Kissing the Hardrock with a second to go

Bogie Dumitrescu collapses after finishing the Hardrock 100 mile ultra race in a time of 47:59:59
Bogie Dumitrescu collapses after finishing the Hardrock 100 mile ultra race in a time of 47:59:59. Photo Mike Trappe

History repeated itself in another epic American 100 mile race this June. The Hardrock 100 and Western States 100 both boasted repeat winners in the men’s races, however it was not the winners, but the last runners in that grabbed the headlines.

Western States 100 had Gunhild Swanson, the 71-year-old who crossed the line with six seconds to spare to the 30-hour cut-off. Hardrock had Bogie Dumitrescu, who could not have cut it any finer with his 47:59:59 run.

The Hardrock is one of the hardest ultra trail runs to complete and gives runners a 48 hour cut-off time, longer than most 100-milers. The reason for this is that besides the 100 miles the runners cross in the San Juan mountains of Colorado, the course’s average elevation sits at 11,000 feet. Athletes also climb over 10km in vertical elevation, with the highest peak sitting at over 14,000 feet.

Bogie Dumitrescu became the 123rd runner to cross the line, but it was a tense finish as the crowds grew restless after runner 122 came in with six minutes to go. Minutes ticked by as people began to wonder if there was anyone left in range of the finish-line. The crowd’s question was soon answered as Bogie rounded the final corner in an awkward sprint towards the Rock. the Romanian-born runner collapsed in a heap onto the finishing rock, his lips making contact to signal the end of his race in an official time of 47:59:59 – a second off being disqualified.

In a post-race interview with the Denver Post Bogie said, “I couldn’t get up the hills without hyperventilating, but I could run downhill.” Uphill, he would walk or jog 30 steps, then wait 10 seconds to recover. He didn’t know whether he would miss the cut-off by 10 minutes, an hour or five hours. In the final stretch, his only worry was whether he’d pass out before reaching the finish line at Silverton High School.

“Because of this problem, I was running and holding my breath [at the end],” he said.

Dumitrescu waited six years to land a lottery spot in the run.

After starting Friday at 6am, runners traversed through snowstorms, rain, thunder, lightning, mud and ice to make it to the finish. The first to do so was trail running super-human Kilian Jornet who broke a second course record in two years. This time it was the counter-clockwise record in 23:28:10, despite getting lost in the snow.

Kilian Jornet looking comfortable halfway through the race
Kilian Jornet looking comfortable halfway through the race. Photo Mike Trappe

Jornet’s finish was far less dramatic compared to Bogie’s. The Spaniard strolled up past the fans lining the road as the sun was rising, bent down to kiss the rock and remarked how he took 10 minutes to watch the stunning sunset halfway through the race.

Not one for doing things by the book, Kilian used his time leading up to the race not to rest, but to break some more records.

With a week to go to Hardrock, most athletes would have been taking it easy and tapering, but Kilian was in Alaska breaking the record for Mount Marathon.

Mount Marathon is only a 5km race, however it has 1km of vertical elevation and Kilian completed it in a new record of 41 minutes, 48 seconds. He explained to “It’s fun. I don’t race because I need to. I race because I love it. It’s fun.

“This year, I haven’t raced before Mount Marathon. It was so cool to go there and discover the race and come here to Hardrock because it’s a fun race.

“You want to come here. You want to race. You want to stay with the people. It’s just because it’s cool.”

Anna Frost makes her way past Island lakes in the snow splashed mountains of San Juan. Photo Mike Trappe
Anna Frost makes her way past Island Lake in the snow splashed mountains of San Juan. Photo Mike Trappe

In the women’s race, Anna Frost had a tough battle against second-place Darcy Piceu as they exchanged the lead a couple of times. Frost led early on, but was closely followed by Darcy who overtook her during a tough middle bit. Anna kept insisting to her pacesetters that all she needed was a quick nap. But deep down, she knew if she went to sleep, her race would be finished. She called it the most difficult race of her career.

Frost spoke to the Denver Post after the race: “I actually thought, ‘OK, let’s just do this’ and just forget about the pain in your legs, and just go for it.

“You just get overridden by something. I don’t know what it is. But you see it all the time at the end of a race.

“It doesn’t come from your brain. Your brain doesn’t say it. But your body somehow does that. I somehow found that.”

Anna managed to pass Darcy near the 89th mile. Winning in a time of 28:22:50 and finished eighth overall.

In all, 123 of the 152 entered runners officially finished the race — three more crossed in the minutes and hours following the cutoff — for an astounding rate of nearly 79 percent. Historically, about 60 percent of runners finish.

100 Miles High – Darcy Piceu Africa and the 2013 Hardrock Ultra Marathon: A 10 minute video about 2015’s second-place women’s runner Darcy Piceu and her win at the 2013 edition of Hardrock 100

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