Mike Wolfe 2011 TNF 50 Mile Pre-Race Interview

An interview with Mike Wolfe before the 2011 The North Face Endurance Challenge 50 Mile Championships.

By on December 3, 2011 | Comments

Mike Wolfe talks about the details of his training between the TNF UTMB and now, the implications of such a deep field, how the race brings together a diverse group of runners on a course that favors no particular skill set, and which competitors stand out a favorites.

Mike Wolfe 2011 TNF EC 50 Mile Championship Pre-Race Interview Transcript

iRunFar:  I haven’t chatted with you since we were over at UTMB together.  How have you been?

Mike Wolfe:  Yeah, it’s been awhile.  Different scenery here than it is over there.  I’ve been good since then.  I took September pretty easy in terms of running after UTMB.  I gave my system a little time to recharge, I hope, a little bit.  I’ve been pretty busy with work since then, but I think I’ve had eight to nine weeks of solid training for this.  This is the last race of the season for me.

iRF:  What does that training look like this focus period?

Wolfe:  A little less mileage than training for a 100 miler.  I’m trying to do more quality work outs, some more speed stuff, some hill interval type work, mixing a couple of days of that into the week with longer runs.  So just mixing it up a little.  Not quite as high of volume.

iRF:  What kind of volume?

Wolfe:  I was probably averaging 20-22 hours per week of running.  I don’t really pay attention to mileage that much, because I’m just doing runs in the hills but somewhere in the 120-140 miles/week range, I guess.

iRF:  What do your hill workouts look like?  Is it long hills or two-to-three minute repeats?

Wolfe:  I would mix it up.  Some days it was like three-to-four minute shorter repeats, and then I’d do days where I have longer 11-15 minute repeats on steep, long consistent grades.  I like that kind of stuff though.  It mixes up your training.

iRF:  Do you join your new North Face teammate, Mike Foote, out there for some workouts?

Wolfe:  We didn’t get out for any of those speed or hill workouts together.  We got out there for some long runs.  Slogs in the snow.  It’s definitely different out there.  It’s early winter.  We’ve had a big snow year in Montana already this year, so we’ve been in the snow a lot.  It’s one of those things, it will feel pretty nice tomorrow to have the legs turn over.

iRF:  So what are you most excited about tomorrow?

Wolfe:  I’m definitely excited about the field.  It’s always exciting to run in a really deep field.  This course is just so runnable, having run Miwok on these same trails.  I ran this race a few years ago and you know the guys are going to go out hard.  It’s an interesting game.  You don’t want to go out too hard but you can’t take it too easy because it’s 50 miles and if you want to be in it, you’ve got to be up there.  So, it’s certainly a race of attrition and it’s exciting to be a part of.  I think it’s great, too, a race like this, I think it draws a more diverse field in terms of these fast road marathon type guys that us ultra guys don’t know that much about but they’re super speedy. It’s like anything can happen.

iRF:  It’s totally across the spectrum.  It’s the road marathoner, it’s the mountain runner, it’s the flatter terrain ultra dude, it’s the mountain ultra dude.

Wolfe:  It’s kind of cool that it brings everyone together.

iRF:  And it’s a course that…

Wolfe:  Yeah, anybody can win.  It’s whether or not you have enough left in your legs for those last couple hills or whether you just have the leg speed.

iRF:  It’s definitely happened in the last couple years with road marathoners like Chris Lundstrom and Matt Flaherty have had standout performances as marathoners.  Last year, Anna Frost as a mountain runner in her first ultra.

Wolfe:  Yes, it’s impressive.  It’s anybody’s game.

iRF:  Anybody besides yourself that you think has a really good shot at winning this?

Wolfe:  Well, Geoff Roes certainly knows these trails well. He knows this race well. He knows the strategy that has to play out.  You just can never discount that guy.  So there’s Geoff

Ricky Gates, I know he’s a really strong runner.  I know he’s new to ultras, but he’s a guy that’s smart, he knows how to race.  He’s a guy that’s newer to the ultra scene that I could foresee.

Dakota, he knows these trails, too.  He knows how to run them fast and hard.  It seems like he’s fit right now.  Yeah, we’ll see.

iRF:  Best of luck to you out there tomorrow and have fun!

Wolfe:  Yeah, I appreciate it!

Bryon Powell

Bryon Powell is the Founding Editor of iRunFar. He’s been writing about trail running, ultrarunning, and running gear for more than 15 years. Aside from iRunFar, he’s authored the books Relentless Forward Progress: A Guide to Running Ultramarathons and Where the Road Ends: A Guide to Trail Running, been a contributing editor at Trail Runner magazine, written for publications including Outside, Sierra, and Running Times, and coached ultrarunners of all abilities. Based in Silverton, Colorado, Bryon is an avid trail runner and ultrarunner who competes in events from the Hardrock 100 Mile just out his front door to races long and short around the world, that is, when he’s not fly fishing or tending to his garden.