The Simple Life: Hardrock Diaries #4

Barely a week before the Hardrock 100 Endurance Run, Kiwi Grant Guise is settling in to the simple van life nudging the nose of his mobile home higher into the mountains to acclimatise for what is ahead…


I awake in a confused haze to the sound of car doors slamming and talking…


It’s daylight out and clearly I have slept in, but looking at my watch another “WTF” slowly passes through my barely functioning brain. It’s just past 5am. I roll over and try to sleep more. The car doors slamming and talking continues on and off for another hour or two before I finally drag myself out of the little nest I have made for myself in VannaWhite. Opening the van door I slip straight into my running shoes and am greeted by a perfect day in the mountains. A trail head, with a beautiful single track is just meters away from my “front door” and after a coffee I set off on said single track.

I am not sure what day this was – they are all blurring together now, in a truly positive way. I go up for a few hours, tapping away on my wizard sticks, silently rolling up behind those people that hours early were slamming their car doors – oh how I wish I had a car door now so I could return the gesture… But a friendly “hello” is far more appropriate, and often I stop and chat. This week is more about acclimatizing to the altitude than climbing hard and after travelling solo for two weeks I enjoy the social interaction.19780367_10213835354337064_1798517380405549558_o

Another “14’er” summit is reached and I take a quiet moment and sit at 4200+ meters, sometimes for 20-plus minutes, before returning to my van, parked at around 3000m. Once there I wash off in an icy cold river, make breakfast and consume more coffee. I feel as if I am living out the “Get Ready For Trail” episode “American Style”, when Sebastian Chaigneau and Joe Grant prepared for the 2014 Hardrock Hundred, only they are way more hardcore and have their shirts off more than I do…

The routine plays out daily – woken early, coffee, a summit well above 4000 meters, and breakfast back at my van. I then drive to another trailhead and prepare to repeat the next day. Somewhere in there I track down some wifi or cell coverage to do some work and make a video call home to check in with Jane and the kids.

It has taken a few days but I am slowly settling into a very simple daily routine.19884128_10213826292150515_5645292632155243416_n

But one thing I am still having trouble excepting is just how good the Leadville area is! Damn – this place is next level. There are pretty much limitless amounts of great camping, peaks and trails. And Leadville itsself is a pretty sweet spot too. At first, I was not too sure about it driving through town, but once I got out of my van and walked around the place quickly grew on me. The fact it has a great café and a great brewery might have helped… But it also has a big supermarket and reasonably priced gas – it ticks all the boxes.

TRM Web Banner 24

This week wasn’t all running focused. A few weeks before I came over, on a hope, I checked the tour dates for my (current) favourite band, the Drive by Truckers (DBT) and as luck had it they were playing a show at Snowmass – about an hour drive from Leadville. In truth, had DBT not been playing there, I may never have travelled up to Leadville at all. It was pretty exciting to see a DBT live and I also got to check out Aspen and catch up with Ted Mahoe, who is a eight-time top 10 Hardrock finisher.

The ’Truckers show was a total blast, but I was keen to get away from all the lights and traffic of Aspen and made my way back towards Independence Pass and the Leadville area, where I got out for a run up Colorado’s highest peak, Mt Elbert, with one of my Hardrock pacers Clark Fox.


It was a big week by my standards and I am a tag excited by how good I felt during it:

  • Monday-  Mt Yale 4323m -15km, 1366mD+
  • Tuesday–  Belford 4310m, Oxford 4298m and Missouri 4280m- 24km, 2489mD+
  • Wednesday–  Mt Massive 4389m- 21km, 1500mD+
  • Thursday–  Mt Elbert 4393m (highest peak in CO)- 18km, 1813mD+
  • Friday–  La Plata 4366m- 15km, 1422mD+
  • Saturday– Hope Pass out and back- 19km, 1385mD+
  • Sunday– Mt Elbert 4393m – 20km, 1779mD+

For the week– 132km, 11,762mD+

  • Number of times visited “City on a Hill”:  4
  • Number of times visited “Pb Brewery:  5
  • Number of hot showers:  0
  • Number of ice cold river baths: 7

Screen Shot 2017-07-10 at 1.27.37 pmGEAR
I am super lucky to be working with and distributing UltrAspire in New Zealand. Bryce Thatcher has been designing running vests for 30+ years (he started UD and worked at Nathan before starting UltrAspire around 6 years ago). Screen Shot 2017-07-10 at 1.27.29 pm
I am lucky enough to get my hands on sample and prototype vests and have even had Bryce do some small modifications just for me! Last year I used a ALPHA2.0 vest at Hardrock and this year I will use the newer ALPHA 3.0 version. Like last year Bryce added the super easy and simple pole attachments to the ALPHA for me (this is the same system that’s on the EPIC and ZYGOS2.0 vest). Hands down the easiest pole carry system I have used, with no need to remove my vest to get poles on or off.

Screen Shot 2017-07-10 at 1.30.10 pmI have a thing with shorts…. I am a little particular about them. Not sure why, but I just am. I guess it is a comfort thing, but also how functional they are. Luckily for me I discovered the Patagonia Strider Pro 5 inch shorts. Super lightweight, comfy and with 5 big pockets! I can load them with food, but also during a race like Hardrock, I’ll stuff gloves and a “buff” in these pockets as they are so easy to get to. Possibly best of all they come in colour! Lots of options other than boring black….


Screen Shot 2017-06-28 at 12.54.22 pm

Screenshot 2017-06-06 17.28.20


Hitting the Rock – The Hardrock Diaries #3

The reality of the ‘Rock is about to hit home for kiwi Grant Guise, who has landed in Colorado and spending some time in the, ahem, ‘hill’ that make up the backbone of his Hardrock 100 Endurance Run challenge that lays ahead…

Screen Shot 2017-07-01 at 4.09.52 pm


Unsurprisingly, my excitement was outweighed by my sadness and anxiety of leaving Jane and the kids for a month. It is an odd feeling – getting picked two years in a row for the Hardrock 100mile Endurance Run means I am one of the luckiest ultra-runners on the planet, and boarding my plane for a month away, most of that time spend in the Colorado High Country I should be ecstatic, but in that moment, it is mostly sadness. Of course, it is self-imposed, and shit- I AM GOING TO HARDROCK! I let a little excitement creep in……

But this trip is not all wild flowers and marmots, no, there is some work to be done first. I land in Salt Lake City and head towards Logan. Logan is the start of another classic America 100miler, the Bear 100 (tagline: “This Ain’t For Goldilocks!”) and its also where the headquarters of Altra Running are. Kevin Robinson, the international sales manager (and one of my HR100 pacers) is away at a trade show in Germany, so I get to hang with one of Altra’s founders, Brain Beakstead, who just finished 7th at the Zion 50milers the weekend before. It’s a wild place to be for a gear geek like myself. I get shown Altra’s new appeal line and the upcoming new shoes. I meet the whole team behind Altra, from designers to sales and everyone in between and even get to test some prototype shoes on my evening run.

Screen Shot 2017-07-01 at 4.10.03 pm

The next day with a few hours to kill before meeting an old friend for dinner, I head up Little  Cottonwood Canyon just outside of SLC and manage to get up Mt Superior. At round 3500m, its nice easy re-introduction to altitude.

The next day there is no denying the excitement as I fly into Durango. The one and only Anna Frost meets me at the airport and we head to VanGo Durango to pickup my transport and accommodation for the next 26 days, a 1993 VW EuroVan, nicknamed “Vanna White”. Straight away I can tell we are going to get on great! Poptop, couch and table are just some of the features. She is truly a home away from home and has me dreaming of how I might be able to tweak my own van this summer.

After picking up supplies I start the long drive towards Lake City, with the plan of camping a few nights at Burrows Park. Burrows in right on the Hardrock course- last year it was the first aid station we came to after Handies Peak and where I creped past Bryon Powell as he was sitting in a chair with stomach issues.


I headed away from Handies the next morning, walking and jogging along amazing high alpine single track, towards Redcould and Sunshine Peaks. Both being over 14,000 feet (4250m) I was working hard and sucking wind- but this is why I was here- too suck! Last year I had 2 weeks in Silverton pre Hardrock and it wasn’t enough to fully acclimatize. I am not sure 3 weeks will be enough neither, but it is better than 3!

The next day I went up the Grizzly Gulch trail, towards Handies Peak. At 14,048 it is the high point of the Hardrock 100 and as such has a somewhat mythic status. Many claim it as the hardest part of the face and I think especially in the clock-wise direction that I did last year it is a significant hurdle. But this year it comes much early- making it over Handies and costing it in is not really doable…..


It was great to again be up on Handies and see trails and views I didn’t get to see in daylight during last years race.

I then headed into Lake City and meet up with Frosty, Baz and the Durango crew that were over for the San Juan Solstice 50miler. I got to hang with Frosty and Hardrock legend Roch Horton, as well as a nice jog along the Colorado Trail, up around 12,000 ft.

After a few days camping by myself, the social race scene of the SJS50 was great fun, but early Sunday I was in Vanna White and heading towards the Collegiate Peaks and Sawatch Range for some big mountains! But I’ll tell you about that next time….


Screen Shot 2017-07-01 at 4.09.57 pm

Maybe this should be “Gear Van”…. Certainly this past week the coolest bit of “gear” to come my way is Vanna White – my little VW EuroVan. Ryan and the team at VanGo Durango have a great little business model going on. The campervan scene is very different here compared to the one in NZ.  Just finding a camper was a missions, but O think I struck gold with VanGO. Unlike the usual rental car experience has much more of a “boutique” feel. Add in how easy it is to car camp in Colorado and it is making for an epic road trip/mountain running experience.

Screen Shot 2017-07-01 at 4.11.50 pmI was lucky enough to have a package waiting for me in Durango from DryMax Socks and have been giving the new Trail Running, Lite and Lite-Meash CREW length socks are hammering since arriving. I’ve been super impressed with the new Lite-Mesh Crew, epically in the Sublime colour way.

TRM Web Banner 24

Screenshot 2017-06-06 17.28.20