Darcy Piceu is the three-time defending champion of the Hardrock 100. In the following interview, she talks about her current fitness, the rest of the women’s field, and what keeps bringing her back to Hardrock, as well as some of the gear she plans on using when.
To learn more about the other competitors, read our 2015 Hardrock 100 preview.
[Click here if you can’t see the video above.]
Darcy Piceu Pre-2015 Hardrock 100 Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Darcy Piceu before the 2015 Hardrock 100. Welcome back, Darcy.
Darcy Piceu: Thanks.
iRunFar: I was looking at the runner’s manual this morning. Did you know you are the three-time defending champ?
Piceu: Yeah, yeah, is that in the runner’s manual?
iRunFar: Every year.
Piceu: No pressure. No pressure at all.
iRunFar: It doesn’t seem like you’ve run with pressure the last couple years.
Piceu: Well, I don’t know.
iRunFar: Didn’t feel that way?
Piceu: I think you’re always a little bit nervous beforehand.
iRunFar: On the pointy end of the field this year, you’ve got a big change. You’ve been racing Diana Finkel for a number of years, but she’s not here this year.
Piceu: I know, sadly.
iRunFar: But you have Anna Frost jumping in there.
Piceu: Yeah, amongst others. There’s a good women’s field which is kind of exciting.
iRunFar: Anna Frost is in there, Darla Askew…
Piceu: Missy Gosney…
iRunFar: She’s been training really hard here.
Piceu: And she’s an amazing mountaineer and that’s really what… if you’re comfortable in these mountains, that really goes a long way I think.
iRunFar: You’ve shown in the past couple years that patience and trying to run smooth the whole way pays off in this race. You don’t have to go off the front to…
Piceu: Yeah, I think it’s all about being smart as opposed to going wildly fast too soon, as you know. That’s kind of the name of the game in 100 milers, I think.
iRunFar: How do you do that here?
Piceu: Well, the terrain dictates what you do, I think. You can’t really run very much on the climbs. You just have to slow down. I think running in your comfort zone for the first half at least is a fairly decent way to go.
iRunFar: How do you actually get yourself to do that? Do you monitor how you feel? Do you wear a heart rate monitor? Do you feel yourself running too hard and tell yourself to slow down?
Piceu: I think, yeah, I don’t wear a heart rate monitor, but I think I can tap into that—how am I feeling and how hard am I working right now and is this going to be too much for too long or can I kick it back a little bit?
iRunFar: Your fitness is there. Did you just set the course record at the Bighorn 50?
Piceu: Yeah, I had a good race there. It was fun. I had a really good race. I think moreso than that, I recovered well which is what I was hoping. If I recovered well, I knew that, Okay, I’m in a pretty good place. That helped to be able to recover well.
iRunFar: You had a pretty good training block this year then?
Piceu: Yeah, I think so. I…
iRunFar: [Steam train whistle] There’s the Durango-Silverton Narrow Gauge, folks.
Piceu: It’s a pretty cool thing.
iRunFar: Tourist money coming into Silverton.
Piceu: Yeah, I’ve been trying to get up high as much as possible for me. I knew that there was a lot of snow here, so I stayed locally and ran in the Indian Peaks near my house in Boulder. I camped up high a little bit and did whatever I could to get up high every so often.
iRunFar: Do you feel as strong as you have in years? You were injured a couple years ago in the winter or spring.
Piceu: Was I? Oh yeah, I think I had plantar fasciitis for awhile.
iRunFar: I think it’s when you switched to Hokas actually.
Piceu: That’s right. Yeah, they’re awesome! I feel good, as good as ever.
iRunFar: And rested after Bighorn?
Piceu: Yeah, rested after Bighorn.
iRunFar: What brings you back here? You’ve won it three times in a row and you’ve run it a couple more times. Why race Hardrock? There’s so much more out there.
Piceu: I think you race it once and you just… something happens. There’s some kind of little bug in the air out here that keeps you coming back. I always say, it’s the community of people. You’ve been here long enough now to know that it’s so special and the people that come back here are so special. It’s just… these mountains are so gorgeous. I don’t usually come back to races, but this is one that really is a pretty amazing place.
iRunFar: It’s a big mountain family.
Piceu: It really is. It’s a family reunion every year.
iRunFar: This will be my first time running it, but I know at least half of the field. That would be conservative to say I’m friends with half the field.
Piceu: You know everybody.
iRunFar: You can talk about what foods will be at what aid stations. Did Roch [Horton] have enough Tequila for Kroger’s Canteen? Everybody has their own little character.
Piceu: It’s this little spirit.
iRunFar: It’s small enough to know what that character is and who those people are. Through all the years you’ve come here, do you have either modeled yourself after or really leaned on for advice?
Piceu: Well, you know Roch Horton is staying here and he’s a mentor. He’s such an amazing, amazing person. He embodies this race better than most. I just ran into one of my other early, early mentors, Stephanie Ehret. I paced her ages ago. Peter Bakwin, and that whole crew that has been around for ages… they’re still coming back. Now they’re pacing people but still, they’re here. Something keeps everybody coming back.
iRunFar: You don’t have to be racing to be part of that family. How many times has Anton Krupicka been here and never run the race?
Piceu: Yeah, exactly. I think I paced it six times before I ever ran it.
iRunFar: This is my seventh time up here in July for Hardrock. Okay, time to run.
Piceu: It’s Silverton. It’s July. When am I going to Silverton?
iRunFar: These mountains are beautiful. What’s your favorite aspect? Is it the mountains? Is it the wildlife? Is it the flowers?
Piceu: It varies from year to year. I think the wildflowers can be really spectacular in American Basin. I’ve heard right now especially because we’ve had such a wet spring that things are just in full bloom right now. We’ve got a lot of snowmelt happening. I think it’s just going to be… I think we’re going to be in for a treat this year for sure. It’s going to be wet, but that means also things are blooming and it’s going to smell good.
iRunFar: The feet will be a little…
Piceu: Our feet are going to be wet.
iRunFar: No matter what.
Piceu: No matter what.
iRunFar: We were talking about shoe changes. You can do it if they feel good…
Piceu: Exactly, just do it because it feels good. Otherwise it’s pretty much a mute point.
iRunFar: There’s a lot of water on the course. Do you carry all your water or do you take any water off the course?
Piceu: Dipping in streams? I never have, no I haven’t. I’m sure you could because it’s probably primarily snowmelt.
iRunFar: What are you going to do? Are you going to carry a waist pack, a vest pack? What are you going to do in terms of gear?
Piceu: I start with a Spry vest from Ultraspire and a handheld from Ultraspire as well. I start with that little vest so I can carry a rain coat and food and then a water bottle for the first… up until Sherman. Then at Sherman, I’ll take a larger pack and poles and a bladder.
iRunFar: Speaking of a jacket, the forecast is really, really nice this weekend.
Piceu: Fingers crossed.
iRunFar: You’re going into Saturday night and the forecast is saying…
Piceu: I hope I’m not going into Saturday night!
iRunFar: I’m sorry! Friday night! Me neither. If it’s Friday night and the forecast is good going into it and it’s blue sky, would you leave a rain jacket at home or are you always going to carry it?
Piceu: I might always carry a little some type of a whisper light type jacket.
Piceu: Houdini—what am I talking about? A whisper light is a stove. Houdini.
iRunFar: I knew what you were talking about.
Piceu: One of those rain…
iRunFar: Just a little jacket but not necessarily a rain jacket?
Piceu: A little jacket just because it can get really chilly up high, so if nothing else, for the cold up high for sure.
iRunFar: I wouldn’t say…
Piceu: At night, I’ll carry gloves and a hat as well.
iRunFar: Will you switch into pants and a long shirt?
Piceu: Hopefully not. I don’t like to put on tights ever. I’d rather just run in shorts because eventually you get hot again and you don’t want tights on anymore.
iRunFar: So you wouldn’t even carry pants?
Piceu: No, hopefully not… unless it’s downpour. Last year, it rained all night long and lightning stormed all night.
iRunFar: Did you have pants in your drop bag that you just…
Piceu: Yeah, at Sherman I had to change completely and put on pants because I was really cold. Hopefully we won’t have that this year.
iRunFar: So, Hardrock is a test of mettle to some degree, but though you’ve run it a lot, isn’t it nice to have a beautiful day?
Piceu: Oh, yeah. Gosh, that’s what we all want.
iRunFar: Have you had one yet?
Piceu: Yeah, I think there’s been a few years where the weather was pretty nice. Last year was the worse, I feel like, in terms of long standing rain and lightning at night nonetheless. Normally in Colorado we see these storms that roll in and they go away. Last year, it just didn’t stop. As you know, the lightning came on at night and didn’t stop for hours and hours. That was rough. When you’re soaking wet and it’s night time, it’s inevitably really cold.
iRunFar: And you’ve been out there moving for 18+ hours.
Piceu: Right, and tired.
iRunFar: I’m looking right now for Sophia to run across the interview as she’s wont to do. I believe this is your first time racing out here without Sophia in tow?
Piceu: No, I’ve done a couple years when she hasn’t been here. She’s at home with her Nana, and they’re really having a blast this week.
iRunFar: You’ll be thinking of her?
Piceu: Oh, absolutely. Yeah, I carry her. I carry her with me.
iRunFar: Enjoy the weekend out here.
Piceu: You, too! You have fun.
iRunFar: That’s the goal—patience and fun.
Piceu: Thanks, Bryon.