Aspen’s Mahon finishes 10th Hardrock, Carbondale’s Murphy is sixth overall
Jeason Murphy has spent a good amount of time trying to chase down Ted Mahon in the famed Hardrock 100 endurance race over the years. The only reason Murphy finally caught him was because he’s spent so much of that time studying Mahon’s technique.
“Ted is a legend at this race. His consistency is really, really remarkable,” Murphy said. “Typically at some point in the race he pulls away from me and I just never see him again.”
For Carbondale’s Murphy, the 2018 Hardrock, which got underway the morning of July 20, was his fourth finish in five starts, and by far his best result. He finished the 100.5-mile race sixth overall in 28 hours, 41 minutes, 50 seconds, more than two hours faster than his previous best time, which came a year ago when he finished 17th overall in 30:48:06.
Mahon, a well-known Aspen endurance athlete, was seventh in 2018 with a time of 29:26:51, which is pretty much on par with the majority of his times.
This year’s race was a milestone for the 45-year-old Mahon, as it was both his 10th start and 10th finish in what is one of the world’s most prestigious ultramarathons. That’s 1,000 miles of racing since taking his first Hardrock step in 2007, when he finished 14th.
“It is something I’m still kind of processing. It’s been a large chunk of my summers,” Mahon said. “I love it. But I also went into this thinking this is a nice round number and a good place to perhaps close a chapter of something that’s meant a lot to me and move onto something else.”
Held in the San Juans of southern Colorado with a start and finish in Silverton, the course includes 33,050 feet of climbing, with a descent to match. Runners compete at an average elevation of over 11,000 feet during the 30-plus hours they might be on course.
The race also is incredibly difficult to get into. As many as 2,000 people put their name into a lottery each year, with less than 200 getting to compete.
Utah’s Jeff Browning won this year’s race in 26:20:21. Steamboat’s Sabrina Stanley was the top woman, finishing 12th overall in 30:23:36.
“This race takes a lot of prep in advance and then quite a bit of recovery afterward,” Mahon said. “I definitely have figured out how I need to do this race … it’s not an easy thing to do. It took a lot of trial and error and testing out my limits and when can I push it and when do I need to slow down.”
One thing Mahon is most proud of over the years is his consistency, of which Murphy made an effort to point out. Mahon’s best race came in 2013, when he finished fifth overall in 28:19:27. Since then, he’s not wavered far from that mark and that’s largely because of his years of experience and developed game plan.
Murphy credited a lot of his success this year to having learned from Mahon.
“There is a pretty steep learning curve,” said Murphy, who had to drop out of his first Hardrock attempt in 2012. “He always goes out at a reasonable pace and just catches tons and tons of people toward the end. He doesn’t slow down as much as everyone else. Over the years I think I’ve learned from his example more than anyone. And I was actually able to pull it off this year.”
Murphy said he hopes to be back in 2019, and would love to get to 10 Hardrock races at some point. For Mahon, he doesn’t know what’s next, although the feeling is it won’t include Hardrock No. 11.
It’s a chapter of his life he’s ready to put to bed.
“What more am I going to do in more finishes? I’ve laid my story out there. Is it worth it to go back and shave 10 minutes off here and there? For me personally, I don’t need to do that,” Mahon said.
“I’ve got so much out of it and did everything I could and did the best that I could that it’s time to maybe free up a spot for someone else. There are a handful of people who went to 10 and just decided that was it and they took a step back. I’d rather close on that chapter.”
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Overall state champions in high school skiing are determined by combining results from Alpine and Nordic. Aspen swept both the boys and girls state titles in 2020, just as they did in 2018. The AHS boys also won the state title in 2019, while the girls finished as the state runner-up.