One of my favorite things about racing is to put myself up against as many top level runners as possible. I like to challenge myself in this way and I like the bond that is created from sharing this type of experience with so many like minded people. Take this competitive aspect out of a race and there's not a lot left for me that I can't get from just going out and running the course on my own or with some friends.
I'm sure some of you are thinking that I'm just sour about this because I didn't get drawn into the race, but the truth is that had I been drawn in I'm not even sure I would opt to run. My plan all along has been to run either Western States or Hardrock, whichever one would have a more competitive field to race against. My hope was that by some miracle virtually all of the top runners got into Hardrock and then it would have been a no brainer to run Hardrock. If all things were equal (competition wise) I would have also opted for Hardrock because I prefer to run races that I haven't run before, and from everything I've heard the Hardrock course is beyond belief in challenge and beauty. But with the way the lottery turned out, even if I had been drawn into Hardrock I would have likely opted to tangle with Tony, Kilian, Sharman, Clark, and others at Western States instead of Hardrock (the competition on paper looks about equal at both, but I am pretty certain at least a couple of the top guys on the Hardrock list are likely to not run). That is to say that it would have been a tough call, but one that I don't need to worry about making.
The other thing that had crept into my mind a bit more in the past few days was the temptation to run them both (if I had the option). In some ways I'm kind of glad I don't have the option to do anything as stupid as running both of them.