Rob Krar kicked off an unbelievable year by winning the The North Face Endurance Challenge 50 Mile Championships last year (post-race interview). Since then, he’s won the Western States, Leadville, and Run Rabbit Run 100s along with taking second at the Lake Sonoma 50 Mile. He’s back at the TNF 50 this year… and feeling stronger than last year. In the following interview, Rob talks about his past year, how his training has gone since winning Run Rabbit Run in early September, why he was so quiet before Western States, and what he thinks of the reaction to Depressions, Joel Wolpert’s short film about him.
[Click here if you can’t see the video above.]
Rob Krar Pre-2014 TNF EC 50 Mile Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here before the 2014 The North Face 50 Mile Endurance Challenge Championships. How are you doing, Rob?
Rob Krar: I’m doing well.
iRunFar: You’ve had one heck of a year going back to exactly one year ago.
Krar: Yeah, it’s been a crazy year—unexpected. I really wasn’t planning on running those three hundreds this time last year, that’s for sure. I don’t know. I don’t know when that idea got in my head, but I kind of rolled with it and thankfully it worked out really well. I’m excited to race tomorrow. I think I said the same thing last year. I’m excited to write the final chapter and close the book, throw it on the shelf…
iRunFar: Kick up your feet and drink some coffee?
Krar: Yeah, and sleep for a month, I think. I just want to be a cat for a month. That would be great.
iRunFar: How are you feeling energy-wise? Training-wise. You had Western States. You had back to back hundreds with Leadville and Run Rabbit Run. What did you do after Run Rabbit Run?
Krar: I took a good break, 21 days, of absolutely nothing. I didn’t even go for a mountain bike ride. It was a good break. Then it was really just a typical training cycle. I always have a hump I need to get over in terms of feeling comfortable and feeling good in my training. That hump took a little while to get over, but, man, once I got over it, I had some really great, solid training the last five weeks or so. I’m feeling confident, really fit, and I’m excited get out and mix it up with those boys. It’s going to be amazing out there.
iRunFar: You won it last year. You’re the defending champ. Now that you’re starting to cycle into that role for a number of big races, what’s that feel like?
Krar: I don’t put too much thought in it, to be honest. I always run my own race out there. This field is incredible. It’s going to be even more important for me to run my own race early on. That allows me to be competitive at the end. Especially with the weather and the course changes, we’ve got a lot of newbies, new guys, fast guys—who knows what’s going to happen out there? I won’t be at the front, that’s for sure, not early anyway.
iRunFar: No? Sitting back?
iRunFar: Where did you join the lead group last year?
Krar: Somewhere around Cardiac, I think.
iRunFar: What mile… 18 or 20?
Krar: Yeah, once we started that out and back. I think we had formed a pretty solid group out there and then pretty much stuck together all the way along the out and back. It was somewhere around mile 15 to 20 is when I joined the lead pack.
iRunFar: So you’ll keep running your own race for tomorrow?
Krar: Yeah, for the most part.
iRunFar: There are a bunch of really new and really fast guys out there. Some of them are probably going to go off the front or try to.
Krar: Yeah, when I say I’m going to run my own race, I say that to a certain extent. Obviously Zach Miller proved that you can run off the front and win a race, so I’ll be conscious of that. It is a long race. I’ll run my own race for the first 15 or 20 miles, re-evaluate midway through the race, and if there’s someone way off the front I may not wait quite as long as I did at Lake Sonoma to try and catch up. Definitely early in the race, I’m running my own, reevaluate, and just see how it goes near the end.
iRunFar: Last year you threw in, I don’t know if it was a tremendous surge, but you put a tremendous difference on the field in those last couple miles—was it eight minutes in four miles? Seemed that way. Do you feel like this time, this year, you kind of have that depth of a well that you can tap into?
Krar: I think so. Yeah. Training has been great. It’s been really eye opening that… I’ve erred on the side of caution this training cycle. I’ve probably put in a bit fewer miles and a bit less intensity, but I feel fitter and stronger than I did at this time last year. I think that’s reflective of having two years of solid ultrarunning and training under my belt that I’m able to do that. Yeah, I feel good. I’ve had some great workouts. I think the speed is there, the strength is there, so I’ve just got to get it done on race day like always.
iRunFar: That’s got to be pretty scary for the rest of the men’s field to hear that you’re feeling more fit than you did last year.
Krar: Yeah, but it sounds like a lot of people have had that great training cycle and are really ready. A lot of people are really ready despite it being such a late race in the year. People are really ready to roll.
iRunFar: It really has. It’s been surprising. There’s so much depth to the field and it’s the last race of the season, so you expect a lot of people to sign up and then quietly pull. A lot of the men’s head of the field is going to be on the line tomorrow morning. Who do you think, other than yourself, has the best shot at winning out there?
Krar: Yeah, I’m not even trying to play that game. There are so many guys, so many unknowns. I haven’t been following the social media or Strava a whole lot at all. It would be kind of foolish of me to make any predictions. I think there’s going to be a very large pack half way through the race. I don’t think it’s going to break up as much as it did last year. You could see a larger group of guys coming into Muir Beach with 10 to go. That will make it really exciting.
iRunFar: That will. Before Western States, you kind of went to your own place and were quiet for quite some time leading up to it. What is different before a race like this? What was different either about Western States or where you’ve moved to in your head that you can sort of be more open about this race?
Krar: I think I’ve stayed fairly quiet on this go around as well. I think mainly because it’s been such a long year—really exciting and challenging at the same time. Western States was special. That was really a once-in-a-lifetime kind of race. I focused on it for a year. I don’t know if I’ll ever have a race where I put so much time and effort and heart into as Western States. I just felt like I wanted to hold onto that and make it my own. There’s so much that goes on behind the scenes and in the months that lead up to a race and then there’s so much attention focused on the days before a race. I don’t know. I felt almost protective of the work I’d done the year before. That’s one of the reasons I kept real quiet before the race.
iRunFar: You wanted to show it off on the big day… or just enjoying it.
Krar: Speak through actions and not words. It was… I don’t know… it just felt right to make it as personal and my own as I could and staying away from a lot of the prints and media was one way I went about it.
iRunFar: Since then you’ve really shared a lot of the personal [side of you] through the film that came out a couple months ago. I think there has been a reception to it for sure.
Krar: It’s been overwhelming. It’s been amazing. Like everything that’s happened in the past couple of years, it’s been unexpected and not intentional really. Joel [Wolpert] did such a great job of asking the right questions. I felt comfortable with him. He did a great job of putting that into an eight-minute short film. I’m really happy about it. It’s something I’ve struggled with for a very long time and have been quiet about. I had this sense beforehand that a lot of people have struggled with similar things, but I didn’t quite understand the extent. I think it’s really a very common thing especially amongst runners and maybe even more so with ultrarunners. It’s been good. I don’t have any answers but I think just maybe removing some of the stigma and opening up a dialogue might be helpful to others. I’m really glad I did it.
iRunFar: Thank you for that. Thanks for chatting.
Krar: For sure.