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.

Katharina Hartmuth Pre-2024 Hardrock 100 Interview

A video interview (with transcript) with Katharina Hartmuth before the 2024 Hardrock 100.

By on July 9, 2024 | Comments

Germany’s Katharina Hartmuth is lining up for her first go at the Hardrock 100 this year. In the following interview, Katharina talks about her impressions of the Silverton, Colorado area, a series of injuries that have set her back after her standout 2023 season, and how she is approaching race day in the aftermath of a recent injury-causing fall.

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

Katharina Hartmuth Pre-2024 Hardrock 100 Interview Transcript

iRunFar: Meghan Hicks of iRunFar. I’m with Katharina Hartmuth. It’s a couple days before the 2024 Hardrock 100. Good morning, Katharina. How are you?

Katharina Hartmuth: Hi, thank you. I’m good.

iRunFar: It’s really nice to see you in my neck of the woods. This is where I live.

Hartmuth: Yes. And it’s beautiful. I love it here.

iRunFar: You have been here for a couple of weeks. What are your impressions of western Colorado?

Hartmuth: I love it. I mean, I have to admit that at first I was like, it’s a bit similar in Switzerland, but then the longer I’m here I’m like, no. It’s different. It’s definitely different. And we like it. It’s beautiful.

iRunFar: What are some things that you have seen that like, you have really loved them, or you have found them to be very unique compared to the mountains you typically run in?

Hartmuth: So, what I definitely love is the remoteness. Being up there and you know, not being able to phone, to call someone. Just be out there. It feels more like wilderness, or at least a bit more than in Switzerland, where you have all the cable cars.

iRunFar: Yeah.

Hartmuth: And you know, buses driving everywhere. So that’s definitely unique. And then the mountains itself. I mean, the colors up there. It’s so beautiful, the reddish colors. But then also the other mountains who are, just look like in Switzerland. And it’s just this mix, I think. And then also the wildlife. I mean, I haven’t seen a bear, luckily. [laughs]

iRunFar: Maybe during the race.

Hartmuth: Hopefully not.

iRunFar: From afar. Like from a good distance.

Hartmuth: Yeah, but seeing some moose.

iRunFar: Oh, wow.

Hartmuth: That was quite nice because we don’t have them in Switzerland.

iRunFar: Yeah.

Hartmuth: And the different trees, and it’s just, it’s really cool.

iRunFar: Awesome. For me, it’s really fun to get to have people come from different places, and see this place through your eyes, and hear about your experiences. You come to this race as a women’s favorite. You’ve had an incredible year in 2023. You took second at the Trail Running World Championships – Long Trail race. Second again at UTMB.However, you have had some challenges since then. Would you like to talk a little bit about the physical challenges of the last six or eight months?

Hartmuth: Yeah, so the lead up to the season was challenging, to say the least. I had a couple of bike accidents unfortunately, in autumn and winter, and I injured my knee twice. In this accident.

iRunFar: The same leg?

Hartmuth: The same leg, unfortunately. It was not helpful. [laughs]

iRunFar: I don’t know, maybe like just one leg injured instead of two. I don’t know.

Hartmuth: Yeah. The problem was the second time it was just, it didn’t heal that well. That was the main problem after the first injury. And so it took me some while until I could train properly again. I couldn’t run basically until April, which is quite late for me.

iRunFar: Okay. Yeah.

Hartmuth: And I had to cancel my first race which would have been on Madeira [MIUT].

iRunFar: Okay.

Hartmuth: But then I could train well, luckily. That was quite nice.

iRunFar: And you did two races, I believe.

Hartmuth: Yes.

iRunFar: Transvulcania in May. And then Trail Andorra 100k in June, is that right?

Hartmuth: Exactly. So the Transvulcania was like a test race, just to see if the knee holds up. Anyways, I’m not good at the shorter distances, so it was just…

iRunFar: I love when 40 or 50 miles is a shorter distance. [laughs]

Hartmuth: Yeah, I mean the good thing was that after this nine hours, I was like, okay, now I feel good.

iRunFar: Now I’m warmed up.

Hartmuth: Exactly. So I knew, okay, I’m back in some sense.

iRunFar: Okay.

Hartmuth: So I was just happy to be there, and happy to be running a race again. And then at Andorra, that was really the test if the shape is back there, where I wanted to be. I really enjoyed the Andorra race. That went quite well for me, and I could push basically the whole race. That was pretty cool. And then I was very optimistic with the lead up to Hardrock. And I spent a couple of days in Switzerland, at Swiss altitude, which is like 3,000 feet less than here. [laughs]

iRunFar: It’s progress towards here.

Hartmuth: Exactly. But I thought it’s better than staying at 400 meters where I usually live. And, unfortunately, on one of my last training runs, I had a nasty fall onto my back. Because there was so much snow on the trails I’d kind of climb around. And I was in this rock field, and I can’t really remember what happened. I was just laying down.

iRunFar: Okay. You fell hit your back, and had some sort of impact injury. You said off camera, I think, to your sacrum.

Hartmuth: Yes. So I bruised my sacrum, and I didn’t feel that bad in the first moment. So actually I could continue my run on that day.

iRunFar: Okay. You were in shock probably.

Hartmuth: I thought well, it doesn’t feel too bad. And especially with downhill it was not bad which is for me, usually a good sign. So I continued. And I was like, I was lucky. But then unfortunately the next day when I went home, I felt the back. And because actually my first thought was that I’ve broken my arm, because my arm hurt so much more.

iRunFar: Interesting.

Hartmuth: And then the next day, unfortunately, it was not the arm, because you know, with a broken arm you can probably still run.

iRunFar: Yeah, yeah.

Hartmuth: And then they did a scan just two days before my flight to Denver was scheduled. And they told me just go and see how it goes. It’s like a 50/50 chance.

iRunFar: And there were a couple of weeks till the race at that point. So some time to rest.

Hartmuth: Yeah, the crash was exactly two weeks ago. [laughs]

iRunFar: Wow. And so here we are. It is Tuesday before the race, now. The race starts in a little under three days. You’re at a point now where hiking feels without pain, but running still has some pain? Or what’s the best descriptor of your situation?

Hartmuth: Well, I just didn’t really run in last weeks. It was all about resting. And I mean, the good thing is, I know the shape is there, because I had it three weeks ago, so I hope it’s still somewhere.

iRunFar: Oh it’s still there. Yeah.

Hartmuth: And the main thing was just to come here and adapt to altitude, and I think I’m quite happy with my adaptation. I felt it when we went up to the passes that it improved so much from the first day.

iRunFar: Oh, interesting. It’s nice to have that know that progress is happening.

Hartmuth: Yes. And then with the hiking, I did a couple of hikes. And the last two days I felt really good with the hiking, really confident. And also I felt that the legs are still there. It was good. And also the lungs are there and working. And that was really good. But we decided with the physio to just try not to run basically at all. Just to increase the chances that it works out in the end, and then just to give the bruise some more rest. And I really feel that that a lot of things have improved. So a lot of the pain I had in everyday life subsided. So basically pain free, but now the question is, if I will be pain free when running for a longer time.

iRunFar: For a day and a little bit of change.

Hartmuth: [laughs] Yes. I mean, luckily I think we hiked for most of the time, but there were still some running sections, and I’m really not here to hike down, to be honest.

iRunFar: Yeah. So your plan will be to start the race. Go out at the pace that you would like to do the race at, and feel out the sacrum and see how it is.

Hartmuth: Yeah, so I will see. I will do some running the next couple of days just to see how that feels. In the worst case, if that doesn’t feel good, then I should maybe consider not to start at all, but I really don’t hope that is the case, now that I feel so much better. So the goal would be to toe the start line, and hope that the sacrum holds up for as long as possible. I would love to finish the race. Now I’m here, and I’ve experienced everything around the race, the community, the nature. I really want to run it now. [laughs]

iRunFar: It’s so fascinating to me, there seems to be just a higher incidence of spontaneous injury type stuff and amongst the Hardrock field this year. Amongst the front runners you are certainly not alone in people who are trying to navigate issues to get to the starting line.

Hartmuth: Yeah, I don’t know if this is helpful, but at least it’s good to see that other struggle as well. Although I would have hoped for them that they would not. I still hope that we will have a cool race. And I think there are still some runners who are not injured or don’t have problems. So let’s see what happens there. But yeah, just hope for everyone who can start that they can also finish.

iRunFar: Katharina I feel like I sort of need to wrap you and a lot of other people in bubble wrap and keep you safe for the rest of this week. [laughs]

Hartmuth: That would be great. Yeah. Or give me some magic pill, you know.

iRunFar: That’s right. Best of luck to you in arriving to the start line just as healthy as you can be. And may the gods of karma and mother nature and all those things take care of you on race day.

Hartmuth: Thank you very much.

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.