Darla Askew Post-2013 Hardrock 100 Interview
In 2012, Oregon’s Darla Askew finished third at the Hardrock 100. This year, she returned and one upped that performance. In the following interview, Darla talks about how her race went this year, how she stays so positive during a race as daunting as Hardrock, and why she’ll be racing the Angeles Crest 100 in just a couple weeks.
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Darla Askew Pre-2013 Hardrock 100 Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here hanging against The Hardrock with Darla Askew. You were thirdlast year at Hardrock, secondat Hardrock this year. What do you have planned for next year?
Darla Askew: For next year, well, I had told many people that since I have done it both directions that I can mark it off my bucket list. But it’s one of those events that it’s hard to mark off the bucket list because it’s an adventure. You don’t toe the line thinking it’s a race. You’re out there in the mountains amongst the most gorgeous wildflowers that you’ll ever see with the most wonderful people that there are. So, I don’t know. Hardrock—maybe—at least I’ll put my application in.
iRF: You still only have a 1/5 or 1/10 chance of getting in.
Askew: There you go. There you go.
iRF: What was your adventure like this year?
Askew: It was great. I felt really good. I usually struggle with knee issues, and this year I felt strong. My knees felt really great. I was able to run downhill. Running down Handies to me was just euphoria.
Askew: Yeah, I ran down a mountain? Who does that? Well, I don’t. So that felt great. I think my only issue is that I had a little bit of a dehydration issue towards the end. I think just having the pacers that I did—my husband helped me with the first 30 miles from Grouse to Telluride. He kept me eating. Then Sean (Meissner) is one of those great pacers. I could put him in front of me and he will set the tone of what I need to do. So those two coupled together were perfect. I couldn’t have asked for better pacers.
iRF: You’re out there to enjoy the experience and it’s an adventure and maybe you don’t focus on being in a race, but you were in thirdfor most of the day and not that far behind Darcy (Africa) through much of the day.
Askew: I didn’t know that until later, and I was like, “Really? Wow, okay.”
iRF: When you found that out, does racing cross your mind?
Askew: At that point, I think when I learned that she was just ahead of me was at Chapman, but I also know what’s ahead. That’s a long stretch of hard miles. She knows this course. She is solid, solid. No, I knew that wasn’t even anything that would come to fruition. I was super psyched with my time. My goal was—I had actually used Krissy Moehl’s splits from 2009, I think it was—not to say that I knew that I could get hers because she had the course record that year—it was just so that I could give my crew some feedback so they would know when they could kind of expect me within an hour-plus. So, I also told my crew was that my goal was between 31 and 32 hours. 31:09—I couldn’t ask for anything better. That’s what it was all about. I didn’t care about my place, it was about my time.
iRF: And how much faster was it than last year?
Askew: Two hours and 43 minutes.
iRF: That’s quite an improvement and in what is commonly thought of as the harder direction.
Askew: I feel like it was the harder direction because your climbs are later and I think that’s what takes its toll. I really think so. Yeah, to do it in both directions feels pretty exceptional.
iRF: Did you encounter much weather out there?
Askew: No, well it rained a lot which kind of makes the rocks a little slippy, but it kind of adds to the adventure. There’s always something. There’s thunder, lightning, hail… you know how it is out here.
iRF: So you had some weather.
Askew: Some weather. I think actually the rain was nice like coming off of a pass, for example, it kept some of that ball bearing under your feet at bay. Then even going up Grant-Swamp, we were able to actually… I did it on all fours… some people did it like just kind of stepped… I virtually climbed up Grant-Swamp because I was terrified.
iRF: Some people who don’t know about Grant-Swamp, it’s this 50 yards in the end of really steep, loose, small scree. It’s all sliding back down. There’s a run-out below of a couple hundred yards that you could slide.
Askew: You’re not going to die, but it’s not going to be a pretty sight when you get yourself up from that fall. I did it on all fours and used people footsteps and I clawed my way up it. Sean was ahead of me and he just said, “Don’t look back.” I didn’t look back.
iRF: You should come back in a year when there is snow on that because you have kicked-in steps. It’s a lot easier. You just get tent pegs or long pointy rocks and you just… (demo).
Askew: Don’t they have a rope on snow years?
iRF: They can, but it’s kicked in enough. You’re good to go.
Askew: I might have to do that. Well, like I said, maybe next year.
iRF: You’d be sliding down next year.
Askew: Glissading down, that wouldn’t be bad.
iRF: It’s more of a full butt slide.
Askew: That would be better than going down it last year when it was just scree.
iRF: It’s a mess. It’s awesome.
Askew: An awesome mess.
iRF: Speaking of messes, no matter how hard it gets or what the weather is, you were smiling and you seemed like you were having a good time out there. Is that your personality all the time or do you consciously try to keep yourself in that mindset?
Askew: I really do try to keep myself in that mindset because, if you don’t, if you’re not smiling, then you’re going to cry because there are so many obstacles that you’re confronted with. I just feel like you might as well have as much fun as you can. Really, it is fun. It is fun. When I finished, I said that I’ve never been in so much pain and been so euphoric at the same time. It’s a weird feeling, but I think people who finished it get it. They understand. So, yeah, I think smiling and keeping positive helps. It helps you get to your goal. So whether or not I do that on a daily basis, my husband might say no. But during a race, I try to. I do.
iRF: Any races coming up for you?
Askew: Well, ironically, I have AC (Angeles Crest 100) in three weeks. I don’t know how that is going to pan out. We’ll see how it goes. I had signed up for AC before I knew I was going to do Hardrock.
iRF: You snuck in. When did you find out about getting into Hardrock?
Askew: Well, I want to say the drawing was in December. I had already signed up for AC in the latter part of November because it was going to fill. Much like races nowadays, if you don’t sign up, they fill and then you don’t get a spot. So I signed up and then I found out and I was like, “Well, last year I ran Western States and Hardrock, so maybe this will be a little better.”
iRF: This is totally easier.
Askew: Actually, you know, it just sort of depends on how the recovery goes. I’ll be there regardless. My husband is running it, Chris Askew. It should be hot—August 3—should be really toasty.
iRF: A little warmer than Silverton.
Askew: A little warmer than Silverton.
iRF: You won’t need a hoody there.
Askew: I won’t need a hoody. In fact, yes, I’m sure it will be probably in the high-90s or triple digits.
iRF: Good thing you’ve gotten a lot of heat training in in Oregon.
Askew: There you go. I know. It’s a good thing.
iRF: It didn’t hurt Pam (Smith) or Meghan (Arbogast) or…
Askew: Yes, again, those performances during a hot year is amazing. Heat is something I’m not too used to. This is ideal running, racing, adventure weather. It is.
iRF: Congratulations on a great adventure this weekend, Darla. Good luck at AC.
Askew: Thank you, Bryon. Thank you.Thank you so much.