Handies Peak

Photos during the race, by Mark Swanson.

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Mark Swanson writes:

...I paced Klas Eklof in the Hardrock 100 mile race on July 14-15. I ran the Hardrock myself two years ago, by far the hardest physical challenge I've ever undertaken. In addition to being 101.7 miles long, Hardrock involves over 33,000 feet of climbing, an equal amount of (generally steep) descending, most of it at 10,000- 14,000 feet in altitude where oxygen levels are about 60-70% of those found at sea level. I arrived 8 days early and we camped at 10,500 feet during that time to help acclimatize to the altitude. Klas arrived two weeks early as it generally takes at least that long to sufficiently acclimatize.

Pacing Klas means I accompanied him for about half of his 100 mile journey, basically from Ouray (mile 44) to Cunningham (mile 92). He reached Ouray around sunset on Friday, as expected and we set off into the night. Our first strange experience was encountering a large, freshly dead, apparently unmarked, deer on the trail just outside of Ouray. Perhaps he had just been killed and his wounds were on his underside where we couldn't see them. Perhaps his killer (cougar?) ran off when we approached and was eyeing us closely. We kept moving.

Klas ran an amazing race, holding a steady pace throughout and finishing well-under his goal of 40 hours in 37:39; good for 23rd place out of 131 starters. Although I was designated as his "pacer" I was happy just to keep up with him. The experience reminded me of how very, very tough this course really is. But we had a great time, as you can see from the following pics. As it turned out, we reached the highest point on the course, Handies Peak- just over 14,000'- right at sunrise. Klas had been moving for just over 24 hours and still had over 12 hours to go. The first two pics are at a saddle just before summiting, then two at the summit, then three of the descent. As you can see, when we got to the top we were not alone - some folks had backpacked up and spent the night.








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