We caught up with the 37-year-old after he captured his first Western States 100 title on Saturday.
On Saturday, 37-year-old Rob Krar of Flagstaff, Ariz., became the second runner in the history of the Western States Endurance Run to break the mystical 15-hour barrier, crossing the finish line in 14 hours, 53 minutes and 22 seconds to claim his first Western States 100 title. Krar, who finished second at Western States last year and later in the year won the 100K Ultra Race of Champions in Colorado as well as 50-Mile The North Face Endurance Challenge in December, was overcome with emotion upon stepping on the track at Placer High School with 300 meters remaining in the 100-mile race, saying, “It was such a personal endeavor for me and I don’t think a day went by the past year when I didn’t imagine that very moment when I first set foot on that track. It’s magical. I can’t even describe it. I’ll cherish it the rest of my life.”
We caught up with Krar within an hour of finishing on Saturday night and talked to him about the race, his training leading into it and the emotion of realizing he achieved his yearlong goal of winning Western States.
Take me through the emotion you were feeling when you stepped onto the track a little while ago. What was going through your mind and body after almost 15 hours of effort?
So much. And it wasn’t so much the 15 hours of effort, it was truly the loftiest goal and the longest goal I’ve ever set for myself. It was a yearlong goal and a lot of trials and tribulations along the way. You know, I never mentioned it to a soul. It was such a personal endeavor for me and I don’t think a day went by the past year when I didn’t imagine that very moment when I first set foot on that track. It’s magical. I can’t even describe it. I’ll cherish it the rest of my life.
At what point of the race did it hit you that, “Holy shit, I’m going to win this thing,” or “I could win this thing if I don’t blow up”?
I put a strong move in on Cal Street. I was suffering pretty good at the top of Green Gate, which is mile 80. I couldn’t get any updates until the Highway 49 crossing, which is 6.5 [miles] to go and somebody told me I had a 25- to 30-minute lead. And you know, it was amazing hearing that but you can’t take anything for granted in a race like this. You know, you get a muscle seizing 5 miles from the finish line and it can easily put you back half an hour to an hour so I was definitely in survival mode over the last 10 [miles]. I could tell my muscles were at the end of the line so it was really a matter of focusing on every aspect of my body and making sure I made it up to Robie Point and I let it go a little bit there. But, you know, there’s always those examples of people who run 26 miles in a marathon and they see the finish line and do the wobbly dance and I always respect that. So I think the emotions took over when I saw the track and I just let it loose at that time.
When you hit low moments during the race, what did you tell yourself? Did you have a mantra you repeated or something you thought of that kept you going when you were in a little bit of a hole?
My wife’s parting words this morning were—and you might need to edit this—but she said, “This is your f#*%ing day. Don’t let anybody take it away from you” and it was perfect. I really thought about that a lot today because it’s so true. I give so much respect to everybody out here. It was a beautiful day, and I’m so fortunate.
Max [King] ran his first 100 here today and he took off fairly aggressively at the start and seemed content to run by himself. Were you concerned at all, given his background as a runner and the unknown of what he could do over 100 miles?
Yeah, you know, I have nothing but respect for Max and I think I’m one of the maybe few that was confident he was going to run a strong race. And he had an 8-minute gap on me at one time but it was so important for me to run my own race and I did that and fortunately it worked out really well.
Looking back at your training coming into this race, was there one day or one workout in the last few weeks that told you, “I’m ready to do this, I’m in a different place than I was last year”?
The Grand Canyon holds a special place in my heart. I’ve had some of my greatest running efforts in the Canyon, also some of my most frightening as well. About three weeks ago I had one of my best runs ever in the Canyon and that’s huge for me. That gave me the confidence to kind of cut things back and respect the rest and respect the race. That was the day. I did 30 miles out-n-back. It’s always tough in there and it was a hot day. It couldn’t have been a better indicator for me.
TOP-10 RESULTS: 2014 Western States 100