Sunday, July 24, 2011

Anton (Tony) Krupicka: Running is an Indulgence

Indulgence, 1,000 miles under the Colorado sky, this is the title of a DVD I bought 3 years ago (2008), two years after starting ultra marathons. Busy with my own experiences (I ran 61 ultras over the past 5 years), I hadn't taken the time to watch it. Besides, the family is enduring enough with my training or when they crew for me, so we tend to watch other types of DVDs at home! Anyway, I was "home alone" this weekend, so I took the opportunity to spend an hour with Tony (virtually, that is, my first real encounter was after his win at American River in 2008).
Apart from the early adopters, most runners have heard about ultra through one of the popular and best seller authors such as Dean Karnazes (Marathon Man) or Christopher McDougall (Born To Run). Tony is the extreme opposite: although he has a stellar track record on the ultra circuit since he won Leadville 100-mile in 2006 (11 overall win out of 14 major races, finishing 2nd of the other three), he is trying to stay away from the medias, stating that many other runners are worth more attention, like our fastest American on the mile, Alan Webb. Tony is only looking for a life full of running, his passion. And his... indulgence...
The DVD consists in a 30-minute interview with great views of the places Tony was running at that time (2006-2007), mostly in Colorado. He was born on a farm in Nebraska and started running seriously in 5th grade (he was 11 year old), running his first marathon the following year. Since then, he ran more than 37,000 miles, with many weeks over 300 miles since he switched to ultra. In his words, running is a source of identity, although he would like to be seen and defined by others not just as a runner (he double majored in Philosophy and Physics and minored in Maths at the University of Colorado). Running gives him a deep appreciation for natural landscapes and a deep connection with the land. He fully leverages his ability to tap into a more primitive and primal form of existence. By the way, he his not anti-technology as some people think, just a big believer in the appropriate technology. He believes that a simpler life style helps reducing your needs and distractions and is therefore more fulfilling.

After graduating, he focused on ultra running with 3-4 hours every morning and one hour at the end of the day. Pure dedication which, he admits, may not last for ever. Indeed, it is a struggle to keep priorities in balance such as relationships, academics, work and running (I know...). But his soul mate, Jocelyn Jenks (see a special interview and interesting perspective in the bonus section), agrees that Tony is right by taking his time after College to live his passion while putting his talent for ultra racing to work. Ultra racing that Tony feels gratifying as it provides an opportunity to get back to the essentials in life: food, water, keeping moving forward or even surviving.

While the main interview is good, I actually liked the bonus section even more as it provides more detailed answers. The only thing which I found missing is more images from Tony's races. But, in all fairness, Tony spends much more time just indulging himself while training rather than racing. Anyway, the way Tony lives his ultra running life is so authentic that it will not age, you too can find inspiration in this DVD. Then follow Tony on his blog, Riding the Wind, for more inspiration (well, when Tony returns to the trails after healing his current major injury)... And, yes, running is indulgence when you love it!

Anton between Kyle and Erik Skaggs, just before Erik set a new course record for Quad Dipsea (November 2008):

No laurels

As for me, and as I wrote last week, although I savored the medals satisfaction, no time to rest on my laurels, with a busy business trip on the East Coast (I escaped just before the heat wave) and quite a few runs (10K on Tuesday, 16 miles on Wednesday, 9 miles on Thursday and Friday and 18 and 23 hilly miles this weekend). 2 more weeks to manage the switch from 10K and marathon training to racing an ultra again, Skyline 50K. And I did register to Rio Del Lago 100-mile (September 10), just to find out from Joe Swenson that the course has been changed and that we'll run the section I like the least (Twin Rocks), 4 times! Oh well, that's already a blessing to have a 100-miler left on the calendar of our Pacific Association Grand Prix (I didn't make the Western States lottery and Tahoe Rim Trail was the same weekend as the World Masters, last weekend). At least it feels good to be back on the trail --and run slower!-- after all the fast miles I logged on the concrete and asphalt in June.

Have a great week, hopefully not too hot...

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