What’s so interesting about Anton Krupicka, the Boulder-based ultrarunner who is easily identifiable on local trails, possibly sporting the Ultimate Direction race vest named after him, and in New Balance advertisements due to his shirtless bronzed torso, flowing hair, scruffy beard, and Minimus shoes?
Personally, I don’t find it to be the minutiae of what he does — his absurd weekly mileage and vertical, his precise caloric intake per hour, his PR splits on Longs Peak, or his top finishes in the world’s premier ultrarunning events. No, I’m more fascinated in who he is — his upbringing, lifestyle, philosophies, motivation, and personal growth.
I’d been tipped off by a mutual mentor, Buzz Burrell, that the new movie starring Anton, In the High Country, which was produced by Joel Wolpert and premiered this past weekend in Boulder, focused more on his human essence than his running. If true, I thought, it’d be a refreshing shift from other recent ultra running movies — e.g. Running the Sahara, Unbreakable, and The Runner — that center around conflict: against physical agony, mental boundaries, environmental factors, competitors, objective distances, and, of course, the clock.
Gnarled toenails, bloodied shins, and taxed lungs are not omitted from In the High Country, either. However, viewers get the sense that these conditions are mere byproducts of Anton being in the mountains and are not meant to be perceived as measures of his badass-ness.
In fact, the movie’s core theme is much richer and beautiful: Anton’s simultaneous exploration of and growing connection with his being and with the landscapes through which he freely runs, whether that be Nebraska’s rolling hills, Boulder’s foothills, or Colorado’s highest peaks. It’s a sensation to which I immediately related: while mastering the mechanics of long-distance hiking during my early trips was rewarding, tapping into the energy of migrating caribou while hiking across the Yukon Arctic and Brooks Range was profound and powerful.
Considering that Joel is a one-man operation, the movie’s production value is excellent. Audio and picture quality, soundtrack selection, graphics, and transition shots serve to enhance — not to detract from — the narrative on which he and Anton collaborated for a year. And the film’s 30-minute length is used wisely, telling a full story without feeling like running porn.
Distribution plans for In the High Country are just being drafted, so you’ll have to be patient for a hometown screening or digital download. When available, details will be first posted at http://thewolpertinger.com/.