In March of 2012, Michele Yates ran–and won–her first ultramarathon at the USATF 50-Mile Trail National Championships at the Nueces 50 Mile in Texas. A year and half later, she was named the 2013 (North American) Ultrarunner of the Year by UltraRunning magazine. Yates’s meteoric rise in the sport was one of the most talked-about stories of 2013. Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to talk with her about her incredible season.
Remembered Yates, “I had high hopes going into 2013. I wanted the 100-mile trail American record and a win at the Run Rabbit Run 100 Mile. I also had my eye on national and world championships.”
Yates began her award-winning season with an impressive win at the Bandera 100k in January which, at the time, was the USATF 100k Trail National Championships. She followed that up with a repeat win at the Nueces 50 Mile and then an overall win in her first ever 100-mile race, the Indiana Trail 100 Mile.
“Indiana was probably my most challenging race that season, mostly due to the fact I was trying for my first 100-mile finish and the elements were crazy! There was lots of flooding and course bushwacking for re-rerouting since half of the course was flooded and the other half extremely muddy! I wanted the 100-mile trail American record, but fell short of it during the second half.”
Following the Indiana Trail 100 Mile, Yates battled injury and ended up with a disappointing result at the Trail World Championships in Wales in July.
“The world champs were really disappointing as I blew out my IT band and had a hell of a lot of pain, which caused me to lose training time.”
Not to be deterred, however, Yates bounced back with a fifth-place finish at the Pikes Peak Marathon, which was highlighted by an extraordinary 1:35 split on the descent. She then set her sights on winning the Run Rabbit Run 100 Mile in September.
“I wanted redemption at Run Rabbit Run after going off course [and not finishing the race] in 2012.”
And redemption she got as she bettered a strong field that included perennial frontrunner Nikki Kimball as well as Becky Wheeler, Pam Smith, and Cassie Scallon, among other top runners.
After a third-place finish at the UROC 100k and a win at the Bootlegger 50k, the latter of which was the USATF 50k Trail National Championships, Yates had secured USATF titles in all three distances of 50k, 50 miles, and 100k. From there, she turned toward the biggest prize of her incredible year, winning The North Face Endurance Challenge 50-Mile Championships in San Francisco, California.
The women’s field at the TNF 50 that year was stacked with veterans and up-and-comers alike. There were perennial top finishers Anna Frost, Emelie Forsberg, Aliza Lapierre, and Cassie Scallon as well as world-class marathoner Magdalena Boulet who was making her ultramarathon debut.
Yates, unphased by the competition, simply ran away from them all from the gun and capped off her year with an impressive 10-minute win over second-place Boulet and a full 25-minute gap on third-place Forsberg.
“Going into the TNF 50, I wasn’t sure I had anything left in the tank after a long year. I just went for it and it paid off. It was an epic year!”
AJW’s Beer of the Week
This week’s Beer of the Week comes from Storm Peak Brewing Company in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Their Mad Creek Kolsch is a unique take on this classic, easy-drinking variety. Blending that classic, German-lager style with just a hint of strong, Chinook hops makes this a wonderfully smooth and complex beer.
Call for Comments (from Meghan)
- What do you remember about Michele Yates’s 2013 in trail ultrarunning?
- Were you at any of the races she was, as a runner, crew, or volunteer, and saw her in action? Can you share a story?