The Hardrock Diaries: kissing the stone

TrailRunMag 31.07.2017

Via his Trail Run Mag blog, many of you followed Kiwi Grant Guises’ second journey to ‘kiss the rock’ at the Hardrock Endurance 100 Mile Run in Colorado, US. We know he finishes and puckered up after 100 gruelling miles, but how did the journey go down? Here’s his post-event take… (IMAGES: Clark Fox)


My final week or so pre Hardrock was ticking along smoothly.

I migrated south from Leadville to the San Juan’s and quickly started to meet up with old and new friends alike. Some easy and fun taper jogs with Kim up Corkscrew and Maj and my crew chief Weston up Black Bear pass, and of course dinner at Hand Bars.

And then the shit kind of hit the fan. A tooth, that admittedly should have been sorted years ago, decided to become painfully infected and after the 3rd sleepless night from said pain, I made a quick trip to Durango to show that little sucker who’s boss and had it removed!

While certainly less than ideal the Monday before a big race, it was the best outcome and I quickly put the incident behind me and was back up in the San Juan’s, camping in the stunning Cunningham Gulch with Weston and fellow Hardrocker from last year Ben Wyrick. Ben was unlucky in this year’s lottery but was out in Silverton anyway, filming for a Hardrock doco he is working on.


All too quickly I found myself standing with 144 of the luckiest ultra runners in the world, as Dale Garland counted down from 10. A quick moment to simply breath, reflect and be massively grateful.

We rolled out of town, along Silverton’s dirt roads and I found myself throwing the handbreak on again and again. The pace is so slow and excitement is high – it’s so easy to overcook these easy miles. And despite going as slow as I could I still chatted with the likes of Mike Foote. A fun descent down to Cunningham with (fellow Kiwi, Anna) Frosty and Hannah Green, another steep, long climb over Green Mountain, rolling over Maggies and into Pole Creek. Things were a flowing. Things were good.

Approaching the descent into Sherman the menacing clouds finally delivered and heavy rain quickly turned to the craziest hail storm I have been out in. By the Sherman aid station it was back to rain, heavy rain! I made the call to hang here and get some warm food in and try and drip dry for a while. In hindsight this was a bad call – I stood in Sherman stuffing myself like someone that had just ran 28 or so miles. I left the aid station waddling along, having eaten way too much.


With a sore stomach, I hardly ate between here and Ouray at 55miles. Oh yeah, I also threw up around six times before Ouray, going up Engineer Pass…. BUT, despite all this, I arrived feeling pretty good, having managed to get some fluid and food in coming down the Bear Creek Trail.

At Ouray I was greeted with the many familiar and friendly faces and left, with my pacer Clark, feeling good and amazingly I was in 10th place. Clark and I made decent time up Camp Bird Road and arrived at Governor’s aid with Hardrock legend Scott Jamie in 8th place.

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We left here in a train, as we were joined by Darcy Piceu and others in hot pursuit. But this was all short lived. The wheels fell off getting up to Krogers, as I started to get sleepy. Roch put the wheels back on with a shot and I sat back and enjoyed the magic that is Krogers. It is truly a magnificent spot.

I started to come back as we approached Telluride- passing folks and being past. At Telluride there were seven of us in the aid station at once! Which is crazy as that was places 8th-14th (28hr50-30hr30). At this point in last year’s Hardrock I was pretty lonely…not this year.


I started off up to Oscar’s Pass with the best intentions but the Wasatch Basin quickly turned into the most painful experience I have ever had during an ultra. Like some rookie I was hardly eating or drinking, still super low on energy and got sleepy and cold and sleeper still. It was painfully slow. I remember looking up at Darcy and thinking how pathetically slow she was moving. She, of course, walked away from me with ease at this point…..

With the sunrise and some warmth returning to my body I rallied out of the Champan aid station, amazed that I had a chance to better my 30hr35min time from last year still, despite having just completed the ugliest 10miles of “running” of my life.

The climb up to Grant Swap Pass was great – the early morning light in the basin below the pass was a treat and I even enjoyed the steep, lose scree. I picked up my 3rd pacer, Weston, at KT. The final climb up and over Putman was particulalyr nasty, for me at least, and even the run off here was painful. But after some deep (DEEP) inner reflection I sucked it up and started running again, with West whipping me the whole way back into Silverton.


It was intense getting back into Silverton. I have never had to dig so deep before in a race and I felt it with many different emotions as I jogged in to give The Rock a big old kiss. My crew and pacers- Weston, Kevin and Clark, as well as all the other friends and support and volunteers out on the course were amazing and easily match the beauty of the San Juan’s mountains in making Hardrock such a memorable occasion.

Numbers and gear

  • 13th place over all, 30hrs 15mins
  • Altra TIMP and Olympus2.5
  • UltrAspire ALPHA 3.0 vest with pole carry mod and LUMEN 600R waist light.
  • Julbo AERO Zebra Lens glasses
  • Patagonia Strider Pro shorts, tee and Alpine Houdini Shell jacket.
  • DryMax Trail Crew socks
  • Fuel: a real mix, but VFuel gel and drink and VESPA (both available from The Healthy Runner in New Zealand), lots of savoury snacks from aid stations and can of O’Douls beer, shot of tequila and 2 perogies at Krogers Canteen.

After swearing never to do another 100mile run again somewhere between Putman and the finish, I will most certainly be putting my name back in the Hardrock lottery for 2018, and I have been working on many alternative 100miler options in the likely event I don’t get picked, ever again.

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Video: Ben Wyrick