By nature, ultramarathons (and ultramarathoners) lie beyond the grasp of those of us who chase more traditional pursuits. Such is the scale of these races, and the men and women who attempt to surmount them, that we can best appreciate them by the numbers.
This past Saturday, June 26, when elite New Balance Outdoor Ambassador Anton Krupicka crossed the finish line of the Western States 100 in Auburn, California, he had completed the 100-mile run from Squaw Valley in 15:13:53 – nearly twenty-three minutes better than the previous event record of 15:36:27 set by ultra legend Scott Jurek in 2004. His pace, 9:14 mile splits, was the equivalent of a 4:01:00 marathon pace – run four times in a row over a course “accessible only to hikers, horses and helicopters” with 15,540 feet (2.94 miles) of climbs and nearly 22,970 (4.35 miles) feet of descent. Even more astounding is this: the 2010 event marked Anton’s first attempt at the Western States.
Most incredible of all: Krupicka finished in second place.
After spending most of the day locked in battle with eventual third-place finisher Kilman Jorget Burgada, Anton was passed at the 90 mile mark by UltraRunning Magazine’s North American ultra-marathoner of the year and Wasatch Front 100 record-holder Geoff Roes of Douglas, Alaska. Roes’ finishing time of 15:07:04 – less than seven minutes ahead of Krupicka – is an astounding achievement that comes in the ultra equivalent of a photo-finish (Burgada’s third place finish clocked in at 16:04:49 – nearly an hour behind Roes).
In an event dictated to great extent by form, Roes was in peak condition, writing in his blog just three days before the event that:
My body is starting to adjust to the lack of oxygen up at high altitude. My resting heart rate has been over 50 pretty consistently as my body has been trying to adjust to the 7,500+ feet elevation that I’ve been at for the past 5 days. Yesterday though my heart rate began to come down and now today it’s been as low as 42 most of the day. Should be very nicely adjusted by Saturday.
Anton, too, chronicled the changes to his routine in preparation for Western States, most-significantly a shift to unfamiliar terrain, writing in his blog on June 5:
Additionally, because I’ve been doing essentially the same long run for the past two months now–laps of Green with Walker thrown in the middle–I wanted some new terrain where I wouldn’t constantly know how many minutes/seconds I was fast or slow from the week before.
That both men battled to a record-setting time, separated by the narrowest of margins, is a testament to the preparation and mindset of each – a state of mind best conveyed in a comment on Roes’ blog by, of all people, his own mother, who wrote on the eve of the event:
Best of luck to you and all the other runners. Love you very much. Go out and kick butt.
We join Roes’ mother and fans of ultra racing everywhere in congratulating Anton and Geoff on their incredible accomplishments.