Last year, Anton Krupicka was having a great run at The North Face Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc before an injury took him out late in the race. In the following interview, Anton talks about what happened during last year’s race, how he’s feeling going into this year’s race, and why it can be difficult for an American to race in Europe.
For more on this year’s UTMB, check out our men’s and women’s previews. You can also follow the race on our 2014 UTMB live coverage page on Friday and Saturday.
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Anton Krupicka Pre-2014 TNF UTMB Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Anton Krupicka before the 2014 The North Face Ultra-Trail de Mont Blanc. Tony, how’s it going?
Anton Krupicka: It’s good. We’re back here in Chamonix with pretty much the exact same set up as last year, so I feel comfortable and at home.
iRunFar: Last year you ran really strong for most of the race. You were in the lead or with the leaders and then… what happened?
Krupicka: Yeah, last year basically I came into the race a little bit dinged up—my right hamstring and left Achilles. I knew those were going to be issues going into the race, but I just wanted to see… you know, you’ve got to give it a shot. I guess, what is it, about 140k in, it just wasn’t going to happen anymore. I couldn’t go up hill; I couldn’t go downhill. Yeah, I abandoned. DNF. I’m hoping not to repeat that.
iRunFar: You got some good experience on the course?
Krupicka: Yeah, good experience on the course and also just with the whole event and the whole level of competition, and just how the whole event works basically.
iRunFar: You gave it a shot. It didn’t work out last year, but it was a worthwhile experience.
Krupicka: Absolutely. I had a great time last year. Obviously, you hope for a better result, but if you’re only in the sport for results, you’re going to be disappointed a lot of the time—at least I am.
iRunFar: You’ve been dinged up again this summer. You were kind of on the fence a couple times about coming over here, but the last month you’ve felt good?
Krupicka: Yeah, the last month has been really good kind of really since the first of August. I skipped Speedgoat 50k. That was mostly precautionary. I just had a little flare up in the posterior tibialis in my shin and since I have such a frustrating history with that injury, I just really wanted to respect it and not force anything. In August, or really July, I was able to put in a lot of vert, too, but August I was able to get back to running again and continue to do a lot of vert. I had a really good week the first week we were here in Chamonix and now I’m just tapering. Yeah, I feel 100%. It’s better than last year because I don’t have this mechanical injury coming into the race, so I’m even more confident.
iRunFar: Even before this July/August training block, you must have been in pretty good shape because you ran really well winning Lavaredo.
Krupicka: Right, yeah, exactly. Going into Lavaredo, that’s partly why my posterior tib flared up because I was doing a lot of running as opposed to more scrambling and hiking getting ready for Lavaredo. I was definitely fit before I had to kind of back off a bit. I think I’m at least as fit now as I was at Lavaredo. I mean, back home in Colorado even with all the hiking and stuff, I was breaking PR’s on all the climbs in the Wasatch [meant Sawatch Range], so I’m fit for sure.
iRunFar: What were you doing up in the Wasatch?
Krupicka: Oh, did I say Wasatch? Sawatch. Gosh, I always transpose the two. Sawatch Range above Leadville and Buena Vista.
iRunFar: All the Nolan’s course.
Krupicka: Yeah, exactly. It’s just all the climbs on the Nolan’s course.
iRunFar: So you’re feeling super strong for climbing these days then?
Krupicka: Yes, this race, there’s definitely a lot of running. Since my shin is feeling good, I’m confident on that. But this race is won in the last 45 or 50k. There are three big climbs. Everyone is hiking every step of those climbs. I look forward to getting to that point and being able to deliver this time instead of just like wilt and drop.
iRunFar: You’ve been around this sport now for awhile. What motivates you to come to a race like this because there are so many different factors—the prestige, the mountains, the competition—what brings you here?
Krupicka: All three of those. Those are the three things. It’s funny because Joe [Grant] and I have been here 10 days now in the Chamonix Valley and already I’m scheming like, I’m coming here for six weeks next year. There are so many things to do in the mountains here—so many different peaks to get up and climbs you can do, awesome runs you can do. So that’s a factor. It’s a spectacular and special place. Then the prestige and the competition is just testing yourself against the best runners and mountain 100 milers. For me, it’s all the ego that goes along with that trying to be the best runner. Having those good athletes bring out the best performance from yourself. You can’t do that on your own. I can’t do that on my own. You have to have other people pushing you.
iRunFar: So even if you came in third you could find out you had the perfect day.
Krupicka: Yeah, I could have a perfect day and get beat by François [D’Haene] and Luis [Alberto Hernando] and Iker [Karrera] or something and still feel really good about my race, but I’m hoping to beat those guys.
iRunFar: So you’re going in with the intention of winning it?
Krupicka: Yeah, absolutely. That’s why I’m here.
iRunFar: You think it can happen?
Krupicka: I think so. I feel good. It’s… you never know, but yeah, I feel as confident as I have before any race.
iRunFar: In going into a race with this much competition, are you consciously just trying to run your own race or do you go out and run along with a bunch of the guys to just get some miles covered?
Krupicka: No, it’s definitely running your own race. Hundred milers, even now in this day and age where people are racing them—the guys at the front are racing them—it’s all about managing your effort over the distance. Last year, you saw the way I ran, I’m going to plan on running the exact same way. It’s not even a matter of me letting people go, it’s a matter of just, this is the pace I’m comfortable at. Then I’ll catch up on the first few big climbs. Hopefully I’ll be with the leaders by Courmayeur.
iRunFar: I was actually really impressed last year that a bunch of the Americans who finished really well were way back at Les Houches 10k in.
Krupicka: I think we were probably 70th or 80th place at Les Houches. But I ran into Les Houches with Amy Sproston. I don’t know if people just go out quick, but I don’t have the leg speed for it.
iRunFar: It’s easy. It’s downhill. It’s on pavement.
Krupicka: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I don’t know. It’s a 100-mile race.
iRunFar: Totally. Have you gotten used to racing in Europe now that you’ve done it a bunch? Is there anything still difficult about racing over here?
Krupicka: The difficulty comes more in just the break in your routine. I’ve gotten into a good routine here in Chamonix especially this being my second year. But back home in Colorado, I really thrive off of my day-to-day routine up in the mountains living in my truck. Here it’s just, you kind of pick up a different rhythm which has been fine. But that’s always the problem with racing abroad is getting into that rhythm.
iRunFar: Does it happen a little bit more, like, in the U.S., there’s the rhythm of life, but there’s also a lot less going on before these things?
Krupicka: Oh, sure. It’s much easier to be low-pro before Hardrock or even Western. Here, we just got done with a press conference. There will be an official one later in the week. I’m going to have three film crews following me around before and during the race. It’s pretty wild over here. That’s certainly unique to UTMB. Lavaredo is a lot of hype and stuff and you do some pre-race events, but all the media here is certainly on its own level.
iRunFar: Do you tune that out or does that excite you? During the race…?
Krupicka: I’ve gotten better at saying, “No,” or not even saying no, but just being a little more firm about boundaries and commitments and that kind of thing. I would say four or five years ago, I probably would… my tendency would have been to overcommit. Now I’m just more comfortable with just kind of like stating what I would prefer in terms of filming and that kind of stuff. It’s important to make sure that you’re taking time for yourself and staying focused on a race like this.
iRunFar: How do you do that not only in terms of your performance but you’re here to enjoy it, I assume?
Krupicka: Yeah, for sure. Really it comes down to just being firm in emails and stuff and even face to face which can be awkward. You never want to disappoint people. You don’t want to say no. But at the end of the day, you also want to do the training you’d planned on and kind of stay in that rhythm we’re talking about of whatever it is—your meals and what time of day you’re running and all that. Not only that but no matter how discreet a camera crew can say they’re going to be or going to try to be, it’s always different when the camera’s on and in the background. You’re censoring yourself, and you’re just feeling a little more on edge. I like to be more comfortable than that, but these are all, I feel like, trivial concerns. I mean, I’m getting to do this full time. I’m over here for six or seven weeks. I feel like a very lucky person, and I’m happy to try and give back a little with access I guess.
iRunFar: Thank you for the time and enjoy, man.
Krupicka: Yeah, no problem. Thanks.