The Hardrock Hundred Mile Endurance Run is an ultramarathon of 100.5 miles in length, plus 33,992 feet of climb and 33,992 feet of descent for a total elevation change of 67,984 feet, at an average elevation of over 11,000 feet. The race is held on a loop course on 4WD roads, dirt trails, and cross country in Southern Colorado's San Juan Range, USA.
The run starts and ends in Silverton, Colorado and travels through the towns of Telluride, Ouray, and the ghost town of Sherman, crossing thirteen major passes in the 12,000' to 13,000' range. Entrants must travel above 12,000 feet (3,700 m) of elevation a total of 13 times, with the highest point on the course being the 14,048' summit of Handies Peak. The race has been held in early July of each year beginning in 1992, except for 1995 (too much snow) and 2002 (nearby forest fires). Each year's race is run in the opposite direction of the previous year's event (2008 was run in the clockwise direction, 2009 will be counter-clockwise). In order to complete the event, instead of crossing a finish line, runners are required to "kiss the Hardrock", a picture of a ram's head painted on a large block of stone mining debris.
This course offers a graduate level challenge for endurance runs. The course is designed to provide extreme challenges in altitude, steepness, and remoteness. Mountaineering, wilderness survival and wilderness navigation skills are as important in this event as your endurance.
The cut-off time for finishing the race is 48 hours. Current fast performances are held by Kyle Skaggs (23:23), set in 2008 and Diana Finkel (27:18), set in 2009. The average time required to finish this race is 41:10:15, which is longer than the cutoff times of most 100-mile (160 km) races. This is due largely to the high elevations, which can cause altitude sickness or edema in some runners. In addition, the course covers extremely rugged terrain including steep scree climbs and descents, snow packs, river crossings, and boulder fields. The race starts at 6am, so runners who finish in over 40 hours see the sun set twice before finishing. Runners continue at night using flashlights or headlamps. Portions of the trail are adjacent to steep dropoffs and are described in the course description with the word "exposure".
Rocky Mountain Slam
The Hardrock 100 is the centerpiece of the "Rocky Mountain Slam", which a runner completes if s/he finishes Hardrock plus three of four other races in the Rocky Mountains: Leadville Trail 100, the Bear 100 Mile Endurance Run, the Bighorn 100, or the Wasatch Front 100 Mile Endurance Run. The award is presented at and hosted by the Bear 100 Mile Endurance Run, as this is the final run in the series.