Once a pure runner, who won ultra races across the US, an injury in 2011 transformed Anton Krupicka into a passionate multisport athlete who thrives on human powered adventure.
“There is something special and empowering about doing everything yourself – not relying on a motor vehicle – and as a multi-sport athlete, I love combining sports into one big outing,” Anton says. “For instance, riding my bike to climb at the local crag, or riding my bike on a tour to link up a series of mountains on foot, or even riding my bike from my doorstep to climb and ski a local mountain. I like the logistical challenge and the need to refine my systems to be as functional and simple as possible.”
Anton’s passion for mixed sport adventure hasn’t diminished his love of racing, however. “Pushing your hardest is such a unique life experience, and I find that I’m only able to do that in a race environment,” he says. “Competition, at its essence, is everyone working together towards a common goal to bring out the best in each other. It’s a beautiful, painful, connecting experience. When it goes well, there’s euphoria. When it doesn’t go well, there is an unparalleled opportunity for learning and growth. I think racing is so valuable, no matter where you finish in the results. As such, I hope to do it my whole life.”
Anton, now 37, began racing early in life. Originally hailing from Nebraska, he became a runner at 11, and 18 months later ran his first marathon. The thrill of pushing his limits led from one challenge to another, and 10 years later he ran his first ultra marathon, the Leadville 100, and the experience changed his life. “It gave me a fundamental confidence I could do anything if I tried hard enough,” Anton says.
In 2011, at the height of his ultra powers, Anton broke his leg while running, putting his career on hold. But it was a blessing in disguise because it gave him the time and inspiration to explore sports he hadn’t had the opportunity to try before – climbing, cycling and skiing. “I never had the confidence to pursue these other sports when I was younger,” Anton says. “Now, for the past 10 years, I would say I have been as enthusiastic a climber as I am a runner (though not as successful, of course!), and for the last six years I’ve also devoted a lot of time to cycling and skiing, depending on if it’s summer or winter. These have grown to become as important and indispensable to me as an athlete and a human as running has been for the past 26 years.”
Now based in Boulder, Colorado, Anton is always cooking up new adventures. His favorite usually involves mixing cycling with mountaineering. He enjoys cycling from mountain to mountain and climbing them on foot. With his love of pushing hard, bikepacking races are also on the cards in the near future. “My ideal adventure probably has some element of speed included in it, I don’t think records are necessarily interesting in and of themselves. However, I do think trying your hardest puts a unique demand on you and shapes the experience in a positive way. Trying to go fast demands that you are focused and skilled and it puts me in a mindset I find very enjoyable and an enormous privilege. Trying my best – pushing towards my personal limits – is the best way for me to grow and learn new things. There has to be some chance of failure and challenge for growth to occur.”
Whatever Anton does, trail running, bikepacking, mountaineering, skiing, he keeps meticulous training logs, and has been doing so since 1995. He’s been using Suunto watches since 2015, which he says are fundamental to his athletic life. He started with a Suunto Core, switched to an Ambit3 Peak, and now uses a Suunto 9 Baro. “I use my Suunto 9 to take splits on regular training routes, check the altitude and elevation gain, track distance, and with the advanced GPS technology available now I even use it for navigation in unknown terrain. I always have my Suunto with me!”
All images by Joey Schusler