In 1992 the mines outside of Silverton, Colorado closed, and with them a way of life for many people who call the small mountain town, home. It didn’t look like the mines would open again either, and so a new way to stimulate the local economy needed to be created. Out of the mines failing arose the Hardrock Hundred Endurance Run, one of the most challenging and iconic mountain ultras in the world.
“The mines closed in ’92. Part of it was to do something that was very, very difficult and very, very scenic, but part of the purpose, also, was to bring some people to the town after the mines closed. It looked like Silverton might just turn into a ghost town at that point,” noted Blake Wood, former President of the Hardrock Board of Directors and 19-time finisher. Silverton did not turn into a ghost town, and now both summers and winters in the small town nestled high in the San Juan Mountains are filled with tourists and athletes looking to experience some of the best skiing, hiking, and trail running in the United States. For many, the Hardrock Hundred is the highlight of the summer and is more a community and family affair then an incredibly difficult race with elite runners pushing their limits.
On March 24th, Producer and Director Matt Trappe, in association with Louder Than 11, released “Kissing the Rock” to a packed house at Flatirons Running in Boulder, Colorado. The short film – just over 21 minutes long – showcases the beauty, difficulty, and camaraderie associated with the run. Focusing on three main characters; 10-time finisher Billy Simpson, 2015 women’s winner Anna Frost, and 8-time finisher and 75-year-old Hans Dieter-Weisshaar, the movie beautifully captures the essence of Hardrock.
“Ah, man, it feeds my soul. That’s what it does. It has changed the direction and the course of the way I live my life to such a degree that it is home.”
Billy Simpson simply states from his camper set up just outside of town prior to the run.
And feeding the soul is exactly what the movie does. In association with Louder than 11, Matt Trappe employed four different cameras on the course to capture the highs and the lows, the extreme beauty of the course and the fierce weather that can roll into the San Juans in July.
“It’s not only for the running that we are coming. You know in other 100-mile races we pay, we prepare, but it’s totally different from Hardrock,” notes Hans in his thick accent during the movie. At Hardrock it is not just about the race – it is about the gathering of the tribe; people who love the mountains come to Hardrock each July to catch up, swap stories, and enjoy a few days in the heart of the San Juans with like-minded folks. 2015 women’s winner Anna Frost states the nature of Hardrock simply in the movie, “For me to come here, I feel like an absolute novice. I’m totally scared. I’ve no idea of what I’m getting myself into, and you’re surrounded by all these people that have been here for so many years that are like,
“Well, you just get it done. You’ve got 48 hours. You’re going for a long walk. Just get around it.” Despite the movie only lasting for just over twenty minutes, the rich narratives, stunning cinematography, and high-quality production enthrall the viewer the entire time, making for a visually rich experience. No single movie can ever capture the total Hardrock experience, but “Kissing the Rock” is one of the best thus far that has encapsulated what makes Hardrock so special. Beautifully shot, well edited, and with a deep understanding of the event, Matt Trappe has produced a film that will resonate with any person who loves the mountains – for a Hardrock fan, it is a must see.
Video preview of Kissing The Rock – The Hardrock Hundred Endurance Run
Images from Kissing The Rock – The Hardrock Hundred Endurance Run
Film Images © Matt Trappe Photo & Film | Archival images © San Juan County Historical Society