Stories / June 2022

Next stop: Hardrock 100

Kissing the rock, much more than a race.

“The paths weren’t meant for trail runners. There is a history behind them, from past generations that used them to work, move around and communicate with their neighbours. It is important to know about this history and respect it, because these paths are part of our heritage.”

This was the reflection Kilian Jornet, made before facing his first Hardrock 100 in 2014. Without a doubt, this is one of the most iconic events in the calendar, not only because of its technical route and surroundings—wild nature in the mountains of San Juan, Colorado—but also for the aura that travels along each of its 100 miles, its aid stations and its traditions.

150 years ago, these trails were used by gold seekers hoping to strike it rich in this untamed part of Colorado. Today, the 140 winning tickets for the lottery to enter the race seem almost as precious as those magical golden nuggets.

The race kicks off on July 15 and the runners will not only have to battle against the distance (160 km) and the altitude (10,000 m of positive elevation), but they will also have deal with the height: up to 13 sections of the route are over 3,700 m, leading up to the Handies Peak at 4,200 m.

Trail running is more than a sport. It is emotion, tradition, a connection with the environment and its history... And if there is one race in the world that symbolises all of this, it is the Hardrock 100. A race marked in red on our calendar.

A race with unique traditions

The race, whose history dates back 30 years, pays homage to the mining tradition of the San Juan area. In addition to passing through the prominent cities and towns of this industry, such as Silverstone, Lake City, Ouray and Telluride, it also travels along the same roads that its workers rode along in days gone by. Over the years, the route has evolved, but it has always remained faithful to its core, making it one of the most mythical races in the world. Nowadays the course changes direction every year and legend has it that to be a true finisher you have to have completed it in both directions.

The Hardrock 100 cannot be understood without its iconic traditions; from the welcome received at aid stations such as Kroger’s Canteen, to the most popular, when the runners, on crossing the finish line, must kiss the mythical rock. The rock, of mining origin and on which the famous ram is drawn, symbolises effort and tenacity.

Kilian and Dakota, ready for the new challenge

Kilian has won the race 4 times, but there are two dates that will always be remembered. In 2014, the first time he took part, he set a new race record, finishing in a total time of 22:41. After winning the following 3 years, the image that many will remember was in 2017, when, a few kilometres from the start, he dislocated his shoulder. Despite the injury, Kilian wanted to complete the route around the San Juan Mountains and, using his backpack as a sling, he managed to kiss the rock for the fourth time. This year, Kilian Jornet returns to try again, to complete the demanding route and savour its customs and traditions. We can’t wait to see what he will surprise us with this year.

Athlete Dakota Jones gets ready for his first attempt with NNormal, in the race that takes place in his back garden. Jones was born in the area and has travelled through its landscapes since he was a child, “I carry these mountains in my heart, and for me to be able to run here is an honour.” For a few weeks he has been training with long runs, to learn the terrain and acclimatise to some of the more demanding stretches at altitude. For Dakota this is a very special race “I’ve been living here for a few months, but this is where I’m from, this is where I grew up, where I fell in love with these mountains. I’m so excited to share it with the NNormal team and with every one of you.”

So the journey continues... Stay tuned and join us to follow the race from a different perspective!

Photography: Tom de Peyret

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