"This terrain has humbled some of the best"
A strong community supports the race. Garland, who has directed every race since the inaugural Hardrock in 1992, stresses that an egalitarian spirit is the backbone of the race: “We are rooted in the history of mining and we celebrate the ‘everyman’ ethos of that culture. This terrain has humbled some of the best. And since these mountains don’t play favorites, we don’t either. We treat everyone the same.”
calories are the cure
The race makes extreme demands of race participants. “Gastrointestinal issues are one of the most predominate reasons people DNF at Hardrock,” says aid station director Brad Bishop. “I often say that ‘calories cure all forms of ills’. Keeping your energy levels high enables you to work through most of the other ailments that arise during Hardrock.”
Given the mountainous terrain, weather patterns change quickly. So Hardrock offers hot and cold foods… and plenty of it. In 2017, Hardrock’s field of 145 runners consumed 852 eggs, 263 avocadoes, 77 gallons of homemade soup, 34 pumpkin pies, 80 pounds of bacon, 51 pounds of beef brisket, and countless burritos and sandwiches. Back in the early days, Garland remembers the aid stations were more primitive. “We used to throw out some bananas and M&Ms and call it good. But as ultrarunning has become more mainstream, it has drawn in people who want to know more about nutrition.”
formula for rocket fuel
As GU Energy Labs began to develop an ultra-endurance formula, we looked to Hardrock as an inspiration. Our Roctane line ofDrink Mixes andEnergy Gels contain more branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) as well as the amino acids beta alanine and taurine. Studies have shown that these amino acids help muscles function better during the prolonged exercise of an ultramarathon. For example, beta alanine allows muscles to buffer the buildup of hydrogen ions and lactic acid that results from intense exertion. This delays muscle fatigue and thus allows an athlete to work at the same level of intensity even in the late stages of a race, such as the scramble up one of the many Hardrock climbs.
Roctane Energy Gels differ from the original formula by delivering three-times more sodium and three-times more BCAAs with the same amount of calories. Sodium, the primary electrolyte lost when you sweat, is particularly important for the Hardrock Hundred. “Given the variations in temperature, we stress the replenishment of sodium out on the course,” notes Garland. This electrolyte allows the body to maintain proper fluid balance and blood plasma volume.