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Faculty Spotlight: Ben Wyrick

Alexandra Molloy
The thing we love most about our faculty members is that they are not just classroom teachers. They bring vast life experience, passions and hobbies they can share with not only our students, but also our whole community. Art teacher Ben Wyrick recently shared his passion for long-distance running combined with his skills in filmmaking in a documentary style film featuring the Hardrock 100, a one hundred mile endurance run.
The Hardrock 100 is the ultimate ultra-marathon. At 100.5 miles in length, with 33,000 feet of climb and an average elevation of 11,000 feet it follows the rugged terrain of the San Juan Mountains in Colorado, winding through mountain passes with extreme altitude changes. The running field is limited to 140 qualifying runners who are selected using a highly mathematic weighted lottery. To qualify you must have finished the Hardrock 100 previously or run one of the qualifying ultra-marathons in the previous 3 years.

Some entrants wait years to be awarded a spot in one of the most rugged ultra-marathons due to the nature of the lottery. Wyrick got his first chance at the Hardrock 100 in 2016. When looking back on his race, he says “I was somewhat unprepared and inexperienced in the management aspect of running this distance. I should have taken it slower the first 50 miles, instead I went harder than I should have and, as a result, was much slower than I anticipated.” Wyrick finished his first Hardrock 100 with a time of 41 hours and three minutes, just seven hours shy of the 48 hour cutoff. (The average time required to finish is 41:10:15)

Wyrick has a second chance to complete the Hardrock 100 this summer and has an improved plan to tackle it with advice he received from fellow Hardrock runners. He hopes to run at a comfortable pace for the first 50 miles and eat a lot of food at the halfway mark in hopes of making the second 50 go smoother than his first attempt. Many of the other runners say to eat “when you’re low”, as the 50 mile mark is not only halfway but is one of the lowest sections of the course in elevation. Your body processes nutrients faster and easier at lower elevations because there is less strain on accommodating the lower oxygen levels at higher elevations.

He starting running ultras in 2009 and has been hooked ever since. The runners who participate in ultra-running have formed a supportive community with each other. The Hardrock 100 is not just about completing one hundred miles, it’s about coming together and being surrounded by others who share your passion.

Wyrick said about the Hardrock, “Should you find yourself in the area during the running, even if you aren’t a runner, you should attend. The race volunteers and runners are so friendly and welcoming it’s impossible not to enjoy it. And it’s gorgeous.”

Watch Wyrick’s documentary of the Hardrock 100 below.

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