Hardrock 100 Silverton, Colorado ()Hardrock 100 Silverton, Colorado () © Copyright

School of Hard Rocks

On 15 July at 6am around 150 lunatics will gather on the Silverton, Colorado, startline for the 2016 version of the Hardrock 100. Among them will be the world’s greatest mountain and trail runner, Kilian Jornet, aiming to beat his own record of 22 hours and 41 minutes for the 100.5 mile course.

“It’s a mythical race,” Jornet explains. “There’s a nice ambience. It’s not only the beautiful course – it’s the people too. They make it much more special.”

The ultramarathon features 66,100 feet of elevation change through the Colorado Rockies, where competitors are forced to navigate forest tracks and dirt trails – not to mention avoiding bears and lions – in Southern Colorado’s San Juan mountain range.

Conditions are pretty unpredictable, too. Races have been rescheduled because of too much snow (1995) and nearby forest fires (2002). And, at the end, instead of crossing a finish line, runners ‘kiss the Hardrock’, which is basically a ram’s head painted on a big rock. But by then, runners would probably do absolutely anything to stop the pain.