Day 14 Saturday 4th July.
Independence day is always a rest day from marking. There is a 10km fun run in the morning if you are so inclined. After coughing up half a lung for 2 days after last years 10km I abstained this year and went along to watch instead. It was won this year by Nick Coury who finished 5th at Hardrock last year and will pace his brother Jamil this year after missing out in the lottery.
July 4th has to be seen to be believed in Silverton. The regular population of around 500 swells to over 25,000! Being one not totally enamoured with crowds it does get a bit overwhelming. Part of Hardrock tradition includes being part of the parade. This involves 'marching' behind the Hardrock finishers banner, waving Hardrock flags and throwing 'candy' to the millions of kids that line the streets. I use the term 'marching' loosely. In fact we 'run' short intervals, including simulated switchbacks in and out of the other floats, as we make total idiots of ourselves. If people didn't think we were crazy for running Hardrock before the parade, they had no doubt after it.
That evening many runners gathered outside Charlie's house to watch the fireworks. Now I'm not a big fan of fireworks but the 1/2 hour display was pretty impressive, being widely renowned and the main draw card for the huge crowd. The natural amphitheatre created by the surrounding mountains amplifies and echoes the effects. The explosions were so loud my ears hurt and car alarms were going off with the reverberations.
And if that show didn't entertain you, the view from my motel balcony afterwards showed most of the 25,000 trying to leave town by the one and only exit road. Headlights were nearly motionless all the way up the nearby mountain pass for hours.
Much needed rest day, despite all the fuss.