Over the past few years, Jared Hazen has established himself as one of the top young ultrarunners in the U.S. The 20-year-old Colorado Springs-based runner has done it with plenty of hard work, ambition and, of course, sometimes a rather unconventional approach to everything.
On Jan. 24, he put one of his silver sub-24-hour Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run finisher buckles up for sale on eBay. Bidding started at $100 and a week later when bidding ended on Jan. 31, the highest bid that claimed the buckle put $519.09 in Hazen’s pocket. Hazen says he knows who bought the buckle but the new owner wants to keep it confidential because he’s giving it to a friend who had previously given away his own finisher’s buckle.
While that has rubbed plenty of ultrarunners the wrong way, beauty is in the eyes of the beholder and Hazen admits he’s not attached to inanimate objects.
Hazen has always blazed his own trail. As a senior in high school in the spring of 2012, the native of Titusville, Pa., took the bold step of putting off college to focus on his upstart ultrarunning career and later that summer placed second in his first 50-mile run. Immediately after graduating from high school, he moved to Jackson, Wyo., to focus on training while working as a housekeeper at Grand Teton National Park. The follow year, when he was still just 18, he won Pennsylvania’s Oil Creek 100 in 19 hours, 28 minutes and 8 seconds.
In 2004, after moving to Colorado Springs, he placed 14th in the Western States 100 (17:29:59) and placed in the top three of several other ultra-distance races throughout the West. Last year, he recorded third-place showings in three of the country’s most competitive ultra races: the Bandera 100K (8:47:55) in January, the Lake Sonoma 50-miler (6:31:54) in April and the Western States 100 (15:37:31) in June. He also placed sixth at the Pikes Peak Marathon (4:15:15).
Hazen, who works part-time at a running shop, says he doesn’t need money, or at least that’s not why he sold the buckle. He’s not independently wealthy, but he says he isn’t attached to the buckle that was otherwise just stashed in a drawer.
“Selling the buckle is partly a joke. I’m really curious to see if anyone will pay 100 bucks for it. It’s been sitting in its box ever since I got it and it doesn’t mean anything to me, besides I’ve got another one!” Hazen said in a Facebook post on Jan. 24. “That being said I hope it sells. I don’t see what’s so important about a belt buckle. Who knows, someone else may appreciate it more than me. Plus, who doesn’t want an extra hundred bucks!”
Selling off race medals earned through hard-to-enter races is not a new trend. Dozens of Boston Marathon finisher medals have popped up on various auction sites in recent years. As of this week, someone has put a finisher’s medal from the 100th anniversary Boston Marathon in 1996 on eBay with a starting bid of $199.
The Western States buckle Hazen sold was reportedly the one from his 14th-place finish in 2014. The sub-24-hour buckles are worth about $375, according to a story in the Sacramento Bee newspaper.
Understandably, Hazen received his fair share of abuse on social media—many who thought Hazen’s intention to sell his buckles was an insult to the thousands of ultrarunners who hope to one day earn one—as well as plenty of people who were concerned that Hazen was in dire straits and needed money.
“I appreciate the concern guys, buts its staying up until it (hopefully) sells,” he wrote. “I don’t need the 100 bucks. The way I look at it, once you earn the buckle its yours to do what you want with it.”
Although a handful of Facebook posters applauded his efforts, many thought his attitude was a bit nonchalant. In his blog post from Jan. 31, Scott Dunlap estimates the value is only about $110, after you subtract the $410 entry fee Hazen paid and worth much less than the $519 the winning eBay bidder paid for it.
“What we are really talking about is the price of a ‘unearned’ buckle, the equivalent of a Louis Vuitton replica handbag. It denies all the emotional value of pursuing and finishing the challenge for which it was forged, similar to how a knock off does not achieve the satisfaction of being so wealthy you can disconnect from reality and spend ten grand on a fucking handbag,” Dunlap wrote. “Owning an unearned buckle might SAY what you want, but it actually MEANS nothing. What Jared has actually shown us is little more than the value of hubris. Turns out, it’s not worth much at all.”