‘Anton:’ Musing on Meaning and the Modern World

Anton Krupicka ruminates on life, aging, and his connection to the world during the new short film “Anton.”

By on May 29, 2024 | Comments

Anton Krupicka is, in his estimation, getting old.

The ultrarunning legend admits as much about 90 seconds into “Anton,” a short film by bike clothing brand Rapha about his recent 2,000-mile bikepacking, running, and peak-scrambling adventure throughout the southwestern United States.

“I turned 40 last year,” Krupicka says over footage of him eating pie and drinking coffee at a mountain diner. “And it was, like, a rough year, dude.”

This is from a man who burst onto the ultrarunning scene in 2006 with back-to-back wins in the Leadville 100 Mile and a second-place finish in the 2010 Western States 100 — all before he turned 27.

But with age, of course, comes wisdom, and that, more than anything, seems to be the prevailing theme of the film — and perhaps more significantly, his trip as a whole: Krupicka has knowledge to share.

There’s his critique of 21st-century convenience, delivered over a shot of him setting up camp: “All of this is contrived,” he says of his endurance pursuits. “It’s the modern world: We don’t need to be uncomfortable if we don’t want to, ever.”

And then there’s his musings of the dichotomy of exercise: “It’s not going to be a meaningful experience if you’re not challenging yourself in some way,” he says as the film shows him pumping up his bike tire. “It’s like, when was the last time that you went for a walk down the street and it was memorable, you know?”

Anton Krupicka video standing on rock

After years and years of moving through this world, Anton Krupicka has knowledge to share. All images are screenshots from the film.

But perhaps his deepest rumination of the film is about his relationship to the land and world at large.

“It’s more just feeling a connection to your surroundings because you’re living a little closer to the bone, a little closer to the land,” he says. “It’s not like, ‘Oh, it’s pretty.’ But it’s more just, like ​— there’s this cosmic feeling that you’re connected to it all somehow. Those moments absolutely make the tedium, the headwinds, the poor sleep — all that stuff worthwhile.”

Watching this beautifully shot and produced film gives you the sense that Krupicka possesses a deep knowledge of himself and the world, which can only come from many years of exploring his limits in the wild. He has spent the past nearly two decades searching, adventuring, and moving.

Anton Krupicka video bike

Combining his passions for cycling, running, and peak scrambling, Anton Krupicka set out for a massive loop around the U.S. Southwest.

And so earlier this year, Krupicka embarked on a nearly 2,000-mile bikepacking and peak-climbing route through the U.S. Southwest — Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico — that combined all of his endurance passions: biking, running, and scrambling through deserts and mountains. Though it didn’t go as planned — he had to alter his route due to a snowstorm and ended up summiting three of the five peaks he intended — there was still, he thinks, value in the experience.

Upon encountering a Little League baseball practice late in the trip, he wrote in a recap of the adventure, Krupicka remembers when he attempted to break five minutes in the mile as a 12-year-old. He trained as only a determined adolescent can, but wasn’t close to his goal fitness. He was on the cusp of giving up when his dad encouraged him to attempt the mile anyway.

He ran a 5:23, and that perhaps illustrated his dad’s point more beautifully than if he had run a 4:59: It’s not about the result, but the work you put in to get there.

“The outcome is rarely what we’ve hoped for,” Krupicka wrote. “But the outcome was never the point in the first place. Getting out there, taking chances, trying hard, risking failure and disappointment while feeling out the edges of our own potential — these are the actions with value.”

Anton Krupicka video standing on rock

A 2,000-mile bikepacking and peak-scrambling journey is a good time to ruminate on turning 40.

And that, maybe, is the type of wisdom that comes with growing older.

Call for Comments

  • How has getting older changed your perspective on running, life, and the meaning of it all?
  • How do you add meaning to your pursuits?
Robbie Harms

Robbie Harms is a writer, teacher, and runner. He has written about running, among other topics, for “The New York Times,” “The Boston Globe,” and several other publications.