Mike’s passion and enthusiasm for running long distances in the mountains stems directly from his upbringing. Growing up in the mountains in Montana, family vacations were week-long backpacking trips, not trips to Disneyland or Cancun. A love of long treks and adventures in the mountains was instilled in Mike from an early age.
After high school, Mike spent the next decade exploring wild places, in many different ways. From paddling 1,600 miles over a period of 90 days across the Arctic of Canada, to climbing first ascents on the Torres del Paine granite spires of Patagonia, Mike relished in such gallivanting adventures.
Having never been a formal runner growing up, Mike found his love of mountain running by borrowing a pair of Nike racing flats and racing the infamous Bridger Ridge Run, a rugged 20-mile mountain run on a whim without food or water, at age 18. After that, he was hooked.
Mike began competing seriously in ultrarunning in 2006 when he ran his second 50-mile race at the USATF U.S. 50-mile trail championship in White River, Washington. Mike won outright that year, then returned to win again in 2007. Later that summer, Mike won his first 100-miler, the Grand Targhee 100 in Wyoming.
In 2009, Mike was injured, partially tearing his him flexor during training. Mike was unable to run for the entire summer, so he turned to mountain biking, which he could do pain-free. After two months, Mike jumped into the Pierre’s Hole 100-mile mountain bike race in Idaho. Despite three flat tires in the last 20 miles, Mike still ended up third overall. Then, in October, Mike and The North Face teammates Nikki Kimball and Tracy Garneau, headed to the Amazon region of Brazil where the team placed first in the Jungle Marathon, a grueling 7-day self-supported stage running race.
In 2010, Mike focused his training on the 100-mile distance. In June, he set a new course record in the Bighorn 100-mile race in Wyoming in 18:43. He broke Karl Meltzer’s long-standing course record by over 40 minutes. Then, in August, Mike placed second overall in the Tour de France of ultrarunning, the Ultra Tail du Mont Blanc, Chamonix, France.
In 2011, Mike won the Way Too Cool 50km, one of the largest and most competitive 50-kilometer races in the U.S. He placed 2nd in the equally competitive Miwok 100km, and placed 2nd overall in the Western States 100, edged out by a mere 4-minutes in a tight race in the final miles against eventual winner Kilian Jornet of Spain.
Although Mike loves the competition aspect of ultrarunning, Mike’s true passion lies in the love of wild places, and the personal insight and exploration that comes from pushing oneself to the edge, maybe even over the edge, high in the mountains.