The 2024 Hardrock 100 is history! Check out our in-depth results article for the full race story, as well as our interviews with champions Courtney Dauwalter and Ludovic Pommeret.

Diego Pazos Pre-2024 Hardrock 100 Interview

A video interview (with transcript) with Diego Pazos before the 2024 Hardrock 100.

By on July 8, 2024 | Comments

Having tried for years to get in, Diego Pazos of Switzerland is finally lining up for his debut at the 2024 Hardrock 100. In this interview, he talks about coming to the United States with his family ahead of the race to experience Colorado, why he limits the number of 100-mile races he runs, how the high altitude is treating him, and what he hopes to get out of race day.

For more on who’s racing, check out our in-depth 2024 Hardrock 100 preview and follow our live race coverage on race day.

Diego Pazos Pre-2024 Hardrock 100 Interview Transcript

iRunFar: Meghan Hicks of iRunFar. I’m with Diego Pazos before the 2024

Hardrock 100.  Hi, Diego. Welcome to America. Welcome to Hardrock.

Diego Pazos: Hi, Meghan. Thank you, thank you. I’m happy to be here.

iRunFar: You have been applying to race Hardrock for a long time, so being here today, this week, is a long time coming for you.

Pazos: Yeah, it’s like a dream come true, you know. It’s been 10 years that I wanted to race this race, and seven years that I’ve been applying, so very happy to be here with the whole family and discovering this wonderful Colorado.

iRunFar: Amazing. You have a long career in ultrarunning at this point. I think maybe 13 or 14 years of ultrarunning, is that correct?
Pazos: Yes, 13 now.

iRunFar: Okay, 13. It seems like you are specific with the 100-mile races that you do, though. I think maybe your races have been only UTMB, and the Diagonale des Fous, and now Hardrock. Is this what 100-mile running means to you?

Pazos: Exactly. For me, 100 miles is a mythical distance, so I choose the races that for me have a sense and the ones that make me dream, you know. Otherwise, I will go to other formats, more than 100k, I like that, but 120, 110, 100. But 100 mile, a 100 miler, I think it’s a hard race. And I think you have to spot them. You cannot do many in one year. At least me, with work, with family, I cannot race many 100 milers in one year.

iRunFar: I always like to ask people who are coming internationally what it means to get into Hardrock, to be here. It’s just a very, everything about this place is unique. Could you share a little bit about your experience? You’ve been in America like 10 days now?

Pazos: Yes, yes. I mean, everything is different for us in Europe, you know. Everything is big here, you know. Big cars, big roads.

iRunFar: [laughs] Big meals.

Pazos: Yeah. For food, it’s different. It’s a different vibe, you know, and I’ve always been dreaming of participating in one race in the U.S. And for me, I mean, Hardrock suits better my qualities than Western States, for example. So I’ve always been more interested in Hardrock since the beginning. Since the first time yeah, maybe Kilian [Jornet] came, because he gave to this race, an image. A vision in Europe. Because before, I heard about it, but I didn’t know that it was so high.

iRunFar: Didn’t know anything.

Pazos: It didn’t interest me more than before Kilian came. And now, since one week, I love the weather. It’s perfect. The trails are very nice. And I love that it’s very wild. It’s kind of a paradox between big roads, big cars, and with cars everywhere, you know, where Engineer Pass, it was full of buggies. But in a sense, it’s very wild and protected. Not so many ski resorts everywhere that maybe we have too much in Europe, in some parts. So, this part, I love a lot.

iRunFar: It’s interesting for you to point out that dichotomy of America with, you know, everything is oversized, and big, and just very American. But then our wild spaces are quite wild. And maybe in most places, much more wild than the wilderness you find in Europe.

Pazos: Yeah, sure. It’s protected. It looks like there’s nothing. Like no trails, nothing. And as a trail runner and mountain lover, you want to go everywhere. You know, it’s hard to be, to stay calm here in Silverton when you see so many mountains and so many wild mountains in the surroundings.

iRunFar: I have to ask a little bit about the altitude. This is something that’s unique for almost everybody who does this race. Coming from Europe, something like 2,000 meters is pretty high for a trail there. You’ll double that in this race. You’ll go to 4,000 meters, 14,000 feet. You have been here for a week and a half. I know you’re camping with your family up quite high, like 3,000 meters. How’s altitude feeling for you?

Pazos: For the moment, it’s good. I went to Engineer Pass, so it was close to 4,000 meters, 13,000 feet, I think. It was quite okay. You feel that if you want to push a bit, it’s harder. And to eat, for the nutrition, is a bit special as well. You have to be careful because it’s not so easy to eat. You can have some stomach problems. But otherwise, I feel quite good. Sleeping at Molas Lake, it was fine.

iRunFar: Ah, good.

Pazos: I feel that on the muscles as well. When you start running, it’s like you have full of acid in the muscles. But then, after 15, 20 minutes, you start to stabilize.

iRunFar: Yeah.

Pazos: You find your rhythm. It’s what I love in ultrarunning. In this race, we add another parameter. Usually, you have a lot of them in an ultra race. Here, you add another one. I will have to play on this one to try to give my best. This is even more interesting.

iRunFar: That was exactly my next question for you, because you’re very familiar with running 100 miles. You’re very familiar with the amount of vertical gain and loss that we see this weekend. But staying consistently quite high is the variable of the weekend. You have so much experience at 100-mile running though. My question for you is, how are you going to take the experiences you’ve had, like problems and things that you’ve thrived at before, what are you bringing specifically to this race and its unique conditions?

Pazos: I think it’s to prepare myself mentally to suffer even more than in other 100 milers. Because these parameters, I don’t know how it will affect my condition. It’s to stay always focused that it will come back. And not say, “Okay, I’m a mess, and I have to stop because I cannot even breathe.” I will bring this experience to know to say, okay. For example, last UTMB, last year I had big problems in the 65 first kilometers. I lost almost two hours on the front leaders. Stomach problems, diaphragm problems. Then it switched, and the last 100K, I could really [makes gesture implying moving forward with hand]

iRunFar: Interesting.

Pazos: Yeah. I gained maybe 60, 62 positions, but it was too late. I was too far. So it was impossible to get into the top 20. I was 23rd, I think. But this experience gave me a lot of confidence for a race like that, where we’ll be alone in the wild most of the time, because there is not a lot of participants. But you will be alone with yourself, and you will have to fight to find your resources to adapt that. So I think it’s more on the mental part than in the physical part. Because on the physical part, I tried to, I had a tent at home for three weeks before coming. Try to sleep a bit.

iRunFar: That’s why you’re feeling so good.

Pazos: Maybe, maybe.

iRunFar: You’ve been at altitude in your tent at home.

Pazos: I stopped one week before coming here. I did three weeks. But you know, with work and family, I couldn’t stay more than eight hours in the tent for the night. It was just, it was short. But I think maybe it gave to my body a taste of what is here.

iRunFar: Yeah, yeah.

Pazos: So I’m feeling good. I’m sleeping good. So, I just got sick, as I told you, four days ago. So, I hope, I have still four days. I hope it’s going to be all fine for the race. And yeah, I can’t wait.

iRunFar: My last question for you. You have a bit of an alter ego. Zpeedy?

Pazos: Yeah.

iRunFar: How is the alter ego feeling about this really new adventure racing at high altitude in
Colorado?

Pazos: I mean, my bow tie is just waiting to run here. I mean, to say hi with a big smile to the community here, to the volunteers. And you know, it’s a dream to be here. So, I know that if I can fight for the lead position, I will do it for sure. That’s an objective. But if I can’t, my objective is to be at the finish line. And I know that I will be in a warrior mode. So, I will give it all to be here. And even if I have to, if it will take me 47 hours, or 47:30, I will try to be here. So, I’m focused. I’m mentally really ready, I think, to do these mountains, this altitude. I hope so. And then I just wait that the weather will be with us without too much thunderstorm, because I think here it can be very violent. So yeah, I’m ready and Zpeedy waits for Colorado trails.

iRunFar: Awesome. Best of luck to you and Zpeedy on Friday and Saturday.

Pazos: See you at the finish line. Thank you.

Meghan Hicks

Meghan Hicks is the Editor-in-Chief of iRunFar. She’s been running since she was 13 years old, and writing and editing about the sport for around 15 years. She served as iRunFar’s Managing Editor from 2013 through mid-2023, when she stepped into the role of Editor-in-Chief. Aside from iRunFar, Meghan has worked in communications and education in several of America’s national parks, was a contributing editor for Trail Runner magazine, and served as a columnist at Marathon & Beyond. She’s the co-author of Where the Road Ends: A Guide to Trail Running with Bryon Powell. She won the 2013 Marathon des Sables, finished on the podium of the Hardrock 100 Mile in 2021, and has previously set fastest known times on the Nolan’s 14 mountain running route in 2016 and 2020. Based part-time in Moab, Utah and Silverton, Colorado, Meghan also enjoys reading, biking, backpacking, and watching sunsets.