Friday, August 26, 2011

FlagStaffers Take 2011 Gore-Tex TransRockies Title

Jason Wolfe and Mike Smith (Team Run Flagstaff) won the 2011 TransRockies Run title in Beaver Creek today. After six ultra-competitive stages, the men from Arizona, clocked 14h57m23s over 125 miles of grueling mountain racing. They also increased their lead to 21m50s over runners-up Max King and Ryan Bak (Team Bend) over a tough 24 mile finale from Vail today.

"It was like the final rounds of a boxing match, where the fighters are punch drunk and swinging with everything they've got", said an exhausted Mike Smith after clinching the title today. "We planned to push hard all day, but it was a tough stage, and we managed to pull close to 6 minutes on Max and Ryan today, after cranking up the ascents. It feels really good to be done with this six day battle."

King and Bak were happy to make it home after some struggles with injuries. "We are happy to be here", said King. I towed Ryan up all the ascents today, as his broken toe made it really hard to run uphill. It's painful to finish second after winning last year, but it was good day considering the circumstances!"

British duo, Ricky Lightfoot and Tom Owens (Team Salomon)crossed the line third and cemented their position on the bottom rung of the podium with a total race time of 15h31m19s.

The sisters Ashley and Cynthia Arnold ( Team Trail Runner Magazine) made it six out of six with yet another stage victory in the Women's Open Division. Their total race time was 18h46m20s.

Other division winners in the Gore-Tex TransRockies were:

Mixed 80+ : Jeff and Katie Caba in 18h32m42s
80+ Women: Tracy Garneau and Nikki Kimball: 19h20m06s
80+ Men: Christian Vachon and Joel St-Louis: 19h09m02s
Open Mixed: Rickey Gates and Anna Frost: 17h07m37s

Team EverymanTri athlete Lori Lyons finishes her first GoreTex TransRockies Run in Beaver Creek today with her stand-in partner.

Location:Beaver Creek, CO

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Smith and Wolfe Take Five

Jason Wolfe and Mike Smith (Team Run Flagstaff) (pictured here) took control of the 2011 GoreTex TransRockies Run with a dominant performance in the penultimate stage of the race from Red Cliff to Vail today.

The Run Flagstaff duo completed the 24 mile, course in an amazing 2h44m, which was close to 14 minutes ahead of arch protagonists Max King and Ryan Bak (Team Bend) who finished third today, with Bak struggling with multiple injuries, sustained in yesterday's stage. The British pair of Tom Owens and Ricky Lightfoot (Team Salomon) were second today despite losing their way on the course.

"Our strategy paid off today, said an elated Smith after winning the stage. We planned to push really hard on the uphills and were running a little over 6 minute miles at 11,000ft, which helped us break clear of the chasing pack."

No one could hang with the Flagstaff flyers today. They were in a class of their own and with one stage to go they seem to have the title well within reach.

Ashley and Cynthia Arnold (Team Trail Runner Magazine)retained control of their grip on the women's open division with five stages and five wins. We felt good again today' said Ashley at the finish. We have about an hour over over nearest competitor's, so we feel pretty good about it.

Ryan Bak had to cut the toe box of his shoe to ease the pain of his broken foot

Location:Vail, CO

Elite Racer Interview: Jason Wolfe

Team EverymanTri caught up with Flagstaff's Jason Wolfe for an exclusive chat at The GORE-TEX TransRockies Run. Jason and his teammate, fellow Flagstaffer Mike Smith, are contenders to win the very competitive Open Men's category of the six-stage, 120 mile race.

Team EMT: Jason, you took second last year at this event - did you come back because you have some unfinished business here?

Jason: Lots of reasons, actually. One, I'm a GORE associate, and since it's a GORE-TEX sponsored event, there is always a lot of electricity at work leading up to it, folks training for it, and preparing for the race. There is also a fairly large representation from Flagstaff, and a tremendous amount of energy in the running community - it's easy to get swept up in the whole vibe of it. Of course there's also the 'unfinished business' part. I feel like we can win it, which is always better than second place.

Team EMT: What's your favorite part of the race?

Jason: I think training with a partner leading up to it, there's a certain amount of buildup, and then racing together in a stage-format, it feels like a journey as opposed to just a race. Running can sometimes be such an individual sport, that it's nice to a have a team experience sometimes. You build up to the event with your partner, then when you get here, it's so amazing. The scenery, you get to hang out with and get to know people really well, it makes the journey complete. I've been running for a long time, and I've never had the same feelings toward a race as I have with this one. It's definitely special.

Team EMT: What is the hardest part?

Jason: the competition is intense, and you have to run hard every minute of it. There's no letting off the gas. And to do that every day for six days straight is tough on your body and your mind. Not much recovery time for either.

Team EMT: How did you and Mike come together for this?

Jason: Flagstaff has a really close running community, and so I think we first met and ran together with mutual friends three or four years ago. We have run together off and on since. He really wanted to do this race and I wasn't sure yet, but it didn't take him very long at all to talk me into it. Plus, like I said, I think we work well together and have a strong shot at winning.

Team EMT: did you do most of your training in Flagstaff?
Jason: yea, it's an incredible place for runners. The town is at 7,000 feet, and we went up to 12,000 ft several times in our training. It's in close proximity to great year-round training, and there are a lot of really accomplished racers that train there, so good support and people around to push us.

Team EMT: how would you summarize your training leading up to this event?
Jason: in one word, our training was pretty insane. Compared to training for other races, we did a lot of steeps and technical trails to get ready. Mileage ranged from 90-110 per week, on tough trails. We had to get time on our feet. I did yoga and core work a couple times a week just to balance it out a bit.

Location:TransRockies, Colorado

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

High Noon In Redcliff

The pendulum kept swinging in stage 4 of the GoreTex TransRockies Run in Red Cliff today. The 14 mile stage, which included a 27 degree climb of four miles, was again a duel between the leaders Max King and Ryan Bak and chasers Jason Wolfe and Mike Smith.

Today it was the turn of Smith and Wolfe to win the stage in 1h44m from Coloradans Peter Maksimow and Alex Nichols (Inov 8). King and Bak faltered on the steep descent when Bak took two major tumbles which cost them valuable time, and they crossed the line 5m43s behind the winners, which drops them back to second in the GC. Bak was taken to Vail hospital for treatment to his lacerations after the stage.

Sister power continued to dominate the women's open division with Ashley and Cynthia Arnold increasing their overall lead after yet another strong performance today.

Location:Red Cliff CO

High Noon In Redcliff

The pendulum kept swinging in stage 4 of the GoreTex TransRockies Run in Red Cliff today. The 14 mile stage, which included a 27 degree climb of four miles, was again a duel between the leaders Max King and Ryan Bak and chasers Jason Wolfe and Mike Smith.

Today it was the turn of Smith and Wolfe to win the stage in 1h44m from Coloradans Peter Maksimow and Alex Nichols (Inov 8). King and Bak faltered on the steep descent when Bak took two major tumbles which cost them valuable time, and they crossed the line 5m43s behind the winners, which drops them back to second in the GC. Bak was taken to Vail hospital for treatment to his lacerations after the stage.

Sister power continued to dominate the women's open division with Ashley and Cynthia Arnold increasing their overall lead after yet another strong performance today.

Location:Red Cliff CO

King and Bak Take Charge On Stage 3

It took three stages, but finally the 'king' of the GoreTex TransRockies Run came good. Max King and Ryan Bak (Team Bend) blasted through the 24 mile stage from Leadville to Camp Hale in 2h47m and in so doing moved into the overall lead of the GC.

Today's stage, arguably one of the toughest of the race - with 3000ft of vertical, provided yet another intense battle between the leading protagonists - with Jason Wolfe and Mike Smith (Team Run Flagstaff) running in second on the stage, some seven minutes adrift of the leaders. Wolfe and Smith seem to have the upper hand on the uphills and King/Bak have the faster legs on the descents, which has set up an interesting contest between these four.

Ashley and Cynthia Arnold (Trail Runner Magazine) kept a tight rein on the lead in the Women's Open division winning the stage in 3h44m fromAmy Golumbia and Rosemarie Gerspacher (Team Arcteryx).

In the Mixed 80+ division Jeff and Katie Caba continue to lead the race after a solid 3h31m run in today's stage.

It was a tough day for Team EverymanTri, with Paul Shippey dropping out of the stage at mile 14, leaving teammate Lori Lyons to run solo to the finish at Camp Hale in 6h03m. This effectively drops them from the race classification.

'This is a tough race to run with injury and sickness and after three days of pain and not feeling great, my body had the final say today. I may be able to soldier on tomorrow, but today was brutal for me and my teammate', said Shippey after the stage.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Camp Hale, CO

Monday, August 22, 2011

Stage Two Recap: the Wounded Warrior

Today's crossing of the Continental Divide was magnificent. The elevation map of the route was fairly straightforward, looking much like the bell curve. Based on dinnertime and pre-start conversations, I was not the only only one intimidated by the climb/descent of Stage Two; even Max King, who was not pleased about his second place finish yesterday, was concerned about his ability to retake first on this particular stage. We would be climbing over 3,000 ft up a singletrack to Hope Pass, which lies at an elevation of around 12,700 ft, and navigating our way back down a steep, rocky trail on the other side. Once the tedious descent was behind us, we had another 6 or so miles of rolling trail though the forest and alongside Twin Lakes to the finish.

Three things worried me: The rapid elevation gain could lead to altitude sickness, Paul's ability to manage the technical descent with a sprained ankle, and, of course, my ability to stay upright.

Paul reported to the medical tent for an ankle taping in the early morning, and came out with a wrap so substantial that it would have kept a linebacker standing tall. The problem, however, is that he couldn't run with this 'cast' on, and the squeezing became unbearable just shortly after the start. So we stepped aside and removed tape until he felt some relief.

We had some ground to make up but the uphill singletrack kept people in a line, snaking up the mountain. So we just stayed steady, focusing on solid foot- placement, looking up at the jaw-dropping scenery whenever we dared to take our eyes off the trail.

When we summited, we took a couple of quick pictures and immediately began our descent. Paul was clearly uncomfortable, but we were cautious and controlled. Racers streamed past us, and Paul remained focused on getting down without incident, instead of letting his competitive spirit take over. As for me, I just stayed a safe distance behind him studied the backs of his shoes.

We didn't exchange words but I know we were both relieved to be down. The remainder of the run was a rolling, root-studded single track, so we weren't quite out of the woods yet (so to speak). It is typically when fatigue sets in or when electrolytes are low that people stumble, so I had been drinking and eating gels on a very regular basis. Since there were only two aid stations on this stage, I ran out of both food and liquid with about six miles to go. Not great. Thankfully, Paul's pack was still relatively full, so we shared water to the finish. Paul ran strongly after our descent, focusing his mind away from his discomfort, and onto the impending relief of the finish. He was an unbelievable warrior today.

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Stage One Recap - What Really Went Down

My friends know two things about me: 1) I have zero natural navigational skills, and 2) I am about as klutzy as they come. And while I didn't get us lost on yesterday's course, I did manage to catch a toe on some (real or imagined) obstacle, and eat some sand. I emerged from the tumble unscathed (plenty of practice) but Paul, who was directly behind me, leapt to the side to avoid stepping on me, and rolled an already weakened ankle. I was on the ground congratulating myself for not trashing my legs when I heard the painful groan (followed by #bleeeeep#) behind me. We were only eight miles into a 120 mile race, and I had managed to take out my partner.


The stage one course was 20.8 miles of sun-exposed, sandy trail, feeling a bit more like northern Arizona than Colorado. The sand was almost beach-like through some long stretches, which reduced Paul to an agonizing walk. It was a tough day for Paul physically, and for both of us mentally. He was focused on 'mind over matter', just tying to make it through the remaining twelve miles, and I was feeling terrible about causing his injury.

Which brings me to the essence of the GORE-TEX TransRockies: regardless of how well-prepared you are for racing, any number of things can go wrong. Unless you are vying for podium, your goal is essentially to make it through healthy. In a 6-day race, the focus becomes conservation (not pushing so hard that you can't recover overnight) and self-preservation (doing everything in your power to avoid an accident). Unfortunately, it is not uncommon to pass people on the trail who have 'assumed the position', which is spread feet, hands on the knees, bent over barfing. The altitude can hit someone out of nowhere, one minute they are cruising along and the next they are so dizzy they pass out on the ground, partner waving for a medic. Sometimes it's a poor foot placement on a downhill that sends your ankle left and your body right. Or maybe it's a clumsy partner that takes a dive right in front of you.

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Lightfoot Leads Over Hope Pass

Team Salomon runners Ricky Lightfoot and Tom Owens won the second stage of the 2011 GoreTex TransRockies Run from Victorville to Twin Lakes today in 1h52m.

The 14 mile stage, which included a 3200ft ascent to the summit of the 13,000 ft Hope Pass, proved to be another great battle in the Men's Open division. Defending champ Max King and Ryan Bak finished second on the stage (1h53m) with Day 1 winners Mike Smith and Jason Wolfe third in 1h54m. Smith and Wolfe were close enough to Lightfoot and co, that they retained the GC lead.

Cynthia and Ashley Arnold retained their lead in the Women's open class by winning the day's stage in 2h20m. They were well ahead of Amy Lane and Sabrina Moran who finished in 2h34m.

Team EverymanTri athletes Paul Shippey and Lori Lyons, moved up to 5th in the Mixed 80+ division with a solid run in 3h20m. Shippey, struggling with a sprained ankle, sustained in avoiding his teammate's fall on stage one, hung in to finish despite some discomfort on the steep descents.

For more detailed race results go to:

Location:Leadville, Day 2

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Let the Games Begin! Pre-race Observations

If you are, know, or (god forbid) live with a runner, then you are aware of the off- kilter nature of the runner personality. And nowhere is it more evident than at the start of a stupid-long race, where the self-selecting, cream-of-the-crop of Crazy convenes.

The race kicked off last night with a huge plate of food (okay, two plates) in an elementary school gymnasium, alongside close to 400 other highly-metabolic nut balls. Basically, the moment you show your racer wristband and enter the hall, you have close to 400 new friends. Elite athletes are throwing back grilled chicken alongside mid-packers, and the nervous energy has people laughing, toasting with lemonade, and gregariously hand-shaking ('hey didn't I see you here last year?').
The RUN 3 event participants run solo, but the 6-day participants run in teams of two. And those teams have names. Sponsored racers typically carry their sponsor's name, but unsponsored racers are free to choose, and the whacked nature of the runner mind is on display here (e.g. Team Lard Going Hard, Team Humpme and Dumpme, Team Trail Trash).

Some of the partners are married, others best friends, some are club buddies, and some partners, no kidding, met for the first time at the pre-race dinner. The people who wanted to do TransRockies, but didn't have anyone else in their social circle mentally ill enough to join them, used the Partner Finder feature on the TransRockies website. Paul and I sat next to a South African woman named Janine and a Belgian man named Christoph, who had paired up this way, and were exchanging details of their life over a second plate of beans. "We just met and already we're sharing food", she said. A very good sign.

This morning was equally lively, with another massive serving of food, and a coffee to 'kick start the engine'. I scanned the room and saw Kelly, who i had met the previous night, with her hand in a cast, still planning to toe the line. Kelly had had a dirt bike vs. tree accident last week (tree won), and had hand surgery just last Wednesday to put in plates and screws. I asked how she was feeling and she said she had been forced to dip into her Percocet stash around 2am but was generally feeling okay this morning (fairly certain i'd be laying on my couch at home if that were me). Studs and studettes trickled out from the long breakfast, baring sunscreen-lathered (and damn good-looking) legs, and a virtual symphony of Garmins chimed as timers and paces were being programmed in. The pre-start routine of gear checking, picture taking, race number pinning, timing chip registering, pseudo-stretching, and good-luck-high-fiving was well underway.

All I could do was look around at the remarkable field of people, from Dean Karnazes, who just completed a run across the US (fifty miles a day for 75 days straight), to the father of 12 kids (9 of which were adopted and have special needs), to Tim, a race favorite, whose brother died suddenly just weeks earlier. All of these profound personal stories lining up against the vast and inspiring backdrop of the Colorado Rockies. I had heard that TransRockies is a unique and special event. That's why i'm here. Running is generally considered to be an individual sport, but I tend to disagree. It's moments like this, when the genuine support for your fellow man in a shared experience is felt, that this notion of Running Community is underscored. We might be the lunatic fringe, but we respect and take care of our own.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Smith and Wolfe Lead the Pack in Buena Vista

Mike Smith and Jason Wolfe battled it out with reigning champs Max King and Ryan Bak for overall honors in the Men's Open division on the first stage of the 2011 GoreTex TransRockies Run held in Buena Vista, CO, today. Smith and King finished in a rapid 2h17m, with King and some 4 minutes behind at 2h21m.

An elated Jason Wolfe said at the finish that it was a great battle all day. "We swapped the lead with Max and Ryan several times during the first 10 miles, and then managed to pull out a bit of a gap over the final 6 or so miles. It feels great to be in the lead, but we still have five days of racing to go."

The 20.8 mile stage was held in warm conditions with the mercury hovering around 80F, however was not as warm as last year's 89F.

Winners of the Women's Open division were Cynthia and Ashley Arnold for Team TrailRunner Magazine in 2h58m, Brianna Torres and Jennifer McCarthy were second in 3h04m.

Mixed Open winners were Team Salomon runners Anna Frost and Rickey Frost in 2h41m.

Team EverymanTri, with Paul Shippey and Lori Lyons , finished the first stage in 4h09m and currently lie 6th in the 80+ Mixed Division. Jeff and Katie Caba lead this division with a time of 2h48m.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:GoreTex TransRockies 2011 Colorado

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Ready To Rumble In The Rockies

Amazing how fast a year goes by...This Sunday, the fifth annual GoreTex TransRockies run starts in Buena Vista and a record 370 runners will do battle to decide the fastest team in the country to race over 125 miles of mountain trails.

Over six gruelling days, competitors will do battle over several mountain passes in the Rockies as they wend their way to the finish on August 26 in the Beaver Creek resort for what promises to be another epic finish.

2011 will be the second year of competition for Team In 2010 the team entered the male over 80 division and for 2011 we are mixing it up with a co-ed team. Team leader Paul Shippey will have Lori Lyons by his side this year's race and is super excited about the prospect of racing in the mixed division.

'It's going to be interesting to see how my new partner Lori Lyons copes with this race. Coming from sea level can be a challenge, but Lori is super-strong both physically and mentally, so I think we are going to have a great race, against some new competitors this year. "TransRockies is one of those incredible  events a competitor will never forget and for Lori to have the opportunity to experience this amazing race, is exciting."

A big thanks to our sponsors for making this happen again. Gore-Tex, GU Energy Products; Hydrapak, Road ID, Ryders Eyewear and

The exploits of Team EverymanTri can be followed at and on this blog site for the duration of race week.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Elite Racer Interview: Mike Smith

As part of the GORE-TEX® TransRockies Preview, Team EverymanTri caught up with Flagstaff’s own Mike Smith for an exclusive chat.   Mike was the 2009 GORE-TEX® TransRockies Open Men’s Champion with partner Robert Krar, and he will be returning for the 2011 race with new partner, Jason Wolfe, who placed second in 2010. 
Team EveryManTri:   Why come back to the GORE-TEX® TransRockies Run event? 

Mike:  I’ve been running since middle school, and this has to be one of the best running experiences of my life.  From top to bottom, just a lot of enjoyment.  There are several elements of this race that are different from others – I’ve been to a lot of races in a lot of places – this is just a special event.  I love the trails, the stage race format, the team aspect, the big representation from Flagstaff where I live, and then the gratification of winning.  Yea, it’s just a hugely gratifying event.   

Team EveryManTri:  What is the hardest part of the race for you?

Mike:  You go through periods of thinking you might not be able to do what you have to do, and you have to overcome a lot of mental doubt.  For all of the analogies that running has for life, TransRockies sort of magnifies them all.  Going hard when you think you just can’t go anymore, digging deep, putting forth the extra effort when you’re empty.  Putting out maximum effort on day 4, and thinking ‘how am I going to get up tomorrow morning and do this again?’  But you do.  Then you have day 5 behind you, and you think ‘there’s no way I can do this again tomorrow’.  But somehow you do it.  And so it helps you know that you can actually do what you think is impossible.  The physical part is easier – I can put myself through more than a lot of people can.  I can put myself into deep, dark places, and stay there.  That doesn’t scare me nearly as much as the mind.  The mind is where things are won or lost.  For me the hardest part is just keeping my mind in the right place so that the body can do what it needs to do.  We train high up in the mountains here.  We put ourselves through really difficult things, so physically we should be fine for TransRockies.  It just always comes down to the mind. 

Team EveryManTri:   Tell me how you and your 2011 partner (Jason Wolfe) came together. 

Mike:  Flagstaff is an amazing running community.  People know each other.  You find people you can run with and are into the same things you’re into.  Jason has a reputation here for being a monster on the trails, in the mountains, and in the Grand Canyon, he is good on the steeps.  There are lots of different types of runners here, but as far as TransRockies partners go, he’s one of the best.  I ran with Rob Krar in 2009, but he got injured and hasn’t been able to train well for the last two years.  He’s started back again, and is going to do the RUN3 event which is exciting.  We were a great match.  But when he couldn’t do the 2010 event, I started to think about whom I could potentially run with, and Jason just seemed like a great match.  I basically look for three things in a partner:  1) Must be from Flagstaff, because I really want to represent this place I love so much.   2) Must be able to take a beating, to suffer really well.  And he can suffer well.   And lastly, it has to be someone you like to be around.  Because when you add in the travel, you’re constantly with that person for like nine days.  It has to be a real quality person, who knows when to be serious and when to let loose a bit.    

Team EveryManTri:  How would you summarize your training for TransRockies, and do you do any cross-training?

Mike:  I don’t do any cross-training – my body holds up well and I don’t really get injured.  I’m very fortunate that way.  I can just train, train, train.  Most people need to balance out the amount of running with some non-running activities, to give those running muscles a little bit of a break.  I’m fortunate in that I am able to just put in really high mileage.  I feel my best when I’m running high mileage, and by that I mean like 120 miles per week, which is my sweet spot, and that’s at 7,000 feet.  That’s a lot of volume, but I’ve worked up to that amount.  It’s not for everyone, but my body is accustomed to that amount of work.   We train specifically for the event.  So starting in the summer, we do hard efforts multiple days in a row, carrying over fatigue from one day into the next.   We work on specific grades, so steep climbs up, and steep runs down.  And, of course, time on feet.  You’re out there for a long time, so you have to get your body used to that. 

Team EveryManTri:  Sounds like you’re ready to rock ‘n roll. 

Mike:  The team we’re facing this year, that won it last year, is tough. They are accomplished runners.  Really good.  We are not going into this thinking it’s going to be easy.  It’s going to be a battle, no question about it.  It’s an extremely competitive Open Men’s field.  So we’re just going to have to be ready for battle.  To beat us, you’re going to have to be prepared to go to war six days in a row. 

Team EveryMan Tri:  Do you have any training tips for people doing TransRockies for the first time?

Mike:   Practice on the type of surface that you’re going to race on.  If you live in a city and have to train on pavement, that’s fine, but make sure to get to a trail at least once or twice a week.  A lot of the muscles that are required for TransRockies – these little, tiny stabilizers – they need to be strengthened.  It’s different than the muscles required to go flat, and fast, and straight.  Be prepared for a full-body running experience. 

Team EveryManTri:   The race-issued duffle bag has limited space in it.  What gets priority – what can’t you live without?

Mike:  I’m a super-low-maintenance person.  I don’t need much.  But for me, I need music and headphones.  That’s the way I can be around a lot of people and still have some privacy.  I use it to go to sleep at night – at TransRockies the tents are in close proximity, but rest is really important.  So I need to be able to close my eyes in the daytime, and take a little nap, and also be able to sleep well at night.  I put on low-key music and relax and go to sleep.  Every night in 2009 I fell asleep with my earphones in.  Other than that I need my Blackberry, because I feel like I’m running for Flagstaff, and I need a way to send updates to people at home.   So I guess for me it’s all about technology. 

Team EveryManTri:  Is there anyone you’re looking forward to visiting with at the campfire?

Mike:  I’m pretty focused when I’m there.  Even though there is a big social component to the race, I remind myself that first thing’s first, I’m there to race. 

Team EveryManTri:   As an endurance athlete, when things really start to hurt, where does your head go?  How do you mentally push past pain?

Mike:  I break down the amount of work into really small chunks.  I pick a place to get to that isn’t so far away, and think about getting just to there.  People who study pain will tell you there is a lot of psychology there, that it’s a mental exercise.  So if you can master the mind, then the body will follow.  You have to have the ability to keep your mind calm when your body is under stress.  Everyone has a different way to do it.  I think that people spend so little time in discomfort these days that when we actually experience it, we panic.   You have to expect a certain level of discomfort in this race and say to yourself ‘when it comes, it comes, and I’m ready for it’. 

Team EveryManTri:   How would your friends describe you?

Mike:  Dang.  Well, I talk fierce like this, but I really do like to let loose, have a little fun.  I’m serious when I race, but the rest of the time I’m a goofball.  The class clown.  My friends would say I’m a cheeseball.  If you walked into my room, I would be playing bad 80’s music and watching stupid movies.  I may seem like I’m all business but I promise, inside I’m probably singing Billy Idol’s White Wedding. 

Team EveryManTri:  Who inspires you in running and in life?

Mike:  I’ve had some amazing coaches in my life.  My high school coach, Brian Wallace, and my college coach, Pat Henner, I feel like hit the jackpot with them.  I landed in the hands of some really wise males who inspired me personally, professionally, athletically, all kinds of ways.   I arrived to them at exactly the right time.  For example the guy who was my high school coach, wouldn’t have been a good match for me in college, and my college coach wouldn’t have been good for me when I was sixteen.  It was just perfect.  Young men need strong male role models, and I got lucky.  I think it’s why I’m still running today.  They instilled in me the discipline and the right way to do it, and made it an important part of my life.    

Team EveryManTri:    What did you study in school?

Mike:   At Georgetown, my undergraduate degree was in English.  And I got my Master’s at American in Elementary Education.  I taught 5th grade in D.C. for a couple years before getting back into my running.  Teaching 5th grade in D.C. is WAY harder than TransRockies.   [laughs]  Even 120 miles of training a week feels like vacation compared to that.   I like to read, I like to learn, I just like school. 

Team EveryManTri:   I read about how you moved to Flagstaff to train for the Olympic Marathon Trials, but they didn’t go the way you had hoped.  And you switched to trail racing after that.  Do you think you would have ever found trail racing if you had been successful at the Trials? 

Mike:  It’s funny, I get that question a lot.  And I like to explain this to people.  In Flagstaff, we just call it running.  It’s not trail running, or road running, it’s all just running.  If you live in a place like this, surrounded by the mountains and trails, you’re not going to run on the dang sidewalk.  So when people talk about my ‘switch’ from road runner to trail runner, I tell them “I was already a trail runner!”  Before I had ever done a trail race, I had over 200 days of trail running under my belt, just getting ready for road marathons.  It’s just running – the surface doesn’t matter.  Each of the running disciplines - trail, mountain, road, track - can learn from the others. 

Team EveryManTri:   With a teaching background, I guess it’s no surprise that you are now coaching.

Mike:  Yea.  I work for The Run S.M.A.R.T. Project, which is an online coaching company.  We help people from all around the country with individualized training plans.  That’s a lot of fun.  I’ve been doing that since 2008.   I also coach Team Run Flagstaff, which is a community running club with people of all levels and abilities.  It’s really gotten bigger since I moved to Flagstaff.  We started in 2007.  It’s my favorite hour of the whole week. 

In March 2011, Mike finished second in his first ultramarathon at Chuckanut 50k, beating Andy Martin’s course record.  He followed that with a win and course record in Prescott at the Whiskey Row Marathon.  In November 2009, just shortly after his win at TransRockies, Mike took first at the high-altitude Soulstice Mountain Trail Run, and then won the Windstopper Trailrun Worldmasters in Dortmund, Germany.  Mike qualified for the Olympic Marathon Trials in 2008.