Chris Price has been a Team Fluid Athlete for a long time now. It's been fun and rewarding to see him grow and evolve as a runner. This summer, Chris placed 4th in one of the most difficult and hotly contested 100 milers in the world. He finished in 26 hours, 51 minutes and 13 seconds in a race with a 48-hour time limit. With 33,992 feet of climbing, an equal amount of descent, and an average elevation of over 11,000 feet, Hardrock circles the San Juan Mountains of Colorado in a massive 100-mile loop, starting and ending in the small town of Silverton. We recently caught up with Chris to get his perspective on the race, how he prepared, and what life is like as a top ultrarunner. Here is the exclusive interview:
Fluid: You won the lottery for both the Western States 100 and the Hardrock 100 this year. What made you choose Hardrock?
Chris Price: It wasn't an easy decision. I got selected via lottery to run [Western] States first. I got super excited and started planning for it. Then a week or so later I was selected via lottery for Hardrock. A lot of people said that I should run both, and part of me really wanted to, but what it boiled down to was my appreciation for the big, beautiful San Juan Mountains where Hardrock is held. I volunteered at the race last year and that area is the most beautiful land I've set foot on. I also enjoy and perform better at slower races, meaning more technical and mountainous versus flatter, faster courses. Since Hardrock was 13 days after Western States, I knew I couldn't run States and expect my best performance at Hardrock less than two weeks later. So I chose to enter Hardrock and Hardrock alone. Sure, States is more competitive and is "the big dance," but I wouldn't trade my experience at Hardrock for anything.
Hardrock is one of the toughest mountain 100 milers in the world. What were you feeling at the start line?
I was stoked to be standing around a bunch of athletes that I look up to like Karl Meltzer, Diana Finkel, Joe Grant, Seb Chaigneau and Scott Jaime, among many others. I haven't ever run for any amount of time over 19 hours, and I knew I'd be out there for 26+ hours, so I was headed toward the unknown and was nervous and excited to see how my body would tolerate it. Above all else, I was thrilled that I was healthy enough to be toeing the line, and that my wife, parents and close friends were there to crew and pace me.
Hardrock is also known for its terrible weather. Did things get crazy out there? Any lightning?
I lucked out. I heard that some people got stuck in lightning storms going over 14,000-foot Handie's Peak. I never ran too close to lightning, and didn't get rained on too bad. I actually found it sunny and hot during the first day. When the sun set and it started raining on me as I climbed out of Telluride it felt great! There was hardly any snow on the course this year either.
What was the toughest part of the event? The most memorable?
Toughest: From miles 30 to 70 I was nauseous. It got hot and humid leaving Ouray and I ended up puking up more food and liquid than I ever have before. I felt much better afterward though!
Most Memorable: The whole course is so stunning that it feels like you're in a dream. It's all so visually stimulating. But, it was especially memorable hiking up to Oscar's Pass in the dark, with big sets of eyes peering down on me from the mountain above, glowing in the light from my headlamp. Not sure if they belonged to deer, elk, mountain lions, moose, or what, but they were big. Seeing a small heard of elk close-up in the early morning on the 2nd day was pretty cool too.
What was your strategy for nutrition and hydration? Did it work?
I had 2 bottles on my pack. One was filled with water and the other with Fluid Performance, the Fresh Citrus flavor. I love it's smooth, mild flavor, not too sweet or too tart, very refreshing. I ate some bars, gels and a lot of bananas and watermelon at aid stations. About every 20 miles I drank a bottle of Chocolate Fluid Recovery. The protein in the recovery seems very beneficial when running 100 miles. It worked well for me at Angeles Crest 100 last year, and worked well at Hardrock this year. And it's absolutely delicious.
Your training obviously paid off. What did you do to prepare?
I spent a lot of weekends sneaking up to the high Sierra with friends. I frequented a local spot, Mt. Baldy, which is 10,000 feet high. My good friend, Mike Chamoun, and I backpacked the 210-mile John Muir Trail in one week in June. For the most part I just tried to get out on the steepest and highest trails I could find.
You're not a professional runner. What do you do for work?
I'm a Registered Nurse in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) at Children's Hospital Los Angeles. I love it :)
Is it tough balancing training with work and family?
Oh yeah. I'm lucky that my wife is understanding, and that she likes the outdoors. We recently started backpacking and she loves it! We're getting ready to hike up to Mt. Whitney tomorrow and camp somewhere around there. My work is very flexible with scheduling, which makes it easier to go to the races that we want to go to.
Now that that's over, what's next?
After watching crazy fast road runners like Max King and Sage Canaday burst into the ultra scene I've decided to sign up for a road marathon to see if a little speedwork can't help me reach another level of performance. I've got my eyes on a handful of upcoming ultras as well. And I'm going to throw my name in the hat to run Hardrock again, of course. I'm excited for the snow to fly so that I can throw on the microspikes and run around in the white stuff soon. Maybe I'll strap on the old skis this winter too.
Follow Chris' ultrarunning and other pursuits on his blog: http://ultrarunnerrn.blogspot.com.