Mike Wolfe (The North Face) has had a busy 2012. He’s left his job as an attorney, moved to Missoula, Montana, and gotten married. Amidst all that, he’s put up lackluster set of ultramarathon results, although he recently set a course record at the 20-mile Bridger Ridge Run. In the following interview, find out what Mike thinks is the reason for his relatively down 2012, how he thinks a $10,000 winner’s purse affects a race (He knows, he won that much at last year’s TNF EC 50.), what shoes he’ll be wearing, and what his favorite flavor of Big Dipper ice cream is at the moment.
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Mike Wolfe Pre-2012 Run Rabbit Run 100 Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Mike Wolfe before the inaugural Run Rabbit Run 100. How are you doing, Mike?
Mike Wolfe: Doing well, thanks, Bryon.
iRF: Have you ever run one of these Run Rabbit Run races before? This is the first 100, but there have been five 50 mile races.
Wolfe: Nope. I’ve never been to Steamboat, so it’s all new. It’s all fresh.
iRF: What do you think of it so far?
Wolfe: It’s pretty. It’s nice to be here in September as all the colors are changing. I’m looking forward to running in what looks to be great fall weather. It should be perfect.
iRF: Perfect—mid-60s during the day and right about freezing at night probably.
Wolfe: Yes. It’s great. Sounds good to me.
iRF: Well, I think I alluded to it in my preview a little bit. You had a phenomenal 2011. This year, you’ve run against some of the most competitive fields in the world, and you’ve finished and made it, but it hasn’t measured up to your 2011 success. Granted, we’ll get to the Bridger Ridge Run in a minute, but for your ultras, has anything consistently been happening? Have you had problems with training?
Wolfe: No, it’s one of those things I can’t really put my finger on it. I’ve just had a bad year. I had high hopes for this year, obviously, coming off a great season. I wanted to do all these great, competitive races and run against the top fields. I don’t really know. I’ve raced my heart out and had a couple of bad races where I just felt… had stuff go wrong and my body’s just felt terrible and it’s been a sufferfest to get it done—Transvulcania and Western States mainly. Chuckanut I was sick, so I just felt terrible there. You know, just little things where you can’t really figure out exactly what it is. My stomach went south at Western. Transvulcania, I just felt terrible. I feel like if I could put my finger on one thing, it might be actually overtraining in the spring of this year and transitioning from trying to finish up my job and move and just a lot of stuff going on where maybe I was taxing myself a little bit too much. I don’t know. I’m just trying to move on and let it go and have some good races.
iRF: On the race side, you have moved on a little bit. You had a great Bridger Ridge Run. Most people around the country and world probably haven’t heard of it, but it’s a very gnarly race outside of Bozeman, Montana. It’s been run for quite some time, and you set the course record there. What does that do for your confidence heading into this race?
Wolfe: Yeah, that’s definitely good. Like you said no one in the ultra world knows about it because it’s only 20 miles. It’s very similar to a Skyrunner race in Europe. It’s 35k, very technical, steep, lots of climbing and descending. It’s a race that’s in my hometown. It’s the first race I ever did when I was 18. It literally got me into this sport. I haven’t run it in 6-7 years, and I’ve wanted to go back and run a fast time. It’s just cool. It’s like a hometown race. It fit into my schedule this year. I wanted to go for the course record. I really wanted to go under 3 hours, but I missed it by 24 seconds. I was definitely excited to run that course that fast. It was a confidence boost. I realized my legs have some pep in them, at least in August, so yeah, it’s a good thing for sure.
iRF: You’ve come back to a balance with training and life and everything.
Wolfe: I feel like it. I hope so. We’ll see tomorrow.
iRF: You’re the only one stepping up to the line tomorrow who’s been in a race and won $10,000 before in a trail ultramarathon. Do you think that being out there during the race—does that change the dynamic? You were racing Dakota to the finish line of The North Face 50 Mile last year. What does that do for one mentally?
Wolfe: Honestly for me, I can say I wasn’t thinking about that at The North Face 50 last year. I would speculate to say that all of us that are toeing the line tomorrow—I know all those guys pretty well—I’m sure it will be in the back of everyone’s mind. I feel like that’s what’s drawn everyone here. I hoped there’d be a competitive field because the money is here. But I’m not out there worried that I need to win because I need $10,000. It’s not why we’re all here. But I think it will probably definitely push the pace. I’m sure all of us could use the money. But it’s not why we’re out there I don’t think.
iRF: Do you have any sweet gear you’re trying out in this race that maybe you haven’t used in the past?
Wolfe: The only piece of gear that’s going to be new for me in this race is that I’ll be racing in the new 2013 The North Face Hyper Tracks, which I haven’t raced in before. I’ve been training in them a ton this summer, and they’re set to be out on the market this coming spring. I’ve run lots of long training runs in them, and I really like them. I’m excited to see how they hold up for 100 miles.
iRF: They’re a pretty lightweight shoe. How do they differ or what are the primary differences between that and the Hyperglide and the TNF Hayasa?
Wolfe: They’re a little bit lighter. They’re probably about the same, running 9-9.5 ounces as the Hyasa, which actually for me is a heavyweight race shoe. Usually I’m more in the 7-ounce range. The differences are and what I like about them is the outsole is super cushy, one-piece, molded EVA outsole. There are no frills to it. There’s not a lot of tread. It has I think about 9mm of heel-toe drop. It’s a little bit more than I’m used to, but I like it. It’s just a clean, simple shoe which is good for me.
iRF: Well have some clean, simple fun out there this weekend, Mike.
Wolfe: Thanks, Bryon.
* * * * *
iRF: Alright, now for the important question. Right now, your favorite flavor of Big Dipper Ice Cream is…?
Wolfe: Yes, that is the most important question. Right now, oh man…
iRF: I’m putting you on the spot.
Wolfe: Yeah, you are.
iRF: What did you have on Foote’s birthday?
Wolfe: Oh, on Foote’s birthday to celebrate at UTMB we had some Yellow Cake, Huckleberry, with this salted caramel fudge sauce on top—oh, my gosh. So I’d have to say right now the mix of the Yellow Cake and the Huckleberry is it. You can’t go wrong.