A pair of extremely fast Leadville 100 wins in 2006 and 2007 put Anton Krupicka (New Balance) on the ultrarunning map. After a couple big blowups at the race, he missed last year’s race due to injury. Having not raced a 100-miler since last February, he’s excited to be back tackling the distance. In the interview below, he talks about his training going into the race, the competition, and what makes Leadville special for him.
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Anton Krupicka Pre-2012 Leadville 100 Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell here with Anton Krupicka before the 2012 Leadville Trail 100. How are you doing, Tony?
Anton Krupicka: I’m doing great. How are you?
iRF: All right. I think when a lot of people think of Leadville, they think of you.
Krupicka: For better or worse, I guess.
iRF: For better or worse. Two great times in 2006 and 2007; and two spectacular DNF’s.
Krupicka: Yeah, I guess they might have been spectacular. I was close to course record pace both times and had big leads both times and then just stopped.
iRF: The wheels came off very quickly.
Krupicka: Very quickly.
iRF: We talked before Speedgoat. You’ve been hurt for a long time. You did a lot of mountain hiking to get in about the best fitness of your life.
Krupicka: I feel like that, yeah.
iRF: But in doing all that you were just walking up a lot of mountains. Since then, you’ve been playing in the big mountains. Have you done any training for really running—because this is a running course?
Krupicka: Sure, um, no. Gosh, I’m trying to remember… maybe the week before Speedgoat I started doing some flatter runs in the evening, just like here or there a few times a week—no big deal. I remember there were a couple of runs recently where I’ve been like, “Wow, this is the first time I’ve gone for a run where I didn’t have any intention of tagging a peak. I’ve just gone for a run to go for a run for like an hour. I don’t know, I’m not too concerned about it. I’ve done enough runs where there’s been flat running during the runs and … it will be fine.
iRF: You don’t think that will affect your performance? The last 45 miles are…
Krupicka: Super fast, yeah. It’s all running. Well, Powerline is not running. If you’re running Powerline you have my respect.
iRF: The vast majority of the last 45 miles…
Krupicka: Yeah, it’s flat. But no, because the fact of the matter is, when you’re running, you’re lucky if you’re going faster than 7:30 pace.
iRF: Yeah, even on the way to Fish Hatchery on the road there, if you’re doing 7:30, you’re having a good day.
Krupicka: Yeah, you’re having a good day. I’ll be really excited if I’m going that quickly there. I hope to be. But it’s much more about strength, mental toughness, and feeling and all that.
iRF: So are you excited about the new singletrack section they’ve added to bypass the road?
Krupicka: Yeah, I think it’s great. Anytime you add singletrack, it’s cool. I’m always about historical continuity, but I’m not even sure how much longer it is this year. It’s going to be, I’ve heard like 1.6 miles in both directions?
iRF: Yeah, I’ve heard that.
Krupicka: But that seems quite long.
iRF: That seems quite long. It was only a 2.5 mile section to begin with.
Krupicka: Yeah, but if you’re zigzagging… so I don’t know. It’s somewhere between 2-3 miles longer than the way the course has been since 2009.
iRF: So what do you think … I think I’ve talked to you about this before… what do you think—is it 30-40 minutes faster?
Krupicka: No, no… 15-20 minutes faster, I think, when they changed the course in 2009… for the front-runners, I think it was 15-20 minutes faster. So this will at least make up for that and probably add another 10 minutes or so. It makes it tough to get Matt Carpenter’s record.
iRF: The last two times you’ve been here, you’ve clearly had Matt’s record as a target. You were going out to try to break Matt’s record.
Krupicka: Well, yeah, I was going out to run fast for sure, and trying to break Matt’s record was in the back of the mind for sure. This year, especially with the course change and the level of the competition, I don’t care if we get to Winfield in 8 hours; usually it’s more like 7:30 or something like that. I just want to really compete and not take any big risks pace-wise. Instead, I’ll just run for the win.
iRF: Run for the win. Talk about the competition. At least at the very front, it’s a lot deeper than it has been in the past.
Krupicka: I don’t know every field since the beginning of the race, but it has to be up there with one of the deepest fields ever in the race. I think Nick Clark is the guy to be looking at the most, because he does really well with mountain 100s. He’s from Colorado, so he’s got the acclimation going on. Thomas Lorblanchet is a Salomon runner. He’s been living here. He’s been in the States since Speedgoat, so he’s going to be acclimated. I’m sure he’s prepared. Then Mike Aish—this is the first time he’s running 100 miles. He’s a 2:13 marathoner and a two-time Olympian for New Zealand. But, as the endless amounts of people that have asked me in the last couple of days, I don’t think your marathon PR matters at all when it comes to racing 100 miles.
iRF: He did run a pretty solid Silver Rush, though.
Krupicka: That’s what I’ve heard. Someone told me maybe it was 1.5 miles longer this year, and he was 4-5 minutes off of Duncan Callahan’s time. I don’t know. I don’t have any idea how strong Duncan’s time was. I’m sure Aish will be… you know, he has a whole TV show behind him or something, so it would be pretty embarrassing for him to have a spectacular blow-up or something. So I think he’ll probably run smart.
iRF: That’s good. Good point. Weather’s looking pretty good for this weekend.
Krupicka: Yeah, it’s looking really good. If it stays like this—70 and no lightning and not too hot; it will be awesome.
iRF: With your strategy and maybe Mike running conservatively, do you think there could actually be a pack… some people running together at Winfield or maybe later?
Krupicka: I think Mike Arnstein will probably take it out pretty quickly. He’s also in the race. Maybe Aish will follow him… I don’t know. Who knows what will happen? I know what pace is comfortable for me on the course and if people are coalescing around that, then I’ll run with people. But if they’re not, I’m not going to be chasing silly early efforts. There will be other guys that surprise. There’s this local dude, Tim Waggoner, he’s doing the Leadman this year. He’s kind of fighting with Troy Howard and this other guy, Al Thresher, I think, for leading that. But Tim was sixth a few years back; maybe, that was a couple years ago. He’s been running really well this summer, and I think he’ll go start conservative because that’s his nature. I think he could definitely go top-5 or maybe sneak on the podium if people are blowing up.
iRF: You can’t discount Zeke Tiernan.
Krupicka: Oh, Zeke. He’ll be the same way. He’s finished podium every time he’s run Leadville. I think he’s probably the most fit he’s ever been.
iRF: Yeah, sixth at Western States.
Krupicka: Yeah and really strong last 20 there, I think. Yeah, he only finished 12-13 minutes behind Clarkie there at Western, so yeah, Zeke will run really strong. There could be a really fun group up there at the front.
iRF: You have a long history with not just the race at Leadville but the town and the area. Are you excited to get back to the 100 mile distance here in Leadville?
Krupicka: Yeah, sure. I know this course better than any other 100 I’ve been in, and I’ve been kind of living up here all summer or in this general area. I think it’s cool. You know, earlier in the summer we were down at Hardrock, and there’s that end of the spectrum. It’s like the start goes off in the morning and everyone kind of just walks out of town and people kind of clap their hands and it’s not a very big deal. Then here there’s going to be 1,100 people on the start line and it’s a corporate race. There’s a huge lot of hoopla. It’s cool to have both ends of the sport represented. It’s kind of exciting to have all that energy surrounding you then.
iRF: There’s a big mix—there’s paved road, doubletrack, moderate singletrack out there at most, it’s pretty buffed out.
Krupicka: It is. It’s a fast course for the most part—the first 40 and the last 40 miles. The double crossing of Hope Pass is legit mountain running. Even there, the trail’s not techy. You get pretty high in there and the climb is steep, especially on the south side of Hope. That’s probably where separation will occur.
iRF: What shoes are you going to be rocking given the mixed terrain? Or are you still up in the air?
Krupicka: I’m totally up in the air. It’s probably going to be one of three pairs: the new road flat from New Balance, the NB 1600. It’s like 5 oz, super light, there’s quite a bit of rubber on the outsole so they might work; aybe an old trusty pair of 790’s stuck back in the truck somewhere (I’ve run in those the past couple of days, and I’m really excited about them.); or a pair of 101’s. It’s just that this course has a lot of road so you want a little more cush under your foot. Something like the 110’s, it’s a pretty hard shoe. It’s not the technical mountain course that the 110 is suited for, I think. So yeah, something a little more soft and fast.
iRF: Best of luck out there, man. Good to see you back out at the 100-mile distance.
Krupicka: Yeah, yeah.