Rob Krar won the 2014 Western States 100 in the second-fastest time in the race’s history. In this finish-line interview with John Trent, Rob talks about dreaming of this win and how he executed the strategy to do so for all 100 miles.
Rob Krar, 2014 Western States 100 Champ, Finish-Line Interview Transcript
John Trent: Rob just went and checked the time on the clock to make sure it was real. It was real, Rob. Congratulations. As Rob is slipping on his sandals here, I just wanted to mention a couple of things about today’s run that Rob did. This is obviously one of the best runs that we’ve ever had in our 41-year history. I am pretty sure that Rob’s run down to the river, from Foresthill to the river crossing was probably our fastest ever as well. I think it was two hours and three minutes that Rob ran down to the river which is phenomenal. That’s more than 10 minutes faster, probably, than the fastest split we’ve ever had. Rob just said, “That’s why it hurt so bad.” Curious, Rob, who was that beautiful woman that you were hugging at the finish line?
Rob Krar: She’s the reason I’m here. Everyone’s probably getting sick of hearing me say that. She’s the love of my life, and I wouldn’t be doing this without her. She’s incredible.
Trent: She looked pretty happy, too. Tell us, Rob, a little bit about the race today. What was your approach going in? The fact that you were second last year, you closed fantastically on a really great runner, Tim Olson. What was kind of the plan today and how did the plan actually play out?
Krar: It’s been a year-long journey. Without even thinking about it when I was sitting in this chair last year beside Tim Olson, I knew that even if I didn’t consciously think it, my year-long goal was to be sitting here right now talking to you. I don’t think I’ve ever set a goal like this in my life, such a lofty goal in so long. There are just so many great athletes in this race. I just have so much respect for all of them.
The race today, it was important for me to run my race. It really was. The other athletes were almost at tool for me to help push me along. It wasn’t quite as hot as last year, but I was really feeling it and I really had to focus on heat management. I really wanted to put a gap in the middle of the race on Cal Street and give myself a bit of a buffer. It worked, but I was really suffering over the last 10 miles. It was really survival mode coming through the end there. I had to run my own race, and I did it. I’m just so happy I can’t even stand.
Trent: One of the wildcards today was Max King. People really didn’t know—well, you’ve run against Max and know his immense talent—people didn’t really know how much he might lay it on the line. Did you expect him to lead the way he did and where was it when you finally went by him?
Krar: Yeah, I have nothing but respect for Max and I think I’m one of those folks that really thought he was going to challenge for the win. I certainly feared him going into the race. I think he was one of the top competitors. I think he is one of the top competitors. I passed him in between Cal 1 and Cal 2 and just hung behind him and regrouped because I was working really hard to catch up to him. I kept hearing he was right in front of me and I kept looking around the next bend and he wasn’t there. It took me a long time to catch him. Once I settled down, I put a strong move in. I really worked those last few miles to the river. It was tough. Cal Street is no joke. Some of those hills, they come out of nowhere and they’re so steep. It’s in the hottest part of the day and it’s exposed. That river never felt so good.
Trent: The folks down at the river noted that not too many people actually among the leaders went in for a dip, but I think you did?
Krar: Yeah, for sure. I think on a day like this you’ve got to take advantage of any opportunity to cool off. Yeah, I laid in the river on Rucky Chucky Nearside for probably 30 seconds and just tried to get that core temperature down. I think it helped.
Trent: Also, you had as you were building up this spring a little injury that I think going into Sonoma you were a little dinged up. You did come in second there. After Sonoma, how was the build up? How were you feeling especially the last couple of weeks heading into the race? Also, more importantly, where was your head the last couple of weeks?
Krar: Tropical John puts on an amazing race on a very challenging course. Lake Sonoma was a little tough for me. I was a little banged up, but Zach [Miller] had a great race out there and he deserved the win that day. I regrouped really quick. My training, there could not have been a more perfect block of training that I had. The confidence had never been so high. I’ve never entered a race so healthy before. To see a year’s worth of work come to fruition is really magical.
Trent: You know, Rob, one of the other things is in a very short time, you’ve become one of the most recognizable faces in our sport because, not only is there the ‘Fear the Beard’ thing, but also you’re an incredibly gracious and humble human being and it’s genuine. A win like today—how is this, when you look back on it in 10 or 15 years, what is it going to mean to you? As you’re sitting here tonight, what are some of the thoughts going through your head about the fact that you are the 2014 Western States men’s champion?
Krar: I need some time to process it. It’s magical. I’ve had a long career in and out of running, but to be embraced by the ultrarunning community, they’re the friendliest, most genuine runners around. I need time to process. It’s incredible. It’s the biggest goal I’ve set. It’s something I’ll cherish for the rest of my life.
Trent: A couple other quick questions and then we’ll leave you alone. It’s great. This guy is like gold in terms of interviewing. I can ask the most idiotic question and Rob is going to come up with a beautiful answer. As you were running through the neighborhood here, that’s always an emotional moment for our runners as you get near the track. Was it emotional for you or were you just feeling like you were holding on? It seemed like when you hit the track the emotion was kind of hitting you at that point.
Krar: I was just soaking it in. There were a million thoughts going through my head. I can’t even tell you what I was thinking. Every one of those painted footsteps as they went by me, I think another thought came into my head. It was incredible. I soaked it up. I got on the track and, you know, I’ve been dreaming about this, the moment, that first step on the track for the last year. I really let the emotions go. Wow, I’m a happy guy.
Trent: I can’t top that. Ladies and gentleman, our 2014 champion: Rob Krar!