For the first time since 2002, the Hardrock 100 Endurance Run, a summer staple in the San Juan Mountains, has been canceled, race organizers announced Monday.
Too much snow and avalanche debris, not to mention lingering avalanche danger, was the main reason for the decision to call off the 2019 edition of the popular 100-mile loop trail run linking Silverton, Telluride, Ouray and Lake City.
“Due to historic snowfall, avalanches, avalanche debris, an inability to reach certain aid stations and uncertain conditions on more than 40 percent of the course, the 2019 Hardrock has been canceled,” the official announcement read. “This decision, while difficult, adheres to the Hardrock 100 Endurance Run’s overall commitment to land stewardship and the safety of the Hardrock community.”
Officials said they used a number of key resources to support the decision to scrap the 2019 race, set for mid-July, including on-the-ground reports and observations.
Dale Garland, longtime director of the Hardrock 100, said officials went through an exhaustive review of the trail conditions.
“We started monitoring things two or three months ago, but you always want to wait until the last possible minute to watch snowmelt,” he said.
But within the past couple weeks, it was evident conditions weren’t cooperating. He cited the avalanche that wiped out a section of Bear Creek, as well as several similar areas in the Silverton areas as evidence of this.
Garland said this is the second time the race, which began in 1992, was canceled due to snow; the other time being 1995.
“It became clear that the uncertainty associated with the condition of the course and the issues that the uncertainty caused among our organizational components meant we could not organize and administer a safe and meaningful 2019 Hardrock 100 Endurance Run,” Garland said. “While snow and snow water equivalent levels looked to be dropping to manageable levels, other issues such as unprecedented avalanche debris, unstable snow bridges and high water levels all contributed to us reaching the tough final decision that we did.”
The run committee and board of directors worked in concert with the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service in rendering the final decision.
He said all runners who are entered in the 2019 Hardrock will have the option of rolling over their entry into the 2020 race or withdrawing their entry slot and receiving a full refund. The rollover deadline is July 12. Garland said there have been no requests for refunds, as of Tuesday morning, adding over 2,200 people from 48 states and 43 foreign countries registered for the 145 available slots.
He also explained that the service requirements for entry in the 2019 race will apply to 2020. Part of the Hardrock 100 entry and lottery system includes service requirements on the part of entrants.
Garland said that many people already have their plans finalized to be in Silverton for July 17, which is the traditional start and finish site for the Hardrock.
Alternative activities are being planned for the weekend, including group runs, panel discussions and potlucks, as well as the annual film festival and high-altitude medical symposium.
“We have a really good sense of community, so we’ve developed this sense of community and want to turn it into a celebration of the Hardrock community,” he said.
The Hardrock 100 Endurance run is a 100-mile trail run with 33,050 feet of climbing and 33,050 feet of descent over an average elevation of 11,186 feet. The race normally hits a high point of 14,048 at Handies Peak — but not this year.
The Hardrock 100 was also canceled in 2002 because of the ongoing Missionary Ridge Fire.
Last summer, Jeff Browning of Utah prevailed in an eventful Hardrock 100. Browning won in 26 hours, 20 minutes and 21 seconds. His win came after race leader Xavier Thevenard of Myriat, France, a decorated professional mountain runner, was disqualified for taking aid from a support team car outside of the designated aid stations. It was the first disqualification in the history of the Hardrock. The victory, his 15th in a 100-mile race, was the first Hardrock win for Browning. He previously had a pair of fourth-place finishes in downtown Silverton. Jeff Rome, 29, of Bangor, Maine, finished second.
Sabrina Stanley of Steamboat Springs, the youngest runner in the field, won the women’s division in 2018. The 28-year-old finished 12th overall with a time of 30 hours, 23 minutes and 36 seconds. Nikki Campbell of Bozeman, Montana, was second among the women and 17th overall.