Aurélien Dunand-Pallaz, 2023 Hardrock 100 Champion, Interview

A video interview (with transcript) with Aurélien Dunand-Pallaz after his win at the 2023 Hardrock 100.

By on July 17, 2023 | Comments

Aurélien Dunand-Pallaz led the 2023 Hardrock 100 from start to finish. In this interview he talks about how his race-day strategy played out, how the conditions worked for him, and the feeling at the finish line of this iconic race.

For more on how the race played out, read our in-depth Hardrock 100 results article.

[Editor’s Note: We’d like to thank Simon Dugué for helping out with translation for this interview. Thank you, Simon!]

Aurélien Dunand-Pallaz, 2023 Hardrock 100 Champion, Interview Transcript

iRunFar: Sarah Brady of iRunFar. I’m here just after the 2023 Hardrock 100. I’m here with Aurélien Dunand-Pallaz. You’re this year’s champion. Congratulations. How do you feel?

Aurélien Dunand-Pallaz: [In French, via translator] I feel great actually. My legs are alright. My feet are a bit hurting, but otherwise it’s totally fine.

iRunFar: Okay. That’s pretty amazing, all things considered. So, just to talk about how your day went, did you get to run with Beñat [Marmissolle] for a little while at the start? Or were you just close together? How did that go?

Dunand-Pallaz: So, it was almost the perfect race for me. I actually took the lead from the start, and I was able to manage the space all the way around, so I was very lucky and very happy about the race.

iRunFar: Okay, that’s great. And just being out in front for the entire time, does that feel a little bit scary? Were you kind of looking over your shoulder waiting for someone? Or was it more comfortable?

Dunand-Pallaz: So, actually, I was prepared to do to the strategy, to be in the front and to manage my pace. So, from Ouray I started to hear the gap between me and the second one, and I understood that the gap was bigger and bigger during the race. So, actually, then I just had to manage my pace to see the finish line.

iRunFar: Okay. And how did you find the conditions? I know people said during the nighttime the snow had refrozen and it was very slippery. Did you find that okay, and did you use spikes or crampons or anything?

Dunand-Pallaz: So, actually, yeah, it was very slippery during the night. The snow was icy. It was almost dangerous at the Grant Swamp Pass when they go up to the pass. But actually, I like the condition like this. I am not afraid about the cold, and I ran with just a shirt and without any jacket or anything else. I like the cold and actually for me it was the perfect conditions.

iRunFar: Okay, well, I suppose the conditions were mixed, because we had that cold during the night, but then it was pretty hot during the day. So, was that a problem for you? Or was that okay, too?

Dunand-Pallaz: I preferred the night when it was cold. In the day from Animas Forks to Ouray, it was very, very hot. I lost a lot of salt, so I had like, a small trouble after Ouray during the climb. But otherwise, yeah, I just prefer it when it’s cold. So, it was better during the night.

iRunFar: Okay, and how did your nutrition strategy work then, and making sure you took in enough fluids? Did you have a plan to drink so much every hour, and eat so much every hour? How did that go?

Dunand-Pallaz: So, actually, my plan was to eat and to vary between solid and liquid food. But from Ouray it was difficult to eat solid. So, I started to take just gels and soup. I really liked the chicken soup at the aid station, especially at Kroger’s Canteen, and I finished like this.

iRunFar: The volunteers were so good in the aid stations. The food just looked so good everywhere. I noticed though, when I saw you at mile 84, you didn’t stop for very long at all. I think it was six minutes. Just in, did what you needed to do, and out. Was that the same at all the checkpoints or did you take a break anywhere?

Dunand-Pallaz: Actually, I think that it could have been faster at the aid stations. I didn’t spend a lot of time there, but enough. Like, I took my time just to eat well, and to get all the information I needed. And yeah, if the battle was, like, if the second was closer, for sure, I would have been faster at the aid stations, but I think that I managed well, the stop there.

iRunFar: Okay, it seemed like your crew did a very good job, too. It was like a Formula One pitstop. And then you spoke about your pacer beforehand. Was that good, to run with Ludovic [Pommeret]? Did you enjoy that?

Dunand-Pallaz: So yeah, I know Ludo well. It was my first experience with a pacer during a race, and Ludo helped me, like, a lot after Ouray. During the long climbs, we were able to discuss during the night, and just to think about something else. So, it was a very, very good help for me.

iRunFar: Okay, and what did you talk about for that many hours?

Dunand-Pallaz: So, actually we mostly talked about the race, the gap. Actually, Ludo had his smartphone with him, so when they had the service he was able to check the gap between Aurélien and the second one. They also talked about the women’s race, I was interested in all the girls. And finally, we talked about Hardrock, because Ludo really wants to race here one day, or maybe next year, and we just talked about the race.

iRunFar: Okay, super. And then the end section, the Rainbow Trail is really runnable after so much difficult climbing and descending. So, how did you enjoy those last few miles?

Dunand-Pallaz: Actually, I thought that I would be forced to hike the last small climb up to Silverton, but actually I was able to run. I was almost flying, and the feeling was awesome. So, I didn’t finish like, it was not, the finish was not very tough for me. I was able to enjoy the last kilometers and I was just super happy.

iRunFar: Okay, that’s amazing after so many hours. And how did it feel to actually reach the finish line and touch the rock?

Dunand-Pallaz: So, yeah, actually, it was very different from the finish of UTMB or other very big races. I arrived in the middle of the night. There were only a few people there, but they were super. Like, they cheered a lot, and they were super welcoming. And I’m just glad to be here, and to be part of the event. Even after the race, when I had to eat at the gym school, everyone was awesome. And I’m just super happy to be here, and to have experienced this race.

iRunFar: Okay, sounds like a great feeling. And then I know you’re going home tomorrow. So, do you have any nice plans to recover for the next couple of weeks?

Dunand-Pallaz: So, I’m going to Brittany in France for a wedding. Like vacation, holidays for a few days. Just recover with the family.

iRunFar: Okay, super. Well, congratulations again, and safe travels home, and we’ll see you soon.

Dunand-Pallaz: Thank you. Thank you very much.

Sarah Brady

Sarah Brady is Managing Editor at iRunFar. She’s been working in an editorial capacity for ten years and has been a trail runner for almost as long. Aside from iRunFar, she’s worked as an editor for various educational publishers and written race previews for Apex Running, UK, and RAW Ultra, Ireland. Based in Belfast, Ireland, Sarah is an avid mountain runner and ultrarunner and competes at distances from under 10k to over 100k. When not running, she enjoys reading, socializing, and hanging out with her dog, Angie, and cat, Judy.