UTA100 Contender Profile - Rob Krar

30 Apr 2017

Rob Krar is well known internationally as one of the greatest 100 mile runners of our era, even though Ultra-Trail Australia 100 will be his first big International Ultra. This goes to show how dominant he has been racing on his home turf, in the USA. Rob’s hold a deep connection with running as he explains in this interview and apparently the US have an equivalent to our Aussie Drop Bear.

Race Highlights:
Western States Endurance Run 2015 – 1st
Lake Sonoma 50 2014 – 2nd
Leadville Trail 100mile Run 2014 – 1st

When did you start your preparations for UTA100? And what do you consider the most important aspect of training for an event like UTA100?
I wouldn't say there has been a definitive start date; instead it has been a gradual transition from ski mountaineering training and racing to a more consistent and heavy focus on run training. Last year I came off the skimo season really fit and ramped up my running miles too quickly. It was a perfect storm and led to a sacral stress fracture. Consequently, this winter I’ve maintained more running miles than any of the previous five years to minimise the risk of repeating last year’s events. Patience and consistency are key components in my training for UTA100. As always, focusing on my weaknesses while maintaining my strengths will be key to performing my best in Australia.

What is the most useful piece of racing advice you have been given?
I’ve often said that I’ve had several different running lives full of mistakes and regret. However, as time has progressed I now realise they were all pieces of the

puzzle that ultimately allowed me to be the runner and person I am today. Running is the most personal it’s ever been – ultra running was an unexpected gift and I was determined to follow my own path, on my own terms, in my own time. The most useful advice has come from my own self, from former running lives too full of hubris and foolish thoughts of invincibility.  
At what point in time into a race, do you start fuelling?

I think it is important to begin early in race and fuel consistently throughout. I’ve transitioned from a gel heavy strategy to a more liquid calorie fuelling strategy. Gels and chews will always have their place in my races but liquids sit better with my stomach and of course aid in staying sufficiently hydrated the length of my hottest races.

What would be worst? being bitten by a snake, getting attacked by a drop bear or being beaten by a runner in a Sumo suit?
I had to Google that one, sounds like the Drop Bear is the Aussie equivalent to the mythical North American jackalope. Frightening, but not nearly as frightening as being beaten by a runner in a Sumo suit. It’s eerily similar to a decades old recurring dream of being chased by someone while I am running in some warped slow motion nightmare.

What are you looking forward to about UTA100?
UTA100 will be my first big international ultra. An awesome race, great competition, across the globe in a beautiful part of a country I’ve never been to – there is a whole lot I’m looking forward to come May.

Your ties with The North Face could have you running some pretty epic FKT style trail mission. Is there any large scale project you would like to take on?

I feel very fortunate to have formed a strong partnership with The North Face. Being a member of such a diverse and talented team is a source of constant inspiration. FKT and larger projects are of great interest to me, and while I don’t have any specific projects currently in my mind I do have a few dream routes held close to my heart that I hope to tackle in the near future.

What is something that people wouldn’t know about you? We want a freaky hobby/passion/life choice/ something we haven’t read in Runner’s World or online about you…
I don’t know if this qualifies as a freakish choice or passion but I believe strongly in creating a sanctuary space wherever you live. Friends and visitors often comment on the energy and vibe, especially the lighting in our home in Flagstaff – sharing their compliments with my wife Christina as they assume it is her influence, but in fact our interior decorating has much more of my influence. I like to express my artistic side and think of myself as a lighting specialist.

If you weren’t running, what would you be doing?
This is difficult to answer, because in so many ways running keeps me alive. I can say if I wasn’t running there is a good chance I would still be standing under fluorescent lights, working graveyard shifts in a job I never found satisfaction from. I’d also be spending much more time casting a line into the Colorado River – fly fishing stole my heart before my ultra running career began and these days I don’t spend nearly enough time practicing this beautiful art.

Is there any specific training you do to help toughen your mind for the sport of Ultra Running?
Focus, commitment, perseverance and consistency in training are most important in strengthening my mind for races. Standing on the starting line feeling healthy and confident is huge. It’s a special thing to know I’m about to go somewhere – mentally and physically – that I can’t replicate in training or any other time in my life.

How did running change your life? and do you think everyone can benefit from this sport in some way?
Running has shaped my life in so many ways. Certainly it has opened up opportunities to travel and connect with people around the world. Embracing the long miles of ultra running has changed my life forever. Most fundamentally though, running has provided an outlet and coping mechanism for a mind that does its best to bring me down. Running is my connection to the outdoors and the people I love. In 2015 my wife and I began hosting running camps and retreats in Flagstaff. It has brought so much joy to see how running has benefited so many others in the same way it has for me. Racing and training for ultras in particular provides a powerful place to connect with others, reap the benefits of exploring, stay healthy and work through difficult times.

Image: James Q Martin