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Rob Krar takes Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run title

By: Matthew Kimel, Journal sports editor
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Rob Krar took a couple of minutes to catch his breath.

After winning his first Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run in a sizzling time of 14 hours, 53 minutes and 22 seconds, who could blame him?

Once the 37-year-old Flagstaff, Ariz., ultrarunner settled down from finishing the footrace, he offered up one word that drew hundreds of laughs. 

“Water,” he said.

Krar’s impressive clocking, a year after he was runner-up to Timothy Olson, is good for the second best time in the 40-year history of the run.

Olson holds the all-time course record of 14:46.

Krar crossed the finish line at Placer High less than five minutes after Olson last year, clocking in at 15:22 on a sweltering summer day.   

“It’s been a year-long journey,” said Krar, who ran track and cross country at Bulter University on scholarship. “… My yearlong goal was to be sitting here talking (as the winner).”

Krar was able to speed along the Western States Trail this year much quicker, as the temperatures on the day were about 20 degrees cooler.

Earlier in the week, Western States 100 founder Gordy Ainsleigh predicted Krar would win the 41st running of the ultramarathon.

“I’d put my money on Rob,” Ainsleigh told the Journal. “He’s a very solid runner. Besides he’s got a really nice beard. He’s got a bigger beard than I do.”

Krar burst onto the 100-miler scene at last year’s Western States, marking the first time he’s ever competed at the century distance.

Krar became rather popular in the ultra community since — as has his beard.

His beard even has its own Twitter handle, @RobKrarsBeard, which has more than 800 followers.

Krar was trailing Max King of Oregon most of Saturday, but passed him around Peachstone, 71 miles into the run.

“I have nothing but respect for Max,” Krar said. “… I certainly feared him going into the race.”

King finished fourth in 15:44.

Seth Swanson of Montana rallied to a second-place finish in 15:19. Swanson was fifth at Last Chance (mile 43) and made up ground during the second half of the race.

Dylan Bowman of Mill Valley took third place, clocking in at 15:36.

South Africa’s Ryan Sandes finished fifth in 15:46. Sandes previously held the second best time in course history of 15:03 before Krar surpassed him Saturday.

As of 9:36 p.m., Stephanie Howe of Oregon was 6.5 miles away from winning the Cougar Trophy on the ladies side.

Defending ladies champ Pam Smith of Oregon was in fourth as of 8:39 p.m., checking into Auburn Lake Trails.

Meghan Arbogast of Cool was in eighth, reaching Green Gate with another 20 miles to go until Placer High.

Auburn’s Elk Truscott, one of some 40 out of 351 runners who dropped out of the race, stopped at Robison Flat (29 miles).

Folsom’s Erik Skaden, seeking a 1,000-Mile, 10-Day Buckle, was 15 miles from the finish as of 9:12 p.m. 

Ainsleigh, no longer the speed demon he once was, was still on trail late Saturday night.

Considered The Godfather of ultrarunning, Ainsleigh reached Michigan Bluff at 9:43 p.m., making the cutoff by two minutes. 

Look for more Western States 100 coverage in Tuesday’s edition of the Journal.  

Reach Matthew Kimel at matthewk@goldcountrymedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @matthewkimel