Two-time defending Hardrock Hundred Mile Endurance Run champion Kilian Jornet ran with two other men for half of this year’s race before established a solo lead. Only 6 miles later, that lead was gone.
Spain’s Jornet, 28, reached Engineer Pass 52 miles into the race in 10 hours, 45 minutes. France’s Xavier Thevenard and Jornet ran together from Ouray to Bear Creek at mile 47 before Jornet began to build a gap. By Engineer Pass, his lead was 12 minutes.
But Thevenard and Durango’s Jason Schlarb closed the gap back down and joined Jornet at Grouse Gulch with 41.6 miles left to run. They reached Grouse Gulch in 12 hours, 4 minutes.
Jornet left the aid station first. Thevenard was 1-minute behind, and Schlarb stayed back an extra 4 minutes. Those three men are now facing the climb up 14,048-foot Handies Peak, hoping to tackle most of it before dark.
Those three men have a sizeable lead on fourth place Jeff Browning, who was 78 minutes back at Engineer Pass.
Defending women’s champion Anna Frost, a native of New Zealand who now calls Durango home, was the first woman into Ouray and was 29 minutes ahead of Spain’s Emma Roca. Frost left Ouray with 10 hours, 16 minutes elapsed, while Roca checked in at 10:41.
Heat was a big issue for runners all day. Temperatures reached as high as 83 degrees.
Runners are competing at an average elevation of more than 11,000 feet with 13 passes of more than 12,000 feet to climb. Later Friday night, the majority of runners will climb Handies Peak.
The race starts and finishes in Silverton. This year’s clockwise version of the course is taking runners from Silverton to Telluride, Ouray, Lake City and back to Silverton.
Jornet finished the route in 22 hours, 41 minutes in 2014, and this year’s winner is again likely to finish before 5 a.m. Saturday with less snow on the course this year.
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