Courtney Dauwalter returns to the 2022 Hardrock 100 looking to give the finishing rock a bear hug. In the following interview, Courtney talks about what mistakes she made during the 2021 Hardrock and what she learned from them, how her running has gone so far this year, and what she hopes to get out of this year’s Hardrock.
To see who else is racing, read our in-depth 2022 Hardrock 100 preview.
Courtney Dauwalter Pre-2022 Hardrock 100 Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar, with Courtney Dauwalter before the 2022 Hardrock 100. How are you, Courtney?
Courtney Dauwalter: I’m great; how are you?
iRunFar: I’m all right. We’re in Silverton. Beautiful San Juan Mountains.
Dauwalter: We just arrived. We just pulled into town, so I’m finally getting to look around and I am so excited to be here.
iRunFar: Why is that?
Dauwalter: These mountains; they are crazy. They are so beautiful, I have so many positive memories from being here in general but being here for Hardrock last year, and so to be back is really cool.
iRunFar: And it’s awesome that you have such good memories from last year because in the end, it turned out not to be what you are looking for, in terms of performance, right?
Dauwalter: Yeah, yeah, I dropped at 62 miles.
iRunFar: And what went sideways there?
Dauwalter: It’s a 100-mile race.
iRunFar: What went sideways in your 2021 race?
Dauwalter: I think a lot of things but for sure I was having a ton of nutrition issues and stomach problems, and then my biggest mistake was I just wasn’t solving them. I wasn’t taking the time to work through it with my crew at aid stations. I was keeping the gas pedal down with no fuel in the tank to do that.
iRunFar: So, it’s not like you had to figure out a new system for this. You just had to be willing to problem-solve I guess? And take the time to?
Dauwalter: Yeah, for sure, we did work on my nutrition. We had some different things that we used after Hardrock last year that seemed to be working better.
iRunFar: Any secrets there? What is working better for you?
Dauwalter: Well, a lot of liquid calories is working great, so Tailwind was, the second half of UTMB it was all I was taking in. And that was amazing. Like for just sustained energy, it kept me going. I think I also had to learn the hard way, which is the best way to learn, to practice nutrition. When I first started ultrarunning, I knew that and I did it pretty diligently. And then I just got really comfortable with knowing the things that worked and relying on them for races. But usually train with nothing.
iRunFar: Yep. Sounds familiar.
Dauwalter: Yeah. Which was a great reminder, a great back to basics. And now I’ve been training with them a lot more intentionally and just hoping to prepare my stomach for taking in calories.
iRunFar: Nice. And if things start, 100 miles is a long way, you could have a great race but have challenges along the way, you’ll react differently to them this year?
Dauwalter: For sure, yeah. I learned a lot of great lessons.
iRunFar: Nice. Well starting off this season, you ran really well, you won Madeira Island Ultra-Trail. How did that go?
Dauwalter: So fun.
Dauwalter: Yeah. An amazing island, a great race to kick off a season. And really a great race no matter what time of year, I would go there. But yeah, just had a ton of climbing, it was 115 kilometers. And I got to practice being in the night, being really tired, and having to climb more. Yeah, I love it, I love racing and that one is one of my favorites.
iRunFar: It was a good start to the season, a good kickoff. How has training gone since then?
Dauwalter: Good. Yeah, I think. I got home from Madeira, and recovered a bit, and then had a few weeks before I went to race the Zegama Marathon, which was just a bucket list race for me. I had heard all about the atmosphere of the race and how crazy it is, and the crowds that line it and I was like, “I have to see this.” It just drew me in for that reason, so I was like, “Put me in this marathon.” Which is way too short and my legs were definitely reminding me of that during it.
iRunFar: But you are going there to experience it rather than being… I can guess you probably had a really good time in Zegama?
Dauwalter: Oh, we had a blast, yeah.
iRunFar: Yeah. So you come back from Zegama, and you are here at Hardrock, is it fair to say Hardrock’s the focus of your 2022 season?
Dauwalter: Definitely. Yeah, it’s the focus of the summer, it’s been what I’ve been building toward all year, and I’m a little surprised it’s already here. Like how is it mid-July already? But also just pumped to get going.
iRunFar: What do you hope to get out of this year’s Hardrock?
Dauwalter: I hope to kiss that dang rock.
Dauwalter: So yeah, making the full loop is my main goal and I can’t wait to hopefully bear hug that rock when I get back to Silverton and not let go.
iRunFar: It will be well earned, you’ve had tons of success around the world, lots of races for a long time now. Does it give you a little extra motivation to not have had the race you wanted here last year? To get around the course?
Dauwalter: I don’t know, I think, I don’t know. I’m not sure if that like, is any part of my motivation or just, I think my motivation is to give the things I try everything that I have. And so, to get another attempt at everything I have, making it to the finish line, is yeah, it’s intriguing. And I know it’s going to be a big challenge, and a huge adventure out there. And I’m looking forward to that.
iRunFar: Aside from the nausea last year are there any challenges that you know that you’re going to have to overcome during this year’s races? Is there a weakness that you can work on?
Dauwalter: Well it’s too late now! [laughs]
iRunFar: In training, yes, but you could have been working on that over the last months.
Dauwalter: Yeah, I mean this race just has so much climbing, it’s huge climb after huge climb but probably the descents beat you up even more. And taking care of your body along the way so that those little things don’t become big things will be important. But I’ve never finished it so I don’t know. What do you recommend? Give me some tips.
iRunFar: Going out slower, it’s so easy in this direction to go up at Bear Creek and to be hiking along, “Oh, my heart rate’s good, I feel strong, let’s get into this climb.” There are a lot of climbs after that. Even I think in this direction, a couple of really big climbs early and you can really feel great and push them, but I’d rather be running Pole Creek at mile 80 than leave it out on the climbs early.
Dauwalter: I appreciate this insight a lot.
iRunFar: And enjoy as much as you can.
Dauwalter: Yeah. Well I mean, that I know will be possible. I remember last year running it and just every 10 feet, screaming in glee with the views or the flowers or you know, miles shared with somebody. It was so fun and special.
iRunFar: There’s a lot of joy along the way. Well, I hope you get to see lots of it out there.
Dauwalter: Thank you.
iRunFar: And you get to bear hug the rock. Rock, you’ve been warned. Good luck.
Dauwalter: Thank you.
iRunFar: And a bonus question for you.
Dauwalter: What? I was not warned.
iRunFar: Now you are. You are a bit of a candy connoisseur.
Dauwalter: Yeah …
iRunFar: Do you consider white chocolate to be chocolate?
Dauwalter: Yeah. And I think it’s delicious.
iRunFar: You are pro-white chocolate?
iRunFar: Or any chocolate?
Dauwalter: Yeah, anything sugar you put in front of me, it’s going in. Are you not?
iRunFar: I was looking for your opinion. I’m tainted by a food and drug regulatory background. White chocolate is its own thing. But you can call it chocolate.
Dauwalter: I like it and I call it chocolate still. But it doesn’t fulfill a craving if you’re really craving chocolate.
Dauwalter: It doesn’t fit that.
iRunFar: There’s a dichotomy there. All right.
Dauwalter: That can just be the whole interview.
iRunFar: Yeah, hopefully after the race we get to talk about candy again. I’ve got some ideas floating around. Have fun, Courtney.