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.

François D’Haene Pre-2024 Hardrock 100 Interview

A video interview (with transcript) with François D’Haene before the 2024 Hardrock 100.

By on July 8, 2024 | Comments

Holder of two of the three fastest times around the Hardrock 100 course and the 2021 champion, François D’Haene of France returns to Silverton, Colorado, for a third lap through the San Juan Mountains. In the following interview, François talks about what brings him back to the race, how he’s been dealing with long-term injuries, and some of his future goals in the mountains.

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

François D’Haene Pre-2024 Hardrock 100 Interview Transcript

iRunFar: Meghan Hicks of iRunFar. I’m with François D’Haene. It’s a couple days before the 2024 Hardrock 100. Here we are again in Silverton. Hi, François.

François D’Haene: Hi, Meghan. Nice to see you again.

iRunFar: So nice to see you, too. This is your third time back in Silverton for Hardrock. What brings you back for a third time?

D’Haene: I don’t know why I should not come back, because it was always great memories here. To be honest, it’s the fourth time here. I was there in 2019 but I think the race was cancelled because of avalanche damage. And then there was COVID, so I have to wait a long time to be on the start line. But it will be the third time that I will race. And yes, I have always great memories here. It’s a very nice race, and a very typical race. I like to be there. And since I arrived, it’s always sunny and beautiful mountains, and nice flowers, so I’m very happy to be there.

iRunFar: It’s a super different place from some of the typical 100 milers that we see you at like UTMB, Diagonale des Fous, where it’s so much about the culture, and maybe a little bit less about the landscape. Here it’s so much about the landscape, right?

D’Haene: Yeah, and there’s of course less people, so it’s a bit more comfortable for us as elite runners.

iRunFar: Nobody chasing you down the streets of Silverton?

D’Haene: No, but it’s part of the game, and I like it, but sometimes it’s hard to have UTMB on one side, and Hardrock on one other side, or project on another side. It’s totally different. And there’s some pressure too, of course, but what I like in ultra is to have some adaptation. And here, yes, with the altitude, with the storm, when you rest, it’s more dry. It’s changed totally for me, even if I’m here for 10 days, or two weeks before the race. It’s hard to adapt, and you never know during the race what can happen. It could be so warm in Ouray and so cold up to Handies and during the night. So, yeah, it’s a real adventure.

iRunFar: You’ve had so much experience here at Hardrock. You’ve been here twice before. You have won the race. You have two of the three fastest times on the course. You’re one of only two men to run under 22 hours. Which are all just incredible statistics, but for me what’s interesting about you is when you come here, you talk about the flowers. You talk about the mountains. You talk about the sun. You talk about other things besides those statistics of doing this race so quickly.

D’Haene: Yeah, but I think all the races that I approach, I approach it with the same approach and yeah, of course, during the race I will try to do my best, but yes, my main motivation is not to beat this guy, or this guy, or this guy, to beat this time. The main important thing is to be able to race as good as I can and try to perform and then we’ll see. And yeah.

Even more now since two years where my body had some difficulties, it’s more and more and more important to have as much fun, to be back with pleasure, and some good feelings on the mountain. If I’m happy to play and just be tired, or crampy, it’s okay. I just want to have this feeling and memories, and I just want to try to do the loop as fast as possible. And yeah, it’s some nice statistics, but it’s just some statistics, and the memories and the feeling I think are more important.

iRunFar: You talked about you’ve had some difficulties in the last couple of years. If my memory is correct, here is sort of where those difficulties started. Is this where you started to get a foot injury or ankle injury a few years ago?

D’Haene: Yeah, I felt not comfortable two years ago. I had a pain in my ankle during the whole race, but it’s hard to say that, and I had such a great time. But yeah, I think I pushed a bit too much on my bone. And yeah, my body was not well balanced in terms of the cells that create the bone, and destroy the bone. And right like two months after it, I still feel it. It was strange, and so I made some exam and they discovered a stress fracture. So it was not that good. And then everything was worse and worse and worse, and I have a small fall, but it created like a big, big, big fracture. Just because my bone was not very good. The problem was not the fall, but just the body. So it takes a long time to recover and to get confident in your body. So last December, I put out all the material inside of my body, and I had a very good winter on skimo.

iRunFar: Okay.

D’Haene: I was really confident to start again the running season. And Hardrock for me was a big goal just to have in mind.

iRunFar: To get here.

D’Haene: Yeah, to get here. So I was really confident. But to be honest, when I started running in April and May, it was not as good as I hoped. And it’s still hard with my ankle, and my body has some compensation here, and here, and here, so I can’t train like I want. So, it’s always hard to say, oh finally, I’m not like I would like to be. Of course, you can have surprises. Like you say, I have a lot of experience here. I have a lot of experience in ultra. You can have surprises, but I know that in terms of training, I was not able to do what I want. So it’s always frustrating, but like we discussed a bit earlier, I’m so happy to be there again. And I have to enjoy the possibility to make this nice loop. And I have many friends here, American friends, and my family will come. So yeah, I have to enjoy it anyway and take pleasure. And if even if I cannot perform, there are some other topics and values that I should be proud. It’s always hard to have some expectation and finally say, “Oh. I’d like to be at this level of training and finally I’m not there.” So we’ll see.

iRunFar: I personally am a little excited that I saw you spending a couple days on the Nolan’s 14 course in the Sawatch Mountains before coming here to the San Juans. Ah, you might have interest in that route someday?

D’Haene: Yeah, sure. I am interested about that route since many years. I was thinking it could be something that I could like, so I want to have a look at it, and I did it. And so I think I will go back there in a few days with my family just to visit a bit more and more deep, and just have some small walk over there. But what I was able to see, it’s just incredible and very wild. And yeah, I was inspired when I watched you, or now so many people on the Nolan’s. And I said, wow, it looks an adventure, and even Iker Karrera, I don’t know if you remember.

iRunFar: Yeah.

D’Haene: I was running with him in many races, and he speak about Nolan’s with me, and I was thinking it’s a good thing.

iRunFar: Someday.

D’Haene: Someday. And I just have to plan it. And yeah, if all the stars or planets are well-aligned, maybe next year could be a big goal for me, but for sure I would like to do it one time in my life, even if I cannot perform. Just walking or doing the whole in one time, it’s something I think you can remember for your whole life.

iRunFar: I love that. Also, probably really good acclimation being over there for a few days and getting ready for Hardrock, too.

D’Haene: Yeah, that was the goal, but when I was there, I was not able to run. My body was not well-balanced, and I was feeling very, very shit. So I was even thinking, okay, maybe I won’t be able to be at the start line.

iRunFar: Okay.

D’Haene: So each day can be just better. Because when you’re at the bottom of the mountain, you can just ascend. So each day is better and better and better. And yeah, just I have to adapt my body, and we’ll see. We’ll see. But the idea was to have a good acclimation over there, and to change my mind, and to discover some new mountains. So I was really expecting a very nice training over there. And finally I was just there to discover a bit the road which was nice, but in terms of training, it was not the best moment of my life.

iRunFar: Okay. Fair, very fair. Just to sort of summarize all that, you’ve been coming back from your foot and ankle injury and surgery, doing some training, and then in your travels here to America when you arrived here about two weeks ago, you said off-camera that you were just not feeling well, and things were not quite right with your body. So when you were first over in Buena Vista and on the Nolan’s course, you didn’t have good feelings in your body, but as time is progressing, now you’re starting to feel better?

D’Haene: Yeah, yeah, and there’s still like four days to the race?

iRunFar: Yeah.

D’Haene: So, in four days everything can happen.

iRunFar: That’s so many days still!

D’Haene: Yeah, I just have to rest. And I was feeling very terrible. It’s not often that I feel like that, but now it’s better every day. And I hope to be able to enjoy the adventure.

iRunFar: Last question for you. One of the most unique things about racing in America are pacers, and you’ve had your share of pacers here.

D’Haene: I think I can have some very nice pacers.

iRunFar: So who is your pacing and crewing team this year?

D’Haene: I didn’t want to make plans because when I arrived there, I felt not that good. And when you feel not good, sometimes it’s better to be by yourself.

iRunFar: Just wait.

D’Haene: And just walk. And I don’t want to complain with someone that I like. And so I was not thinking of having pacer, but I’m very close, like from Jim [Walmsley] or Simon [Gosselin] or even Victor [Moreau] or Anna [Frost] or many people here who are able to pace me. And yes, they have good words for me, and I think they know who I am, and even if I complain, I think they can understand. So yeah, maybe I will ask them to pace me. Simon and Jim did the Western States 100 like, exactly 10 days ago. It will be two weeks on Friday. So, I don’t want to push them too much, because they need to recover. But I think here you can have pacer for some small sections, so maybe they can help me like on Handies or on Bear Creek or someplace like that.

iRunFar: Cool.

D’Haene: And I don’t know for the last section if I need someone. I know pretty well the race now.

iRunFar: Yeah. Yeah.

D’Haene: So I’m less stressed than the first year.

iRunFar: Yeah. Having a pacer now would be more about sharing it with a person than helping you stay on the course.

D’Haene: Exactly. Yeah, I think in my mind it’s not about pushing me more, and going faster on the road, it’s more to share something with them. So if I’m not in a good day, I don’t want to share it. I think I’m enough strong to push myself. It’s not the problem. So it’s just to share something with them, and it’s a particularity that we can have just on U.S. race. And I think here you can more discuss. In Western [States], it’s more [labored breathing]. You get fast.

iRunFar: No talking.

D’Haene: Yeah, you have to discuss, because you go so slow because of the altitude.

iRunFar: [laughs] Many hours to pass the time.

D’Haene: And yeah, I think I met like, deeply. I don’t know if it’s okay, met deeply, or like, very intense.

iRunFar: Yeah.

D’Haene: Like with Dakota Jones the first year, and Jim Wamsley. And after the race, it’s not the same than before the race. Even with Rickey Gates who paced me or Michael, another guy, you create some deep link. So it’s very interesting.

iRunFar: Best of luck to you on your third lap around the Hardrock course.

D’Haene: Thank you.

iRunFar: I hope the next four days bring better and better feelings for you.

D’Haene: Yeah, it will bring some good energy, and yeah, it will add up during the race. Maybe it’s just a long walk, and maybe it’s a race.

iRunFar: Best of luck to you.

D’Haene: 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.