This year’s heavy snowpack is continuing to put a damper on summer activities throughout the Rocky Mountains, including one of southwestern Colorado’s premier events, the Hardrock Hundred Mile Endurance Run.
The run’s cancellation comes on the heels of several delayed openings of mountain passes and amid unusually late access to summertime recreation hot spots across the state.
The safety of the 100-mile Hardrock course was deemed too uncertain due to historical avalanche activity and snowpack in the San Juan Mountains. The course links Lake City, Ouray and Telluride over four legs, beginning and ending in Silverton.
Measurements of the snow water equivalent at the Red Mountain Pass Snotel Site help organizers decide whether snowpack will allow runners a safe passage. The current snow depth — 24.2 inches — was found to be too deep to accommodate aid stations. Race management also found that about 40% of the course could be unsuitable for the July 19 run.
“While snow and snow water equivalent levels looked to be dropping to manageable levels, other issues such as unprecedented avalanche debris, unstable snow bridges and high water levels all contributed to us reaching the tough final decision that we did,” said run director Dale Garland on the event’s website.
The course has a cumulative vertical gain of 33,050 feet and a total elevation change of 66,100 feet. The run is a salute to the toughness and perseverance of the hard-rock miners who lived and worked in the area and is a test of runners against the mountains, the website said.
About 2,200 people from 43 countries and 48 states applied for the 145 spots to run in what would have been the 26th annual event. Some of those selected in the lottery have waited years for the chance to compete in the race, Garland told the Durango Herald.
Garland said the event has been canceled only twice before in its 25-year history: in 1995 for too much snow, and in 2002 during the Missionary Ridge Fire, the Herald reported.