Introduction by Diane Frederic:
Talk about habit-forming… DPMR founding member Betsy Nye has finished the Hardrock 100 race an audacious seventeen times! Renee recently interviewed Betsy to find out what’s behind all those summer trips to the San Juan mountains in Colorado and just exactly what keeps Betsy coming back year after year. Read on and be inspired!
Congratulations on finishing your 17th Hardrock 100 mile Endurance Run! What has driven you to participate in the race so many times?
- I fell in love with the race and the San Juan mountains at my first Hardrock (HR) in 1999. Driving up and over Red Mountain pass was life changing. It is so beautiful!
You’ve been running Hardrock almost since the race was created (the first Hardrock was in 1992). How did you first get into running 100-milers and how did you learn about the race?
- Laura DesLauriers was the first woman doing ultras when I first moved to Tahoe City in 1989. She was training for Western States 100. I thought at the time she was crazy to want to run 100 miles… thinking, “this cannot be good for you.” Seven years later my boyfriend at the time, Rober Kronkyhte, said to me “you have to check out this race out (the WS). What these people go through is life changing.” I started running and wanted to check out pacing. I was lucky to pace Chris Lubericki on his first 100-miler, the Wasatch 100, in 1997. I ran 32 miles with him and enjoyed it so much I found another runner to pace and ended up totaling 62 miles! A week later I signed up for the Wasatch 100 in Utah. I grew up hiking and climbing in the Cascade mountains with my Dad. I have always had good endurance, and a love for the outdoors.
How has the sport changed over the years?
- Ultra running has taken off over the past 12 years. The popularity is growing and with that it has changed the sport for good and bad. For the good- there are so many new races to choose from. There is better nutrition, coaches, and a lot of great talented athletes that are breaking records every year. On the flip side it was way more of a relaxed atmosphere 20 years ago. There was no Stava, Facebook or Ultrasignup. No waitlists or lotteries. Races were low key and very simple; now it is crazy how much hype and seriousness is with the sport. I enjoyed races more when it was low key.
There were not as many female ultra runners 20 years ago… Have you ever felt it challenging to get into the sport and gain acceptance as a woman?
- I have not found it challenging as a female for me. I think that it’s great that more women are running ultras.
There has been an increase in awareness around female participation in ultra’s lately, prompted by people such as Darcy Piceu and Gina Lucrezi working under Trailsisters.net. Do you agree that race directors should be proactively providing: equal podium spots; equal prize money and awards; women’s-specific swag (not just unisex); menstrual products at aid stations; and/or opportunities for women at the front of the starting line?
- I hope that the race directors provide equality for women.
I heard you were able to finish with your husband Paul (who has completed 9 Hardrocks), and daughter Lizzy. It must be great to share that experience with your family! Can you tell us more about that?
- I met Paul through running. We have run four 100-mile races together from start to finish. Its great to have the same goals and train together. When Lizzy was younger it was more challenging to find the time to train. We were taking turns. Now that she is older we train together more often. Lizzy is a dancer. Just this year she ran the last 3 miles with us to the finish. But said she wants to pace me next year (if I get in) for the last 10 miles.
I get excited whenever my son (who just turned 4) shows an interest in running and I fantasize about future running adventures together. How did Lizzy’s interest in running evolve? Have you played a proactive role in her running? Does she run with you now?
- Actually Lizzy doesn’t run. She is a serious dancer and dances 5 days a week, 4 hours a day. I believe every person has their own love and passion for whatever sport they want to do. Lizzy and I trekked in Nepal in 2017 when she was 12 and we made it to Everest Base Camp. She loves backpacking too and just recently is getting into rock climbing. This year at Hardrock she was blown away by the San Juan mountains; saying that when she was little she never noticed the mountains and now she looks up.
What was the hardest part of the race for you this year?
- I ran out of gas leaving Telluride and I was a little ahead of Paul because he had a moment of stomach issues. It was difficult to go on, wondering if he was okay. But he caught up to me and we ran the rest of the way together to the finish. Running 100 miles is like life. You have your ups and downs but you make it to the finish.
What was the most memorable?
- This year was so much fun! I was so lucky to have my best friends Lesley and Diane and Lizzy pace me, and Lesley and Diane’s husbands crewing me. Crossing the river at mile 97, I asked Lizzy what time it was. I don’t wear a watch. She said 9pm. Breaking 40 hours was Paul’s goal; I didn’t care, I just wanted to finish. So we all ran the final 3 in together and we picked up the pace.
What is your favorite part of the race?
- I don’t have a favorite part! It’s the whole race that I love.
Hardrock has quite the reputation… Some might consider it the hardest 100-mile race in the country. It boasts 66,050 feet total elevation change at an elevation up to 14,048 feet (the summit of Handies Peak), extremely rugged terrain, exposure due to steep drop-offs, and remoteness. How do you approach and embrace those challenges, mentally and physically?
- One aid station at a time.
What would you suggest to anyone considering running Hardrock?
- Enjoy every second! It’s so beautiful!!
What 100-miler would you suggest to a first-timer?
- Wasatch 100- that was my first. But it all depends on the person and what they like: flat course, mountain course, heat, cold etc. Any 100-mile race will have its ups and downs both with altitude and attitude.