Troy Howard continues to be a quiet giant when it comes to the Hardrock 100, this year taking third. In the following interview, Troy talks about how the final Little Giant is a particular challenge, what was special about this year’s Hardrock for him, how Hardrock is interwoven into his family life, and how hard he pushed thanks to his pacer.
For more on how the race played out and for links to other interviews, check out our 2018 Hardrock 100 results article.
Troy Howard Post-2018 Hardrock 100 Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Troy Howard after his third-place finish at the 2018 Hardrock 100. This is take two, Troy. How’s it going?
Troy Howard: It’s going good. It was a great day yesterday. I’m really happy with how things turned out. I didn’t have any big expectations going into it. I’m really happy to see most of the runners made it in very safely and it was a beautiful day. I missed the extreme storms that were out there. I heard that threw a bit of a wrench into some folks’ plans. I was able to avoid almost all of the bad weather.
iRunFar: It sounded like most of the bad weather was going into night two. That electrical storm was pretty intense.
Howard: That’s what I hear. One of the more intense episodes ever at Hardrock. And that’s saying a lot. In 25 years, you can imagine all the difficult conditions that have been thrown at people. So, I was very happy—everything just kind of fell into place for me. I started out slow and took it really easy. I felt great all the way through to Sherman, 70ish miles in. When you’re feeling strong through there, then you know you can probably make it another 30 miles. I barely made it. That last climb going up to Little Giant… I trained on there before, but there’s nothing like trying to do it at mile 95 or 96.
iRunFar: It’s like a good doubling of what you can do, timewise.
Howard: I looked at my pacer. He had his GPS. When you’re climbing almost 1,500′ in a mile at that point in the race—at any point in any race that would be a lot. That was about my absolute limit.
iRunFar: Was it a little humbling?
Howard: Humbling to say the least. It was just a reminder that Hardrock is never done until you kiss that rock. It is never done.
iRunFar: Even that final descent.
Howard: Yeah, it’s a rocky descent. Then, there’s that final traverse into town. You’re a quarter mile from the finish and it still feels like it’s going to take another hour. But then you get to kiss that rock and you feel like all that suffering, at least for the next few days as you’re recovering, you can look back at all the good times.
iRunFar: What were some of those highlights for you?
Howard: I think this year was special for me in a couple ways. First, it was my 11th 100-mile finish. It also happened to be our 11th wedding anniversary. It was sort of a two-for-one. The highlight of the race was coming into Cunningham. Alex [Pashley] from Smartwool knew it was our anniversary and he bought us a bottle of champagne. He gave it to me as I ran in to see my wife. I was able to give it to her, so that was awesome.
iRunFar: Now, I feel a little bad interrupting your anniversary meal here a day later.
Howard: You know, we’re all here because we love Hardrock. You just kind of weave it in and out of being here. In another day or so, we’ll all be back to our day jobs.
iRunFar: Hardrock is not real life?
Howard: No, it’s a bit of a reprieve. I love my job at Vail Resorts—just a bit of a shout-out to all my coworkers there—it’s a demanding position that I’m in. I love it, and I love being able to contrast having this and having a career that I’m really, really happy to be in. And then a great family.
iRunFar: How much is Hardrock interwoven into your daughter’s life? She’s been coming here for a while.
Howard: Yeah, it’s funny to look back through all the pictures. I think she gets it now. As I was coming into town yesterday morning, she runs out to run in with me. This is a little scary moment. You start to realize how old she’s getting. I grab her hand and start running and she’s running too fast. I say, “hey, Calinda, can you slow down just a little bit? I can’t actually run that fast.” You can actually start to see the beginnings of something – maybe she’ll catch on and love running trails and mountains as much as we all do.
iRunFar: It’s kind of fun. It’s a community, being part of Hardrock. It’s kind of fun to think about who those kids are, standing around at the finish line. Will we be old men one day, watching them kiss the rock?
Howard: Yeah, you always want the best for your kids. I think every parent here would say, “I’d love to see my son or daughter be able to do one day what we’re able to do.” You support them in whatever direction they want to go, so maybe that’ll be the direction she chooses, but maybe not.
[Someone off-camera shouts to Bryon]
iRunFar: So, you’ve run Hardrock five times. This one seemed like a challenging finish for you. Was it up there in terms of fatigue or difficulty for a finish?
Howard: Yeah, I think it was. It’s hard for me because I haven’t really had enough time to reflect on it, but I think part of it was that I didn’t think I’d be able to do as well as I did this year. To be honest, I’ve never finished the course in this direction. That was really important to me, was to finish.
iRunFar: So you’re a Hardrocker now.
Howard: Yeah, I’m a proper Hardrocker now. That truly was the number one goal: I have to finish in this direction. Everything else I didn’t really have the mental space for. When everything started to look good, then my pacer did a great job of keeping me in that position. That meant I was pushing at 110% for the last 30-40 miles.
iRunFar: You going to be back in the lottery for next year?
Howard: You know, that’s a family decision. That discussion is probably coming up this fall for sure. We’ll see. It’s so hard to say “no” to Hardrock, even just to put your name in the lottery.
iRunFar: But it’s a big commitment for you and your family.
Howard: It is. It’s an all-in family decision. If we decide that we want to come back here in that capacity next year—because we’ve also talked about coming back to help the race in some sort of capacity as well. Most likely, we’ll be back in Silverton.
iRunFar: Well, I look forward to seeing you and your family back in Silverton next year.
Howard: Thanks, Bryon, and congratulations.
iRunFar: You, too!