After it was cancelled for the last two years (due to COVID in 2020 and excessive snow on the course in 2019), the Hardrock 100 is finally making its comeback. This Friday, July 16, 146 lucky runners will begin their 100-mile journey through the San Juan Mountains in Colorado, climbing and descending 33,000 feet along the way. Despite the smaller field size, this year’s race will be competitive, featuring some of the world’s best ultramarathoners. Here is your Hardrock 2021 preview.
The women’s race
The women’s field is impressively strong this year, and it’ll come as a surprise to no one if at least three of them crack the overall top 10, or even the top five. This may even be the year that Diana Finkel’s course record of 27:18:24 from 2009 is finally broken.
2018 champ Sabrina Stanley will be returning this year to defend her title, after winning in 2018 in 30:23. Since then she has won several other ultras and set the women’s supported FKT for Nolan’s 14 not once, but twice. Repeating her victory won’t be easy, though, and the favourite for the women’s race this year is Hardrock first-timer, Courtney Dauwalter. Dauwalter needs no introduction, and her multiple major wins, including Western States in 2018 and of course, UTMB in 2019, speak for themselves. Finally, Darcy Piceu rounds out the potential top-three women. Piceu has finished Hardrock an incredible seven times, and won the race three years in a row, from 2012 to 2014. She also finished second in 2015 and 2017, so for those of you keeping track, that’s five podium finishes out of seven runs. It’s worth mentioning that she completed all seven races between 28:57 and 30:15, and as someone who clearly knows the mountains well, she’ll certainly be a challenger for the crown.
The men’s race
There are a few big names on the men’s side who will be absent this year, including course record-holder Kilian Jornet (who ran an astonishing 22:41:33 in 2014), Xavier Thevenard, and Jim Walmsley, which leaves the door open for several athletes to take the crown.
Jeff Browning will be back to defend his title from 2018, when he won the race in 26:20 after Thevenard was disqualified. He has completed the course three other times, finishing just off the podium twice — once in 2014 and again in 2016. There are two Hardrock rookies in the men’s lineup who could also challenge for the win, including Francois D’haene and Dylan Bowman. D’haene has won UTMB three times and the Diagonale de Fous four times, and Bowman has won the Ultra-Trail Mount Fuji twice, in 2016 and 2019.
Other men to watch are Ryan Smith, Trevor Fuchs and Julien Chorier, who all have several first-place and podium finishes on their resumes. Chorier won Hardrock in 2011, and he was second to Jornet’s course record in 2014, finishing in 25:07.
A few other fan favourites will be lining up, including Jamil Coury, Mike Wardian and Pam Reed, which will certainly add to the entertainment value.
Of course, in a 100-mile race through the mountains, anything can happen, and you never know when a lesser-known athlete will take everyone by surprise. To follow the runners’ progress, you can track them and follow their splits here, or follow the Hardrock 100 on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram for updates.