Karl Meltzer, 2013 Buffalo Run 100 Mile Champion, Interview

An interview with Karl Meltzer following his win at the 2013 Antelope Island Buffalo Run 100 mile, the 35th 100 mile victory of his ultrarunning career.

By on March 25, 2013 | Comments

This weekend, Karl Meltzer picked up 100-mile win number 35 by running a 14:33 at the 2013 Antelope Island Buffalo Run 100 mile. Although Karl’s barely been training through the winter, the 14:33 was just 16 minutes off his 100-mile PR of 14:17 run at Rocky Raccoon in 2012. In the following interview, Karl talks about why he ran so well this weekend and what his “A races” are this season. He also gives tips on pacing and nutrition in a 100-miler.

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Karl Meltzer, 2013 Antelope Island Buffalo Run 100 Mile Champion, Interview Transcript

iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Karl Meltzer after… how many 100 wins is this?

Karl Meltzer: It’s the 35th.

iRF: 35th—getting up there to a case and a half of beer’s worth.

Meltzer: Yeah, getting up to a 36-pack. Kind of funny—guess we always have to have some sort of an analogy, right? People started asking me if I’m going to go for 40 now. I’m just going to go for what I do. I’ve achieved my goal. I had this goal when I started with Red Bull (when I first signed with them). They said, “What’s your big goal?” I said, “To win 35 times.” There ya go. It’s kind of funny how it evolved that way, but… it is… it’s weird.

iRF: Now you’re 35 and you’ll keep running.

Meltzer: I’m not going to stop racing. This was not a real competitive race, but it was a good run for me. It was a good run for me. It was a good kind of feel for what kind of shape I’m in, and obviously, it’s pretty solid.

iRF: 14:30 on what’s not a PR kind of course, so that’s pretty solid.

Meltzer: Yes, it’s one of those courses here that’s runnable. Everything here is runnable with the exception of a couple little things that you probably walk up. But other than that, it’s one of those courses even like Rocky Raccoon that… my 14:34 could be beaten, too, if you had someone fast with wheels that knows what they’re doing. They could run 13:30 for sure. It’s just one of those courses. But the 14:30 was great. I was trying to break 15 hours. That was my ultimate goal. I definitely beat that by a large margin.

iRF: So you’ve run 15-and-change and 16-and-change here.

Meltzer: Right, mid-15 hours and 16:06.

iRF: What do you think brought you this much faster?

Meltzer: Well, I’ll say I just really had a better day. The 16:06 was just six days after the Coyote Two Moon Deluge. That was just to see if I could do two 100’s in six days.

iRF: You couldn’t because one was cancelled.

Meltzer: Right. I ran 178. The next year I kind of came in a little fresh, but I just had a really lousy last 20 miles. I was tired and I got really sore. I couldn’t bust through that soreness. I was walking some, but when I was running I thought I was running fast. But I wasn’t really running fast, I was jogging. I just felt better later. All the time was made up in the last five hours of the race.

iRF: So you were able to keep cruising?

Meltzer: Yes, I was able to keep turning them over—9:30 min/miles. I said if you can run 10:00 min/miles you’ll run 15 hours or something like that.

iRF: You’ve run some very competitive races in the past, but you’ve also run a lot of races where it’s Karl.

Meltzer: Yes, you’ve got a two-hour lead at mile 65 or something like that.

iRF: How do you push yourself on a day like that? A lot of people would be like, “I’ll just cruise it in and win.”

Meltzer: I don’t really push myself to the limit. Nick Pedatella pushed me here. You’ve got to give him a lot of credit for that time as well. When you’re leading, you never know how far the guy is behind you. You get a report from 14 miles ago… how well did I run here? Nick kind of pushed me a little bit. When you have a big lead like that, I don’t like to slow down. I don’t want to push it that hard, but I don’t want to slow down. I’m not going to walk and just take it easy. I want to be done because I hurt and I’m sore.

iRF: So it might not have been 100% day, but you’re trying at 90-95%?

Meltzer: Well, there’s room left out there, but it was pretty solid. I probably only had four minutes of downtime. That’s no messing around. Seth Hales crewed for me. I ran through aid stations where I got all my stuff and I didn’t even stop running. So that was really pretty clean.

iRF: Come June, you’re going to be pushed. You’re going to be following probably, right?

Meltzer: Oh, I’ll be following. I’ll totally be following.

iRF: Are you excited to run Western States 100?

Meltzer: I’m excited to run Western. I’m excited to finally get in the race after all these years. I’m just hoping to go in healthy and have a good race. I can run top-10 there. I’m a fool to think of not running top-10 there. I’m not a contender to win. I’ll go there, and I’ll run it hard. I’ll do as best as I can. I’ll deal with the heat. I’m not looking forward to that. I know last year was cold, but that’s not going to happen again. So it’s going to be fun. A new race is always fun. I always go faster the second time.

iRF: You’ve got some experience.

Meltzer: I’ve got some experience. I’ve finished 60 times; I think I can do good. I’ll be alright. If my stomach hurts a little bit, I’ll figure it out and I’ll be fine. That’s just how it works. I’ve got it down.

iRF: Then is it two or three weeks until Hardrock after that?

Meltzer: Thirteen days until Hardrock, because Hardrock is a Friday. That will be the double thing. I’ll try to do my best at that and see if I can come close to what Nick Clark put down. Then I’ll put on the Speedgoat race again and run in Steamboat. That’s pretty much my season—with UROC and a couple of others.

iRF: Before you go to States, you have Lake Sonoma. That’s even going to be a bigger burner.

Meltzer: Yes, the Lake Sonoma Track Meet which is three weeks after this. So that’s another thing where I just want to go and go to the party. I’m going to run as hard as I can, and I’ll do my thing. But what will I be—25th? I don’t know, maybe, I might come in 25th. That’s going to be fun. Then there’s Quadrock—I threw that in to see where I’m at.

iRF: You have a pretty full schedule then.

Meltzer: It’s pretty full, yeah. I’m a nut. I don’t know why I do this kind of stuff. I love to run. I don’t think of every race as my “A race.” Quad Rock’s not an A race. Lake Sonoma’s not an A race. UROC’s not an A race.

iRF: So, what are your “A” races this year?

Meltzer: Western and Hardrock—the double combination there. Definitely Run Rabbit Run… I mean, I said to Fred, “Dude, I get to wear the #1, right?” and he said, “Yeah, as long as you come back.” I get a lot of 1’s. Yes, I want to run. I want to go back there for sure. I’ve got to go back and defend—no doubt about it. I hope the field would get strong. Right now on the top end of the list it’s myself and Jeff Browning. Hopefully other faster guys will enter. A lot of faster guys in the US already have a schedule or something dialed in or planned.

iRF: I think last year even, people did… after the summer season… people run Western States, Leadville… and then they can get in.

Meltzer: That’s the beauty of it because they can get in. I put my name on the list because I’m in anyway so I might as well put it on there. There’s no decision-making for me there. I hope that race goes off really well this year. If they make a few minor adjustments, it’s going to be cool. I’m really looking forward to it. Hopefully I’ll have a day like last time.

iRF: One of the things I’ve seen consistently from you is strong pacing. What’s your take on pacing 100 miles—front and back half…?

Meltzer: I think I know what my limits are. Even when my time is fast, through 19 miles it was 2:30 which was the same as Scott Jaime in the 50 miler—it might have been a little too fast, but for me that effort was easy. Like I said, I came in here and my legs just felt light. Some days you’re sluggish and everything is thick and you just don’t want to run. Some days you just have this bouncy feeling. This was one of those days—I ran up that first hill and I was like, “Whatever.” It was Nick and I way out in front of everyone else. I just knew I felt good, so I just ran with it. I ran what my effort level was, and it wasn’t a hard effort. I just kept going with it and hoping I could keep it going all day long. This time it worked. I never had a belly problem as usual. I don’t have many belly problems. My fuel was good. Whenever I felt I needed fuel, bam, I threw some gel in me and I was good. I don’t know, I just hit things on the nose mostly. I didn’t feel like it really early, but like anything else, you get in the zone and you go.

iRF: Do you see people making big mistakes on the nutrition front that you’re not and that people might want to change?

Meltzer: I just think you should keep it consistent what you’re doing instead of trying variable things. A lot of harder foods, man, you really have to have that dialed for nothing to go wrong. I think you need to stick with the basics and the easy stuff like gels and whatever kind you use. I just use gels because I’m kind of a nut. I drank a lot of soda out there—Red Bull, Coke, a bunch of different stuff.

iRF: So it’s basically gel and liquid diet for you.

Meltzer: It’s sugar. It’s basically sugar for me. Most people really vary things. They plan on doing something where… it’s hard to say, “Well, I’m going to eat gels for the first half and then I’m going to move to hard food.” You don’t really know that. You can plan that, but there’s no way you can state a specific program like that. If you feel crappy at mile 15 and you want a potato, you’re not going to say, “No, I’m doing gels until mile 60.” Of course not, you eat what you want. You’ve got to experiment and figure out what works for you. I’ve found what works for me, and a lot of other guys have too. It’s a matter of experimenting a little bit, but don’t do something new in your ultra. You never do something new; always resort back to what works.

iRF: So do you have a certain amount of calories per hour you’re shooting for?

Meltzer: I probably consume about 200 calories/hour. I think that’s what my body efficiently works on. I like to say a gel every 25 minutes or something like that. I take a little soda and Red Bull on the side.

iRF: Do you drink water?

Meltzer: My bottle is usually water straight up. Water is the equalizer. If you have a bad belly or something like that, you can always go back to straight water and try to flush yourself out if it’s bad. You don’t want to pound it, just drink it. Don’t pound water, of course not. I’m pretty simple—gel water, a little Red Bull, maybe a little chicken bouillon, done. It’s a pretty good combination.

iRF: Congratulations on another win. I look forward to seeing you at some other big races coming up.

Meltzer: Yes, cool. It never gets old.

iRF: Keep enjoying it, Karl.

Meltzer: Still and always enjoying it.

Bonus Question

iRF: One bonus question out of the AJW Stock Room: Winter time beer in the Wasatch?

Meltzer: Right now, I’m working the Pandemonium Pale Ale which I just won from Scott Jaime. We had a little side bet. He gave me a 15-minute cushion on our 50-mile split—so his split and my split at 50 miles. His winning time was 6:24; mine was 6:36. I’m drinking my favorite winter beer now.

iRF: You got a six-pack out of Jaime.

Meltzer: I got a six-pack out of Jaime. You’ve got to win something out here.

iRF: You got a buckle and a six-pack.

Meltzer: That will work.

Bryon Powell

Bryon Powell is the Founding Editor of iRunFar. He’s been writing about trail running, ultrarunning, and running gear for more than 15 years. Aside from iRunFar, he’s authored the books Relentless Forward Progress: A Guide to Running Ultramarathons and Where the Road Ends: A Guide to Trail Running, been a contributing editor at Trail Runner magazine, written for publications including Outside, Sierra, and Running Times, and coached ultrarunners of all abilities. Based in Silverton, Colorado, Bryon is an avid trail runner and ultrarunner who competes in events from the Hardrock 100 Mile just out his front door to races long and short around the world, that is, when he’s not fly fishing or tending to his garden.