Rocky terrain and thousands of feet of elevation were the least of Adam Campbell’s worries Friday evening.
His biggest concern lingered on a passing thunderstorm, and more specifically, the thick sheets of lightning falling between him and the finish line of the Hardrock 100 ultra distance trail run in Silverton, Colorado.
Brian Metzler of Competitor.com reports that the 35-year-old ultra distance runner and his pacer, Aaron Heidt, were struck by lightning as the two crossed the highest point of the course—the summit of 14,058-foot Handies Peak.
According to Metzler, the two men had just passed through the 60-mile aid station near Animas Forks when the storm began to threaten. The two assessed the situation and decided to make a run for it.
“There’s nothing up there, no place to hide, no rocks, no trees, nothing,” Campbell told Metzler. “We really didn’t have much of a choice. We wanted to get over the peak as soon as we could and get out of there.”
Another sheet of lightning fell on the exposed peak as the men attempted to cross. The blast sent them to the ground and took out Campbell’s headlamp, but otherwise left both men unharmed. Campbell carried on, finishing the rest of what Metzler writes is one of the hardest trail races in America:
With an average elevation over 11,000 feet and a high point of 14,000 feet, Hardrock is considered the most challenging trail running race in the U.S., one that compares favorably with some of the world’s most grueling races. The course is a 100.5-mile loop that links four historic Colorado mining towns (Silverton, Telluride, Ouray and Lake City) and numerous backcountry mountain peaks and passes. It has a cumulative vertical gain of 33,992 feet of climbing and 33,992 feet of descending for a total elevation change of 67,984 feet.
Campbell, a Calgary-based attorney, crossed the finish line with a time of 25 hours, 56 minutes and 46 seconds. His performance earned him a third-place finish and a beer, the latter of which he sipped and poured on his head.
“Wow, that was a hard race,” Campbell said. “That course is legit—even without the lightning.”
Understatement of the year? Probably.
Distance runners have a reputation for modesty, but Campbell might’ve broken the mold with his cool. Never have the words “We got struck by lightning” been said more matter-of-factly.
Just another day running hundreds of miles in the mountains, I guess.