SILVERTON – France’s Xavier Thévenard took off from the front of the pack to start the Hardrock Hundred Endurance Run, and he has built a large lead with less than 30 miles left to race under the stars in Southwest Colorado.
Shortly after 10 p.m. Friday, Thévenard arrived at the Sherman aid station at 71.9 miles into the 100.5-mile ultramarathon through the rugged San Juan Mountains. The race began at 6 a.m. Friday in front of the Silverton Gymnasium. Thévenard quickly built a lead and arrived at the Telluride aid station at the 27.8-mile mark in 5 hours, 41 minutes, and he already had a 40-minute lead on Durango’s Brendan Trimboli and Oregon’s Jeff Browning.
Thévenard reached Ouray, 43.9 miles into the race, with 8:48 elapsed. He was 56 minutes ahead of Browning and 62 minutes ahead of Trimboli.
Thévenard, 30, was runner-up to co-champions Kilian Jornet and Jason Schlarb in 2016, as he broke the 24-hour mark. He entered this year as the strong favorite and showed why with his early form.
The women’s race is hotly contested between 28-year-old Sabrina Stanley of Steamboat Springs, 45-year-old Darla Askew of Oregon and 47-year-old Nikki Kimball of Bozeman, Montana.
Shortly after 10:20 p.m. Friday, Stanley arrived at the Grouse Gulch aid station at 58.4 miles with 16:18 elapsed. After 52 miles, Stanley had built a lead of an hour on Kimball but only 34 minutes on Askew, a five-time Hardrock finisher who has never placed worse than sixth.
Stanley was first into Telluride after 7:27 elapsed. Kimball was only eight minutes behind her. Askew was the third woman into Telluride, 22 minutes back of Stanley.
Early in the race, Thévenard was running a record pace, but he fell off that pace during the climb into Kroger’s Canteen aid station after Telluride.
For more updates on the Hardrock 100, keep following www.durangoherald.com and follow John Livingston on Twitter @jlivi2.