Meghan Hicks of iRunFar finished third in the 2021 Hardrock 100, making it on the podium for the first time in her third Hardrock experience. In the following interview with guest interviewer Dylan Bowman, Meghan talks about her 100 miles of ups and downs around the San Juan Mountains, some of the challenges of her day, and what it means to be a part of her hometown race.
Read our Hardrock 100 results article for more on how the race played out.
Meghan Hicks Post-2021 Hardrock 100 Interview Transcript
iRunFar: What a privilege! Dylan Bowman of iRunFar here with Meghan Hicks, the boss of iRunFar, who had a spectacular third-place finish at the 2021 Hardrock 100. Meghan, how do you feel?
Meghan Hicks: About as good as you feel. I feel great.
iRunFar: So it was 33 hours, your third finish. You said it was your hardest finish at the Hardrock. Why was that?
Hicks: You expect in 100 miles that some of the miles are not going to feel good, but you also expect that a lot of the miles are, because you put in a lot of work to try to feel good that on the day, but none of the miles came easy. There were like 20 happy miles out in Pole Creek and that’s about it. The rest of them were a challenge.
iRunFar: So, I mean, one of the things that I think is remarkable about you is that you can work so much to do the Western States 100 three weeks ago. And then step on a start line of…
Hicks: Well you did the same thing.
iRunFar: I did. I did too, but you know I think it was it was probably a little bit easier for me. I mean I had to just basically sit put for one day. You guys are hustling around doing everything like that. How was your preparation leading into the race and was that part of why it felt harder?
Hicks: I had great training. I mean, I set up a training plan. I was actually not entirely planning to do Hardrock because originally Bryon [Powell] was doing Hardrock. We both got chosen in the lottery, but as iRunFar we both can’t run the race. So he was going to run and I was going to cover [the race]. But a couple months into training, training wasn’t going so well for him, but I had already built out a training block for other adventures, and we switched. So I had good training, like in the spring, and things kind of had a bit of a downturn. Like we had some challenges with our cabin in Moab, Utah, and then we had a week down at Western States, and then prepping for coverage here was a pretty good hard week. However, the iRunFar team was amazing. They gave me a day off before the race, so I had Thursday off.
iRunFar: One day off before the race?
Hicks: But I got to relax. I was laying on the couch the day before the race, so yeah. I mean, life is a balance. I like to be a busy person. I like to have, you know, my hands in lots of different stuff. It’s just a balance. You do what you can with what you have.
iRunFar: You do balance it so well. Not only, you know, providing so much great information for our sport, but also, [waves at Anna Frost’s family off camera who are cheering] you do so much for the sport, but you’re also, you know, you compete also. And the women’s race this year was incredible. I mean, highlighted with yourself, Sabrina Stanley and Courtney Dauwalter and others, Darcy [Piceu] of course, legend. So maybe talk about, how do you balance that sort of like, especially at Hardrock where the competition thing isn’t really as important as it is in a lot of other races. How do you think about that stuff going in?
Hicks: I mean, at least for me personally whenever I decide to race, I want to try to do the best I can with what I have in that moment. I don’t always have everything. But it’s hard to think of Hardrock as a true competition. Because you spend so many hours alone. You don’t actually see your competitors. Maybe you see a ponytail, you know like, the next pass away, or you’re getting…
iRunFar: You see a headlamp.
Hicks: Right. It’s very, competition is an abstract thing here, so you’re really just yourself with this environment and trying to make the best of every moment out there. So yeah. I mean, it’s, it’s amazing to see these badass women moving so quick through these gnarly mountains and high terrain and yeah like going over 14,000 feet as fast as they are going. It’s really inspiring but yeah it’s kind of still abstract.
iRunFar: So any, any highlights? I mean, with a race that’s so hard, where no mile comes easy, was there anything out there that was particularly enjoyable?
Hicks: So much. Yeah. Anytime you hit 13,000 feet, it was a wildflower garden. I’ve never seen it as thick as it was. Kroger’s Canteen was insane. Kroger’s Canteen is always wonderful. But Joe Grant is the brand new aid station captain there. They did a marvelous job. All of the food at all of the aid stations, was, I mean, epic. I didn’t have the stomach for most of it, but the offerings were insane. My pacer and I saw a gigantic porcupine going up Camp Bird Road, like it was like a bear porcupine, it was so big.
Hicks: Some eyes in the night, but I think they all turned out to be deer. It was it was a great adventure. I wouldn’t change anything. You always want to, you know, do better, find a better version of yourself, but I’d never change yesterday.
iRunFar: So, with your third Hardrock finish, how many of those are counterclockwise and maybe do you have any perspective on what’s, what’s different between the two directions?
Hicks: Yeah, this is my second counterclockwise. I’ve gone both directions at least once. I’m not, I’m not sure that I’m the best person to ask about that. It’s just so many miles that it’s like they all start to blend together. I do like technical descents and this direction has more technical descents, but in the other direction there’s also plenty of technicality. I would say that it’s really brutal to climb Grant-Swamp Pass at mile, what is that…
iRunFar: 85 or 90.
Hicks: 85 or something? It’s a long approach of powerhiking terrain but then you just reach this wall. And you can see the scar of humanity having gone up and down it so that’s where you’re going but you kind of look at it as you’re approaching it thinking, that’s nice.
iRunFar: That was easily the hardest part of the race for me is going up Grant-Swamp Pass.
Hicks: And you probably couldn’t see the top either because you were in the dark.
iRunFar: It seriously, it came out of nowhere for us you know. We’re just like going along this sort of like talus and then it was just like, oh no. So, you know, looking back at the race yesterday, and having only read the iRunFar coverage of it, are there any takeaways about what happened around you and the women’s podium or the men’s race? I mean, for me it felt like it was a really fast, fast day, good conditions compared to other years. Any insights or takeaways?
Hicks: I think conditions, I mean, y’all are just beasts, in the first place. You ran out of your brains. But I do think the conditions were remarkable. The best I’ve seen. One, there was no snow. Two, the heat never came to the lower altitudes and usually that combination of like middle altitude plus heat kind of cooks people in the afternoon. We kind of had cool conditions, and then it had rained an inch, maybe four or five days before the race. So all the descents were tacky. You know, so there was no sliding on kitty litter having to be careful. You can kind of just trust your shoes and go. So I think it was good conditions. But the people who were at the front the race, they ran out of their brains. You know, you guys are amazing.
iRunFar: You’re amazing. So, Hardrock is a special frickin’ race. What a cool event this is. I mean you guys live here in Silverton a lot of the time and you’re very connected to the Hardrock family. Talk about that a little bit. Where does Hardrock sit with you and Bryon and your business and how you guys feel about everything?
Hicks: It’s kind of weird to sit here. Slowly but surely this place and this race have like creeped inside of every part of us, you know. It’s become a part of our lives, part of our work, part of our personal passions. But now that you’ve been here you can kind of see why. The mountains are incredible. Like doable, but still challenging. You know, just like right at the edge, right. It’s fun to have a challenge that goes right to the edge. But honestly, it’s a beautiful race and a beautiful place, but this is also a race about the people. You know, it’s just such a special group of people and every year there’s newcomers who join it and you know people who sort of graduate and go to the volunteering side of things. But at the award ceremony they honor the volunteers just as much as they honor the finishers. It’s all about being a coveted family. And we’re just tiny cogs in a huge wheel but it’s just fun. It’s fun to watch that.
iRunFar: I love how at the award ceremony, Dale [Garland] refers to Sabrina and [François D’haene] as the first male finisher and the first female finisher. Not the winners, but the first finishers.
Hicks: There’s never a mention of “race” or “winner.” Yeah.
iRunFar: It’s so special.
Hicks: Everybody’s honored the exact same way, right.
iRunFar: Well, Meghan, congratulations on a very strong podium performance here your third Hardrock. Hopefully we both get in the lottery next year and we can, we can run it clockwise again.
Hicks: I kind of like thought like, okay, maybe I’ll run like what I think is close to my potential here and it can be my last Hardrock and then I can cover and volunteer and be a community member. But when you don’t quite reach your potential, then you’ve got to put in the lottery again.
iRunFar: Back in the lotto. Well, congratulations. Thanks for letting me chat with you a little bit.
Hicks: This was awesome.
iRunFar: I’m going to hopefully go enjoy a nap this afternoon. How about you?
Hicks: In the shade, anything in the shade.
iRunFar: Thank you guys for watching. Meghan Hicks, everyone.