Rob Krar won the 2014 Western States 100, commandingly. After finishing second last year, his goal was to return and run his own best race, and that he did. In the following interview, Rob talks about the journey between last year and this year’s race, what it felt like to run around the Placer High School Track as the winner, and if he’s going to let himself mentally savor his victory.
Be sure to check out our results article for the whole race story including links to the rest of iRunFar’s post-race coverage.
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Rob Krar, Western States 100 Champion, Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here finally with Rob Krar after his win at the 2014 Western States 100. Rob, amazing race yesterday. You’ve been dreaming of this for awhile.
Rob Krar: Yeah, I have. I’m ecstatic. It may be one of the happiest times of my life. I’m going to cherish it forever. It has been a journey. It really has been about a year and a day since I set that goal for myself sitting in a chair next to Tim Olson. I didn’t even need to say it out loud. It was a personal journey for me. It’s been a ride—a lot of highs and lows and struggles along the way, but all those make it worth it.
iRunFar: Having a race like that, people can’t imagine that there are hiccups along the way. What were the setbacks this past year?
Krar: A couple small injuries. Training for ultras is a whole world of complications and time commitments and sacrifices. It’s something I’m still adjusting to. It’s difficult for myself and it’s at times difficult for those around me. You can get a little grumpy putting in big weeks and big mileage. There were some personal struggles as well, something that I have to work hard at times to work through. Things worked out fantastically and I couldn’t be happier.
iRunFar: The challenge really does make it worthwhile, doesn’t it?
Krar: Yeah, it does. I’ve never set such a lofty and long-range goal for myself, and to see it all come to fruition and validate the hard work and the sacrifices—incredibly satisfying.
iRunFar: What major changes did you make in preparing for this year as opposed to last year?
Krar: Before Western last year, I wasn’t doing any workouts really. I was just putting in some miles. I think a year, 2013, under my belt, a full year of ultras, has hardened me mentally and physically. That’s allowed me to maintain steady high mileage while maintaining a healthy body and mind. I’ve been able to maintain high mileage and get some really great workouts in, a lot of more challenging runs in the mountains as well because my body is handling it so much better. You put all those elements together and I came into this race the most confident runner I’ve really ever been.
iRunFar: So you’ve been putting in more miles, tougher miles, faster miles—everything.
iRunFar: I think ultrarunners can get caught in the slow and steady approach, you were the exact opposite of that?
Krar: A bit of everything. I certainly make an effort and I’m very diligent about keeping my easy days easy. But when I’m out there to put an effort in, I’m putting a hard effort in. That really pays dividends.
iRunFar: What did it feel like coming around the track?
Krar: Like I said, I never told a soul about my true goals. Christina knew it and didn’t even have to ask me. But I don’t think there was a day that’s gone by this past year where I didn’t imagine setting foot on that track and soaking it up that last 300 meters. It was incredible. Even the last mile in from Robie Point, there was a smile on my face and just a thousand memories or a thousand thoughts streaking through my mind. It’s magical. It’s magical.
iRunFar: Is that your favorite moment from the race or did anything along the way really stick with you?
Krar: I was incredibly focused the entire race, so it really was. Certainly in the last mile, I let my emotions start to flow and setting foot on the track was the highlight for sure, and crossing the finish line.
iRunFar: I would like you just to savor this and stay in the moment, but you sat down next to Timmy last year and had something pop into your mind. Anything pop into your mind for what’s next?
Krar: No. No. Honestly, I don’t race much and when I do it’s a massive effort and it leaves me pretty broken. I’ve always been a big proponent of listening to your body and allowing sufficient time to recover. So a couple ideas—Leadville is on top of the list. TransRockies again if it takes a little bit longer to recover. It’s one of my favorite weeks of running. Great memories at TransRockies. Run Rabbit Run. UROC. TNF 50. Not all of those.
iRunFar: You’ve got a lot of options.
Krar: Yeah, a lot of options, so I’m looking forward to getting back to Flagstaff and then a couple night’s work. Then I’m taking a canoe up on the river and I’m checking out for a couple days. That’s something else that I’ve really been looking forward to.
iRunFar: Because you have been so focused, there’s got to be a lot of mental energy involved, not just the training.
Krar: It is. It’s a difficult task at times managing work with running and everything involved with both of those. I’m so happy it all came to fruition and I can relax and just soak it in for a little while. I’m looking forward to that part.
iRunFar: Savor the win and enjoy checking out as well.
Krar: Thanks a lot, Bryon.
iRunFar: Bonus Question for you, were you and Max [King] playing ‘pass the baton’ with straw hats yesterday? Did the leader have to wear one?
Krar: I can’t remember where I saw Max; it must have been coming out of Robinson Flat or Michigan Bluff and I saw the straw hat. You know, it’s the style and trend these days, so yeah, he beat me to the gun during the race.
iRunFar: Do you think he can rock a beard like you?
Krar: I don’t know. I don’t know. He’s looking a little scruffy at times, but I think he may sport the clean-shaven face a lot better than I do.
iRunFar: Take care, man.
Krar: Thanks a lot.