“100 miles is not that far” Karl Meltzer won the 2012 Run Rabbit Run 100 (don’t-miss post-race interview). This year, he’s back to defend his title. In this interview, Karl compares himself with the rest of the field and describes how he thinks everyone else–women included–might race. Don’t miss the interaction between him and an off-camera Timothy Olson, either!
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Karl Meltzer Pre-2013 Run Rabbit Run 100 Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell. Karl Meltzer. Here we are. Run Rabbit Run.
Karl Meltzer: Back again for another run for the money, right?
iRF: Another run for the money. You made out well last year—11 grand.
Meltzer: Yeah, I cleaned up last year. But this year is going to be, once again same deal, I don’t expect to be the winner. I don’t expect to be the guy in contention at the front. But 100 miles—it’s far and there are a lot of dynamics. A lot of things can play a part here. The weather—we talked about that—but we all have to deal with it. I’m going to run my own race just like I did last year and let the rabbits go and do their thing and see where it pans out.
iRF: Last year, I just looked back for some reason, and saw your mile 20, you felt awful and you were sixth place.
Meltzer: Yeah, I didn’t feel that great at mile 20 last year. I just wasn’t really in my groove. I was doing alright. I just had that wobbly feeling going downhill and I wasn’t really all there. That kind of came together after Cow Creek, so around mile 30 I started feeling better. I surprised myself and I passed Tim [Olson] and I passed Mike Wolfe at that time. Whoa maybe I have confidence here. So now I look back at last year and say, Well, just run the race like I did last year, right? That’s probably what I’ll do. I kind of don’t expect to be near the front. But training has gone well the last month and a half, so that’s good. I’m not hurt. I’m not the fastest guy out there, but the fastest guy doesn’t always win.
iRF: You were hurt this spring. What was going on?
Meltzer: I just pulled my calf muscle on my left leg at Sonoma [50 mile]. I kind of fought through that a little bit. I wasn’t really able to train. So I went to Western [States] off the couch pretty much. I had about a week and a half of training before Western. I survived and got 10th, and that was great. I was way too tired at Hardrock. But since then, I’ve recovered well, put on my race, and then I’ve been able to actually put in some good miles and some good vertical. So we’ll see where that pans out again. Again, you’ve got to run smart. That’s my motto—running smart more than running fast. I’ll be alright.
iRF: One thing that you used to do more often and haven’t done much of late is your odds.
Meltzer: That’s because Karl’s been very busy. What are the odds this time? Who would I pick to win? Well, I’m the favorite because I won last year. There’s no doubt about it; you can’t say I’m not the favorite, right?
iRF: You can’t avoid it.
Meltzer: You can’t avoid it, that’s how it is. There are a lot of guys in this race that really haven’t raced that much recently. I’d expect that Dave Mackey is pretty darn fit right now. He hasn’t raced in awhile. I would expect Dave to be really fast. Dave James will be fast at the start as he always is. Dave, you’re not going to watch this, are you? Alright. [Jason] Schlarb got lost last year. He felt great at mile 50. He’s another one of those guys that hasn’t run that many 100s but totally has the talent. We know Tim Olson is fast. He just ran UTMB. I talked to him earlier. He kind of has the same attitude as I do. Just go and see what happens. Sometimes autopilot kicks in, and sometimes it doesn’t. Paul Terranova and Jeff Browning. Jeff Browning is one of those guys in this field that probably isn’t as well known. We all know him in the front, but [not] as well known as some others.
iRF: He kind of reminds me of you in a way, in being a meticulous, cool, calm, collected runner. He’s not going to be at the front anywhere.
Meltzer: No, and Jeff’s a designer. He’s all about figuring it out and getting it right. You might call Jeff a 100-mile specialist. He’s won eight or nine times at 100 miles, maybe 10 even. That shows the experience factor. He and I will probably end up running together a lot or at least in the same area. Jesse Haynes had a great run at Western. Jesse Rickert. Josh Arthur. There are so many guys. Paul Terranova. These guys we don’t know so much. They’re just as fast as everyone else really.
iRF: Do you think we’re ever going to have a race like this where you’re going to have the less experienced guys—the Schlarbs, the Josh Arthurs—just saying, You know what? I’m going to sit on Karl and sit on Mackey for the first 60 miles and just get almost held back in a positive way.
Meltzer: Sitting on Karl probably isn’t a bad idea, but I’m not telling anybody. You should all go out really hard. Everyone should go out as hard as they can, as fast as they can on that first hill, and pummel themselves. That’s what I think should happen.
iRF: You should offer a $1,000 prem on that first hill.
Meltzer: I’m not making enough money for that. I mean, it does go to show you that the rabbit rarely wins. I know I say it a million times, but we don’t see the guy we talk about usually win. So the smart guy would maybe hang behind me, but maybe I’ll play some games with that, too. It’s a race. I’m not going to give anybody too many secrets.
iRF: We talked about who’s looking good on the men’s side. Just saw Pam Smith walk by. Handicap that women’s field.
Meltzer: I think you’ve got to give Pam the nod. She beat me at Western, not that that’s a big deal. Still, Nikki Kimball, Cassie Scallon, Kerrie Bruxvoort…
iRF: Kerrie is running the 50.
Meltzer: In the 50, Kerrie Bruxvoort. I’m sorry. I didn’t know that. The women’s field is equally as tight as the men’s. There are a couple girls—last year we had Lizzy Hawker. It was kind of the Lizzy Hawker show, and we kind of knew that Lizzy would probably run away even though she’d banged her knee. This year, I don’t see…
Timothy Olson (off camera): You’re going down, Karl, you’re going down.
Meltzer: Olson just thinks I’m going down.
iRF: How did it work last year, Timmy?
Meltzer: Going down where? See you at the finish.
Cassie is really fast. It’s really hard to say. I think it will be really close, I think within 30 minutes at the finish line. Both races will be great to watch. It’s hard to really pick someone there.
iRF: Again on the women’s side, you have this pretty good dichotomy of experience versus raw talent. There are a lot of really fast women that have thrown down some good 50k’s and some good 50 miles.
Meltzer: Which doesn’t mean a lot in 100s.
iRF: And you’ve got Nikki and Pam.
Meltzer: Nikki and Pam are the two. Experience-wise, you’ve got to give it to Nikki. Pam obviously knew how to run Western smart and she came back and ran a great race there. If we see her do that again… This race is really runnable. Fred [Abramowitz], the race director, will say it’s really hard, but it’s pretty runnable, Fred. It’s pretty fast. It’s a little long. It will be an 18, 19-hour deal.
iRF: How do you think the course changes will affect things out there?
Meltzer: It’s going to be done a little faster. Other than that, the run through town is a lot better; there’s less confusion. The Spring Creek turnaround is less confusing. I think there won’t be any of that second guessing. Fred explained the course directions pretty well. We all forgot that part already. I think it flows better. I think the most important thing with a race is the course is well marked, good aid stations. As long as nobody gets lost, it’s good. I’d hate to see a bunch of guys get lost like last year because that was kind of… I kind of feel like I sort of won by default. I know I had a great race and everything, but Schlarb got lost. He was a front-runner guy.
iRF: Last year you were kind of coy about it, but you wore the Rapanuis. They were sort of still in the proto stage.
Meltzer: The Rapanuis are coming out again. Yeah, absolutely.
iRF: Is that what you’re running in tomorrow?
Meltzer: Yeah, absolutely. That’s my favorite shoe right now with Hoka. I think they’re the best, they’re a great shoe for this. I’m not changing my game plan on that one.
iRF: How are they different from some of the other models you’ve run in the past? You’ve run in the Bondi right?
Meltzer: I’ve run in the Bondi a lot, yeah. There’s a little more traction. It’s a little bit smaller and a little lower. It’s kind of like the Mafate but just kind of shrunk down and better traction. The lugs are a little bit longer, so we’ll get better traction in the mud. They’re a little lighter, too. They’ve improved. They’re getting better. They should be on the market in October or November—coming pretty soon. I’ll probably expect a lot of people to have those on. It’s been nice to be able to run in them for a year to really give them a real test of, “Do I like them or not?” They’re my favorite shoe for sure. I’d be bummed without… I shouldn’t say I’d be bummed. If I had run in them before and they weren’t available now, I’d be a little bummed. They’re a good shoe. It’s the kind of shoe I like—soft with good traction.
iRF: Alright, Karl. Show us how it’s done tomorrow.
Meltzer: I’ll try. We’ll see what happens.