Over the weekend the Hardrock 100 ultramarathon wound its way through the mountains around Silverton, Colo. The men's winner set a course record. But more impressive or stupid or mind-boggling was that the third-place finisher, Adam Campbell of Canada, was struck by lightning. In the head. And then he kept running.
Competitor Magazine reported that Campbell and a pacer were caught in a thunderstorm beyond the 60-mile aid station as they approached highest point of the 100.5-mile course, 14,058-foot Handies Peak.
"There's nothing up there, no place to hide, no rocks, no trees, nothing," he said. "We really didn't have much of a choice. We wanted to get over the peak as soon as we could and get out of there."
As they crossed, the lightning struck, causing the two to dive for cover. Campbell said the bolt shorted out his headlamp, and his pacer felt the electricity on the back of his head. The two quickly regrouped and raced down.
Others in the 140-person field fared little better, though none were struck by lightning in their heads. One runner was treated for hypothermia, but most runners took shelter where they could find it. Eventual women's winner Darcy Piceu, who also crossed the peak during the storm, said she saw others cowering for cover as she ran past.
It's all part of the race's charm, which states clearly in its waiver:
I have also been advised that I may be exposed to physical injury from a number of natural factors, including snow on the course, lack of water, high water, lightning, mountain lions and bears, and to the hazards of vehicular traffic, and to those other hazards attendant upon running across or along roadways during the day or night including, among other things, the fact that I may become injured or incapacitated in a location where it is difficult or impossible for the event's management to get required medical aid to me in time to avoid physical injury or even death.
Campbell would finish in 25 hours, 56 minutes, and 36 seconds, around 49 minutes behind second place. "Wow, that was a hard race," he said. "That course is legit—even without the lightning."