It may be mile 30 of who knows how many, but ultra runner turned style icon, Anton Krupicka, keeps his chill. The 32-year-old Boulder, CO, athlete has organically developed into running’s new it-man, with his carefree and scruffy style reminiscent of the ultra cool Dude from the cult classic The Big Lebowski.
Krupicka is the look of the next generation of runners, as brands ranging from technical hydration packs to urban-style performance socks offer ambassador partnerships with the ultra-star. Krupicka is currently backed by Ultimate Direction, New Balance, Zeal Optics, Petzl, Buff, Stance socks, and is supported by GU Energy Gels, Peak Performance, Kahtoola and others.
But it’s not all looks and attitude that got Krupicka these offers. His accomplishments include winning Leadville 100 twice, the Miwok 100K, Rocky Raccoon 100 Miler, Collegiate Peaks 50 Miler, White River 50 Miler twice, the High Mountain 50k and Estes Park Marathon.
Krupicka has become a modern day Prefontaine, collecting with his ultra running achievements a following of young fans. These modern fitsters – today’s active hipster who values nutrition and endurance as well as style and beer – look to Krupicka for technical apparel and lifestyle guidance. Here’s a look at Krupicka through the eyes of the fan fitster, from head to toe styling.
When not rocking his signature cycling cap or trucker hat to hold back his unwieldy locks, Krupicka partners with Buff Headwear. Buff is synonymous in the outdoor industry with tubular headwear, the way Velcro or Kleenex have cornered their respective markets. With UV protection and Insect Shield built in, Buff’s simple yet effective alternative to hats has become a widely used accessory since the company’s founding in 1991.
Founder Joan Rojas first created the Buff to protect his neck during cross-country motorcycle rides. Now the company is known for their psychedelic patterns and boasts tons of SKUs. Buff is constantly releasing new athlete-collaboration collections, including the Spring/Summer 2015 Anton Krupicka Collection – neon and mustard yellow headband, and its newest electric blue hat and classic buff with sketch graphics of the runner speeding up the Boulder Flatirons. Moisture wicking, windproof, treated with Polygiene to prevent build up of bacteria, and promised not to lose elasticity rounds out Buff Headwear properties.
Krupicka began his partnership with Zeal Optics in 2014, due to a personal creed to never sacrifice style for performance ability. Another element of Zeal’s manufacturing process that agreed with Krupicka was the company’s dedication to using plant-based resins as opposed to petroleum. “They even have cotton-based, biodegradable models. I identify strongly with this commitment to sustainability, and with their headquarters being only a few blocks from my Boulder home, working with them is a natural fit,” Krupicka states on his website.
Even Zeal admits to falling for Krupicka’s natural style charisma, saying “…it’s his style and approach that we find most appealing…Eschewing the bells and whistles of performance equipment for a minimalist approach that loses the frills.”
Of the Zeal Styles, you’ll see Krupicka sporting the Ace and Kennedy models, which fit into the newly emerging category of performance accessories and apparel designed for both grueling activity and a night out.
Ultimate Direction, much like Buff, has worked with Krupicka to model a line of hydration packs as part of the company’s Signature Series. Ultimate Direction also works with Scott Jurek, Peter Bakwin, and the recently signed Timmy Olsen on athlete-inspired hydration products. Krupicka designed the AK Race Vest, with a focus on minimalism. Weighing only 7oz., and 12.5oz. with water bottles, the vest still holds room for food, clothing, phone and camera. The AK Race Vest won the 2014 Trail Runner Magazine Gear of the Year Award.
However, with the addition of runner Timmy Olsen, Krupicka passed the minimalist torch and worked with Ultimate Direction on a whole new design, set to release Spring/Summer 2016. The new, bigger vest was made for more technical runs as Krupicka has slowly but steadily transitioned his athletic focus away from lightweight runs to mountain scrambles, rock climbing and other mountaineering. “A pack isn’t useful unless I can carry a lot,” Krupicka said of the new design.
The Ultimate Direction brand has made a strategic move into apparel for next season, and with that brings a first-ever Ultimate Direction trucker hat, which Ultimate Direction reps said Krupicka loves.
Fitsters can fuel like Krupicka with Gu Energy, the performance nutrition company that since 1993 has created products hand-in-hand with athletes. The Berkeley, CA-based company has been a supporter of Krupicka’s ultra career, listing him as one of their athletes alongside Mirinda Carfrae, Rebecca Rusch, Emma Garrard, Chris Hauth, Yuri Hauswald, Jeff Paul, Justin Gillette and Yvonne Van Vlerken to name a few.
Krupicka said his favorite Gu Energy flavor is Mandarin Orange. The runner swears by a simple combination of water, Gu Energy and salt tabs to get him through long (and we mean long) runs.
One of the first big brands to sponsor Krupicka, and arguably one of the largest names still on the list, is New Balance. The partnership began in 2008 and remains active today. Krupicka was drawn to the “overarching philosophy of integrity and loyalty” in New Balance manufacturing, as the company makes 25 percent of its footwear domestically in California and New England.
Another element of the Krupicka/New Balance partnership reflects back on the blending of style and function. As a sports and active brand, New Balance has innovated new pallets into its offerings throughout its century of operation. Even its outdoor segment running shoes are punched with neon color flares, in a fashion-forward departure from basic grays, black and earthy shades.
“You can have both style and performance,” said Krupicka in a conversation with SGB at Outdoor Retailer last week. He noted excitement with the stylistic trend of outdoor brands, both established and emerging, “not sacrificing straight fashion.”
Most recently, Krupicka joined Stance socks as a Punks & Poets ambassador, supporting the newborn brand’s performance Fusion Run socks. Fusing silkscreen-esque print designs, strategic compression zones and anatomical footbeds into a 200 needle sock, Stance may begin proving itself as more than just a brand for looks.
A roster of Stance’s other Punks & Poets creates a clear picture of the type of cool aesthetic the brand represents. Ambassadors include musicians Rihanna and Big Sean; NBA’s Allen Iverson and Klay Thompson; urban footwear designer Ronnie Fieg, who has worked with Asics, Adidas, Saucony, New Balance and more; skateboarder Andrew Reynolds; runner Lauren Fleshman; Motorsport’s Chad Reed; and a dozen other style, sport and culture trendsetters.
Occupying the performance sock category for less than a year, Stance has already taken great steps to outfit ski, snow, skate, run, bike and other action sports stars while capitalizing on the power of unique personal design. Krupicka said his decision to sign on with Stance was a way to express his personal style while still getting a breathable and light running sock.
Perhaps labeling him “hipster cool” may take away a bit of the aloof chill surrounding Krupicka as an icon and athlete…but in the nature of all trend setters, Krupicka remains ahead of the pack.
There’s an air of freedom within these partnerships. That freedom comes from Krupicka’s genuine support for the science, practices and style at the heart of each brand. His expectation for fashionable offerings with trail-to-town usability has become a hallmark for the new generation of runners. The modern fitster is watching Krupicka for style cues, while using his athletic accomplishments and passion as a motivational boost.
He is one of the most tracked running celebrities of his time. Krupicka’s transition to more mountaineering and climbing-based ventures may be the start of a professional shift to endurance climbing – or at least a departure from his claim to fame, ultra-running. We can’t be sure if his band of mustache-waxing fitster runners will follow his trail, but Anton probably doesn’t care.