Hardrock Course Description

The HARDROCK 100 is a mountain run that passes through some of the most beautiful and rugged mountains in the world.

The course is closed. That means that runners are required to follow the specified route.

Four legs, linking the Lake City, Ouray, Telluride, and Silverton areas. The finish is in Silverton, the same location as the start. The course is 102.5 miles long, has a cumulative vertical gain of 33,197 feet of climb and 33,197 feet of descent for a total elevation change of 66,394 feet, and takes place at an average elevation of about 11,000 feet. The high point is 14,048 feet.

This is a test of runners against the mountains. The course is on trails as much as possible. There are 14 aid stations; major aid stations will be located in the towns with less well-equipped aid stations in between. Runners are expected to be largely self-supporting between the towns.

This is not an orienteering event. We intend that you be able to concentrate primarily on running. However, remoteness, weather, animals, and people problems on the course make this problematic at best. We will mark the entire course before the run. However, long road sections and maintained trails may not be marked at all. Cross-country sections will be marked more intensely. We shall continue our trend over the past few years of less intense course marking with fewer flags along all course sections. The flags should be readily visible, even to those with red/green color blindness. The markers have reflective tags for night visibility. On some portions of the route we may place colored engineer tape. Chalk may be used to mark other sections, particularly roads in towns. Runners are responsible for knowing the prescribed course and following it whether or not markers are present.

The altitude range of this run (7,700 to 14,000+ feet) takes the runner through several climate zones. At the lower altitude, forests of aspen, pine, and spruce are common. Timberline is locally at about 11,800 feet, though this can vary greatly. Above timberline is alpine tundra and low vegetation interspersed with krummholz (low, stunted spruce, fir, and willow).

In the summer, animal life is abundant. You will almost certainly see elk in the high meadows, possibly with their young. Stay clear of elk: they can be ornery at times. Bears (black, not grizzlies) are present, though seldom seen. Mountain lions may also be encountered.

The run is a salute to the toughness and perseverance of the hardrock miners who lived and worked in the area.

Order a copy of the Drake Mountain Map (official course map) from San Juan Mountains Association, Maria's Bookshop in Durango, or Rigs Adventure Co in Ridgway.
*Just the base map; does not include the Hardrock course specifically marked

Hardrock Map Clockwise Hardrock Elevation Profile Clockwise


This is a dangerous course! In addition to trail running, you will likely:

  • Wade knee-deep, ice-cold streams
  • Cross snow fields in both slick and post-holing conditions
  • Traverse trails with 300’+ cliffs immediately to one side
  • Rock climb (mild, but hands required)
  • Be caught above treeline in extreme thunderstorms

It is recommended to always carry at least one more warm item than you think you will need. Every year, runners get stuck unexpectedly due to injury or weather. Hypothermia can be a killer, especially on tired bodies with no reserves left for generating heat.

The run start and some of the aid stations are at a relatively low elevation (7,700-9,000 feet) and in sheltered valleys, while most of the run takes place above 11,000 feet in exposed areas above timberline. Temperatures and wind conditions can be markedly different up high and the temperature can suddenly and dramatically drop.

In a typical year, you will have wet feet 90% or more of your run.

Recommended Gear

  • Rain Jacket (Hard Shell)
  • Rain Pants
  • Emergency Blanket
  • Gloves
  • Running Hat/Cap
  • Whistle
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunblock
  • Headlamp (+backup)
  • Spare Batteries
  • Capacity to carry 80oz of fluid
  • 500 calories
  • Weather

Weather is a critical factor in Hardrock and can be at least as formidable as the terrain, remoteness, or high elevation. Every runner should carry gear appropriate for drenching rain, high winds, and near-freezing temperatures - possibly all at the same time.

Typically there is a brief period each year when the snow is generally gone, but the summer “monsoon” has not yet gotten into full swing – we attempt to hit this window.

The “monsoon” is a daily weather cycle. Calm mornings, but as the day warms up, thunderheads build up and intense thunderstorms may occur each afternoon, abating in the evening and through the night.

The 48hr Cut-Off is not only in recognition of the difficult terrain, but also allows runners to wait out thunderstorms or other life-threatening weather. You can hunker down in a valley for 2-4 hours and still finish. However, if you get fried by lightning, your running career may end on the spot. Discretion is the better part of valor.

The Run Director may authorize Aid Captains to hold runners if weather conditions are considered too dangerous and prevent runners from continuing if not carrying gear appropriate for conditions.


Several runners in past years have had direct contact with lightning and there have been several more near misses. If caught in lightning, head to lower terrain as fast as you can. If you cannot, find a low point or shelter away from conductors (poles, trees).

If your hair begins to stand on end and/or your skin starts to tingle, a lightning strike is imminent. Assume the lightning position to wait out the storm:

  1. If you are with a group of runners, spread out by at least 50’ *Very important*
  2. Put your feet together
  3. Crouch slightly
  4. Minimize contact with the ground and other conductors (stay on the balls of your feet)
  5. Cover your ears
  6. Touch your elbows to your knees to give current a path to flow other than through your torso


The course passes by several snow features whose danger varies year-to-year. Large snow fields may be sloped and extremely slick at night, while present post-holing above fields of sharp scree during the day. Use caution when approaching the edges of snowfields from above or below, as cornices (layers of snow overhanging open space) may fall from above or collapse beneath your feet.

First Aid

If you encounter a person who is injured, first GET HELP through official run channels, then keep the victim warm. All aid stations are staffed by at least an EMT, have a first aid kit, and have radio communication.

Additionally, each runner carries a SPOT tracker which is used to pinpoint their location at all times.

Most medical problems will be relatively minor: sunburn, blisters, sprains, abrasions, and fatigue. In the later stages of the run, runners may also be dehydrated, fatigued, nauseated and/or hallucinating. Stretches between aid stations can last 6 hours or more. Be aware of these factors as you plan for your run.

Search and Rescue

All Search and Rescue missions are initiated by the Run Director.

Hardrock purchases a CORSAR Card (Colorado Search and Rescue) for every runner. These will be available at Runner Check-In. It is highly recommended that crews and pacers also purchase a CORSAR Card.

All runners are required to carry a run-provided GPS Tracking device from MAProgress. This will facilitate our efforts to locate and access you more efficiently in a Search and Rescue operation. Training on the operations of this device will be provided prior to the run as part of packet pickup. To send an S.O.S. alert via the tracking device, open the protective flap then press and hold the S.O.S. button until the function light blinks green.

Dropping Out

While no one likes to contemplate it, there may come a time when it is smarter for you to drop out than to continue. Also, you may miss the cutoff times or be pulled for a medical reason. However the decision is made, you must ensure the nearest Aid Station Captain is informed and have them cut off your ID bracelet.

Depending on your location, it may be very hard for us to arrange transportation from your dropout point to the finish. You may have to wait many hours for this, as we may have to coordinate a vehicle via radio. All we can promise is a best try effort.