Rob Krar is wrapping up his breakout ultrarunning season at the 2013 The North Face Endurance Challenge 50 Mile Championships. In the following interview, Rob talks about what he’s been focusing on in training, why he ran the JFK 50 Mile and what happened when he DNFed, and how he’s feeling at this point in the season.
[Editor’s Note: For more information, we’ve published a full men’s race preview with links to other pre-race interviews.]
Rob Krar Pre-2013 TNF EC 50 Mile Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Rob Krar before the 2013 The North Face Endurance Challenge. How are you doing, Rob?
Rob Krar: I’m doing really well.
iRunFar: You’ve had one heck of a year.
Krar: Yeah. I say it every time. It’s been a whirlwind. I’m still wrapping my head around it.
iRunFar: Could you have imagined yourself in this place in January, just having fun and having the success that you had?
Krar: No, not at all. That’s the best answer I can give. It’s been… I had absolutely no intentions of the year, I mean… I ran 100 miles this year. That’s just so bizarre to me even to think back at this point.
iRunFar: Yeah, five months later.
Krar: Yeah, it’s been an amazing year.
iRunFar: Last time we chatted, you just won UROC against a great field. Many of those guys are back here this weekend—Cameron [Clayton], Dakota [Jones], Sage [Canaday]. Does it feel good after a great year of competition to have one final match-up versus these guys?
Krar: Yeah, it’s really exciting. I’m too fresh to the sport to really look back at older races, but this is certainly the most competitive field that I’ve ever raced. I wonder how it stacks up in the grand scheme of things.
iRunFar: Very well.
Krar: Yeah, I imagine so. It’s really exciting. It’s a long season. I’m excited to race. I’m also excited to put the season to bed and just get out on the mountain and relax for a couple months. I’m really glad the weather seems to be cooperating as well. Yeah, I’m really excited to get out there and mix it up with those guys. It’s going to be fierce.
iRunFar: It looks like you were a little excited two weeks, or was it three weeks ago at this point?
Krar: Two weeks ago.
iRunFar: What made you decide to jump into…? I know you’d been preparing to do this for a long time. What made you jump into JFK?
Krar: You know, a couple years ago when the idea of running an ultra was still preposterous to me, I saw some pictures of Ian Torrence’s trip out there. I grew up in Southern Ontario and I think you always yearn for where you grew up or a similar environment. I saw those trees and the leaves. When I started doing ultras earlier this year, it kind of opened up the possibility of me racing that. So I took advantage of it. It’s a flat and fast course and I’ve been doing some quicker speed. I just figured I’d take advantage of it and give it a shot.
iRunFar: What happened out there? You were racing for the win and …?
Krar: I don’t know. It’s a bit of a mystery. I was really surprised my body shut down like that, but I spent a day or two trying to figure it out but I put it to rest. I think determining cause and effect in our sport is a difficult if not impossible thing to do at times. I didn’t want to dwell on it. I just put it behind me and had a great recovery. I’m ready to roll.
iRunFar: You’re feeling good?
Krar: I’m feeling real good.
iRunFar: Nice. So you’ve been doing more speedwork ahead of this race or the last two races of the season? What’s the reason behind that? In some respects, some of the races you did earlier in the year could have been faster territories. Is it the footing? What about this final?
Krar: I think leading up to Western States, I was just doing longer, steadier runs with maybe some pick-ups in them but no specific speedwork. That’s just kind of the way the early season played out. Then I figured, for UROC, I needed to step up my game a little bit. I do think there were parts of that course that had some quicker areas—areas where you could really fly—so I needed to get that speedwork under my legs to feel comfortable out there. I think the same thing with Saturday. I think there are some spots on that course where you can really move and being comfortable running quick goes a long way. So I enjoy those workouts. It mixes the training up, so it’s been fun to get back and do some speed work.
iRunFar: Yeah, and some of the guys in the sport like Dakota or Dylan [Bowman] don’t come from that same track background and mixing intervals whereas for you that is your background in running.
Krar: Yeah, and don’t get me wrong. I’m not cranking out quarter milers on the track. I’m doing one-mile, two-mile, four-mile repeats on a dirt circuit. Yeah, I do have that background of the track and I did run the roads for a little bit. So it’s comfortable to me. Once I get in the groove and get maybe a month of solid workouts in, then I start feeling really comfortable out there. It gives me a lot of confidence for the races I’m in.
iRunFar: What was it like making the transition from doing workouts on the track and roads to doing speedwork on dirt road or trail or whatever you’re doing it on?
Krar: It felt natural. I don’t want to be on the track anymore. It doesn’t appeal to me. I think it beats up my body more than doing workouts on the roads or off the roads on trail.
iRunFar: Are you on trail or dirt road?
Krar: Yeah, it’s like a compact, gravel-type surface.
iRunFar: It’s well chosen for getting it non-technical.
Krar: Yeah, for sure. Some rolling hills are in it, but I enjoy those quicker workouts. It’s a lot of fun.
iRunFar: Do you have to do that based on effort now since you’re off road or do you know the route well enough now that you have time splits?
Krar: Yeah, most of the work I’ve been doing is on a two-mile circuit called Buffalo Park in Flagstaff. It’s marked out every quarter mile. You do enough laps of that thing and you’ve got a really good idea of how you’re doing that day–effort and pace, a little bit of both, depending on the trail that day.
iRunFar: Have you done some laps on the mountain yet on skis?
Krar: Yeah, I have actually. We got a big dump the weekend I was out East at JFK and the upper mountain got close to three feet of snow. I’ve been out a bunch in the last week and a half which was great because it was great recovery from JFK. Again, I always say it, it’s amazing training. The cardiovascular fitness you gain from that is incredible. So yeah, it’s been great being on the mountain. It’s very peaceful. I love being out there in the evenings in the dark with my headlamp on. I’m the only one on the mountain, so it’s a real soulful experience.
iRunFar: It’s pretty awesome. Yeah. Speaking of your fitness, do you feel as strong as you have all year?
Krar: I do. Yeah. Going into UROC I was feeling really good and really fit. I didn’t think I could top that, but I think my fitness is maybe a notch above where it was leading up to UROC. It’s been tricky. It’s a long season and not one that I was really planning on initially. So I’ve kind of been riding the edge, training-wise, but I think I’ve just stayed on the right side of that edge. So I feel good going into the race.
iRunFar: Awesome. Best of luck out there.
Krar: Thank you.
iRunFar: One quick bonus question because you might have the best insight on this: Zach Miller. Did you see that coming?
Krar: Wow. No, I didn’t. I didn’t know who he was, like most people. He’s got these real, giant, strong legs. I was a little caught off guard by that. He just kept rolling. He’s a really friendly guy. I talked to him after. I love his attitude. He’s a former track and cross-country guy in college. He went into the race not knowing what was going on. I think that could be a sign of things to come—people with quicker speed under their legs just going to these races and cranking it out and treating it more like, not a track race, but a college cross-country race instead of an ultra—just going for it. He was quick and he held on. I think he even picked it up the last couple miles. Yeah, I’m excited to see what he does next year once he gets off the cruise ship.
iRunFar: Wow. Yeah, thanks!
Krar: It’s so crazy. The thing that impresses me the most is that he did that off of, I’m imagining, very inconsistent training.
iRunFar: On a treadmill!
Krar: On a cruise ship!
iRunFar: Literally I would quit running at some point during that. Working on a cruise ship—I just couldn’t fathom that much time on it.
Krar: And then the interview that Meghan did—I loved that interview; I was laughing that loud.
iRunFar: I was jealous when she got off the phone from that one. She was like, “You will not believe what this kid said!”
Krar: Awesome! It was so great. And… I lost my train of thought. Then just like how he traveled for Bootlegger—he drove across the country sleeping in his car. I just can’t do that. I wish I could do that.
iRunFar: I used to do that—not to that ability. I’d go drive 1,000 miles and sleep in your car and race. I tried that two years ago at Red Hot Moab just from Park City and sleeping in my car. Fifteen miles in my back was jacked and…
Krar: So there are so many facets of Zach Miller that are fascinating.
iRunFar: Hopefully we see some more of him.
Krar: I’m kind of surprised because he doesn’t go back on the cruise ship until Wednesday or something, so I’m kind of surprised he didn’t make it out for this race.