Koerner, Krupicka & Roes Interviewed as WS Training Concludes

Western States 100 logoWith less than three weeks to go until the 2010 Western States 100 (WS) and the big dogs are wrapping up their training. With some much excitement in the air, iRunFar caught up with a few of the top men’s competitors to see how their training has gone. We start off with two-time defending Western States champion, Hal Koerner, who is putting off his taper. Next, we check in with Anton Krupicka, two-time Leadville 100 mile champ, to see how his training has gone in Boulder. (iRF video interview of Anton before 2009 Leadville 100) Finally, Geoff Roes, who obliterated the Wasatch 100 (and nearly everything else in the) last year, shares his recent unstructured training with us. (Click on a runner’s name above to jump to his interview.)

Kilian JornetAfter (trying) to follow Kilian Jornet around the Tahoe Rim Trail last September (iRF report), we’re excited to see how he performs at Western States. Despite this, we failed to contact Sr. Jornet for this article as he’s been very busy training in the Pyrenees. Over the 9-day span from May 31 to June 8, he ran over 700 kilometers (435 miles) from the Atlantic Coast of Spain across the Pyrenees to the Mediterranean Coast. During his trek he climbed more than 40,000 meters or 131,000 feet. [We’ve since heard rumors that Kilian’s final tally for his Quest was 525 miles and 137,795 feet of vertical climb! Thanks, Xavier.] Kilian will either be exhausted or very fit for Western States. For more on Kilian’s Quest: Pyrenees Crossing, there’s a TrailRunningSoul.com article that provides background and summarizes the first 6 days.

If you’re reading about the men’s field at this year’s Western States 100, you may also be interested in the women’s race. Fortunately, we’ve interviewed top contenders Nikki Kimball, Devon Crosby-Helms, Joelle Vaught and Meghan Arbogast.

In addition, we invite you to enter our Western States 100 prediction contest. There’s fame as well as some great prizes up for grabs!

Hal Koerner

Hal KoernerBryon Powell of iRunFar (iRF): Hal, what was you last big training week for Western States and what did it look like?

Hal Koerner: I’ve been bringing a bad ankle back to life, but I hit 120 miles this week and will stay there until next week. [That’s] probably more than I would like [to run] at this stage of the game, but since I got a late start after Miwok I needed to gain back a little confidence.

I ran our Lithia Loop Marathon course twice and then threw in a few 10-15 milers with 3,000 ft of sustained climb. It’s all trail and it’s steep just like the canyons.

I’ve had to hit the sauna as the temps here have been less than ideal, but 1-1.5 hours at a time begins to get the mind ready for the onslaught.

iRF: How has you approached change to this final large week over the past few years, if at all?

Koerner: As I mentioned earlier, my taper has usually begun the first week in June, so I have probably stretched that out 7 to 10 days, but I still feel good and I know I can be rested in time.

I usually run pretty big or large aggregate miles over Memorial Day weekend and that seems to be a nice “last push.” This year I couldn’t risk injuring my ankle any more and decided to break up the mileage and rest after a long spring season of running. For the most part, June is a couple hours on the trails with 2,000 ft of climb. It’s mixed up and down for the most part, but I can throw in some sustained stuff, as well. I find it’s just good to be on trail to mix up the foot falls and to try and build up the quads on the uneven, steep down hills.

iRF: You ran very well at Miwok. Nearly 40 minutes faster than you’ve ever run it, if I’m correct. Do you think your Western States training season has gone better than the previous two years? How has it been different?

Koerner: I have had a pretty stellar year all things considered. Miwok went well and, yes, a huge PR. I have usually raced Miwok as part of a successive build-up in late April and early May, ergo I am pretty beat up by that point. Other times, I have run too hard and blown up, so to have completed such an all around effort this year was pretty special. I was on top of my pace, nutrition, and course knowledge and, with the fast field, we were able to push all day.

I imagine that will bode well for WS, too. I think it’s too easy to get caught up in all the miles and forget how fresh one needs to be for the big day. Recovering from a tough spring takes time and I think getting that dialed and listening to my body has been able to get me over the hump. If you are going to have anything left at mile 60, you better be well rested.

I didn’t enjoy being behind Tony for most of the day [at Miwok] and that helps with the mental aspect should that happen at States. I feel there will be a small pack up from, but that there will be some shuffling of the leaders. All that experience [WS] should be helpful.

Anton Krupicka

Anton Krupicka White RiveriRF: Howdy, Anton. I saw your post about last week’s training (5/31-6/1). Will that be your final big week of training?

Anton Krupicka: I would say last week was my “peak” week in that, at 208 miles and 30 hours, it’ll probably be the biggest week of the build-up, especially with a 58 miler thrown in there. However, this week will also probably be in the 190-200 range and then I’ll cut it down the last two weeks before the race, really tapering the last 10 days or so.

iRF: Although not by choice, you drastically tempered your training volume the first 3+ months of the year and kept the volume significantly below your normal 100 mile training volume except for what I’ll assume are the two most recent peak weeks. Do you feel fresher than usual? Do you feel strong despite the reduced volume?

Krupicka: Yeah, I would say that I feel fresher than usual. I have a couple days each week where I’m moving very slowly and definitely tired, but it’s pretty predictable that my energy levels bounce back after that and I’m able to get in another two or three days where I can run long and inject some good intensity, especially on climbs.

I feel the strongest I ever have, without a doubt. Right now, my body just feels very, very comfortable and natural with the running motion. It’s not even second nature; running is first nature at this point.

iRF: How would you compare the overall quality your training season to that of your runs at Leadville?

Krupicka: This is easily the best training block I’ve ever had going into a 100 mile race. The only other one that would come close was when I was preparing for the 2008 WS that was cancelled, but I just wasn’t as strong or fast back then. My overall training mileage was higher then, but I’m just a better runner now, without a doubt.

I trained for Leadville 2007 (when I ran 16:14) primarily in Colorado Springs (COS) and when I was down there this last weekend I was easily hitting splits for climbs that during 2007 I would’ve considered tempo runs and on Saturday were just a standard 8+hr training pace. I’m just way stronger now.

Most importantly, though, after this week I will have had 24 weeks in a row of virtually uninterrupted, extremely consistent running. I’ve NEVER gone into a 100 mile race with 6 full months of solid training behind me. Usually, the best I’ve had is only six weeks. I think that is probably the biggest factor for why I feel I’m probably in the best shape of my life right now.

Additionally, over the last six months here in Boulder I’ve really emphasized vertical gain in my training as I never have before. That’s mostly a function of living so close to big climbs (20 minutes run to the hill vs. a 50+ minute run when I was in COS), and for a race like WS what’s probably even more important than running up all those mountains is that literally every day for the past 6 months I’ve been doing a minimum of 3000′ of DOWNHILL running, too (gotta get back home!). I really noticed it at Miwok (quads were never blown up, even late in the race) and really noticed it this past weekend: even after 8 hours my quads still felt great on the downhills. So, hopefully that bodes well.

Geoff Roes

Geoff RoesiRF: Geoff, when was you last big training week and what runs did it include?

Geoff Roes: I think last week (ending with a 7.5 hour run on Sunday) will end up being my last big training week, although I suspect I’m still going to get in some long runs in the mountains the next several days because the weather forecast looks great and there are dozens of places I’m anxious to explore right now.

iRF: I think you may have focused more on intensity (i.e., your recent Juneau Ridge run) than on sick mileage. What’s the thinking behind that philosophy?

Roes: Didn’t think about it much. I just ran a lot and then last Tuesday I was feeling pretty good and ended up throwing down a fastest known time on one of the most often run ridge routes here in Juneau. It felt nice to run a hard one, but most everything else has been slow and all about enjoying the time out there.

iRF: After Wasatch last year you mentioned having a much less structured approach to training last summer? Are you still training with less structure and enjoying it?

Roes: Pretty much training with no structure nowadays. Every once in awhile I do a run that I feel like I need to do, but mostly just going out running and seeing where that takes me. Last week was a bigger than usual week for me (about 115 miles), but not because I really planned it that way but because the weather was great, the snow has mostly melted, and the mountains were calling. Of course, I wanted to get in one last solid week before Western States, but nothing that I’ve done in the past several weeks has been with much of any kind of serious structure or plan.

iRF: Two weeks ago, you wrote “I couldn’t be more pleased with the way my training and racing has gone this entire year.”? Would you still agree with that statement? What’s been your general approach?

Roes: Yeah. I thought it would be hard for me to enjoy my running more this year than I did last year, but so far it’s been even more fun this year. My general approach: run when I feel like running. It sure feels nice to go out in the mountains for 7 hours and enjoy every minute of it. Not something that was happening for me a couple years ago when I was feeling like I needed to do certain runs at certain times in my training.

[We thought we’d share the concluding paragraph to Geoff’s most recent post as of publication.

I was thinking a bit during my run today about my training leading up to this race compared to one of my main competitors on June 26th, Tony Krupicka. He’s run almost twice as much mileage for the year as I have; His most recent week was almost 200 miles; and in the month of May, which he called his “worst” month of running in ’10, he ran about 200 miles more than I did. It’s amazing to me sometimes to see how different two paths can be to come together at the same place. My approach has clearly worked for me and his approach has clearly worked for him (if I’m not mistaken I don’t think he has ever been beaten in an ultra that he finished!). In many ways that seems to be the end of the similarity between our styles of training, and yet we’ve both been able to find large amounts of success. Just an interesting thought. Nothing more to say about that now.]

Call for Comments and Questions
So what do y’all think of these guys training seasons and final weeks? Isn’t it sweet that nearly all of them have had their best training season to date? Looking forward to watching the race (or following it on iRunFar)?

There are 42 comments

  1. Chris Freet

    Bryon,

    Thanks for your great work. Good interviews! As an outsider looking in, I'm excited to see how things are going to shake down at WS!

    -Chris

  2. Paige T.

    I absolutely adore Geoff Roes and his approach to running and life in general. He's so laid back and go-with-the-flow. You can't hate that! I'll be rooting for a win from him at WS!

  3. crunningman

    I am as excited about the field at Western as anyone. The cool thing will be for all of them to show up in the next few weeks "health" and ready to go. This one is really hard to pick. Hal has the experience on the course, but Krupicka, Roes, Jornet, among others will push the pace. In many ways, those in the lead pack could make this race seem like a 10,000 meter final. It will be fun to watch. Too bad I have to do it online.

  4. Brad G.

    Great interviews. Can't wait to see how things shake out in a few weeks. Despite Geoff focusing on the differences between his and Anton's training, I see a major similarity. Both focus on enjoying the experience of running itself. Each seems to be pursuing what makes them happy. It just happens that what makes Tony happy is more miles than Geoff. Tough to pick a favorite for me. Lots of worthy champions in the mix.

  5. Matt

    I agree with Brad. The way I see it, Tony and Geoff have the same approach, even if they have different outcomes in terms of mileage. My mileage is higher than ever before, albeit less than half of Geoff's. I've wondered if I should take a more structured approach. But these guys encourage and inspire me to just continue enjoying it. They are contenders and yet are focusing on the pure joy of running. How much more should I, who won't be winning any races any time soon? It's a good reminder of the first part of my motto: Do what you love. Do it for others.

  6. paul

    Great interviews!as always.Come on Byron who's it gona be ? love Anton workouts !

    But i'am going with Kilian the guy is a FREAK!

  7. ScottD

    Great stuff, Bryon. Good summary for those of us who will be watching diligently from the sidelines!

    I'm a big fan of tracking who's competing for #1 Man and Woman, but what is really getting me this time around is what you might have to post to make the Top 10. It's going to be even quicker than last year, I bet.

    Cheers, SD

  8. Jeff F

    Wow, this is going to be an epic WS100. I hope someone gets some solid video footage for those of us unable to be there in person.

  9. AJW

    Great post! Well, except for the title. "WS Training Concludes"? What's the deal with that? Sure, the bulk of the running is done but the "training" continues right up until race day. And, most of it takes place between the ears:)

  10. Brad K

    Great article, Bryon! but come on now, you have to tell us your picks! :)

    I'm thinking Tony for the win, with Geoff and Hal somewhere in the top 5.

    and AJW in the top 10, of course! :)

    1. Paige T.

      Oh, c'mon Brad! Tony will drop at mile 81 when Roes finally passes him up for good. The guy can't stand to be passed, and thus will not continue if he's not first ("Cuz if yer not first, yer LAST!" (Talladega Nights anyone?)). Hal will take second, close behind Roes. I think Roes and Hal will play leap frog much of the race, until 81. Not sure about Jornet, don't know enough about him other than that he's badass :) He could come out of nowhere, hanging behind these three guys much of the race, and then, after mile 81 when Tony drops, he'll smoke everyone! Who knows!

      But I'm standing by my pick…Roes, Roes, Roes!

      1. Brad K

        Hi Paige! I hope your LT training is going well! See you soon!

        First of all, Tony does not drop… he only "dehydrates" ;)

        To be honest, I have not spent too much time looking over this years entrants list. Personally, I would really like to see either Hal win it again, or Leigh Schmitt crossing that line in first. Kilian will be very interesting to watch, but I just don't know what to think of him. He is still a human (he is, right?), and that is a lot of miles he just ran. From the little bit I read about him the past couple months, he just doesn't seemed to be focused on WS and that's why I will not pick him.

        I am still thinking Tony for the win (if he doesn't "dehydrate" :), with Leigh Schmitt, Kilian, Hal, Roes, and AJW, mixing it up in the top 10.

        and you also have Glen Redpath and Oz Pearlman. Can you tell I live in the North East? :)

        and there is also Michael Arnstein, but I don't think he ever ran a 100 before, so who knows.

        1. Paige T.

          Oz? Oz?! That's a joke, right? I don't see him touching top 10. The guy is a very fast road runner and I think it ends there. But, hey, who knows, he is a magician by trade afterall :)

          I didn't think of Glen or Leigh…I can see them going top ten for sure, or 15 perhaps? But, I'm still sticking to my guns…Tony will "dehydrate" at mile 81. Roes number 1.

          I had to laugh at myself last night as Geof and I debated the WS men's field, much in the same vein as others debate football, baseball, etc. I love this sport!

          See you at LT, Brad!

          Bryon, thanks for posting this! Can we look forward to one for the women's field, too?

          1. Brad K

            Leigh in top 15? No way, Paige! He will be in the top 5, at the worst! :)

            Honestly, I was just throwing out names for conversation in my original comment.

            Your right about Oz. I didn't mean to imply top 10 for him. Just being conversational. Maybe top 30 for him?

            …and your right about Glen, too, I suppose. He doesn't seem to do well at WS.

            I don't know why I even mentioned that Arnstien guy. I don't think he ever ran 100, let alone WS. top 15 at WS aren't rookies :) …He is a good chance at DNF, I think. (or top 35?).

            In no particular order ;) , I will be watching Leigh, Hal, Tony, Killian, Roes, AJW, etc

            By the way, last 35 to 40 miles of that course are downhill (sort of), and I wonder if Killian has the speed to hold on (top runners go down those sections real fast, right?)

            I say all of this very humbly… as all these guys are far better runners then me. :)

  11. worm

    great write-up. been following both Geoff and Tony's blogs for a long time. gotta stick with Geoff though…representin' AK! it'll be a great race. will you be tweeting on race day? sure hope so…

  12. Grant

    nice interviews Bryon.

    I got a e-mail for a mate that is inside the Kilin camp- "The best is that he has finished in a real good shape!!!"

    I think he looked pretty beat up in photos, but this guy knows him pretty well, so if he thinks he's good I believe it.

    Its gonna be so cool to follow

  13. Heather

    Bryon, Paige T. beat me to the comment – definitely would love to see a breakdown of the top picks for the women's race. Great article!

  14. Dave from Running Ti

    I love reading interviews. They really provide a wonderful window into the training and lifestyle of other runners. Great questions by the way. It's inspiring to see how other people go about trying to accomplish their running goals

  15. Kevin

    Awesome post! I was already pumped for WS and now I'm totally jacked! This race is going to be fantastic!

    I like Roes a lot but I think I worry about his training being in AK without the heat. If it turns out to be a brutal hot day I don't think he could possibly be ready for that. Anton so long as he takes care of himself should be good, though hopefully after such huge weeks he gets the needed rest to be 100% come race day. Could this be the perfect storm that allows for Hal to make it three?

    Or, since I'm from the East coast I'd love to see Leigh or Glen give us what most of us would consider a major upset.

    Man, I wish this race could be televised!

    1. Bryon Powell

      Kevin, didn't Hal run into and out of the perfect storm last year? He did best Jurek and Mackey after all.

      While I like Leigh and Glen, I can't see any scenario where either of them win outright. In my mind, Leigh's "win" would be top 3 and Glen's a top 5.

      1. Kevin

        Of course, though certainly I don't mean to discount Hal's abilities! I just can't see either Geoff OR Anton losing without some sort of major issue. I'll leave AJW to discuss the issue of dropping out of the race though! :) I will simply state that I REALLY hope to see this thing fought out to the finish by ALL the top contenders.

        As for my East coasters… I'd definitely love to see it but, I'm still realistic about it.

  16. Brian

    Kilian's won UTMB twice, I think his speed is unquestioned. If he's focused and if that jaunt across the Pyrenees hasn't hurt him i'd say he has to be considered a major threat for the win. But those are alot of "ifs".

    1. Grant

      yeah spot on Brain. I don't understand how people can question his speed at the UTMB? I read some were that "his ultra winning times are slow"- something to do with the 9000+ meters of vert in the UTMB maybe? I am pretty sure he crushed the course record there his first year to.

      He also has the word record for the vertical kilometer, and then theres his win last year at the sierre-zinal race. Ricky Gates race report is a good one, he what he said about Kilian down hill-

      "I'm all for believing in yourself and whatever else they teach you in positive affirmation seminars but I knew that once the downhill began I would not be able to keep with Kilian. I've seen him run downhill before. He disconnects himself from his body."

      I don't know the WS100 course at all really, but every one is saying he'll be dropped on the down hills. Re read the above quote if you really think that, cause from what I can gather RickyG is no slug.

      But hey, like Brain said, "alot of ifs"

      Its gonna be sweet to follow

      1. Tatiana

        That's right, RickyG knows what he speaks about. It would be interesting how Kilian is vice Jono Wyatt on shorter races (do not remember them racing each other), but for 100 my vote is on Kilian (with a possible course record)

        Tatiana

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