It doesn’t happen often, but Rob Krar was beat in an ultramarathon. He didn’t go down without a fight at the 2014 Lake Sonoma 50 Mile. He passed Sage Canaday in the final mile and wasn’t much more than a minute behind winner Zach Miller in taking second. Below is our post-race interview.
For more on the race, including our other interviews, check out our 2014 Lake Sonoma 50 Mile results article.
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Rob Krar Post-2014 Lake Sonoma 50 Mile Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Meghan here of iRunFar and I’m with Rob Krar, the second-place finisher of the 2014 Lake Sonoma 50 Mile. How’s it going?
Rob Krar: It’s going great. I’m excited to do my first interview with you.
iRunFar: Oh yeah? Alright. Well, I’m nervous. Are you?
Krar: I’m good. I’m tired.
iRunFar: You did say a few minutes ago that it was a rough day out for you. Talk about how you’re feeling.
Krar: It’s interesting. It was a difficult day. Maybe I shouldn’t call it a tough day. It was a really exciting, challenging day I think is a good way to put it. The course, by its nature, didn’t allow me to get into a good rhythm. It was tough. It’s 10,000 feet of vert in a 50 miler. There’s a lot of steep up and downs. It presented a unique challenge that I hadn’t experienced before. I was telling you earlier, every ultra is a huge learning curve for me, so it’s exciting.
iRunFar: This one the learning curve was as steep as the climbs today?
Krar: That’s a good way to put it, yeah. You know, it was an awesome race. It was exciting, and I think that’s really important. It was the first race of the season. I’m happy.
iRunFar: Good to know that it was exciting from the inside out because it was pretty exciting looking from the outside in. So walk us through the race for you. In the early miles, you were kind of running in a loose pack, kind of an accordion-style loose pack. Walk us through how things went.
Krar: I’m never great at walking through a race. I kind of zone out. It was myself, Chris Vargo, Sage [Canaday], and Max [King] running, like you say, not as a tight pack but an accordion all the way through midway. Then things kind of broke up shortly after that. Chris and Sage put a good move on and broke away. I eventually caught up to them, passed Max in between, and then it was the three of us running for a couple miles. Then Chris dropped—I’m not sure where he dropped. Then it was Sage and I and it really was, we didn’t do much running together, like I said, I was struggling out there. So Sage would pull away and somehow I’d manage to reel him back in, so it was back and forth for pretty much the last third of the race.
iRunFar: Yeah, you sat in third with 12 miles to go and you were sitting in third with 4.5 miles to go. You were actually two minutes back of Sage and five minutes back of the lead with 4.5 miles to go. It ended up with you in second and was it just over a minute off the lead?
Krar: Yeah, I think so.
iRunFar: It must have been a fairly interesting last 4.5 miles. What happened?
Krar: I’d say the last 15 miles was interesting for me. I was really struggling. I hit a really low point after the last crew aid station which I think was 12.7 to go. I kind of got out of sight of everybody and I just kind of walked. I was a little flustered and in a zone that I haven’t been in before in an ultra even with Western States. I took a little breather and kind of reevaluated the race and my strategy. I got some calories in me which didn’t help a whole lot to be honest. I just did everything I could. I was struggling on the climbs from that last aid station to the 4.5mile[-to-go] aid station. I was doing a lot of hiking on the climbs and trying to run whenever my body would allow me to. We got to that last 4.5-mile aid station and I really was not expecting to see Sage there. I caught a glimpse of him and somehow I managed to turn things around in this aid station. I don’t even think it was an aid station Coke—I just grabbed a guy’s Coke and said, “Hey, can I have that?” I just pounded a Coke, pounded two gels, saw Alex Varner on the way out, and to be honest, I started running more scared from Alex as opposed to chasing Sage. Somehow I found a rhythm and I really had a great last 4.5 miles. It’s funny. I figured I was probably catching Sage. There was a little voice in the back of my mind that was telling me and kind of wishing I wouldn’t see Sage because I knew if I saw Sage I’d have to run even harder. Then I saw Sage with 1.5 miles to go and I said, “Oh shoot. There’s Sage. Okay, let’s go.” So I put in a pretty strong move to catch Sage and maybe ran behind him for 100 to 200 meters or so, passed him, and just gave it everything I could. It was so close to the finish line. I think it was maybe a half mile to the finish line when I passed him, maybe a bit more—just everything I had and brought that into the finish line. Crazy day.
iRunFar: I actually got to see you moments after you made that pass. You were both pretty freight-train-style but you looked just like when I saw you sort of making your move at TNF 50 last fall. You must have turned around things pretty well and pretty quickly to go from the doldrums of walking the difficult climbs to putting a pretty strong hammer down on a grinding uphill finish.
Krar: Yeah, I did. I don’t know how. I really don’t. Like I said, that was the lowest point I’ve ever experienced in an ultra. I would have put money that I couldn’t do that. So I think I need time to process that to be honest. If I could figure out what allowed me to climb out of that hole like that and if I could utilize that in the future a little earlier…
iRunFar: Harness it for the future.
Krar: Yeah, every ultra I’m learning so much. I’ll take a couple days to reflect on it, and I think I can learn from it and use it to my advantage in the future.
iRunFar: You’re a guy with a pretty solid amount of turnover, good road speed, and so is Sage. But when you passed him with about three quarters of a mile to go at the very end there, he kind of put up his arms and shrugged like, “I’ve got nothing.”
Krar: I guess in most of the ultras I’ve done, I’ve finished strong. I don’t know if it goes back to a track background, but maybe the road background. I’ve spoken about it a lot, and I don’t know exactly what it means, but I’m able to go to a place in body and mind that maybe other people can’t or… that’s not a good way to put it. I’m able to go somewhere that allows me to give it everything I can at the end of the race, and that’s what happened today. I’m very fortunate I’m able to do that. It’s a special experience for me.
iRunFar: To have what you would articulate as an average day for you and for it to turn into a second place in the middle of a hearty sprint finish is… all’s well that ends well in this case. You have to be thinking that.
Krar: Yeah, for sure. I’m so happy for Zach. It’s incredible what he did. By no means am I saying I came second because I had a bad race. I gave it everything I could. Zach was a stronger runner today. I’m really excited to see what that guy has in store in the future. What a great character.
iRunFar: This is training off of a cruise ship. Imagine what he can do when he moves to Colorado and trains on some real trails.
Krar: Yeah. Exciting times. It really is.
iRunFar: Well congratulations to you.
Krar: Thank you.
iRunFar: Where do we see you next?
Krar: I will be at Western. I’m excited to have a big… I’ll take a couple weeks laid back. I have a big training block planned for Western. It won’t be quite as much of a rush as it was last year. I’m looking forward to my second hundred miler up there.
iRunFar: Awesome. And fastest Western States returner officially.
Krar: Is it? Yeah. Cool. I’m excited.
iRunFar: Congratulations again. See you out there on the trails.
Krar: Thanks. Awesome.
iRunFar: That’s a good hand shake.
Krar: [thumbs up]