Looking at the “deep” field for this year’s WS100, I suppose this overused adjective is evidence of the community’s optimism, hoping for an amazing competitive event that craters common sense with the insane high-end endurance exploits of these elite men and women. The other rationale for the use of “deep” is the general unpredictability of this kind of event. Hell, anything can happen on those trails, in those canyons, and in that heat. So, looking at the names, their race resumes, etc., one assumes it’s up for grabs.
Before I say “however” and boil this race down, this is, indeed, a very unpredictable affair. Looking at the weather, there will be massive carnage in such heat, at the front, all over, dreams shattered, sponsors freaking-out at their athletes’ failure to endure and represent. . . okay, that’s a bit dramatic. Actually, that’s a scene from the up-coming movie Ultra Rules, being produced and directed by Elevation Trail. Stay tuned for that.
Anything could happen.
However, this is all about Rob Krar. I said recently that he’s the next vanishing act of the 100 field. He’ll follow those others who’ve notoriously walked the plank, disappearing into a mountainous mist of catastrophic injury and fatigue. I said, “The way the theory goes […] Krar is in the last stages of his dominance. He will get CR at WS100 this year and that just about ought to do it. Check please.” Part of me wanted to revise that and say he might be an outlier, a guy with the perfect ultra career. Hear me out: he’s closing in on 39 years, so if in fact he is nearing the end (age alone makes this hard to deny), what a career! Pops-up by smashing the R2R2R FKT, then proceeds to wreak havoc on some of the bigger stages against the world’s best. All that’s left is a couple of closing acts, maybe an encore and then he’s off to pasture in Flagstaff or beyond.
This scenario seems difficult to deny. I simply predicted that this Saturday is one of these closing acts. He finishes second to Olson in ’13 (his first 100), and comes back and wins in ’14, flirting with Olson’s CR, but coming-up a little (~7 min) short. Yet he’s back for 2015 States. What does he have in mind? Even iRunfar practically laughed when they asked what he was doing back in Squaw Valley after winning last year. It’s not like this guy (or so one might have thought) is some kind of Western States groupie.
This is all about Rob Krar. Here’s a question? Can anyone run 14:40? Ryan Sandes has a 15:03, so the South African shows some potential winning pedigree, but if Krar, who smashed the Canyons 100k specifically as a training run for his master plan, goes definitively sub 14:50, this is all about Rob Krar. Granted, D’Haene could be able to hang late, or certainly one or two others might possess enough madness in the torrential heat to surprise us, but if Krar is at all having a decent day, this is all about the WS100 CR, which is the only reason he might have tweeted #seeyouinsquaw.
The only pause I have in completely buying-in to such a foregone conclusion – that he is on a hara-kiri mission to break Olson’s CR – is the wear and tear of the 100 I have talked about at length. In my earlier diagnosis, recounting his 2014, I referenced his diet of 100 milers and actually left one out: Leadville (which I wrote about). It’s my sense he has lost that 50 miler type speed he once possessed, that must’ve sent chills through out the sport. But that was then and this is now. He’s gone long and he’s not looking back. Did he do too much? Has he begun to walk the plank?
I suspect he will win in epic fashion, but of course anything can happen.
That’s what I’m watching for on Saturday. There are many great runners, men and women, taking huge adventure to those storied California trails. If Varner is healthy, who knows what he might do, and personally I’m pulling for DBo. But, in the end, this is all about Rob Krar, chasing his WS100 CR, chasing his demon.