Mike Wolfe Is Looking Up
Mike Wolfe’s stellar 2011 included a runner-up performance at the Western States 100. Saturday, he will toe the line again, looking to improve on that finish.
Photo by Jordi Sargossa - Wolfe leaning hard into a tough climb at the Zegama-Aizkorri Marathon in Spain this Spring.
Scott Jurek’s ultrarunning success is considered remarkable by many because he ran relatively slowly in high school and college. But unlike ultrarunning standout Mike Wolfe, at least he ran competitively in high school and college.
“I never raced track or cross-country growing up. I was an avid soccer player from an early age,” says Wolfe, 34, whose first stab at competitive running came during the 20-mile Bridger Ridge Run in the mountains outside Bozeman, Montana, the summer he graduated from high school. “I went on some mountain training runs and really liked it. So, on a whim, I jumped in the race. … I wore a cotton T-shirt, bought shorts at the Salvation Army and borrowed a buddy's pair of Nike racing flats.”
Wolfe, who in April quit his job as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in Helena, Montana, and moved to Missoula to focus on running, has come a long way since that first race. At last year’s Western States, he finished second in an extremely competitive field, only 4 minutes 4 seconds behind winner Kilian Jornet.
This Saturday, he will again toe the line in Squaw Valley, looking to improve that finish. And with the recent withdrawal of Jornet, Wolfe is the highest returning finisher in this year’s field.
“[I want] to have fun and enjoy racing hard,” he says of his goals for the race. “I want to explore what I am capable of, and at least go down swinging!”