High Road to Hard Rock

Just what does it take to tackle one of the biggest, baddest trail mountain ultras on the planet, the Hardrock 100-Mile Endurance Run? Kiwi  trail runner Grant Guise knows only too well, having journeyed to the Colorado mountains last year, finishing an impressive tenth place (30.35). This year, he’s hitting the high slopes in training once more with sights set on the San Juan trails and Trail Run Mag readers will enjoy an inside line on the realities of what it takes as Grant writes a series of blogs in the lead-up. Here’s his first.

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“How’s Hardrock training going?” is a pretty common question I get asked these days. And I love it.

I love being asked about it, as the Hardrock 100-Mile Endurance Run is never far from my mind. I would go as far to say I am obsessive about it, in a positive way.

Yet, I also hate it when I am asked how my Hardrock training is going, as it feels like a trick question…

If you asked me back in February or March the answer was easy: “not that good”. But now, months later, with several solid training blocks under my belt, I am more positive. Positive, but still unsure what it all means as I try and piece together the last few months of training jigsaw puzzle .

This year’s build up has been quite different to last year’s prep for Hardrock, but I do feel I am at the point now that I am fit enough to start my Hardrock training. And that training starts this week, in a big way.

For the third time leading into a 100mile race I will look to rack up a 200km training week, and everything I have done in training since February has been gearing me towards this week, rather than towards the Hardrock race itself.

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I love these weeks and the daily satisfaction of being worked from spending 6-8hrs in the mountains.

I’ve headed to the Wanaka, on the South Island, area again for “camp Hardrock” looking to mimic the course’s long ascents and descents and massive vertical gain. I’ve even gone as far as to camp in my van and live the good life, like I will be in Coloarado in a few weeks’ time (but I will gladly take a couch in Wanaka too). This week will not “break” my 2017 Hardrock, but in many ways it can “make” it. It excites me on so many levels and is one of the bigger puzzle pieces to play with.

I don’t consider myself overly experienced at ultras, or 100milers. I have lots to still learn and lots of mistakes to still make. Luckily, I work with someone that is experienced and someone I fully trust.

For the last five years I have worked with Christophe Malarde from France. Christophe came highly recommend from my days as a Salomon athlete and his coaching and guidance have served me well, as has his English. Chris’s English is way better than my French, but still is not super fluent. It makes for interesting Skype calls and he does not have the luxury of mixing his words. In February, I ended a Skype call with Christophe and two things were seared into my brain: I was unfit and we did not have long until the 2017 Hardrock to get fit.

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Grant trains hard chasing vert up Roy’s Peak, high over Wanaka. IMAGE: Brook van Reenen.

At first, I tried to downplay Christophe’s fitness assessment of me and his ability to read a calendar, but after a few days I came around to the reality of how I had let things get away on me.

It was around this time I was also questioning my commitment to the 2017 Hardrock. Training puts a massive stress on work and family and if I was going to do it I had to be all in. I did a little soul searching and in the end, I knew I couldn’t pass up the chance to go back to the San Juan Mountains. And this is when I made my choice to commit, but committing can be a painful thing, especially when you are unfit and your coach prescribes intense, fast work outs.

I don’t know which played on my mind the most, my coach’s raised eyebrow or my wife’s as she spied the wall calendar and a mass of ‘Dad away days’ marked up. Luckily for me, my wife and kids are “all in” as well, ultra running being a bit of a team sport in reality. So really it’s Hardrock herself and the questions she has for me that now takes up most of my cognitive space.

 Grant Guise will be posting regularly here on Trail Run Mag in the lead up to his second shot at Hardrock, which takes place 14 July 2017.

Grant’s Hardrock journey will also be supported by Altra Running NZ, UltraAspire NZ, Julbo NZ and Patagonia Australia.

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