Sabrina Stanley is the defending women’s Hardrock 100 champ and returns to this year’s race looking for more. In the following interview, Sabrina talks about how her training’s gone, why she’s looking forward to her taper, what part of the course she’s looking forward to, and why she’s paying attention to Diana Finkel rather than Courtney Dauwalter at this year’s race.
Sabrina Stanley Pre-2021 Hardrock 100 Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Sabrina Stanley before the 2021 Hardrock 100. How are you, Sabrina?
Sabrina Stanley: I’m good. How are you?
iRunFar: Alright. We didn’t have to come far to do this interview.
Stanley: No. [laughs] Less than a quarter of a mile probably.
iRunFar: Probably. You live here in Silverton, Colorado. How long have you lived here?
Stanley: So, we trained out here the summer of 2018. I left that winter and came back that April 2019. So permanently since April 2019.
iRunFar: More than two years.
iRunFar: You have definitely gotten to spend a lot of time on the course.
iRunFar: Both in that summer of 2018 and since. Have you come to enjoy a particular section more than others?
Stanley: Not really. I mean I love the entire course. It’s all so beautiful and there’s something, I don’t know, challenging about every section which I really enjoy. I don’t know. If you put me on the spot and made me pick I’d say like the top of Green Mountain. Or that climb up to Green.
Stanley: Like that valley looking down with the creek running though it.
iRunFar: That high hanging valley.
iRunFar: Eleven miles into the race about.
Stanley: Yeah, early on.
iRunFar: Do you like being in the valley? Is it like the place itself or is it the view of the Weminuche? The Grenadiers?
Stanley: No, when you get to the top of the valley and look back. It’s just like, there’s a creek right down the middle of it. Like you said it’s a high alpine meadow that just goes forever it feels like then just drops off. It seems like a fairytale.
iRunFar: It’s a pretty awesome spot. Yeah, yeah. Have you found that there’s any particular section or do you think there’s a section that particularly suits you? Is there a Sabrina Stanley section on the course?
Stanley: I ran it a lot this year. Like a lot a lot. I think there’s four runs I’ve done that weren’t on the course this year. That was pacing Western [States 100], a race in May I did [Quest for the Crest 50k], then tapering for that race in May when I was in North Carolina.
iRunFar: Mm hmm.
Stanley: I don’t know. Honestly, I like the hard parts most. I think Camp Bird [Road] is very overlooked. And so I really enjoy going up Camp Bird. I know that sounds crazy, but it’s so monotonous and predictable and it’s challenging but it’s like good challenging.
iRunFar: It’s funny you call that the hard part. A lot of people who have maybe seen parts of the course on video they might say the hard part, oh it’s the climb up Virginius, or Grand Swamp [Pass]. The hard part could be partially running 10 miles of a gentle to moderate incline.
Stanley: Totally. And it’s the section I ran the most, hands down, just because you can run it all winter. So early seven miles up you can run all winter. If I’m looking for vertical gain in winter, you go to Ouray and just run in the snow.
iRunFar: Packed snow.
Stanley: Yeah, yeah. So, in the summer I kind of avoid it a little bit more, but I ran it a few weeks ago and there’s something about just the heat and just like the suffer of continuously going up for 10 miles.
iRunFar: So, you might be looking forward to that about 55 miles into the race this year?
Stanley: Yes. I’m looking forward to Ouray on for sure.
iRunFar: Right on. How has your training looked for this year’s race?
Stanley: Perfect. [laughs]
Stanley: Yeah. I feel like this is the first time I’ve ever been so focused. I think I say that every single race and every single race I get more focused and learn my body more and learn about pacing more and nutrition. And, obviously, the course more. Because I live here, I know this course. Yeah, I did a five-week block and I did 100 miles every single week the fourth week I did 112. I’ve never stacked them up like that before and then I tapered and I’m ready to roll.
iRunFar: It sounds like you were anxious, or happy about that taper, yeah?
Stanley: Yeah. I was running. Even though I was doing 100-mile weeks, the days were like eight hours minimum because you’re doing all these climbs and you’re at elevation.
iRunFar: That’s a 25- to 30-hour week.
Stanley: Yeah. Yeah, I was exhausted doing those weeks. So as soon as my first rest day came and my taper, I was like ugh I’m just going to sleep in and do all these things but then you’re like catching up on emails and doing coaching work. So the day comes where you can rest.
iRunFar: You’re there now.
iRunFar: And enjoying it.
Stanley: But now everyone’s coming to town and so like you want to socialize and have dinners and all that stuff so it’s like, focus on the goal.
iRunFar: Focus on the goal. Stay, maybe hide up in the apartment a little bit.
iRunFar: So, you won this in 2018, so you’re still the defending champ, but how have you changed as a runner since 2018 to now?
Stanley: Yeah. 2018 was this my first, I think this might have been my first 100-mile win.
iRunFar: Sounds about right.
Stanley: Since then, I’ve won I don’t know how many. Quite a few. I haven’t lost an ultra since then either. So if I win, when I win, [laughs] this weekend that will be my 13th ultra win in a row. So that’s really special to me. And, then, I mean like I’ve done Grand Raid Réunion, I did Nolan’s  twice, so as a mountain runner, in like pushing through pain barriers, I have pushed through so many. Like this second Nolan’s was the most painful experience I ever had in my life. Hands down. And so, to like have that in my back pocket and know what I can push through, going into my second Hardrock I feel really confident.
iRunFar: Sounds like you’re almost like a second, a new runner.
Stanley: Yeah, no, I mean I feel like there’s been gradual, it’s not like overnight that I became this crazy mountain runner. I’ve put a lot of work in. So I’m really excited to see how I match up against the other women on Friday.
iRunFar: Speaking of which, there’s a number of strong women in the race, but Courtney Dauwalter stands out up there.
iRunFar: I’m sure you’ve thought about how that race might play out or stack up.
Stanley: Honestly, I haven’t. Like her race plan is her race plan and I have mine. I’m going to do my race plan. If she’s ahead of me, she’s ahead of me and if she’s behind me, she’s behind me. I’ve honestly just been studying Diana Finkel’s splits. So I’m going for course record and that’s what I’ve been training for. I haven’t been training to beat Courtney. I’ve been training for the course record, and that’s the goal.
iRunFar: And how do you think you get to that course record, because you can go out really hard and try to maintain or smart race or?
Stanley: I’ve done my homework. I’ve done my homework sitting at a work desk and I’ve done my homework in the field. And so I don’t want to give away any secrets to those who haven’t done their homework.
Stanley: But I plan on having a really consistent race. We’ll say that.
Stanley: I know my splits for every single section. I know my splits for my miles. Like now I just have to execute. And I know I can, because I’ve been here. So, I think it’ll be a really amazing day on Saturday morning.
iRunFar: You’re excited for that that, huh?
iRunFar: Is there anything else for this coming race that you’re excited about?
Stanley: Um, this is my first big race with Adidas. So I’m just, race season’s back. I was with them all last year but it was like FKT season so to do a really competitive race with them in my back pocket also, and my teammates are coming out, and just the support from them. Abby Hall will be pacing me and so I’m excited to share some smiles with her, with my friend Devon Olson and then Avery [Collins] will be pacing me the final marathon from Telluride.
iRunFar: So it’s a real close group you’ll be sharing with.
iRunFar: And like, in Hardrock or in training out here, there’s a lot of solitude and alone time. Are you looking forward to some of that shared experience with your crew or is that just a tactic, something that helps you perform?
Stanley: My crew is my brother Reece [Stanley] and my friend Dean Eastham, and they’ve crewed me at so many 100s and FKT attempts. So, like I think we’re just in that groove and we know each other so well. It’s really fun for us to work together. So, it’s not like a party, like we get in a flow. It’s a flow state with crewing I’d say. [laughs] It’s just so fun and we know each other’s energy and they know how to feed me and I know how to feed them and we work so well together that it’s natural.
iRunFar: So, you’re going for a great individual performance, but it is a team effort out there.
Stanley: Oh, without a doubt, yeah. Like I said, they’ve been at almost all my, any finish worth noting they’ve been at. They’re a part of every step of my journey.
iRunFar: Well best of luck to you and your whole team out there this coming weekend.
Stanley: Thank you.