Hardrock General Course Description

Table of Aid Stations (download as PDF)

The HARDROCK 100 is a mountain run that passes through some of the most beautiful and rugged mountains in the world.

The course is closed. That means that runners are required to follow the specified route.

Four legs, linking the Lake City, Ouray, Telluride, and Silverton areas. The finish is in Silverton, the same location as the start. The course is 100 miles long, has a cumulative vertical gain of 33,050 feet of climb and 33,050 feet of descent for a total elevation change of 66,100 feet, and takes place at an average elevation of about 11,000 feet. The high point is 14,048 feet.

This is a test of runners against the mountains. The course is on trails as much as possible. There are 13 aid stations; major aid stations will be located in the towns with less well-equipped aid stations in between. Runners are expected to be largely self-supporting between the towns.

This is not an orienteering event. We intend that you be able to concentrate primarily on running. However, remoteness, weather, animals, and people problems on the course make this problematic at best. We will mark the entire course before the run. However, long road sections and maintained trails may not be marked at all. Cross-country sections will be marked more intensely. We shall continue our trend over the past few years of less intense course marking with fewer flags along all course sections. The flags should be readily visible, even to those with red/green color blindness. The markers have reflective tags for night visibility. On some portions of the route we may place colored engineer tape. Chalk may be used to mark other sections, particularly roads in towns. Runners are responsible for knowing the prescribed course and following it whether or not markers are present.

The altitude range of this run (7,700 to 14,000+ feet) takes the runner through several climate zones. At the lower altitude, forests of aspen, pine, and spruce are common. Timberline is locally at about 11,800 feet, though this can vary greatly. Above timberline is alpine tundra and low vegetation interspersed with krummholz (low, stunted spruce, fir, and willow).

In the summer, animal life is abundant. You will almost certainly see elk in the high meadows, possibly with their young. Stay clear of elk: they can be ornery at times. Bears (black, not grizzlies) are present, though seldom seen. Mountain lions may also be encountered.

The run is a salute to the toughness and perseverance of the hardrock miners who lived and worked in the area.

Refer to the current Runners Manual for a full, accurate, and detailed course description.

Course Descriptions:

Order a copy of the Drake Mountain Map (official course map) from San Juan Mountains Association, Buckskin Bookstore in Ouray, Maria's Bookshop in Durango, or Rigs Adventure Co in Ridgway.
*Just the base map; does not include the Hardrock course specifically marked

Weather

The weather is a dominant factor for this run and can be at least as formidable as the terrain, remoteness, or high altitude. The run date is a compromise among competing weather factors. There is usually a period of a few days to weeks each year when the snow is generally gone, but the summer "monsoon" has not yet gotten into full swing - we've tried to hit this window. The usual "monsoon" pattern is a daily weather cycle, starting in the morning with blue skies. As the day warms up, thunderheads build up and around noon intense electrical thunderstorms may commence, continuing until late afternoon or evening, at which time the thunderstorms abate until the next morning.

The Colorado Mountain Club advises climbers in Colorado's mountains to be off the peaks by noon. Since this may not fit in with your position on the course, you must use extreme caution. Always remember that the time limit is 48 hours. The long time limit is not only in recognition of the difficult terrain, but also allows runners to wait out thunderstorms or other life-threatening weather. You can hunker down in a valley for 2-4 hours and still finish; but, if you get fried by lightning your running career may end on the spot. Discretion is the better part of valor.

Take comfort in the fact that these thunderstorms are widespread. If you are pinned down, chances are that other runners are, too. Your position in the field will probably not change. Use the time wisely - eat, drink, stay warm, and rest. You will be able to run faster when the storm has passed. At the RD's discretion, Aid Station Captains can hold runners if weather conditions are considered too dangerous and prevent runners from continuing if not carrying gear appropriate for conditions.

It is our general opinion that the first fatality we may have will be from lightning! Several runners in past years have had direct contact with lightning and there have been several more near misses. We would rather that there never be a fatality or injury. We will continually be giving you warnings, cautions, updates, and suggestions regarding the exposure you must face when attempting this run.

Prepare for any amount of snow! We could even have snowfall just before the run. In 1992 we went back to Handies Peak in August, just a month after the run, and found six inches of new snow on the ground! In 1997 we had an ice and snowstorm during the run. Remember, there have been avalanche fatalities in Colorado in every month of the year except September.