may be the reason for Deb's race ending soon. We were 15 minutes ahead of the 48
      hour cutoff, not the absolute cutoff...so as we sat down at Grouse Gulch and refueled, I think Deb
      knew it was too late, but didn't tell me...heading over Handies was tough for her and we had to
      stop continually to rest. It took us near 7 hours to do the approx 10 mile stretch and by the time
      we got to the other side at Burrows Park, with tears in her eyes, Deb told me I had to go on
      alone.

      So after a bit, I started to run down the road. I had to remove my contacts and run in my glasses
      because of the dry air and altitude causing the contacts to get almost opaque. I got to Sherman's
      (70 miles), running the 5 mile road stretch in about 45 minutes, with 40 minutes ahead of the 48
      hour cutoff. After refueling I just ran and ran and ran....passing runners every mile. One runner
      I came upon was Gord Hardman, who was having a bad day and was returning to the Sherman AS. He
      told me that if I ran every downhill, I could finish before midnight...so that was my goal. It
      seems like Hardrock runners don't like to run, because on a really nice downhill trail section
      going into Pole Creek, I passed the most runners all day because everyone was walking! I think the
      secret to doing well at Hardrock is to just run as many of the downhills as possible...

      The rest of the story is about the same..different aid stations, different faces, but I'd just sit
      down and drink my V-8 and load my two bottles with a can of Ensure plus and water mixed...360
      calories per bottle. This is about all I ate during the run and worked fine until Cunningham, the
      last AS. Here I was empty, but there was only 9 miles and one more climb over Little Giant/Dives
      at 13,416. Little it isn't as it took me 1 1/2 hours to get to the top via the endless
      switchbacks. Then struggling in the dark on the tiny steep downhill trail, I kept going off trail
      and ending up wandering around a talus field, looking for the markers. I finally reached the road
      that takes us to the final wet, beaver pond trail. In the final 5 miles, there must have been 6
      stream crossings...plus the trail itself was a mud bog. I cursed you many times, Charlie Thorn!

      I finally entered Silverton and crossing Greene St, the church clock was striking 11. Turning the
      corner onto Reese St., I broke into a jog, emotions were welling up inside me...I am finishing
      Hardrock, I thought to myself. This is a dream come true! The only unfortunate thing was that I
      won't get to kiss the rock with Deb...but I did kiss that rock at 11:14pm, Saturday. 41 hours and
      14 minutes since I last left that spot.

      One more thing....on the top of Virginius and then again at the awards breakfast Sunday morning,
      Deb and I announced our engagement. The Virginius aid station crew loved being the first to be
      told, we figured what better place to make that announcement. The moment is captured in one of our
      photos of us toasting with chicken soup in styrofoam cups, then rappelling down the side of the
      mountain....

      I took near 100 pictures and have downloaded them to our website at
      http://communities.msn.com/SteveerReno ...As soon as I send this I will organize them better as
      some are out of order and not all need to be there.

      This run completed my goal this year of doing the Mike Dobies triple...The Barkley FR,
      Massannutten 100 and Hardrock 100. My plan is to do the same next year, but Mike has upped the
      ante. It's his quad, all of the above, but including Dennis Herr's Wild Oak 100 in February...so
      far no finishers!

      Steve Pero
      Bellingham, Ma.
      ultrastevep@...

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