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Administrator Wednesday, 23 April 2014 00:00 TWEET COMMENTS 2

Hungry for Good Stories? Try Some DIRT. - Page 2

My Summer at Camp Hardrock
A Northwesterner wrangles her 1975 vintage motor home to Silverton, Colorado, to join the Hardrock 100's eclectic tribe

By Jennifer Hughes

Photo by David Clifford

A week had passed since my first visit to the Avon Hotel and I knew it was time to try again. I took a deep breath and poked my head in, expecting the same uninterested reception as on my first attempt. But, this time, I found three shirtless guys, still sweaty and grinning from their afternoon adventure. Two were teenagers and talking to each other, while the eldest welcomed me with a hearty southern, “Hey, there!” and launched right into a recap of how fast and proficiently his sons had run the Kamm Traverse section of the Hardrock course in training for their upcoming pacing gig of Dad. His enthusiasm and fatherly pride were infectious, and I knew I’d found a friend at the Avon. We made our introductions and Billy Simpson, 58 from Memphis, invited me to chat on the porch upstairs.

Perched above town with a view of Anvil Mountain in the distance, the back deck is a haven, removed from worldly concerns, where time slows. Mismatched pop-up camp chairs were strewn about and we grabbed two, sank in and began to talk.

I discovered this year would be Billy’s eighth running of Hardrock. Each summer he comes out three weeks early, sleeping in his truck for 10 days before moving into the Avon.

“What is it about Hardrock?” I asked him. “What is it that gets in your blood and brings you back every year?”

“It’s the mountains, it’s the people, it’s the yin and yang of beauty and pain. After other races, it’s like going from Bud Light to heroin.”

I snorted with laughter.

“This race is old school, and [the organizers] are very careful to guard that,” he went on. “They don’t want this to become ‘Silverton Salomon.’ There are no helicopters here. These people show up in their Hokas and calf sleeves and the old guys say, this is not Leadville, this is our race. It’s the triathlonification of ultrarunning out there, but it ain’t gonna happen here. Silverton is just a dirt-road town. It’s not perfect but it’s pure and we come here to be free.”


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