The Hardrock 100 UltraRun has been canceled for a second year in a row and will be the last endurance event in Colorado to be dropped due to health concerns from the coronavirus pandemic.
The race board announced the decision in public on Saturday. It is the fourth time that the run has been canceled since its debut in 1992.
“We considered the health and safety of our runners and community as our litmus,” said director Dale Garland in an interview with the Denver Post. “The tipping point was the uncertainty about what we are dealing with. We feel that we are a reasonably good organization and we can manage what we can control well. But we are not in control of everything.”
One of the most difficult ultramarathons in the world, the iconic 100.5-mile run takes approximately 140 runners through the San Juan Mountains of southwestern Colorado, hitting the cities of Silverton, Ouray, Telluride, and Lake City. A mix of elite and amateur runners – and their support teams – descend on Silverton from the United States and around the world to begin with.
The decision comes after the Lake County Commissioners voted on May 12 to ban meetings of more than 250 people through September, which enforces the cancellation of the Leadville race series, including the Leadville 100 Ultra Run, which usually draws more than 700 runners and their crew by the end of August.
To host the event, Hardrock organizers work with 13 different federal, state, and local jurisdictions, each of which has limitations at different levels. Garland said the Organizing Committee was considering alternatives, including a staggered start, limited or no outside support crews at aid stations, and cancellation of the pre-race personal briefing and post-run awards.
“What if this thing died,” said Garland.
The event could have obtained permits and insurance, but the safety of attendees and concerns that an event could lead to an outbreak that could overwhelm the area’s small, rural health care system were too worrying.
Last year’s organizers had to cancel the run because large amounts of snow and avalanche in the late season made many roads and passes along the track inaccessible even in the late summer. The event was also canceled in 1995 due to snow conditions and in 2002 due to a nearby wildfire. Runners who participated in the 2019 race were postponed to a submission this year, and plans to honor this year’s participants were still being considered, Garland said.
The decision to cease flight is another blow to summer tourism, one of the major sources of economic stability in the region. The Hardrock 100 itself remains financially viable despite two years of disruption, Garland said, and is scheduled to launch on July 16 next year.
“A run director likes to direct a run. I’m sad about that, but I’m also relieved in a way, because this has been bothering us for two months and I’m relieved to have made up my mind, ”said Garland. “I have a heavy heart, like most of our run committees.”