Darcy Piceu Pre-2017 Hardrock 100 Interview

Darcy Piceu returns to the 2017 Hardrock 100 as a three-time winner and six-time finisher. In this interview, Darcy talks about where her passion for this race lies, if she thinks there’s still room for her to improve upon her previous performances here, how she thinks the women’s competition might unfold, and how she intends to strategize her race.

To see who else is running this year’s race, check out our preview of the 2017 Hardrock 100, and be sure to follow our live coverage of Hardrock starting Friday.

Darcy Piceu Pre-2017 Hardrock 100 Interview Transcript

iRunFar: Meghan Hicks of iRunFar, and we’re here in Silverton, Colorado. It’s the Monday before the 2017 Hardrock Hundred Endurance Run. The race starts on Friday. I’m here with three-time Hardrock champion and six-time finisher, Darcy Piceu. Hi, how are you doing?

Darcy Piceu: Hi. I’m good. I’m happy to be here. Every time I drive into Silverton it just feels like coming back home, so it’s nice to be in town.

iRunFar: That was going to be my first question for you. You’ve come back to this race a lot of times now. What keeps drawing you back to Hardrock?

Piceu: Just this—these mountains really… The San juans… the community… the people… I think I’ve said it time and time again—every time I come back—it’s like a reunion. There’s just something different about Hardrock. Really, it’s just about being out in these mountains and kissing that rock at the end.

iRunFar: Giving that rock a big old smacker.

Piceu: Exactly. Exactly.

iRunFar: Last year, you had a little bit different perspective on the race. You were on the veterans waitlist, and you didn’t get off it.

Piceu: I know. It was the first time that there were veterans that didn’t get off the waitlist. So, we made history but maybe not in the way we would have liked to.

iRunFar: So you didn’t get in the race, but what did you end up doing last year?

Piceu: I really think that everything happens for a reason. I really felt like my daughter and I got to enjoy some of the finer things that Silverton has to offer. We went on the mining tour and went into the mines. I took her up to Grant-Swamp Pass. She hiked up to Grant-Swamp Pass. We saw Highland [Mary] Lake. Yeah, everything happens for a reason, and we really got to have some good, fun times out here. We did a bunch of really cool hikes. She got to really see why I love this place and this race. That was really fun.

iRunFar: She might have said something in the last couple days.

Piceu: Yes, she did. It’s been in the last couple weeks when she said, “I’m going to race Hardrock someday, Mom.” That was shocking for me because she’s not really one that has really taken to running at all which I’m fine with, but then she said, “I’m going to run Hardrock.” “Okay, great! I’ll pace you.” Then she said, “Yeah, you’re going to be walking behind me with a cane, mom.”

iRunFar: “You’re not going to be able to pace me. You’ll be old.”

Piceu: Exactly. I don’t know. Hopefully my dream would be either that she gets to pace me at some point or vice versa.

iRunFar: That’s hilarious. I love it. Well, you’ve got to keep coming back for a couple more years. Sophia is probably a couple years away from pacing for a few miles.

Piceu: At least a couple years, yeah, two or three years, yeah.

iRunFar: You’re a three-time winner of this race. You’re a six-time finisher. You’ve put some fast times down on this course, but we’ve also seen you suffer a little bit out there, too. But whatever you’re doing, whether you’re in a good moment or a tougher moment, you always seem so chill. Is that going on on the inside, too? Is there some internal battling that sometimes is happening?

Piceu: Yeah, I think that for sure there is internal battling that happens out there on the course and sometimes your mind starts to come into play and ask those questions like, What am I doing? This is crazy. Why am I out there? and things like that. I think maybe what people see often times is coming into the aid stations, I really try and make it a point to put that… if I’m really struggling I try to come in with a good attitude because these are family and friends that are here to help and support. I just try to at least have a smile on my face even if I’m suffering. It always boosts your mood, too, when you see your crew and your pacers in those aid stations. That’s always a morale booster. I try to focus on that when I go into the aid stations. Yeah, I think like everybody else, you have your ups, and you have your downs.

iRunFar: You’ve run the course in both directions a number of times now. What do you think about this year’s direction?

Piceu: It doesn’t really matter to me.

iRunFar: Because to some people it does—they have a preference, don’t they?

Piceu: I guess. I don’t really have a preference. I think this direction, for me, I sort of have some goals of places where I’d like to get to at certain points of the day. I have that gauge in my head. The long dirt roads in this direction are sort of that gradual uphill, so my goal in this direction is always like, Okay, if I can try and run as much of the roads that I can… I kind of think in that way. I feel like I can strategize maybe a little bit better in this direction, but in the end it really doesn’t matter that much.

iRunFar: Fair enough. I think the women’s race this year is really interesting. In my opinion, there are four women who can win and four women who race with totally different styles. What do you think about the women’s race?

Piceu: It’s hard. I’ve obviously raced with Anna [Frost] here, and then Nathalie [Mauclair] and Caroline [Chaverot] both coming over here from—is Caroline… both from France—I think I was with each of them maybe separate times at UTMB. I don’t know what they’re going to do here.

iRunFar: You know how they kind of move over there.

Piceu: Yeah, it seems like if they go out fast there… I don’t know… I don’t know what will happen, but I probably won’t go out fast. If there’s a group that goes out really hard and really fast, I don’t think I’ll be in that group. I just know this course too well, and I know what it can do. I just try to play it conservatively out of the gate. I guess that’s kind of always been my strategy to be in my comfort zone and stay in my comfort zone and try and maintain that for 100 miles.

iRunFar: But to be totally fair, that works for you.

Piceu: It’s worked, yeah, it’s worked really well.

iRunFar: You’ve had some amazing performances here based upon just running by feel and staying with what feels comfortable enough.

Piceu: That’s my thing. I think that’s what I do. I don’t really have a ton of gears out here partly because of the altitude. I think if you’re hiking on the uphills, you have to hike really strong, and you have to be able to run all the downhills and the descents also really solidly.

iRunFar: From what I’ve heard, that’s something you stay strong at all the way through these races. Some people slow on the downhills as things start to get sore. Here comes Darcy, hammering the downhills.

Piceu: I try to. I try to. I’ve had some knee pain over the last couple years that is sort of a not new thing for me, but it definitely has made me a little bit more conservative on the downhills, I think but fingers crossed that it doesn’t impact me too much on Friday.

iRunFar: That everything keeps themselves together.

Piceu: Exactly. Exactly.

iRunFar: You say that you come back here in part for the course, the mountains, the community. Do you want something more out of yourself and your performance here?

Piceu: It’s hard to say at this point. Going into the seventh year now, I feel like I’ve had some really great races, and I don’t know. I believe anything is possible, of course. You have to have those thoughts, Maybe I can drop more time. I’d like to hope that I could do even faster times, but I’ve been pretty consistent in each direction.

iRunFar: You kind of have your windows, don’t you?

Piceu: I do. I do here. I think maybe Friday we’re seeing maybe it’s going to be wet. I think the weather is probably going to have some impact for how this race pans out.

iRunFar: Your answer is kind of a little bit of a hedged bet like, I’d like to, but it is what it is out here at Hardrock?

Piceu: Kind of, yeah. Like I said, I’d really like to run as much of Camp Bird Road as much as I can before it gets dark. I don’t know if I can get to Governor’s Basin before it gets dark, but that would be like, Oh, yay! I made it before dark. Anything can happen. You sort of have your ideals and then at the start of the race, you throw it all out the window and pray for the best.

iRunFar: It becomes more of a managing in the moment rather than looking 20 miles down the trail.

Piceu: Totally. Exactly.

iRunFar: You’ve had some pretty amazing crewing and pacing teams with you over the years. Who is on your team this year?

Piceu: Gina Lucrezi, from Trail Sisters and all of that, she and her boyfriend, Justin Patrick Keller, are going to be crewing. Catherine Mataisz is here and she’s going to be hanging with Sophia, which is so amazing. That’s it. No pacers.

iRunFar: No pacers. Do you have anything to say about that?

Piceu: I’ve been thinking about it for a few years now. I kind of came out last year thinking that if I got in, I’d definitely be going solo.

iRunFar: Because it was a last-minute thing?

Piceu: Totally, yeah. So this year I’m like, You know, I’ve been really wanting to do it, so I’m going to do it.

iRunFar: Is this going to be your first 100 miler pacer-less?

Piceu: No, I’ve done lots of 100 milers pacer-less, but not Hardrock. Yeah, but I’m like, I think I know this course pretty well… if I don’t, I’m in trouble. Yeah, I feel comfortable out there. I feel confident.

iRunFar: Smartwool van. Smartwool drop in.

Piceu: Yeah! Alex Pashley got in!

iRunFar: Alex is going to have an adventure.

Piceu: He’s going to have an adventure out there. It will be good.

iRunFar: Alright, well, Darcy, best of luck to you. We look forward to watching you make the loop from Silverton to Silverton again.

Piceu: Thanks so much. Thank you.

iRunFar: Good luck.

Piceu: Yay, thanks!

Meghan Hicks

is iRunFar.com’s Senior Editor, the author of ‘Where the Road Ends: A Guide to Trail Running,’ and a Contributing Editor at Trail Runner magazine. The converted road runner finished her first ultramarathon in 2006 and loves using running to visit the world’s wildest places. For more information on Meghan and her adventures, please visit her personal website.

There are 5 comments

  1. Albert

    Darcy is an incredibly gifted athlete. It’s amazing she has been able to not just do ultras all these years, but remain competitive and healthy. A lot of these up and coming super talented ultrarunners should talk to her and learn what she does so that they can also stay healthy for a long time. Very impressive!

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