With 32 victories, Karl Meltzer (Hoka One One) has won more 100 mile races than anyone else. Period. However, he’s racing in the masters category these days and not getting any younger. In the following interview, find out how he thinks the Run Rabbit Run 100’s unique aspects will shape the race, how he’s doing health-wise after some issues early in the year, and what Karl might be able to teach the youngsters this weekend.
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Karl Meltzer Pre-2012 Run Rabbit Run 100 Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell here of iRunFar with Karl Meltzer. How are you doing, Karl?
Karl Meltzer: I’m doing alright. I’m ready to run tomorrow. I’m healthy. I’m fit. I’m getting older; I’m racing the Masters.
iRF: This race, the Run Rabbit Run 100, has gone in a direction you’ve been pushing for a decade-plus probably. There’s real money on the line tomorrow.
Meltzer: Yeah. Tomorrow we get to race for money. There’s a bit of a different dynamic here, too, because aid-station time is important and keeping with the leaders early is somewhat important in terms of being close. I think it’s going to matter. Going five deep is killer because we’re not just racing for that one carrot at the end—there are all the carrots after that. I think it’s going to be a tight race. It’s going to make it a little bit more interesting for all of us. Will we be elbowing each other? I doubt it because we’re all friends. But at the same time, it’s a race, and I’m not going to cross the line holding anybody’s hand that’s for sure.
iRF: No. Early on, you guys go straight up this mountain. Are you going out hard or are you going to sort of sit back and run your own race? Which is it?
Meltzer: Karl will run his own race. Karl will not be in the lead at the top of the mountain. I will do my thing, and whatever my time ends up, it will be. That’s how I always run races. I expect a few people to go out faster than they should probably. I see this course, too… I talked to Fred about it and said, “It’s really easy. I think the time is going to be 17 hours or so.” It’s fast, but at the same time, it’s slightly dangerous for fast runners, too, because once we do summit Mount Werner and get over the top, it’s essentially a 12-13 mile downhill. That’s a long way to trash quads early.
Meltzer: Early early. Then it’s really runnable again through mile 40 where we go up a long climb. Then it’s a 13-14 mile downhill back to the high school at mile 68 or something like that. It’s another place to trash your quads. It’s important to run your smart race I think.
iRF: Then, there’s going to be at some point in that top 5, there are going to be two people within a minute or two with 5 miles to go and 3,000 feet of descent. It’s whoever has those legs, right?
Meltzer: Right. And it’s going to be a fast descent. Whoever can lean forward and let them fly will let them go. All of us expect Tim Olson and Mike Wolfe to be the two guys to watch. [Jason] Schlarb and [Dylan] Bowman and Arnulfo Quimare and Miguel Lara from the Copper Canyon—what are those guys going to do? We don’t really know. We’re really psyched that we got them here. I’m glad I could help with those guys, and it’s a pleasure to run against them. We don’t really know what they’re going to do. We know that they’re fast. What does that mean?
iRF: It’s 100 miles.
Meltzer: It’s 100 miles. How many times have they gone that far? We don’t know. So there’s a great dynamic in the race with those guys. It puts a little bit of flair to the start line. I kind of picked myself a little behind them, but then again I don’t really know.
iRF: It’s interesting because there are going to be people going out fast, but if somebody runs a conservative smart race, they can put themselves in the money.
Meltzer: And that’s kind of what I’m hoping for. I’m hoping to just do my thing and pick up my carnage later on. If there is some carnage later on that I can pick up, I’m not going to say, “Hey, c’mon, we can finish together.” I’m going to try to get out ahead. It’s just because it’s a race and that’s how it is. I hope that that’s what happens. Of course we don’t want to see carnage, but at the same time, we wanted this and we’re running for money so…
iRF: It’s interesting because a lot of the guys at the front of the race have never run through an entire night. You’ve done Hardrock enough times that you’ve got a bunch of those under your belt.
Meltzer: I’ve run over the night a bunch of times. Last year the sleep monster knocked me over. But at the same time, I kind of know what it’s like to run all night—how it feels when the sun comes up which usually is rejuvenating. I hope to be done just a little after when the sun comes up. It is; it’s different when you run at night. Who’s good at technical running at night? I’m pretty good at it, and I’m sure the other guys are good at it too, but…
iRF: Anybody else know what running stealth is at night? There are road sections there overnight.
Meltzer: I don’t know what you’re talking about. Stealth? Yeah, you know there are a few tricks to play at night, absolutely, with lights and things like that. And this course, it actually favors somebody like that with the idea of running stealth because you don’t need much light to run on the Buffalo Pass Road. The Spring Creek Trail is pretty easy to go really little light going uphill. So you know, don’t wear an orange shirt; wear a black one. I run stealth if I can, absolutely.
iRF: So you’re going to run smart on this one. Experience pays off.
Meltzer: That’s right. And I’m going to hope that it pays me a little something at the end.
iRF: You’ve had a couple dings in your armor this year in terms of injuries. How are you feeling going into this?
Meltzer: Yes, mostly it’s been neuritis in my left foot. I’ve taken care of that actually. It’s been really good this whole last six to seven weeks; I’ve been able to train. After we got done with the Speedgoat race, I kind of started training harder, and my foot issues went away. I still have a tiny bit of tingling left in my foot, but it will not affect me. There are no excuses for that. It’s fine. It should be perfectly fine.
iRF: One of the qualifications for there being additional Masters money this weekend was there being 4 Masters entrants. Have you checked the list to see if the hares’ race has 4?
Meltzer: There are 4. I think there was something like 6 or 7 or 8 or 9 or something like that. I know one of them didn’t show up, but there is $1,000 and granted, I’ll say yes, maybe I’m a shoo-in to win that. But there’s never a shoo-in at 100 miles. It’s far. I say it’s not far, but it’s a hard race, and I’m still going to have to run well to do it. I hope that pays for something.
iRF: It’s interesting because you go out and have a good race most of the time and then you have trouble like at Leadville that time where you had a rough patch at the end. There’s now an incentive for you to gut one out if you have to.
Meltzer: Exactly. I’m going to gut it out. I’m going to finish it unless I get real “injured.” Like Fred said at the meeting, “Tired is not an excuse.” It’s not. I will tough it out, and I will do my best to get that. I hate to say that I’m running the Masters division, but we all get older. I just hope to run well and strong to the end, and that’s really my goal.
iRF: What are you going to be kicking around on your feet out there?
Meltzer: The Hoka Bondi’s. I’ve got a little bit different pair on right now. They’re still a Bondi platform. I just love that platform; they fit my foot well. I’m not running with insoles, so I’m keeping them a little bit lighter and with a little more room in my toes. Bondi’s.
iRF: Well, best of luck, Karl and show them how it gets done.
Meltzer: Yeah, I’ll show them that the old guy can still do it, right?