Darcy Africa is back to defend her Hardrock 100 title. In the following interview, Darcy talks about what it’s like coming into an important race as the defending champ, how her preparation has gone this year, and how she comes up to altitude only a few days before the race.
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Darcy Africa Pre-2013 Hardrock 100 Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Darcy Africa relaxing before the 2013 Hardrock 100. Last time we were together here at Hardrock you had just won last year’s Hardrock 100. What does it feel like coming back as the defending champ at such an important race?
Darcy Africa: Yeah, I never underestimate the conditions and the terrain at this course. I never roll in here feeling some aura of confidence or anything like that. I think this year it’s trying to stay as relaxed as possible. I think it’s just pacing myself and going out there and just running my own race and not worrying about what anyone else is doing.
iRF: Two years ago, if I recall correctly, correct me if I’m wrong, you went out with Diana (Finkel) and for the first couple aid stations you and her were together.
Africa: Yeah, yeah, exactly.
iRF: Last year, you let her go.
Africa: Yeah, definitely. I think I more wanted to stay in my comfort zone. That’s sort of my idea for tomorrow is to just sort of stay in my comfort zone initially—at least for several hours or the first couple hours or two to four hours I guess—and hope to have enough at the end to reel somebody in if it’s possible.
iRF: You can reel someone in pretty quickly whether they’re moving, or in Diana’s case she was an hour ahead and she had to pull the plug—not that you ever want that to happen.
Africa: Right, of course.
iRF: If you can keep moving, it’s a race where anything can happen.
Africa: That’s right. That’s what I keep telling myself. I have people that I coach that are running. I said, “Just keep moving. Whatever you do just don’t stop moving.” It’s relentless forward motion or progress or whatever. Yeah, I think that’s the name of the game here just being consistent and trying to enjoy it. I think we’re going to have weather, so that will bring another element.
iRF: A challenge.
Africa: Yeah, I shouldn’t say this because I’ll probably jinx myself, but I think weather brings another element that takes your mind off of other things you that might be going on. I sort of welcome that.
iRF: It’s a welcome distraction?
Africa: A little bit for me, yeah.
iRF: In either of the past two years have you had to hunker down under a rock at some point? You haven’t been caught on Handies Peak or Virginius Pass in lightning?
Africa: No, I’ve gotten really lucky actually, really lucky. I’ve never gotten totally soaked. Last year there was rain going up Virginius and I got wet, but there was nothing… I mean, in Colorado, it comes and goes pretty quickly, so we’re lucky in that sense. Knock on wood, but I don’t think we’re ever going to get a five-hour downpour like you would in France or somewhere in Washington or somewhere like that.
iRF: It’s fleeting.
Africa: Yeah, yeah, hopefully. It’s bone dry, so there’s no snow out there. So that’s good. And the water is low.
iRF: Last year was interesting for you coming into this race because you’d had a long foot injury and you were also taking part in the Rocky Mountain Slam. You had just set a course record at Bighorn 100. What’s your training been like this year? Have you been training a little more consistently? I’ve seen great pictures of you running in fantastic locations.
Africa: Yeah, I’ve done a few races. Miwok was cut short, so that was… I sort of train to race… I mean, I do races that are sort of considered my long training runs. I did Squaw Peak which was rough because I had the stomach flu beforehand. Three weeks ago I came out here and did three days of pretty long runs. I got some good time in on the course. I had some issues with the altitude a little bit here and there. So we’ll see. We’ll see how my body holds up.
iRF: You came up just last evening, right?
Africa: Yeah, Wednesday.
iRF: Does that sync with what you’ve done in the past?
Africa: Yeah, that’s really what I’ve done in the past. Maybe I’ve come a little bit early. Maybe three years ago I came a little earlier. Last year I think it was around that time that I came up. I don’t have that two weeks to just come up here and hang out. I just kind of do whatever and it seems okay.
iRF: It was great seeing you with Sophia here last year both at the aid stations—I remember seeing you at Ouray—and at the finish. Is she going to be out here on race day?
Africa: No, she’s not. I’m sad about that. I’m definitely sad about that. It simplifies things in some ways. It’s very simple this year. I just have one person. It’s going to be a very simple process this year.
iRF: Who do you have lined up for pacing?
Africa: Krissy Moehl is going to be out here. I’m really lucky. I couldn’t ask for a better pacer or crew.
Africa: Yeah, we’re excited.
iRF: You’ve got experience on… you’ve got your own experience, but it’s nice to have someone who knows the highs and lows that are inevitable at Hardrock.
Africa: Exactly. I think we work pretty well together. We have future adventures.
iRF: Do you?
Africa: I’ll keep them hush hush now.
iRF: Maybe on Saturday afternoon we can talk about some?
Africa: Maybe, maybe.
iRF: Best of luck out there, Darcy. Have fun.
Africa: Thank you. Thanks.
iRF: Nice toenails.
Africa: Oh, thank you. Yeah, the rainbow.
iRF: Did you pick those out?
Africa: Sophia and I did them together.
iRF: Yeah? Oh, they’re not just symmetrical, they’re… full-on Crayola.
iRF: I don’t know about the blue one on the right foot. That could very well be blue underneath.
Africa: No, I’ve never had blue toenails.