Darcy Piceu scored her fifth finish and third-straight win of the Hardrock 100. In this interview, Darcy talks about what it feels like to be a three-time Hardrock champ, how her day and night out on the course went, and some of the things she’s learned over the years of racing Hardrock. You can also watch Darcy’s Hardrock finish as well as her finish-line interview, a Hardrock tradition for the men’s and women’s winners.
For the whole story on the 2014 Hardrock 100, read our results article.
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Bonus: Darcy Piceu’s Award Ceremony Speech
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Darcy Piceu, 2014 Hardrock 100 Champion, Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Darcy Piceu after her win at the 2014 Hardrock 100. That’s your third-straight win at Hardrock. How does that feel?
Darcy Piceu: It always feels a little bit surreal. Yeah, it really does.
iRunFar: That’s pretty legendary.
Piceu: It’s pretty awesome. I mean, I was sad to hear that Diana [Finkel] dropped at Maggie [Gulch]. They didn’t tell me in the aid station. My pacer found out and I had started hiking out of the aid station and he caught up to me and told me that she dropped. It’s a shame. But as a lot of people have said, this race is all about pacing yourself and eating and drinking and taking care of yourself the whole time. I guess I do that well.
iRunFar: Yes you do, and very consistently, too. Not only have you won three-straight years, you’ve run 29-something three straight years. There’s some consistency there. I haven’t looked at the numbers, but the spread is probably 40 minutes, just about?
Piceu: It’s pretty similar. Probably, yeah.
iRunFar: Both directions.
Piceu: I wish I could cut the time off.
iRunFar: One of these years.
Piceu: One of these years maybe.
iRunFar: You want to have another great time, but I don’t think you had what you’d say a perfect day out there?
Piceu: No, the first 40 miles were amazing and I felt amazing. Then heading out of Ouray, the sun came on and it was really hot and then my stomach really just kind of started to not feel great. Then I felt like from then on, from mile 42 on, it was a lot of management of just everything you get when you’re up high in the mountains.
iRunFar: How do you make that a priority? Usually in other races, let’s say a 50 miler in not-so-extreme conditions, you’re focused on racing and eating some. Here it’s not about that. There are so many other factors. How do you make that a priority?
Piceu: You mean just taking care of yourself? I think it’s just like in life. You have to take it one step at a time. When something happens or you’re not feeling great or there’s weather (which we had a lot of), you just have to really take care of it. When the rain came and the lightning and thunder came, it was all about stopping and changing out of wet clothes and getting dry clothes on and making sure you were really taking care of yourself. Especially going into night time, we were soaked coming into Sherman from Handies in a lightning storm, then just making sure we were dry leaving Sherman so that the night time up Pole Creek, which tends to be really, really cold, we were dry and warm going up there. That was really important.
iRunFar: Of your now five Hardrocks, wow, was this the worst weather year you’ve had?
Piceu: It was the wettest; it was definitely the wettest. Yeah, it was. It was the most lightning and thunder I’ve ever seen and the most rain I’ve ever seen. It felt like Washington or something out there. It was crazy. It just didn’t stop.
iRunFar: How do you roll with that? The lightning is going off around you and it’s pouring. How do you still focus on running Hardrock?
Piceu: We were hiking up Handies and I kept kind of checking in with my pacer. We should probably check in once we get closer to the summit and make a decision about whether or not we’re going to go up and over. We took some time to get up just below the summit. By the time we got there, we felt safe enough to go up and over the summit. That’s kind of how we did it. You’re exposed for a long time out there. There was lightning and thunder and everything.
iRunFar: In one of your Hardrocks, have you ever had to just stop and hunker down?
Piceu: Not really, no. I think I’ve gotten three points of contact at one point when we were up in American Basin. When we were down in Grouse, Dale [Garland] asked us to wait it out for 10 minutes. But in hindsight, it didn’t really matter if we waited 10 minutes or two hours, it was a really long storm.
iRunFar: Did he actually say to stay for 10 minutes?
Piceu: He suggested. He was just suggesting. We said, “No, we’re going to head out.” We just headed out right into the thick of the storm.
iRunFar: There was some carnage out there as always happens at Hardrock. Did you pass anybody just stopped trying to collect themselves up in American Basin or further down the trail after the storms?
Piceu: Well, the first person I passed leaving Ouray was Timothy Olson who was taking a nap.
iRunFar: On the mattress?
Piceu: On the mattress. Then the second person was Joe Grant going up Bear Creek and his quad was really bothering him. He was in bad shape with his quad. Then going up Handies, I remember Jason Koop. He was coming up and he had said that they had stopped and waited it out. He had gotten hypothermic as a result of waiting it out. I think in my mind I kind of have through the years of being in the mountains, I’ve learned that you don’t want to stop in that kind of weather.
iRunFar: No matter what the lightning is, just get down?
Piceu: Just get down.
iRunFar: You’ve had outdoor-wilderness training. You see Koop. Do you make an assessment of, Is this guy okay?
Piceu: Well, he passed me.
Piceu: He just said, “I was hypothermic down there.” So when he went by us, he had his raincoat on and he looked fine. I guess when he got up and over Handies and down into Burrows Park, I think he dropped at Burrows Park.
iRunFar: Sherman. He went out of Burrows.
Piceu: Oh, he went out of Burrows. So he must have gotten hypothermic and then way more wet.
iRunFar: He tried to recover, but… that’s the thing as you say, when you stop and you get cold, it’s so hard with depleted energy to pull yourself out of that hole.
Piceu: Yes, unless you take time. I think if you take time and you sit and you eat and you get dry. That’s basically what we did at Sherman. I think I took the most time I think I’ve ever taken in an aid station at Sherman this year. Just ate and…
iRunFar: You’re not super fast in aid stations. Diana Finkel is like, bag exchange and gone every time.
Piceu: Yeah, I think it’s important here. Just going back to taking care of yourself, I think it’s really important at this race. You need to stop and eat and take care of yourself.
iRunFar: Did you have any really low points out there?
Piceu: Yeah, I had some pretty low points—just slow. I feel like eventually after mile 50 or so, it feels slow going on every climb.
iRunFar: I know you did have thoughts of sub-29 hours in your head. Did you figure out that that wasn’t going to happen or did your pacer say…?
Piceu: It was a little bit of survival mode just going through all the crazy weather and through the night. I think I was focused less on time than I was just staying in the present moment and just enjoying myself and taking care of myself.
iRunFar: But then you did switch back into time mode at some point? Was that with Krissy [Moehl] pacing you?
Piceu: Maybe with Krissy pacing me. We just started to throw out things, throw out ideas. She always kicks my butt in the last 10 miles, so it’s good.
iRunFar: As soon as I knew it was close from Cunningham, you had about three hours to come in under 30, I heard Krissy was pacing you—done deal. You’re good to be under 30 hours.
Piceu: It’s done. Yeah, exactly. So, I was lucky.
iRunFar: You keep coming back here? You have another entry for next year. I assume I’ll see you in Silverton next July?
Piceu: [laughs] Geez, yeah, I don’t know. We’ll see. I’ll have to think about it for a little while.
iRunFar: Five-straight years?
Piceu: Yeah, five straight years. So, I don’t know. We’ll see. There are other races out there.
iRunFar: Are there any other races or adventures in store for you this fall?
Piceu: Yeah, it’s hard to think about right now. Yeah, I’m thinking about going after the JMT.
iRunFar: Are you?
Piceu: Yeah, we’ll see. Totally solo. No crew. No nothing.
iRunFar: Darcy Piceu and the John Muir Trail.
iRunFar: Sounds like a good plan. Congratulations on your great run here again.