Inspiration & Adventure

Decoding The Hardock 100 Lottery for 2021 & How to Increase Your Odds

Decoding The Hardock 100 Lottery for 2021 & How to Increase Your Odds


It’s been 2 years now since the last running of one of the most iconic races in ultra-running: The Hardock 100. Two years to build tension, and for the lucky 145 entrants, two years to prepare.

If you’re not familiar, The Hardrock 100 is a hundred-mile endurance run starting and ending in Silverton, Colorado. It’s famed for covering a monstrous 33,000 feet of vertical elevation gain and equal loss over brutally rugged and  jaw-droppingly beautiful terrain, all at high-altitude.

Hardrock 100 Elevation Profile

Since the first running 1992, the race has gained popularity each year, attracting international attention from trail running’s most elite athletes. The first race in 1992 started just 45 entrants, but by 2008 the 145 available slots were filled within minutes of opening. The race’s board of directors took note and devised a unique lottery system to ensure a fair entry that retained the spirit of the race going forward.

Sabrina Stanley Kissing The Rock

MUIR Athlete Sabrina Stanley kissing the rock - a finisher tradition - after her 1st Place Finish in the last Hardrock 100 in 2018. Photo: Tommy Danger @adudeandhiscamera 

How the Lottery Works

The lottery is divided into three groups: the First Timers, the Veterans, and Everyone Else. Each category has its own lottery, which is drawn based on the number of ‘tickets’ an applicant has. 

Unlike races that attract similar attention, Hardrock does not reserve an elite field.  Rather, only two spots are reserved for the previous year’s male and female winners, and up to five spots are reserved for the race director’s selections, aka “Dale’s Picks,” which usually go to either elite, applicants that have contributed significantly to the race, or applicants that may bring an interesting element to the race.

The Hardrock 100 Lottery


5-10 finishes

28 spots

Everyone Else

1-4 Finishes, DNF’s, etc.

62 spots

Never Finished

0 Finishes

65 spots

Most of the 2,000+ applicants are for the Never Finished category. This includes both applicants that have not been selected in the lottery
and anyone that was selected and either did not start or did not finish. So, thousands of people are vying for one of the 65 slots available. 

The race directors use an exponential algorithm to draw the Never Finished lottery based on an applicant’s number of tickets. The number of tickets an applicant has is based 1) the number of times they’ve applied and 2) service.

The purpose of this lottery style is to ensure preference to people that have sat out the longest. But here’s the catch: if you’re entering into the Never Finished lottery, your chances of getting in are also affected from year to year by how quickly the applicant pool grows.

Essentially, even though your number of tickets may increase exponentially each year, your odds don’t increase at the same rate. It’s even possible for your odds to not increase at all from one year to the next even if you accumulate more tickets, if the applicant pool increases quickly enough. But this is the case for everyone in the Never Finished lottery: your odds will always be greater than anyone with fewer tickets in the same lottery. 

That can feel deflating, but it’s actually still a good thing. The other option is to make the race invite-only, which The Hardrock 100 board of directors is committed to avoiding.

The other two lotteries - the Veterans and Everyone Else - are drawn from a basic, weighted pool. All lotteries have separate waitlists.

Why is the field so small at only 145 runners?

Because of permitting. The BLM and Forest service restrict the size of the race to protect the fragile landscape.

The race hasn’t run in 2 years. How has this affected the lottery?

The lotteries for the Veterans and the Everyone Else categories were re-drawn, while the Never Finished lottery was rolled over from 2019 to 2021.

For the 2022 Never Finished lottery, applicants will have had to complete a qualifying race either 2019, 2020, or 2021. So if you ran a qualifier in 2019, it was not in vain: you can still apply for 2022 Hardrock, but the pool will be enormous.

So if you want to get into Hardrock, what should you do?

1) Make sure you apply every year and 2) serve the race.

Service that can earn you one extra ticket for the following year includes:

  1. Aid station Captain
  2. Each 5 years of general volunteering
  3. Sweeping the course
  4. Official Trail Work Days

Service tickets do expire; they’re only applied to the next year’s lottery. 

To get a better perspective on getting involved with the course, I spoke with Brett Gosney, the long-time Treasurer for the race and also the new Course Director.

Meet Brett Gosney: The Hardrock 100 Course Director & Treasurer

Brett’s been intertwined with the history of The Hardrock 100 since 1998, supporting the race in some capacity each year since then and has started the race ten times. He’s been involved in trail crews since the early days, and now wears the cap of both Treasurer and - new to him this year - Course Director. 

Brett and his wife, Missy, near the end of completing the Tor des Geants in 2013, a monstrous 205-mile, 5 day race in The Alps. Photo: Brendan Trimboli.

As Course Director, Brett’s job is to make sure the course is clear, safe, marked, and everything runs smoothly on race day. This role is part of the Run Committee, which can be described as the ‘feet-on-the-ground’ teams, while Hardrock’s Board of Directors deals with strategic decision making, corporate partnerships, and international runners.  

The Hardrock course is especially complex, and requires a lot of effort and organization from Brett. In fact, he started scouting the course last December for damage from the Ice Lake fires from 2020.

Leading up to the race, Brett will participate in and organize crews that will work to clear the course. He said he’s started clearing the course since early June this year, which involves clearing fallen trees and debris from rock and snow slides.

The Hardrock 100 encourages trailwork in two ways: 1) requiring service from all entrants before starting the race and 2) awarding an extra lottery ticket for trail work on the course to non-entrants.

View from descending the highest peak on the course, Handie’s

View from descending the highest peak on the course, Handie’s, 14,065’. Photo: G. Danielson

“The forest service budget is just getting gutted every year. They just don’t have the money,” Brett says. In 2014, the board decided to make trail work a requirement, a trend that’s becoming more and more common for races. Encouraging people to help support their community and the environment that they participate in makes a huge difference to the preservation of the land.

You can earn an extra ticket by participating in both of the Hardrock Trail Work Days on July 10-11, 2021. Please note, you must participate in both 8-hour days to earn an extra ticket. This will be the most efficient way to earn a service ticket, as sweeping and becoming an aid station captain are more lucrative volunteer positions.

Final Thoughts

Even though it’s becoming more and more difficult to get into the Hardrock 100, the race directors stand firm on keeping it a lottery and not an invite-only race, like The Barkley Marathons or The Badwater 135.

The best thing you can do to increase your odds is give back to the race and make sure you apply every year.

The 2021 Hardrock 100 will start at 6am on July 16th.

MUIR Energy is extremely proud to support the 2018 defending champions Sabrina Stanley @sabrinastanley and Jeff Browning @broncobilly as they race this year.

Stay tuned for more Hardrock 100 updates and information. We’ll be going LIVE on Instagram @muirenergy during race weekend to bring you coverage from the race!