Anton Krupicka’s 2014 season ended with an injury-hindered run at the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc. This weekend, he looks to kick off his 2015 with a strong showing at Transgrancanaria. In the following interview, Anton talks about when and why he decided to run Transgrancanaria, how his training and shoe philosophies have changed over the years, how his shin injury is feeling, and what he’s thinking about heading into this weekend’s race.
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Anton Krupicka Pre-2015 Transgrancanaria Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Anton Krupicka before the 2015 The North Face Transgrancanaria. How are you, Tony?
Anton Krupicka: I’m good. How are you, Bryon?
iRunFar: Alright. How long have you been here on Gran Canaria?
Krupicka: Let’s see. Today is Wednesday evening and I got here Monday night. We spent the last two days on top of the island at El Garañón It’s the top high point of the race. From there it’s basically one long downhill to the finish, about 80k into the race, I guess.
iRunFar: Is this your first time to the island?
Krupicka: Yes, first time I’ve been here.
iRunFar: What do you think of the terrain up there?
Krupicka: It’s cool. It’s a very complex landscape. Just driving down here today and kind of getting around the island in the last couple of days—you know in La Palma you have the one big feature basically, the big volcano and old caldera—here, it’s like everything is really dissected and diced up. There are a lot of ravines and canyons to bop in and out of. I think that is why there’s 28k vert in the race.
iRunFar: Do you find yourself ever geeking out on the geology, not just the topography but the actual geology of the places you visit?
Krupicka: Well, it’s funny, today we were out at Roque Nublo, which is halfway up the last climb, and there’s some sport climbing on this big spire that sticks out. It’s funny, the rock is all volcanic rock obviously, so you’ve got your rhyolite and your tuffs and your basalt and your pumice and all that. It’s just all volcanic which is something that’s obviously very foreign… well, actually the San Juans are ancient volcanic stuff, but…
iRunFar: Quite changed with time.
Krupicka: Yeah, it’s much different. It’s a lot more fresh obviously. The geology is comparatively young here to anything you’d see in the Rockies.
iRunFar: It’s early in the season to be running 125k. How’s your winter gone? What have you been up to since UTMB?
Krupicka: Yeah, so since UTMB, well, I came into UTMB with a shin injury. That’s been going on for four years. I made it to the end of the race which I was very pleased with, but then not too long after UTMB it kind of flared back up again, and it’s been an issue ever since. So in the fall I did a ton of scrambling and up until a month ago I was doing a lot of scrambling because we really didn’t have much winter in Colorado, but now we’re breaking records with snowfall. So I’ve been skiing a lot since the first of the year. I finally got into the whole backcountry skiing, skiing uphill, skinning, ski mountaineering, although nothing I do is that epic.
iRunFar: There’s no mountaineering in there?
Krupicka: Well, I’m just not skilled enough to be doing anything technical. I’ve been logging a lot of vertical on skis. Then the last two weeks, finally two weeks ago really, I was able to do a couple of runs where I was like, Huh, I think the shin will be able to survive something like this. So the opportunity was there. It had always been in the back of my mind since last fall that I wanted to do this race. So when the shin kind of came around I decided, Let’s go for it.
iRunFar: So it was a late, firm addition to your schedule. I know you were kind of thinking about some other races. When did you decide you were going to be racing this?
Krupicka: Yeah, literally… well, I did a long run 10 or 12 days ago, and when I was able to do that and not have any repercussions with the shin, I decided to do the race. So it was less than two weeks ago.
iRunFar: So you’ve had this persistent shin injury that’s been nagging you for quite some time now. I know you’re in Hardrock this year, which is something you’ve been psyched for years to do. How do you manage having an early-season race and an injury with a long-term goal?
Krupicka: That’s the thing. If you were going to ask me what my goal for this race is, it would be to emerge uninjured. The other thing is, oddly enough, I’ve already had a much more productive winter than I’ve had in three or four years in terms of the amount of training I’ve been getting because of the skiing. So I feel like I’ve laid a much better foundation in the winter than I have in a long time already. So I’m feeling good, really good about Hardrock. I don’t know, the shin, I’ve dealt with it for so long in in so many different kind of ways. I know that if it does flare up after this I can take a couple of weeks completely off or just ski and not do anything with impact and it will calm back down. Hopefully once the snow starts melting, I can get out and log a lot of vertical on dry land. Hardrock is the one race out there that I can prepare for. In an odd way it’s the easiest race on my shin because it’s a lot of hiking at altitude up steep gradients. So I’m confident in my ability to prepare for Hardrock. That’s a long, convoluted answer and probably not a very convincing one, but I guess I just have a pretty good sense of how this particular little niggle operates.
iRunFar: So it’s less, at this point, trying to cure the shin. It’s management.
Krupicka: It’s going to be something I deal with probably for the rest of the time I try to be competitive with running and try and be at my top level of physical fitness because anytime you’re pushing a lot of volume of whatever it is, running—running is the main problem, I can do a lot of vertical and it’s fine—it’s going to be something I’m just going to have to deal with. I’ve been doing a lot of core and hip stability stuff that’s supposed to translate into being better for that. I’m sure everyone will talk about the shoes you’re wearing and, to be honest, I don’t know, the minimal shoe thing is… I haven’t run in what I’d call a minimal shoe in a long time. If you look at the NB 110V2, it’s a pretty beefy shoe.
iRunFar: You’ve run in the NB Fresh Foam some?
Krupicka: Yeah, little stuff here and there for sure, but I finished UTMB in that last year. I don’t know, it’s just something that no one’s really been able to figure out. Obviously I take a lot of risks with my training, too, so… This could be the end of this conversation, sorry.
iRunFar: It’s risk but it’s what you love doing. Is it all about, at this point… years ago when you were running with the Skaggs up in the mountains, it seemed it may have been part training but part an uncontrollable urge almost?
Krupicka: Well, that era of my running was more mileage based and motivated. A lot of it was motivated by numbers.
iRunFar: So you were a mileage whore?
Krupicka: Absolutely. Anyone who is putting in 200 miles a week, you don’t accidentally put in 200 miles a week… it’s something you push for which is… I’m really happy I had that period in my life because I think it’s kind of a unique and valuable experience, but it’s not sustainable in your life. Yeah, I think my motivations and approach to the sport has changed drastically in the last five or six years.
iRunFar: It’s more like if you’re doing a lot of miles in your training, it’s for training and aiming at a specific goal.
Krupicka: Yeah, obviously anymore, if I’m doing any actual continuous running—like 12 days ago I did a 42-mile run and I ran every step—it’s for a race goal. I used to just do those with no objective. I just liked to go out and do a long run because I was an ultrarunner and I needed to do a long run. Now it’s like I’m very selective of when I’m going to put that kind of stress on my body. Now more of my training is about vertical which a lot of the time is hiking which is just way easier on my legs. This winter it’s all been skiing which is really good.
iRunFar: On the core and hip work and all that, is that something you could have seen yourself doing five or seven years ago to the extent you’re doing now?
Krupicka: To be honest, I still struggle with it for sure. I think I’ve finally just grown up a little bit. I’m 31 now. You get it beaten into you enough that you need to do this stuff to stay remotely healthy. Yeah, when you’re young, it’s just way different. Everyone knows this but no one can tell that to anyone that age. I wasn’t going to listen to anyone. So, yeah.
iRunFar: Well, here we are on Gran Canaria, and you’ve got Transgrancanaria this weekend. What’s going through your head ahead of the race? There’s some good competition; there’s a ton of vert; it’s a long distance.
Krupicka: I’m excited that it’s technical and there’s a lot of vert. If that wasn’t the case I probably wouldn’t be doing the race honestly because of the shin. The shin is pretty good at that stuff. Also, it’s like, Why did you do this? Why did you decide to do this? It’s just that it had been on my calendar, and I’ve heard it’s a great race. You talk to Núria [Picas] and other than Réunion, this is the most technical race in the whole UTWT which gets me excited because I like that kind of stuff. It’s always just such a privilege to travel to a new place. I’ve never been to Gran Canaria. It’s exciting. Was that the question?
iRunFar: Yeah, what’s getting you psyched up or not only what’s exciting you but what worries you?
Krupicka: What worries me, honestly, is my lack of running. I have the bare minimum. I have as much running in my legs as I had in the two month previous to UTMB this year, but thankfully the race is six, seven, eight hours shorter than that. That’s good. Yeah, I don’t know. I kind of just have a good feeling about that the shin is going to be okay. You just kind of get an intuition for these things, so we’ll see.
iRunFar: Good luck and have fun out there, Tony.
Krupicka: Thank you very much, Bryon.
iRunFar: A quick bonus question—we talked a little bit about how your shoe philosophy has changed, what are you actually planning to wear out there on Saturday?
Krupicka: I’m waffling at the moment. I have both a custom first version of the NB 110 and a standard (with some minor customizations) V2. So a version of the 110 will be on my feet.
iRunFar: Which are two very different shoes.
Krupicka: They are two very different shoes, but the customized version of the first one I have has sticky rubber, the forefoot has been leveled out a little bit because it had this wonkiness going on, and it has this big burly rand on it. So if I snag a toe on some lava up there, I’m not just going to rip out the rubber.
iRunFar: But not the completely different V3 yet?
Krupicka: No, I only have a proto of those that was kind of messed up. We just messed up the midsole a little bit. There are four of them in existence. So, no, it just wasn’t race ready. The next version, which should be on my doorstep when I get home, I’m psyched about. Yeah. If you see me running in something later in the season… I’m definitely going to run Hardrock in a version of that shoe.
iRunFar: It’s a much different shoe than either of the two predecessors?
Krupicka: Yeah, it’s a shoe that I want to be able to run for 100 miles, but I also want it to be kind of off-trail ready. But like the Zero V2 (the Minimus) which I also considered for this race, it’s got the hyper-lugs on it. Most of the time that’s not necessary. The ground is very soft. It has a little less aggressive lug. Yeah, it will be way different. I can’t really get into it all. It will be way different.
iRunFar: Yeah, yeah. Gotcha’.