After professional ultra-runner Sabrina Stanley won the 2018 Hardrock Hundred Endurance Run, she decided to move full time from Steamboat Springs to the Hardrock’s host town of Silverton.
The move came in April of 2019, and she set the goal of winning a second consecutive Hardrock 100, this time running in the opposite direction. But the 2019 Hardrock 100 was wiped out after a heavy winter left avalanche debris and high-water conditions along the course’s 100.5-mile route.
Disappointed, Stanley and her boyfriend and fellow runner Avery Collins decided to stay in Silverton past their original lease and have made it their home.
But it will bet yet another year before Stanley will get a chance to defend her Hardrock title, as the 2020 race was also canceled, this time because of the global coronavirus pandemic.
“It’s not even just that Hardrock is canceled. We had five international trips planned for this year,” Stanley said. “Now, we are down to possibly just one.”
The move to Silverton has been a bit of blessing for Stanley, though. The town of fewer than 700 people in San Juan County tucked into the heart of the southern San Juan Mountains went into a lockdown in an effort to keep COVID-19 from spreading to the town. Silverton still only has one confirmed case of COVID-19.
Stanley has been able to get out and enjoy running the mountains in relative solitude.
“I’m enjoying the mountains to myself and not stressing about getting to a race anytime soon,” she said. “Silverton, even though it’s been locked down to visitors, it’s such a small community that we were never forced to stay inside like a lot of the world. We feel blessed to be in Silverton. I know some athletes in Spain who were stuck inside for seven weeks and did not even walk outside. That blows my mind. Personally, I feel very fortunate we live where we live and it hasn’t affected us too severely.”
Collins and Stanley plan to go for a record attempt of the Nolan’s 14, a popular challenge in the running world that tackles 14 summits of Colorado’s famous fourteeners.
It is a challenge Courtney Dauwalter, the women’s Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc champion who was also supposed to race Hardrock in 2019 and 2020, also plans to take on. The woman from Golden has a Nolan’s 14 partner in Durango’s Maggie Guterl, last year’s Big’s Backyard Ultra winner after she ran 250 miles in the last-person standing event.
As for Stanley’s future living plans? She said she is happy to stay in Silverton as long as she can. At least until she gets another chance at Hardrock.
“Last year by late August and September, I feel like most of the course was open,” Stanley said of the avalanche debris conditions that canceled the 2019 July run. “The small sections I’ve been on this year, they’ve all been great.
“We absolutely love it in Silverton and would like to be here for awhile. It’s been difficult to shift focus a couple of times, but it’s a nice shift right now to be able to hangout in Silverton and not worry about traveling at all for awhile.”