Anton Krupicka Pre-2013 TNF UTMB Interview

American Anton Krupicka is perhaps best known for the 40 or so hours he spends running, scrambling, and climbing in the mountains of Colorado each week. It might, thus, be easy to forget that he’ll be a fierce and able competitor at the 2013 The North Face Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc’s starting line this year. In this interview, Anton talks about his two weeks of on-course preparations and the men he thinks will be “in it” during the final miles that count. Oh and he also shares his race strategy, too!

[Editor’s Note: Here’s our full 2013 TNF UTMB men’s race preview.]

[Click here if you can’t see the video above.]

Anton Krupicka Pre-2013 UTMB Interview Transcript

iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Anton Krupicka before the 2013 UTMB. How are you, Tony?

Anton Krupicka: I’m well.

iRF: You came over a couple weeks early for this?

Krupicka: Yeah, I mean, I’ve been paying attention to this race since 2007 when Karl [Meltzer], Hal [Koerner], and Scott [Jurek] came over. It’s the Americans that kind of have a rough time over here, so I just wanted to make sure I did everything I could to maximize my chances of doing well. Yeah, I’ve been here two weeks now.

iRF: So you think people not showing up early enough is part of the lack of success for the American men?

Krupicka: Geesh, I don’t know. Honestly, I think the biggest thing is that it’s late in the year. I can feel myself even sort of like… I haven’t raced once this summer, but I think people come in tired a lot of the time. It’s the last day in August. Usually people have done a 100-mile race already. I think that’s probably the biggest factor. Then there’s just a lot going on—the language, having everything dialed in. Yeah, I just wanted to make sure I was comfortable here.

iRF: I assume for at least two of those weeks you’ve had some fun up in the mountains? What have you done out there?

Krupicka: Yeah. Pretty much the day we got here, Joe [Grant] and I went up Brévant. Then the next day we started a three-day tour around the hill. It was good. We went from here to Courmayeur the first day, and then Courmayeur to Champex[-Lac], and then Champex to the finish. So it was a 45-mile day and then two marathon days.

iRF: How did those feel?

Krupicka: Really good. I was sort of surprised at the non-technical nature of the course. It’s sort of like Western States with another 10,000 feet of climbing.

iRF: Or a buffed-out Hardrock at lower elevation.

Krupicka: Yeah, exactly, so not even Hardrock at all. It has the 32,000 feet or whatever of vert but it’s super smooth, pretty wide trails most of the time—a lot of running and a lot of long, gradual downhills. I was glad I started to do more running in the second half of the summer to be ready for this because there will be hiking for sure but you’ll need to have running legs, too.

iRF:  Speaking of which, we just ran out part of the beginning of the course and people are going to run out to Les Houches at five miles in in 28 minutes or something.

Krupicka: Well, that’s about my five-mile PR, but it’s a 100-mile race. At Leadville, the first five miles are downhill, so we probably run low sevens there. Here that’s probably what I’ll be doing because I’m not running low sixes like the leaders will probably be doing because at the end of the day it’s like okay, there’s five minutes there. By the top of [Col de] Voza, you’ve caught up because it’s a 2,500 feet of climb there. I’m just going to try to be smart. If I could have an ideal day it would be to basically run sort of the style or race I had at Speedgoat 50k but for the 100-mile distance—be moving up all day, and then in the last third or quarter of the race from Champex in, be ready to go hard and catch people.

iRF: You’ve got a lot of really smart, patient, experienced runners in there. You’ve got Miguel Heras and Julian Chorier and Sebastian Chaigneau who really know how to race a full 100 miles and people like Jonas Buud who just ran Comrades and was in the 30s or 50s half way through, or well into the race, and moved up to second by the end. Can you be that patient?

Krupicka: Oh, of course. Definitely. It’s mental discipline. I think that’s the huge thing over here. Everyone get so excited about the race and just goes wild maybe the first 30, 40, 50k. You’ve got to remember it’s 160k, or 168k I guess. It’s over 100 miles. You know like 2010 Western States that year, having Geoff [Roes] beat me at the end there, I just have a different mentality about how you need to race 100 miles now. You need to really be ready to charge that last quarter—the last 20 miles—that’s where the racing begins. Until then it’s just kind of managing yourself and making sure you get there as fresh as possible. Yeah, I’m planning to be conservative and hopefully be there at the end.

iRF: So if people are following along in the States all day long, you know it’s six, eight, nine hours earlier, and you’re back in 40th at Saint-Gervais[-les-Bains] or Les Contamines[-Montjoie]…

Krupicka:  Oh yeah, Saint-Gervais—it’s a road race until Saint-Gervais. Totally, that early in the race I’ll be back there.

iRF: That’s to be expected.

Krupicka: Yeah, but once we hit [Col du] Bonhomme and Col de la Seigne in the middle of the night and we’re hiking up these passes, I expect to be in the mix for sure.

iRF: So by Courmayeur…

Krupicka: Yeah, get to Courmayeur feeling good and then…

iRF: There’s a nice climb out of there.

Krupicka:  Yeah, [Rifugio] Bertone is nice and Grand col [du] Ferret is long and gradual. It’s cool. It’s a cool course. I’m excited about it.

iRF: One big variable, and you’ve done some racing like Transvulcania…

Krupicka: I haven’t done Transvulcania.

iRF: Sorry, but the aid-station food. You know what to expect at aid stations in America. Have you looked into what they’re going to have out there and what you think you can actually eat on the course? That’s a huge part of the 100 miles.

Krupicka: It is. It is, but we’re carrying a pack and I’ll have… there are crew spots where I’ll see Joe and he’ll be handing me gels. My stomach has never been a huge issue in ultras. It’s always been gels and chomps and sometimes Coke if things are going bad, and they have Coke at aid stations here… gummy bears. It’s fine. At Cavalls del Vent I had some Coke and gummy bears when I ran out of gels and everything worked out.

iRF: There’s something that’s going to fit for you.

Krupicka: Yeah, I’m not going to be eating prosciutto and cheese.

iRF: No dark chocolate on the course.

Krupicka: Probably not. It’s just not necessary I don’t think.

iRF: Having been around the course, I assume you’re still sticking with no poles?

Krupicka: Yeah, especially… I can’t imagine using poles on this course. It’s a running course. There’s going to be a lot of hiking going on, but it’s not Hardrock at all. Hardrock… I wouldn’t use poles, but I can see where people would use poles. Here there’s a lot of running. It would be such a pain to keep stowing them and taking them out.

iRF: You have to carry them the entire time whereas at Leadville you have to go over Hope Pass once, but then…

Krupicka: Yeah, and then drop them. No, for me, I use poles a lot in the winter because it’s more of a footing issue I feel like. Here, you’re on perfectly buff trail the whole time. So poles would not be efficient for me.

iRF: Obviously there is a ton of depth here with dozens of runners. Who are those top four or five that you expect to be charging after or charging with those last 20 miles?

Krupicka: That’s what I was going to say, the guys that I expect to be there when push comes to shove after Champex basically? Jonas (Buud) for sure. I think people don’t really think about him, but he got second here last year. He crushed at Comrades and World 100k. I think he’ll be tough. Then it just depends. Seb, Miguel (if he’s feeling healthy), Julien of course. I think Timmy [Olson] is going to run really well and Mike Foote of course. These are the guys I expect to be there at the end.

iRF: Someone like Timothy, he’s raced a bunch of high-level races and done really well—Tarawera, Transvulcania, Western States—can he still have something, emotionally and physically…?

Krupicka: I can’t say exactly, you’ll have to ask him, but I think he’s probably in a good head space right now. He’s been here pretty much as long as Joe and I have been. When we got to Courmayeur going around the mountain, he and his wife, Krista, were in Courmayeur and Joe ran with them the second day to Champex and then they did Champex to the finish also. So he’s seen most of the course, too. Yeah, I think Tim’s ready to run for sure. Who knows? How the legs feel at 125k is different than how they feel at 50k, so we’ll see.

iRF: At least the last couple of days you’ve been staying with Núria Picas?

Krupicka: The last two weeks, yeah.

iRF: Okay. It’s her first 100 miler. What advice have you given her?

Krupicka: It’s funny. Nuria is a professional athlete. She’s really dialed. She has a nutritionist and a coach and all these things. She’s seen the whole course. She’s gone around the hill. The main thing I’ve been telling her is just being conservative and not getting caught up in the hype. She’s super strong. I think she should be the odds-on favorite especially since Lizzy [Hawker] has pulled out now. But I think she’s just going to have to be really patient and calm through the night. But yeah, she’s so tough. I think she’ll do well.

iRF: Well, best of luck to you out there, and good seeing you here.

Krupicka: Thanks, Bryon. Yeah, cool.

There are 12 comments

  1. PezUK

    I wish him all the best he is fantastic runner and I agree with his running philosophy however the UMTB podium will belong to Europeans.

  2. Morgan Williams

    "Here, you’re on perfectly buff trail the whole time."

    Hard to argue with this. The only truly technical section to my mind is from the second big stream crossing on the climb to Bovine up to the Bovine pasture itself. Lots of rocks and rock steps and if it's wet, it is a nightmare (unless you are at the front).

    As a Brit I completely respect Tony's position on poles, but I still need them from about halfway onwards. But then I'm a bit older then TK! :-)

    1. AK

      Morgan – And that section of trail has been re-routed this year. A new trail was cut just after that stream crossing on Bovine…my understanding is that it is no less steep but markedly less technical than the old line. In my opinion, the techiest part of the loop is now the short bit between Col du Bonhomme and Croix du Bonhomme and bits of the climb up and descent to Flegere. Everything else could be mistaken for California :)

  3. Trey

    Best of luck out there!! Don't let the Salomon guys get too far ahead – they will go into team time trial mode to work together.

  4. David T.

    Awesome, Tony. I hope you nail it.

    I also hope you don't let the leaders get to far ahead mid-way through the race. Like Bryon said the guys in this race know what they are doing and have been here before. If they get a significant gap they wont give it up (i.e., Julien at Hardrock, and the examples could go on). So don't let them get too far ahead thinking you will catch them over the last 20 because they will most likely have just as much left in the tank as you do.

    But what the hell do I know…..

  5. Prickly Pete

    I appreciate that guy. He's my pick for this year race. He's fresh and seems to have a lot of envy.

    Best of luck !!!


    1. Ultrawolf

      Guess you wanted to say "…..seems to have a lot of ENERGY" ?

      Anway, let´s hope all of the others got a lot of envy after Tony´s victory :-)

  6. tankterrain

    I love TK, he's my main running inspiration and I've been rooting for him since i first heard he was going to be in this years UTMB.

    But the patriot in me wins…

    Heja Jonas Buud!

  7. Morgan Williams

    AK – not concentrated on the true line this year as I'm not running. And I can't access the 1:25,000 maps via the website as a non-racer.

    I must have a look at the detail tomorrow evening at the press briefing, provided I arrive in time.

    I'm sure you will be right, in which case the section you pinpoint really is the only true technical section. I appreciate that is the view of an English fell runner! But myself and others from the UK do not regard this as a remotely technical course.

    Should save a bit of time too over the old route.

    I am bringing a small gift for you from the Lake District, so I hope we can hook up at some point before Monday lunchtime. I'll be at the Alpina once my duties are finished.

    All the best on Friday/Saturday.

  8. Speedgoatkarl

    well, my ultimate strategy is now revealed…" You know like 2010 Western States that year, having Geoff [Roes] beat me at the end there, I just have a different mentality about how you need to race 100 miles now. You need to really be ready to charge that last quarter—the last 20 miles—that’s where the racing begins. Until then it’s just kind of managing yourself and making sure you get there as fresh as possible. Yeah, I’m planning to be conservative and hopefully be there at the end."

    It's all about the last 20, if you can manage a good run till there and still feel good….enough said, the rabbit rarely wins.

    Hope TK kills it!

    1. David T.

      You are the man, so I certainly would take your word for it. Just concerned about the "come from behind plan" when Julien led Hardrock basically from start to finish. So did Seb. Likewise Tim did nearly the same thing at Western the last two years.

      You have to respect these guys and if they start to put a gap on you, you have better not let it get too big because chances are they aren't coming back.

    2. Morgan Williams

      The first 30 kms of UTMB is very, very runnable, but it does contain a significant descent down to St Gervais. There is no doubt that many runners take this early section much too quickly, and it bites them later in the race, often quite early hence the high drop out rate at Courmayeur. There is so much emotion at the start and many can't resist getting wrapped up in that.

      I'm very much a mid-packer but in last year's shortened race I gained over 800 places between Le Delevret, the first checkpoint and the finish.

      If you like dealing with carnage, then being fresh and ready to run hard from Champex to the finish is a great strategy.

      1. David T.

        Agreed, but Tony is racing for the win. There is a difference between picking up spots (dealing with carnage) and beating Julien, Seb, Timothy, etc. If I wanted to place well but was not going for the win then letting those guys gap you is fine. But if I wanted to win I would not let them get too far away. These guys are very experienced, have won many races, and several of them have raced and done well at UTMB several times before. One ought to respect them.

        1. Ultrawolf

          In my opinion 100´s a far too long to run any other pace than your own. Given Tony does that no runner on earth – if any at all – will be out of reach in the later stages of the race.

          Hell, and if Julien & Co are running a pace which is too fast to feel comfortable at kilometer 30 there is NO WAY to run with them and compete for the win later on. Worse, it would be questionable if he could see the finish in Chamonix at all.

          1. David T.

            My point is that Julien and company wont run an unsustainable pace early on and will have plenty left when it is time to throw down so don't let them get too far ahead. You got to respect them.

  9. Roger

    Tony, I am sure you would enjoy better Ronda dels Cims in Andorra, THAT is technical for sure! Maybe not as scrambling the flatirons, but I am sure nobody would call that a runnable course!!

    Keep it in mind for next year, and if you decide to come, here you have a guide to help you around, would be a pleasure!

    BTW, hope you have a great run!

  10. WeiDe

    i take it UTMB is runnable, unlike Hardrock? Surface wise, does it then compare to WS100 just with much more vertical gain?

    knowing this has nothing to do with the topic of who wins, but what make is TK's sunglasses? anyone knows?

    Looking forward to the live feed from the race, hope to get lucky in the lottery and run 2014. Thanks for covering all those events!

    Will irunfar be present again at Fuego y Agua 2014?

  11. Soul Runner

    I love TK, he has been an inspiration to me since 2010. I have followed his story and ups and downs and even though I am glad he is in great shape. He is starting to come off cocky on the last two recent interviews. I hope he wins but I think he needs to remain humble…thoughts anyone?

    1. AV1611-Ben

      I think he *is* being humble. I'd call it "realistic". He did superbly at the SpeedGoat 50K a few weeks ago, on a course that really doesn't suit him all that well. Even though he didn't win, tactically I think he made a very, very big statement, and although you might have missed it, I bet Sage Canaday didn't miss it! The statement? TK is BACK, and back in a big way.

      I think he is ready to blow the doors off of a lot of the fancied locals. Should be great to follow it here on!

  12. Soul Runner

    When TK underestimates the course by comparing if to a less than difficult to Hardrock when TK has never raced courses like Hardrock or even Wasatch he comes off (no disrespect) like a real ass. I think some of his new found success has filled his ego somewhat. Anyways, good luck to TK and the rest of the Americans, I would love to see an American win this one to even things up a bit…

    1. Jason

      TK has run plenty of "courses" like Hardrock and Wasatch. Maybe not in a race. But he is extremely qualified to provide a comparison on the track.

        1. AV1611-Ben

          You mean the guy who was leading the world's most prestigious trail race, beyond the 100km mark? Umm, what exactly did you prove. He blew a hamstring. Can happen to anyone, anytime. You didn't call jack diddly squat. You said he was cocky and needed to remain humble. You also said you hoped he wins. You're nothing more than an arrogant keyboard warrior, telling people who *have* achieved something that *they* need to remain humble. Amazing. So, Soul Runner, amuse me by rattling off your extensive list of international trail race victories. Dare you!

          In all seriousness, I don't mean to be rude, but I am probably coming across as such, for which I apologize. Tony ran incredibly well. The fact that he DNFed due to a hamstring really isn't an indication of his current level of fitness nor how he was running. Listen to his pre-race interview – he wasn't even really expecting to be anywhere close to the front-runners by the 100k mark, and instead, he was leading. If he was being honest with his race strategy, had he not blown his hamstring, he would have won. I'm reasonably sure of that. However, history will say DNF. But to fail while leading is no great shame, is it?

        2. Soul Runner

          Everyone needs to chill on this one. He tried his best and came up short that is all. I like the guy so maybe i have a love hate relationship with Tony maybe sounded overconfident but that's not his fault. In all honesty, he needs to run less and rest more. He could be more successful if he didn't over do it.

  13. CTKOHM

    Interesting that no one has referred to his course records at Leadville or Teton FKT (until Jornet reset it etc). If Kilian has great respect for TK, then what else matters. If TK is prepared… not even Europeans can compete.

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