Last year, Anton Krupicka came to La Palma, but an injury kept him from racing. This year, he’s back, fit, healthy, and ready to race the Transvulcania Ultramarathon. In the following interview, Anton talks about his fitness, taking time off for injuries, logging fully runnable long runs before more runnable races, the competitive dynamic of this year’s Transvulcania, his Grand Canyon double crossing, and his brush with an avalanche. Enjoy this jam packed interview! [Update: Anton has pulled fro mthe raced due to the flu, but you’re still likely to find the multi-focal interview interesting.]
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Anton Krupicka Pre-2013 Transvulcania Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Anton Krupicka on La Palma for the 2013 Transvulcania Ultramarathon. How is it going, Tony?
Anton Krupicka: It’s going well. I’ve been here three or four days now and am kind of getting over the jetlag. I’m excited to race.
iRF: Adjusting to La Palma time?
Krupicka: Yes, adjusting to La Palma time. I guess we’re seven hours different from Mountain Daylight Time (MDT).
iRF: What’s it like being here this year? Last year you were here but not racing.
Krupicka: More stressful I guess. I don’t know. Last year when I was here it was more like a vacation. I was just like, ‘It’s awesome. I’m on an island. I get to participate in the conference and all that.’ This year, I’m here to compete and race. There’s always a little more edge to that. You’re just kind of worried how you’re feeling all the time.
iRF: You really are treating this as a focus race. You skipped Tarawera to make sure you didn’t get injured.
Krupicka: I wasn’t ready. Tarawera—I’d had this hip thing over the winter and there was just no way I was going to run 100k on it. It wasn’t ready at all for Tarawera. So this, yes, I’d say it’s a focus race, but it is the first one of the year. All my races I feel are pretty high profile, deep fields, so most of my races are focuses. I don’t do the whole ‘training race’ thing. I wouldn’t say I’m 100 percent race fit at this point, I’m feeling pretty good about my fitness. I’ll be more fit in July, but that’s the way it goes.
iRF: As we all will at least in the Northern Hemisphere. Sorry to all the Southern Hemisphere folks.
Krupicka: Yeah, yeah.
iRF: You had some hip problems there, but you’ve had a pretty long set of training for you.
Krupicka: Yes, I’m feeling pretty good. Really, since even a year ago, I was injured here a year ago, but since then it’s been pretty good with just a few little things here and there. I’m the kind of guy that if I’m injured, I take time off and don’t try and race on it. A lot of people try to run through it and, I don’t know, I just want to be healthy. I’ll skip a race here and there if I’m not feeling 100 percent.
iRF: Having been here last year, you’ve seen there’s an 8000-foot climb, but quite a runnable one. How are you feeling in terms of… in the last year, and even before, you’ve been doing a lot of mountain stuff, bagging Longs Peak. How do you think your running fitness is now?
Krupicka: It’s good. It’s probably the best it’s been in the last two years—pure running fitness. For the past month, most of April, I was really focusing on just that—actually doing climbs that are runnable and long runs that are runnable the whole way. That makes a big difference. Someone was asking me recently about Leadville last year and how I came in with no running fitness, and I was like, ‘Right now I’m more fit to run a race like Leadville than I was in August of last year for sure.’ I’ve just been doing true running. But I’ve been doing plenty… I mix it up with scrambling and climbing and hiking, too.
iRF: When you’re focused on a race that has runnable aspects, you do… people when they think of Anton Krupicka, they think it’s all scrambling up and down. There are races that you have to train for running.
Krupicka: Oh yeah, almost every North American race. Everyone talks about, ‘Oh this is a sky race here in La Palma.’ Psssshhh. It’s a lot of running. It’s a lot of very smooth trail and gradual climb although during the climb there might be a little kick or short pitch that’s a little bit steeper. It’s an 8000-foot climb, too. You have to be… it’s very much a running race.
iRF: Especially with some of the competition you’ll be facing. What are your thoughts on how Sage will perform on it at least on the uphill side?
Krupicka: Oh, on the uphill side he’ll be… I fully expect him to be there at 35 miles/50k. Because it’s just not… again, it’s just this very smooth track and it’s kind of… there probably won’t be a whole lot of hiking there… you’ll hike little stretches here and there. It’s pretty much runnable the whole way. I don’t know. It’s… I don’t know if he’s really run a race like this before where you basically get to the top of the mountain and you do the Pikes Peak Marathon descent. Then you finish with another 1000-foot climb to the finish. Everyone talks about the last 5k being on roads and it just doesn’t matter. At the end of this 5k it’s pure strength. Leg speed is out the window there. Last year Dakota won hiking away from Andy. So you’d better be able to hike and hard. It will be interesting. I think it will probably be the first ultra that he’s done that breaks that North American mode of run every single step. Sonoma is like a carpet and you bop up and down all day. UROC was almost all road. He’s obviously going to do really well.
iRF: Aside from him, in my mind, there is a more dynamic field here with so many variables and wild cards—being early season and most of the racers here are from North America or Europe that are coming out of skimo season for a lot of them.
Krupicka: You were just in the press conference there and they had Kilian, myself, Luis Alberto Hernando, and Timothy up there and… there are so many other dudes that should have been sitting at the table there… obviously Sage. Nobody is really talking about Adam Campbell. That dude is really fit and he knows how to run hard. He’ll be up there for sure. Luis Hernando—I doubt anyone in the States even knows him, but he’s a total bada–.
iRF: He’s been in the Olympics.
Krupicka: Yeah, he’s been in the Olympics in the biathlon.
iRF: He’s got a little bit of a cardio engine there.
Krupicka: In 2010 or 2011 I think he won the World Skyrunning medal. Last year he pushed Kilian all day at Zegama. He’s super strong. He’ll be up there, too. He’s been training. He’s not taking it lightly. It’s his first ultra.
iRF: How do you think about how it plays out with skimo? Those guys have been racing all winter. You haven’t raced since…
Krupicka: Since Cavalls.
iRF: Is there a yin and yang to that?
Krupicka: Skimo is just so different because there’s no pounding. I think there might be the emotional or mental fatigue. Kilian’s last race was last weekend. I think he was a little sick for it and it didn’t go too great. I can’t race that often emotionally, but that’s me.
iRF: You don’t think there’s anything with not being sharp mentally?
Krupicka: A little bit maybe. I don’t do training races. So over the past month, I’ve done three long runs and one down in the Grand Canyon at by no means race intensity, but the effort I put in there would have won most low-key 50-milers across the country. The same with the long run I did the next weekend, too. I just know that if I get in a race I’m going to go really hard and it’s going to set me back more. I just save the racing for the real races.
iRF: Speaking of that, the long run in the Grand Canyon (rim-to-rim-to-rim), you did that in the second fastest time ever?
Krupicka: I think I just snuck under Dave’s (Mackey)… he was a couple seconds under seven hours and I was 40 seconds under seven hours.
iRF: So you’re one of three people to go under seven hours.
Krupicka: Sure but again, it’s an FKT deal.
iRF: But for April, it’s a pretty good gauge for your fitness do you think?
Krupicka: Oh, totally, it was definitely a confidence booster because it was one of those things where I thought I’d see how I was feeling. I got down to the river and saw it was a quicker split than I was expecting. I was kind of like. ‘I’ll keep going steady and see how it shakes out.’ Then for awhile on the way back, you know you’re coming back down to Phantom Ranch, Joe (Grant) and his uncle were doing a double crossing and I crossed them around Cottonwood Camp. I was out of it. I stopped and chatted with them for a minute or two. I’d given up on trying to go fast anymore. But I got to… I started climbing out of the canyon and was feeling good again but then I blew up the last 3000 feet like usual.
iRF: As probably most everyone does.
Krupicka: I was happy to sneak under seven hours.
iRF: Earlier this winter, you got caught in an avalanche. Tell us a little about that.
Krupicka: Yeah, that was just probably… I didn’t read the conditions right on the mountain. There hadn’t been a ton of new snow or anything, but it was abnormally warm. I did a different route on the mountain and took a little longer to get to the summit so it was a little later in the morning when I was descending.
iRF: Was this on Longs Peak?
Krupicka: It was on Longs Peak. There was this wet slide. It was just… I don’t know… it happens, I guess. I feel like I learned things from it like go as early as possible in the morning. I have training in avalanche and snowpack stability and that kind of thing, but it’s always there are little pockets and mountains are unpredictable.
iRF: Inherent risk.
Krupicka: There’s always risk. You have to decide what you’re comfortable taking on.
iRF: Has that changed your risk equation a little bit?
Krupicka: That day… I think it’s made me a little more gun shy of snowpack for sure. I was not really expecting that that day. By the time I get back to Colorado after this race, things will have stabilized a bit and I’ll start getting back up in the high country and the mountains. That was the only ascent of Longs I got in April then. It also started snowing a ton, so I wasn’t going to mess with it.
iRF: You went out another day and turned around didn’t you?
Krupicka: That wasn’t due to the snow, it was just the conditions. It was absurdly windy up there. Longs gets like this jet stream that comes over it and you can’t even stand in it. It’s nuts.
iRF: It’s good to have you back out here on La Palma and racing. It should be an exciting weekend. I think a lot of people will be excited to see you race healthy this year.
Krupicka: I’m excited to see how it is. I hope to have a full season and hit some good races. I’m as interested as anyone to see how the race plays out on Saturday with so many factors.
iRF: Great talking to you.
Krupicka: You too, Bryon.