Truckee athlete Betsy Nye, 48, was the third woman to finish the Hardrock Hundred Mile Endurance Run near Silverton, Colo., from July 12-14.
Nye’s time of 36 hours, 46 minutes was good for 28th (tie) place overall in a race where completing the course before the 48-hour cutoff is considered a significant accomplishment.
Nye, an experienced ultrarunner, has now started and finished the Hardrock Hundred race 12 times, including a first-place finish in 2003. She has finished more than 30 100-mile races, but this was her first 100-miler since breaking her leg in the Grand Canyon more than a year ago.
Nye started her comeback race at a conservative pace, running in fifth place for most of the first day. When lead woman Diana Finkel dropped at mile 89, Nye moved into fourth place, while the third woman, Sarah McCloskey, still held a 90-minute lead over Nye.
However, Nye significantly closed that gap to just 15 minutes by the time she left the aid station near mile 95. Family and fans following from home waited anxiously for online updates. Nye crossed Mineral Creek, with 2 miles to finish, only a minute behind McCloskey.
By the time she reached the finish in Silverton, Nye had a 5-minute lead for her third-place finish in the woman’s race. Her overall finish was a 28th-place tie with another Hardrock legend, Blake Wood. Wood has 18 Hardrock Hundred finishes to his name. Run Director Dale Garland noted that Nye and Wood have 30 finished between them.
The Hardrock Hundred has a unique finishing requirement: “You must kiss the Hardrock upon your successful completion of the run.” When they approached the Hardrock at the finish line, Nye and Wood counted “One, two, three,” then kissed the rock simultaneously.
“Finishing like that with Blake Wood was as much fun as winning,” Nye said with a huge smile.
When asked how to prepare one’s body for a 100-mile race, Nye said, “It’s probably 80 percent mental and 20 percent physical. If your body is trained, you can do it.”
Truckee runners Angela Costamagna and Helen Pelster provided support as crew and pacers for Nye, along with Rhonda Claridge of Ophir, Colo. The team of women spent 36-plus hours running portions of the course with Nye and driving to aid stations to support her along the way.
A BEAST OF A RUN
The Hardrock Hundred takes place in the rugged San Juan Mountains of Southwest Colorado. It is dedicated to the memory of early hardrock miners who prospected for gold and silver starting in 1860s.
“The course is designed to bring the runners into the four major mining centers of the San Juan Mountains: Silverton, Telluride, Ouray and Lake City, while staying as much as possible on trails and abandoned roads originally created by the miners to give the participant the maximum feeling of wilderness,” according to the Hardrock Runner’s Manual.
The Hardrock Hundred is considered by many to be the most difficult 100-mile foot race is the country. Athletes face elevation gains greater than running from sea level to the top of Mt. Everest and back at an average elevation of more than 2 miles above sea level. This running includes going over 12,000 feet above sea level 13 times, above 13,000 feet an additional seven times and summiting Handies Peak, at 14,048 feet. After each long climb comes an equally demanding and grueling descent.
The first finisher in this year’s running was Sebastien Chaigneau, 41, of Thorens Glieres, France, with a time of 24 hours, 25 minutes. The first woman was Darcy Africa, 38, of Boulder, Colo., with a time of 29 hours, 54 minutes. Out of 140 starters, 106 were able to complete the course within the 48-hour cutoff.