Anton Krupicka and the Longs Peak Triathlon

Sponsored by La Sportiva: How an ultrarunner biked 79 miles, ran 14 miles, and climbed the Diamond on Longs Peak in just 9 hours.
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Sponsored by La Sportiva: How an ultrarunner biked 79 miles, ran 14 miles, and climbed the Diamond on Longs Peak in just 9 hours.

This story was written by Climbing magazine’s editorial staff with no involvement from La Sportiva. Featured content is editorial material and has not been influenced by La Sportiva. 

At 5:29 a.m. on Tuesday, August 16, Anton Krupicka and Stefan Griebel pedaled their bikes out of the parking lot of the Bustop, a gentlemen’s club in Boulder, Colorado, each carrying 9 lb. packs filled with climbing gear. By 2:35 p.m., the duo returned, having biked 38 miles to the Longs Peak trailhead, run 5 miles to the base of the Diamond, climbed the 1,700-foot Casual Route, run 9 miles down, and biked 38 miles back to Boulder. With a time of 9 hours, 6 minutes, Krupicka and Griebel officially had the fastest known time on the Longs Peak Triathlon, an unofficial “race” in Colorado climbing.

In the outdoor sports world, Krupicka’s name is synonymous with endurance. As an ultrarunner, the 33-year-old from Nebraska has won the Leadville 100 twice and placed second in the Western States 100, both high-altitude 100-mile races that climb and descend thousands of vertical feet and are considered the most punishing foot races in the country. After Krupicka broke his leg in 2011, mountain running legend Buzz Burrell introduced him to scrambling in Boulder’s Flatirons as a low-impact activity. It shifted Krupicka’s mindset, opening his eyes to the potential for mixing running with scrambling and climbing.

Another leg injury in summer 2015 forced Krupicka to stop running completely for a season, so he started climbing in Eldorado Canyon with friend Bill Wright. They worked through many of Eldo’s classics, and the summer culminated with an ascent of the 1,700-foot Casual Route in August. The week before that, Krupicka had done “a JV version of the LPT” by climbing Kiener’s Route, a low fifth class route, instead of the more technical Casual Route. According to Krupicka, “Those outings planted the seed that maybe one day the [full Longs Peak Triathlon] will be possible.”

Riding through sunrise from Boulder to Longs Peak.

Riding through sunrise from Boulder to Longs Peak.

5:29 a.m. – Leave Bustop

Time Elapsed: 0:00
Calories
Consumed: 330 (2 eggs, 2 pieces toast, 2 cups coffee)
Miles Covered: 3

With objectives like this, self-propelled adventure is the main goal for Krupicka, and that means only human power from the moment he walks out the door to his apartment in downtown Boulder. Instead of resting his legs and driving to the starting line, he biked three miles to the Bustop at 4:30 a.m. Alpine starts are also part of the fun for this endurance athlete. “I love sunrise. I love morning,” he says. “I love starting in the dark because there’s so much potential for the day.”

“At the start, I felt like we were going fast on the way to Lyons,” Krupicka says. “Any time Stefan was in front, I felt like I was getting dropped…[but then] I mentally committed to biking hard and fast.” Trading the front spot and drafting each other to conserve energy, they spent much of the bike ride planning the transitions—changing shoes, filling water—and its this shared obsession over detail that make Krupicka and Griebel well-matched partners. But the most notable thing about the bike ride? “We saw a bear at South St. Vrain canyon just eating berries in a ditch,” Krupicka says. They did not stop to take a picture.

Checking time on the 38-mile bike ride to the Longs Peak trailhead. 

Checking time on the 38-mile bike ride to the Longs Peak trailhead. 

8:11 a.m. – Arrive at Longs Peak Trailhead

Time Elapsed: 2:42
Calories Consumed: 430 (330 + 100 cal. Clif gel while biking)
Miles Covered: 41

With Krupicka coming from a running background and Griebel coming from a climbing background, each had his own strengths and weaknesses, but one thing they shared was a go-fast mentality. “There aren’t a lot of climbers who are interested in shaving seconds,” Krupicka says. “Stefan likes going fast and trying hard.” And that includes transitions. Krupicka required more time to change from bike shoes to his trail running shoes, while Griebel was already wearing his trail runners, so Krupicka charged ahead at the end of the bike ride so they could start the run together.

10:03 a.m. – Base of Longs Peak

Elapsed time: 4:34
Calories Consumed: 680 (430 + 250 cal. Clif bar at trailhead)
Miles Covered: 46

A half-dozen alpine outings earlier in the summer helped put Krupicka and Griebel in sync with each other for moving in the mountains. On a tune-up lap of the Casual Route a few weeks before, they figured out who would lead what—Krupicka the first four pitches and Griebel the last three. Originally Krupicka encouraged Griebel to lead everything because he thought it would be faster, but Griebel pointed out that splitting the lead is not only better style, but it also allowed them to take fewer cams since they were simul-climbing.

They pared their rack down—way down—to four cams (.4, .75, #1, #2), four lightweight quickdraws, four slings with single carabiners, and three Micro Traxions for simul-climbing. Krupicka soloed up the North Chimney in his approach shoes while Griebel changed into climbing shoes, and right when Krupicka clipped his first piece at the top of the first pitch, Griebel was tying in. Then came what Krupicka called “the biggest challenge of the day”—getting stuck behind a rope soloist, who was halfway up the second pitch and insistent that Krupicka not pass him. Even though the delay cost them 10 to 15 minutes, they managed to climb the entire Casual Route in 1 hour, 20 minutes.

Krupicka hustles across a ledge while climbing the Diamond of Longs Peak. 

Krupicka hustles across a ledge while climbing the Diamond of Longs Peak. 

11:46 a.m. – Summit of Longs Peak

Time Elapsed: 6:17
Calories Consumed: 930 (680 + 250 cal. Clif bar after Casual Route)
Miles Covered: 46

“Going fast is way more engaging than just strolling through something,” Krupicka says. “I just like going as hard as I can.” That drive got them to the top a full hour ahead of schedule, and once on the summit, they shifted to one of Krupicka’s greatest strengths: running fast downhill. Buoyed by being ahead of schedule, they charged down the 5.4 Cables route and the rest of the nine-mile descent, reaching the trailhead as it started to rain, a reminder for Krupicka as to why doing these objectives quickly can be so beneficial. “The rope soloist was probably still on the face!” he says.

Krupicka hustles down the trail to the Longs Peak trailhead. 

Krupicka hustles down the trail to the Longs Peak trailhead. 

12:47 p.m. – Back to Longs Peak trailhead

Time Elapsed: 7:18
Calories Consumed: 1,030 (930 + 100 cal. Clif gel on descent)
Miles Covered: 55

Excited at the prospect of going sub-9 hours, the pair left the trailhead by bike in high spirits. On the first big downhill, Krupicka came into a turn too fast and had to take it wide, which forced Griebel, who was behind him, off the road and into a ditch. Griebel recovered, but it made them refocus their attention on the task at hand. While overall it was a downhill ride, the last few miles from Lyons to Boulder have what Krupicka calls “soul-crushing rollers,” small hills that require some effort. With Krupicka’s knee acting up, the duo slowed down on the final five miles.

Krupicka and Griebel high-five in the Bustop parking lot after getting the fastest known time on the Longs Peak Triathlon at 9 hours, 6 minutes.

Krupicka and Griebel high-five in the Bustop parking lot after getting the fastest known time on the Longs Peak Triathlon at 9 hours, 6 minutes.

2:35 p.m. – Return to Bustop

Elapsed time: 9:06
Calories Consumed: 1,270 (1,030 + 240 celebratory Oskar Blues Old Chub beer) 
Miles Covered: 93

Sitting on the pavement in the parking lot of the north Boulder strip club, Krupicka and Griebel drank Oskar Blues Old Chub, the partners’ tradition for anytime they go into the alpine together. “Sure it was hard and grueling,” Krupicka says, “but I’m used to that stuff…. For me, nine hours isn’t that long of a day.” He doesn’t buy into the clichés of suffering and type 2 fun in the outdoor world, but acknowledges that his background as an endurance athlete might have something to do with his high tolerance for pain. “You do something like this because you’re gonna have a good time,” he says, “and because it’s rad.”

Watch Anton Krupicka and Stefan Griebel set the record for the Longs Peak Triathlon at 9:06. 

This story was written by Climbing magazine’s editorial staff with no involvement from La Sportiva. Featured content is editorial material and has not been influenced by La Sportiva.