Darcy Piceu returns to run her ninth Hardrock 100 having never finished lower than second in her previous eight runnings. In the following interview, Darcy talks about why she didn’t run other races before this year’s Hardrock, how her training has changed in recent years, what keeps her motivated to race, and how Hardrock has helped her through some difficult times in her life.
To see who else is racing, read our in-depth 2022 Hardrock 100 preview.
Darcy Piceu Pre-2022 Hardrock 100 Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Darcy Piceu before the 2022 Hardrock 100. How are you, Darcy?
Darcy Piceu: Good. I’m really good.
iRunFar: Happy to be back in the San Juans?
Piceu: I’m so happy to be here. Yes.
iRunFar: You just arrived last night?
Piceu: Yes. I got in about like 4 o’clock and went up Mineral Creek and did a little run up Ice Lake Trail and it was beautiful. Like right after the storm came through and got a little jog and up there. So, it’s nice.
iRunFar: You got out this morning yet or?
Piceu: Yeah, I just did a little run up Kendall Road or whatever that road was and came back down. Yeah. And then I met you.
iRunFar: So, you’re reconnected to the San Juans real quick.
Piceu: Yes. I love coming back here. Yeah.
iRunFar: This is far from your first trip to the San Juans. You’re … this will be your ninth Hardrock. A lot of years. When you were preparing for Hardrock, you generally have seemed to run two or three ultras in preparation.
iRunFar: You haven’t this year. What was the reasoning or thinking or what happened to make that change?
Piceu: Um, well, I was signed up for Bighorn 100 and I didn’t run it. You know, [laughs] without divulging too much I think my desire to race hard is waning, and I’m just trying to be really intentional about what I’m doing and know exactly why I’m doing it. [swats at leg] Sorry, the horse flies are eating me. Um, and I was running, I missed Bighorn, but then I’ve been doing some mountain runs in preparation for Hardrock and I know exactly why I’m running this race.
iRunFar: Well that’s perfect. I was going to ask that later in the interview so let’s just jump into motivations because not just with Hardrock you’ve run a lot of times, but you’ve been, we’ve been running ultras about the same amount of time, about 20 years.
Piceu: Yeah, 20 years.
iRunFar: So, what are your motivations for racing? I mean, you obviously still love running.
Piceu: I love running, in the mountains, through the wildflowers. That part is like, it’s just, it lives in here. [gestures to heart.] So I’m just so psyched to be here and have fun. Like really have fun out there and just try and just enjoy it.
iRunFar: Then, what still gets you to at least pin the bib on once a year?
Piceu: [laughs] Well, this place. This, this one in particular, you know. I think I sort of had in the back of my mind that I would love to, if possible, get 10 finishes here. And next year if I, well, if I get in next year. This is nine. Hopefully, one more year and then that would be … that would be ideal.
iRunFar: Yeah. You’ll probably hang things up after that or take a break at least?
Piceu: Maybe. Yeah, yeah.
iRunFar: We were chatting before that, you know, one of the things that’s been a constant is Sophia has been here, your daughter, I’m guessing every other year.
Piceu: Yeah, yeah.
iRunFar: And now this year there’s going to be a change.
Piceu: I know. Yeah. Just keeping it really simple this year. She’s 13. She’s basically literally grown up with Hardrock, which is really cool. And she just, she’s a teenager. She wants to be with her friends. She had like all kinds of camps and has been traveling a bunch and just needed time at home. So, she’s at home hanging out with friends and I’m here.
iRunFar: Sophia, we’ll miss you, if you watch this.
Piceu: I love you. I miss you. [blows kisses] [laughs]
iRunFar: So, you have changed, you didn’t race as much, you didn’t run Bighorn. You were going to do that.
iRunFar: Have you changed your training or preparation for Hardrock at all otherwise?
Piceu: No, not really. I mean, I feel like I’ve been doing a little bit more of like just other things that I enjoy like biking and paddleboarding and swimming, and just not solely focused on just running. I think it’s just helping my body a little bit more and yeah, just not being as hard on my body.
iRunFar: Yeah, and some of that’s calculated. It also sounds like you enjoy …
Piceu: I really enjoy it, yeah.
iRunFar: And maybe you sacrificed some of those aspects when you were trying to…
Piceu: Exactly. Yeah, exactly.
iRunFar: You cleanly dialed and focused on whether it’s Hardrock or the Rocky Mountain Slam or whatever.
Piceu: Exactly, exactly. Yeah.
iRunFar: But you haven’t given up on it. You’re here.
Piceu: No, I’ll never give up running and that’s why I think just taking it back a notch is going to help me so that I can be 75 and running with Sophia and be healthy.
iRunFar: Do you think you know, changing the training a little bit and having fewer races ahead of time, do you think you might change your actual racing at all like, on this weekend?
Piceu: Gosh, I don’t know. I mean, I think I’m just going to try and be, stay comfortable, go out comfortably. Maybe you know, maybe take it back a notch at the start if I can. I get a little caught up. It’s hard.
iRunFar: It’s hard.
Piceu: It’s hard to take it back. But I’m going to just try and really, like yes, just be conversational, comfortable for as long as I can.
iRunFar: Do you think like in some ways that could lead to, whether it’s an actual better performance in terms of time or just you coming out of the race saying I nailed that better than I have before?
Piceu: Maybe. I hope so. It’s I mean, I remember watching Jamil Coury‘s race when he and Nick [Coury] had such an amazing run and they blew by me one year going down into Telluride. And he like just went out walking in the beginning. And I was like, wow, that was a pretty cool strategy. So, who knows? We’ll see what happens.
iRunFar: You’ve gone through a lot of, Hardrock’s been a big part of your life. And you’ve gone through some tough moments at and with Hardrock. Last year, sad that your dog Maggie, who’s passed away since, was really sick in the weeks coming into Hardrock.
iRunFar: You started and ended up running a solid race.
Piceu: Yeah. It was the hardest Hardrock though. [laughs]
iRunFar: You were also, there were a lot of issues there.
Piceu: Yeah, well you know it’s seen me through. Yeah, sorry, go ahead.
iRunFar: How did you deal with that stress? Or did it help you cope with it? Or how did that all interact?
Piceu: I mean, I think in some ways, I come here, you know. There’s always something happening in life and it’s, I feel like maybe that’s part of why Hardrock so special to me. Is that, you know, it’s seen me through a lot of difficult times in life. And I come here and there’s nothing better than running, and just like running through the mountains for 29 hours or more, or whatever you run it in, and it allows you to just process things and that’s pretty amazing.
iRunFar: Yeah, like, I guess to, you know, to dig in a little more like, did those thoughts come up like or in the days before?
iRunFar: Or were you able to push it back? Or are you actually like, thinking of the situation?
Piceu: Yeah, I was definitely thinking of the situation.
iRunFar: Like in the race. Yeah.
Piceu: Maybe not as much in the race. I was actually dealing with a lot of other stuff during the race.
iRunFar: Like feeling like you want to puke? [laughs]
Piceu: The whole race I had the worst stomach. So, you know, that part kind of like just shadowed everything, unfortunately. So, I’m just hoping to have a good tummy, and enjoy the running, and all the things.
iRunFar: Maybe putting on a bib and forcing yourself to be in that moment, whether you’re having a good time or feeling nauseous and trying to deal with it the whole time, you’re there right in that place and moment.
Piceu: Yeah. Yes, exactly. Yeah.
iRunFar: Alright, well I hope you don’t have to deal with so much nausea.
Piceu: Me too.
iRunFar: And have a lovely fun run around the San Juans.
Piceu: Thank you so much.
iRunFar: Good luck.
Piceu: Thanks, Bryon.