Lottery Process

Each year, we are faced with the difficult problem of how to choose our starters from about 2800 applicants, while still respecting the values that make Hardrock Hardrock. We are always reviewing what we think is a fair mix and will continue to do so in the future. For example, for 2022 we made changes, described below, that will ensure women are represented on the start line in proportion to the percentage that apply. For 2023 we combined the previous Else and Veteran lottery pools into a single “Finished” lottery pool, in which tickets are distributed by the rules of the previous Else lottery. The previous Never lottery pool remained unchanged. In the December 2, 2023 lottery for the 2024 Hardrock we selected 146 entrants, split 68/78 between the "Finished" and "Never Finished" lottery pools.

Ticket allocations for the two lottery pools are described below.

  • Never Finished - This lottery pool is for everyone who has never finished a Hardrock.

    To increase the likelihood that applicants with many DNSs (Did Not Start) will get into the run, applicants get 2^N tickets, where N is the number of previous DNSs since the applicant last started Hardrock (i.e. not including the year in which you are applying). This will ensure that those with the most DNSs have a high likelihood of being selected, while still giving applicants who have never started Hardrock a chance. “DNS” includes everyone who applied, was qualified, and went through the lottery, but did not get to start the run. This includes those who were on the wait list, those who withdrew from either the wait list or start list, and those who were not selected at all.

    Additionally, service tickets (described below) will each count as an additional DNS. This puts a high value on contributions made to Hardrock by your own personal time and labor.

    Your DNS count does not go away if you miss applying a year, have not run a qualifier, or get drawn but later withdraw - it is all your DNSs, ever. However, if you start Hardrock and DNF, then your DNS count is reset to zero the next time you apply to Hardrock. However, your service tickets will continue to count as DNSs - their count will not be reset. This will be effective beginning with the 2023 Hardrock. However, runners who DNFed in their first attempt at Hardrock in previous years will be grandfathered in - they will NOT have their DNS count reset.

    1) a Never Finished applicant who applied and did not get in for 2023 has one previous DNS and would have 2^1=2 tickets.
    2) a Never Finished applicant who applied and did not get in in 2021 and 2022 and was an aid station captain in 2022 has three DNSs and would have 2^3=8 tickets.

  • Finished - This pool is for everyone who has finished a previous Hardrock (but includes those grandfathered in by virtue of having started a previous Hardrock under the previous rules, as described below).
    • All qualified applicants get one ticket "just for applying".
    • Applicants get one additional ticket for each finish.
    • Applicants get one ticket for each DNS since they last started Hardrock. “DNS” includes everyone who applied, was qualified, and went through the lottery, but did not get to start the run. Your DNS count does not go away if you miss applying a year - it is all your DNSs, ever.

Runners entering Hardrock from the Never Finished lottery must actually FINISH Hardrock to graduate to the Finished lottery in subsequent years. Runners who were already in the Else lottery in or before the draw for 2021 will be grandfathered in for subsequent years, whether or not they have finished Hardrock.

A separate wait list will be maintained for each lottery and gender. When a runner withdraws from the start list, a runner will be taken from the wait list for the lottery from which the withdrawn runner was chosen. If a wait list is empty, runners will be taken from the other list of the same gender.

The previous year's winners will continue to bypass the lottery, but will count against the lottery pool they would have been in.

Gender Policy

Historically, women have been underrepresented on the start line at Hardrock. This is a consequence of our ticket algorithm rewarding long-time finishers and applicants, and expected year-to-year statistical variation in our lottery. Beginning in 2022 we instituted a policy that the percentage of women chosen to start will not be less than the percentage of applicants that are women. For 2024, this is 21%. In addition, separate wait lists will be established for men and women in each lottery, to maintain this ratio when entrants withdraw.

Service Tickets

Volunteering at Hardrock can improve your odds in the Hardrock lottery! Service Tickets count as an additional finish for the Finished lottery, and an additional DNS for the Never Finished lottery.

There are two types of service tickets: One-time and Perpetual

One-time tickets apply only for the next lottery held after they are earned and do not roll over. They can be earned by:

  • Aid Station Captain or their nominee: 1 Ticket - If the Aid Station Captain declares their intent not to enter the run lottery, they can recommend to the Aid Station Coordinator or Run Director an outstanding volunteer from their aid station to receive their service ticket.
  • Trail Work (Both Days): 1 Ticket
  • Trail Work (Both Days) AND certified as a Trail Boss - 1 Additional Ticket to the Trail Work ticket
  • Course Marking and Clearing: Tickets are awarded by the Course Director to those volunteers who have most contributed. Not all course marking and clearing volunteers will receive a Service Ticket.

Perpetual tickets accumulate, do not expire, and can be used in more years than one. They can be earned by Hardrock volunteer work such as marking the course, working an aid station, helping at check-in, helping sell merchandise, and serving on the various Hardrock organizing committees. At least eight hours of volunteer work must be performed to have that year count. Pacing or crewing a runner DOES NOT count toward these tickets, nor does representing a vendor if you are employed by them. One ticket will be awarded for every five years of volunteer work:

  • 5-9 Years: 1 Ticket
  • 10-14 Years: 2 Tickets (and so on)

Additionally, Directors may nominate volunteers who have gone far above & beyond the call of duty for Service Ticket(s), subject to approval by the Hardrock Board.

Conduct of the Lottery

The number of tickets for each entrant is determined based on the data provided by the entrant during registration, but is verified against records maintained by the Hardrock Lottery Coordinator. The number of tickets for each entrant is posted on the Hardrock website before the lottery so that applicants can check their number of tickets.

The lottery is normally conducted at the beginning of December. Names are selected in each lottery until the entrant allocation for each gender is reached. Drawing will continue to establish the wait lists for each lottery and gender.

In addition to those selected via the lottery, the Hardrock Run Director may select some additional runners for entry. In 2024, six such runners will be selected, evenly split between men and women, from a slate of at least 12 applicants proposed by the RD and approved by the Hardrock Board of Directors. The intent of these picks is to correct perceived omissions in the lottery, such as a runner that has tried for many years to enter, who has given exceptional service to the HRH, or who the RD thinks will bring added interest to the run. All runners selected via this procedure must have entered the lottery and must also have qualified. The names of the six runners so chosen will be denoted in the lottery results released to the public. In the December 2, 2023 lottery for the 2024 Hardrock, the Special Consideration picks were Camille Bruyas, François D’Haene, Tara Dower, Katharina Hartmuth, Zach Miller, and Ludovic Pommeret.