Kyle Krafft – Ultra Trailblazer the Endurance Entrepreneur

“The second you cross the finish line of a tough race, every memory you have, becomes positive”.

Don’t hold your self too accountable for failures, because, if you never fail, maybe your goals are just not high enough?”  Kyle Krafft – 4.13.20

The moment Face Time flips up (we are in a social distance movement), Kyle greets me with his signature grin, warm and open, that he instantly puts me at ease. Chatting away, Kyle is truly as chilled as his “California dreaming” locks would suggest. Yet, beneath the natural, relaxed demeanor lies an undeniable force, steely grit and fierce intelligence, that cements his effervescence securely to the earth. Flighty he is not, adventurous and determined he certainly is.

So, who is Kyle Krafft? Well he is a 37 yr. old Ironman triathlete, ultra-runner and snowshoe racer (yes people that is a thing). He is a man who pushes boundaries, his own personal boundaries and then continues to force them further and further from his center, just to see how damn far they will go, before they rip apart. Maybe they never will?

Let’s stop for a second…

Before, I dig deep into what makes Kyle tick and discuss extensively his journey, I wanted to express that I did not really know Kyle before this interview. But after talking with him for the brief hour we had, he truly is one of the most well rounded, interesting, articulate individuals I have ever met. He thinks deeply and calculatedly to reach informed, albeit sometimes non-conforming plans to his life. Yet, he is by no means dull and is a true adventurer at heart. What I loved most about Kyle (that unlike many humans who like to push themselves physically and mentally to the brink) there is no obvious darkness simmering beneath his sunny disposition. Nothing to temper his lust for life or the aged earned wisdom in his eyes.

Where it all began…

Indiana born and raised Kyle played the usual contenders in sports, with only a single season on the high school cross country team and a toe dip into swimming. Let’s just say young Kyle was not one for conventionality, and they created an anxiety that worked against his innate yeaning to express himself freely when moving himself actively through space. Therefore, he rejected the ordinary and the high school tick sheet, instead replacing it with a passion for snowboarding and skateboarding. Both sports testing his limits and just how far he could push himself both physically and mentally – two elements that are the foundations of endurance sports, clearly a natural progression. Life moves forward and Kyle is now a fresh-faced Finance undergraduate from Indiana University, which is known for its innovation, creativity, and academic freedom. So, with that as his starting block, it is on a whim that he upped sticks and moved to California, a state that clearly sits well with his outlook on life.

California Bound

Where it all began! California! The state that has everything: ocean and mountains, beaches and big cities. Kyle now added surfing to his “alternative” sporting repertoire, and this is also the place where he started to run. He was coaxed out by his colleague in their lunch hour, taking a break from his financial job and working towards his Master’s in Business from UCLA, and off they went. Out to run a nice hilly course at 105F in Calabasas, CA. The match was struck, and the fire ignited a passion that started to build. Kyle explains to me that he compares running to whiskey, some people just don’t like it, however some folks love it. But if you don’t like it yet keep trying it, then the taste for it can be acquired. AND that is what he did, he just kept running, driving himself forward to eventually complete his first ½ marathon. AND the fire roared higher. Then he runs the LA marathon at age 26. From there and exactly like Forrest he just kept running. But now the Triathlon had seeped in, and Kyle completed his first Malibu Olympic Triathlon the same year as the marathon. “IT WAS AWFUL” Kyle exclaims, as he swam in tri shorts and forgot to use his asthma inhaler – gulp. Needless to say, it was a shock to the system. Yet, he still goes on to do 3 more Olympic Tris, and the stage was set, and IRONMAN came into the picture. “It’s all about being comfortable, with the uncomfortable,” he tells me, and Kyle’s achievements start stacking up.

  • 3 x Malibu, California, Olympic Distance Triathlon.
  • IRONMAN Austin, Texas 70.3 (1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike, 13.1-mile run)
  • IRONMAN 70.3 Vineman, California.
  • IRONMAN 70.3 Florida.
  • IRONMAN 70.3 Miami, Florida– “Terrible race” in Kyles own words.

Kyle was still self-trained and had now moved to Naples, not a choice he had made lightly. But, with extensive family in town, now an uncle and a life changing job offer, he decided it was a life change he could not refuse. So, he took the plunge and moved across the country (and down a bit) to start his life in Florida. Plus, whether Kyle would agree or not with the fact, but without that move to Florida, he most certainly would have not have been sitting in a bar in Key West, eight beers in, feeling sentimental (maybe a touch inebriated?) when he made the decision to pick up his phone and register for IRONMAN Lake Placid 2018 at age 35 – yup a FULL TRIATHLON. Oops (alcohol can be very helpful to lower the fear factor in these situations).

Well it must be time to get a coach.

After the awfulness that was the Miami half, it was time to get serious and finally get someone to help. So, after asking a few local athletes in Naples, Kyle found All Day Endurance and Aubrey Aldy. What he loved about Aubrey was his knowledge, he was well educated, an athlete himself and did not stroke egos. It was all business, and that generates results. Lake Placid went on to be an amazing race for Kyle and maybe the turning point for him to realize what he strives for and recognizing his strengths. Kyle is humble enough to admit he will never be the fastest in the pack, but if you stick to the plan and the training, you can execute efficiently and have a great race. It may be challenging, but you can be the smart runner, the gritty fighter, hitting your goals and then pushing higher. How far can this body go?

Endurance enters the scene, stage right.

Well with an Ironman under your belt and a self-appreciation for the fact you will not be speedy, long and slow is a natural progression. Kyle explains he enjoys the struggle, he thrives on hard runs, what pain teaches you about yourself and has started to dabble in the long run arena. With a couple of 50K races under his belt; with one being a win at the Everglades Ultra 2020. Now that was a perfect execution. He strives to do more.  Kyle is strategic and he understands his body, he sees the value in recovery both physically and in maintaining a healthy balance mentally. Let’s also throw in some stretching, especially as he ages. I ask him why, and he says, “I JUST LOVE IT!” I love both the tri and the ultra, it is pure love for me, beyond a hobby. I love the feeling of accomplishment, but don’t hold yourself too accountable if you fail.” 

I ask him why Ultra? He explains that he feels he is built for endurance, (his body sinks in the water, not the best trait for a triathlete) and that he can improve and potentially go great distances. Kyle is a self-proclaimed introverted extrovert; he thrives off the energy of others. And in Ultra running, albeit a solitary endeavor, its roots support an energetic, collaborative collective of bad asses, gnarly, fun loving, raise you up individuals, yup and Kyle slots in nicely. Every race is a pure celebration of what the body can do and the people who toe the line.

5-year plan in Endurance and Life

And he doesn’t stop there, Kyle has big plans and it is an eclectic mix, with an aim to run a 50 miler and potentially a 100 miler in the next year, both I know he will kill, if social distancing allows. Aspirations of a 200-mile gravel bike (Dirty Kanza 200 in Kansas) race, aim high to get into Western States. “Because if I can do it, I am obligated to put my body through that’, “The passion drives me and if I have a passion and a drive, I will always be the kid that never grows up”. Between you and I, that is a personal goal of mine too, because, when you stop seeing the world through childlike eyes, you miss the wonder and awe of living.

He aspires to continue his life switching between the ocean and the mountains, to work hard, train hard and play hard with a fearlessness and intensity that will surely excel in the ultra-world arena.

Whatever Kyle decides to do or what races he enters he will do with a drive, lust for life and calculated tenacity, and I truly am excited to see where he will go next. It may be a snowshoe race up a mountain in Colorado or a gravel bike race, California Tri (skateboard, surf and snowboard all in one day). It could be the Grand Traverse Ultra (40 – mile point to point race) in Crested Butte, or it could be another IRONMAN, who knows. But, know this he will train hard and he will finish, and he will thrive. Because Kyle Krafft, endurance athlete is a true contender.

MORE Kyle Krafft stats

-Favorite sneakers – Road – Hoka Carbon X, Trail – Hoka EVO Speedgoats

-Fuel – First Endurance – EFS and Gu gels.

-Trademark – A big smile and a California vibe.

-Inspirational figures – His Father, who is ambitious, active and always striving to be more. In racing the person just in front.

-Things most people do not know about him – He has an inner green thumb and a love to grow nature. He also summons up memories of his old dog, Abidog, when a race gets hard. Because, that pain is nothing compared with the ache of losing her and the race will be dedicated to her, to power through.

-Special power – Unbreakable positive spirit.

-Furthest run – 50K.

– Longest Tri – Full IRONMAN.

-Weirdest Race – Aspen Snowshoe race

Marco Tona- Warrior runner

A interview I wrote for a local running group of a local ultra runner. 

“Greatness is achieved the moment you decide you cannot do anything else, other than that one thing” Marco Tona – 12.22.19

With his halo of wild curls, enthusiasm for life and relaxed demeanor, on initial inspection Marco Tona comes across like any other regular 22-year-old. Hailing from Destin FL, a student of Exercise Physiology and the third youngest of eight children, he grew up surrounded by family and well loved.

However, not every 22-year-old that you meet has just completed a 24hr. running race and run 100 miles. WHAT you say!?! A 100 miles! Now let us relook at Marco Tona, underneath his big smile and gentle personality there lies an old soul, the heart of a lion and a steely grit that is seldom found in the youth.

Okay, so who is Marco? I sat down and chatted with Marco on a wet, storm riddled Florida winters day to discuss his journey into ultra-running, what drives him and his aspirations for the future. Because at age 22, this is merely the beginning of his great journey.

Let me start from the “Big One” and take you back to his beginning. “Icarus Florida Ultra Fest”2019, a looped road race, where a runner will run as far as they can in an allotted time. Your choices being….

12hr / 24Hr / 48Hr / 72Hr / 144Hr


What they say about the race “What this means for seasoned ultra-runners and new runners alike is that the Icarus Florida UltraFest is not just a place to test your limits, but to abandon them” taken from website.

So, what is it about this race, after running only three 50K (Calootsahatchee, Croom Fools, Washington Red Devils) races previously that made Marco dive off at the deep end and jump straight in to 100 miles? Well, as with all great beginnings and heroes, it started in a bar. Marco goes on to explain that one evening before a long run, he was designated driver, as all dedicated runners are on a Friday night. His epiphany hit! He was finished with the nights out and wanted to push his limits. It was about, in his own words “shattering his ceiling” and really seeing what he could achieve. So in that bar he signed up on impulse for Icarus. Because in the realm of the unknown a person’s boundaries can be found, accepted, crushed, then rebuilt once the core is exposed and they know who they are. It was from that point, in that dingy bar that the training begun. As 100 miles is literally the only step one can take, to really find out what they can do.

In his youth Marco was a swimmer and as he moved into high school he began to run. He joined the cross country and track team as they did not have a competitive swim team. Blazing a trail through 600/800 m distances and the 5K, Marco carried through his running to college. Moving to Florida and continuing his studies, Marco met Aubrey Aldy, (his now trainer) in their local pool and another piece of the puzzle clicked in place. Marco kept running, he dabbled in triathlon and at 21 years old he signed up for his first 50K. Why? To see if running was “great”? So minimally trained and with the zeal that only a 21 year can bring, he completed his first 50K in 6hrs 40mins. The bug had bitten and in his 2nd 50K with some training he took 2 hrs off this time. From here his ascent had commenced. One more technical run, the Red Devil 50K in Washington and his love of endurance running was secured and the next big challenge set.

We went on to discuss Icarus and what it meant to Marco, how the race broke down and what he discovered about himself, as each layer peeled off with every 1.0408 Km paved loop completed. The key was to take heed of Icarus’s story. To listen to and respect your body, to push boundaries but not destroy your limits, to hit the edge but not melt and fall. Fly close to the sun but not too close, because like Icarus you could be doomed and not rise again to complete another loop. Running 100 miles is a fine balance, of training, respect for your body, nutrition, honoring the distance and to push the edge, while holding back. It takes grit and mental toughness, and this is what Marco had to discover and layer it thick upon his enthusiasm base.

After four months of long slow runs, he was hitting he said 50-60 miles a week. Pretty moderate for ultra-training, with most of his mileage scheduled at the weekends and with some double day running, he was ready. Nutrition was dialed in; he likes to use Electrolyte Fuel System (EFS) drink brand and not eat too many of his calories. This helps his stomach and reduces the usage of the dreaded port a potty, that my friend is a whole separate mental game in itself. The long runs revealed his weaknesses, he hit mental barriers and drove past them to more manageable mental ground. Marco said he loved figuring out “where his walls were” and obliterating them.

The Start Line: –

Saturday November 23rd, 2019, 9am, seasoned ultra-dogs and young puppies alike, wait at the start line. Marco is there, mentally steeled, pacers in place, nutrition lined up and they are off, “let the games begin”. Because if you have ever run an ultra, you know that nothing invariably goes to plan. It’s about managing the situation, driving away the demons, embracing the crazy and the crazies around them. Because, to be a person who can step up to this line and cross it and manage the next 24 hrs, that element of crazy must lie deep within you too. As, it is that insanity which will ultimately carry you up to your goal and past it, then vomit what is left of you at the finish line. Kind of like the Exorcist, running 100 miles is like an exorcism, exposing all your demons and making you face them, because that is all you can do when you are exhausted.

Marco’s personal race to victory: –

We discussed in depth his race, how it panned out and what it threw at him. Marco revealed that no matter how tough it got he “never wanted to quit” that was not an option. It was never in his dialogue and he was convinced he would hit his 100-mile goal in 24HRs. Now my friends that is a very good foundation to any personal win. He found a steady pace and stuck to it, now remember this is not easy and he hit two huge low points. He told me that between mile 42-48 he felt terrible, yet he pushed through and only thought of the race loop to loop, his next drink or next piece of food. He was lacking a little in the nutrition and was given Ensure by his pacer and trainer and Marco said that totally put the wheels back on and he felt fabulous, with 15-20g of protein a bottle it was definitely the way to go. Miles 50-70 he felt awesome as the distance and hours ticked by. Through into the night he kept running, lulled by the solitude and hypnotic darkness, relaxing into his stride and putting his mind at rest; the ultimate meditation. Day breaks, mile 80 hits and he tumbles down a crevice of “low”, muscles are locking up, as the lactate acid builds, feet are numb, stinging from over use and at 20 miles to go, his cousin jumps in for 5 miles to eek him through the discomfort. Then his brother steps into pace Marco, who had come all the way from Oahu, Hawaii, to be with him for the race. He ran the final 10 miles with his brother, striding towards his goal. The pain is excruciating, every mile an eternity, but he remains steady, his dream taunting him and waiting for him to grab it with two hands and with a mere twenty minutes to go to the 24HR cut off Marco hits his 100 miles. YES! He hits 100 miles, can you even imagine what that feels like, the pain, the elation, the relief, the tiredness sweeping over, the excitement. AMAZING! His total mileage was 100.29 miles. He crushed it, ringing in at second place.

The Future: –

We go on to discuss his plans for the future, what inspires him, what he learnt from the race and areas he wants to work on. When working on his running Marco takes inspiration from the strengths of the people around him, his trainer, friends, running partners and creates a person of pure inspiration and looks at what he can draw from that. We talk about what he needed to work on, and he said “consistency” in his training, to get out there and run the miles and not be lazy – his own words.

His love of the outdoors drives him and when we talk about his 5 year plan in life and running, he reveals that he is striving to do some faster 50K races and 50 milers, begin to work on doing some long trans through hikes (think PCT – Pacific crest trail and AT – Appalachian trail) and a maybe a 200 mile race. In life he aspires to move to the beautiful, Rocky Mountains of Colorado, indulge his love of technical trails and being at one with nature. While there he aims to utilize his Exercise Physiology major and build up his own endurance coaching business, partnering with shoe companies and work on training and nutrition of athletes. I mean the world literally is his oyster, with his determination, lust for life, intelligence and cool confidence, I feel we will see and hear a lot more of Marco Tona in the years to follow. He truly was a joy to talk to and a person already in tune with themselves, which can take most people a lifetime to discover. I am excited to follow Marco’s journey and to see where he goes from here as he continues to shatter his ceiling and lift higher.

Marco Tona stats

-Favorite sneakers – Altra Torin

-Trademark look – Wild curls

-Thing most people do not know about him – He was a book worm and home schooled.

-Special power – Enthusiasm and excitement to run.

-Furthest run – 100.29 miles.