Hank Pantier

In Search of the Hard Rock Trifecta

Hank Pantier
In Search of the Hard Rock Trifecta

Ultramarathon Runner Darcy Piceu Returns to Silverton

This past July, SmartWool Athlete and Ultrarunner Darcy Piceu toed the line of one of the toughest races in the world. The Hardrock 100 Ultra Marathon is a grueling run that starts in Silverton, Colorado then winds up steep trails through Telluride, Ouray, and Lake City before finishing back in Silverton where the finishers kiss the infamous Hard Rock. Piceu had won the event the last two years in a row and her main competition, Diana Finkel, was back again and aiming for a top finish.

In typical trail running camaraderie, the two top contenders are friends and were pushing each other into the top 10 for a good chunk of the first 25 miles into Telluride. Both looked solid and moved quickly through the aid station. As they rolled into Ouray (43 miles into the race) Finkel had grown the gap by about 10 minutes, putting her ahead of Piceu by about 35 minutes. They climbed Engineer Pass to the Grouse Gulch aid station where serious weather started to roll in on both of them. Once through Grouse and heading up Handies Peak (14,058), Mother Nature unleashed with Finkel having to huddle up with a few of the male runners for shelter and Piceu still charging forward in hopes of catching Finkel. The storm finally relented and Finkel took off trying to keep her lead. Here’s where the race took a turn.

 
 

For the past two years, the onset of Rhabdomyolysis had prevented Finkel from finishing Hard Rock. “Rhabdo” is the breakdown of muscle fibers that leads to the release of muscle fiber contents (myoglobin) into the bloodstream. Myoglobin is harmful to the kidney and often causes kidney damage, not to mention making finishing an Ultra Marathon nearly impossible. Unfortunately these symptoms crept up on her again this year causing her to drop out at the Maggie Gulch aid station, roughly 85 miles into the race.

 

 
 

Piceu, still trying to hunt down Finkel, had no clue that her friend and competitor had dropped from the race until she had gone through the Maggie Gulch aid station Piceu powered through, finishing the race in under 30 hours with a time of 29:49:58, making it her third straight Hardrock 100 victory.

When asked about the win, “It is a little bittersweet, I mean it’s a shame. But as a lot of people have said, this race is all about pacing yourself and eating and drinking and taking care of yourself the whole time. I guess I do that well.”