My run with Mike Wolfe

Cool aspect No. 3,288 about running: you can run with
anyone. Even the best.

I often run with Nikki Kimball, one of the world’s top
ultramarathoners. I don’t think of her in that way since we try and run
together frequently. Before my daughter joined our family, we ran together at
least once a week.

And it’s not just her.

I, like thousands of other runners, have trotted with the
top marathoners in the world in the Boston Marathon. Try doing that in any
other sport.

You’ll never get the chance to shoot hoops with LeBron
James, or play catch with Albert Pujols, or toss a football around with Peyton
Manning or shoot pucks at Tim Thomas.

Running is different. All you need is a pair of shoes and
a willing partner.

I’ve had the chance to run with Mike Wolfe in the past –
on a group run up Bozeman Creek to Mystic Lake; on Christmas morning; and on
cool-down runs after races. But there was one time it was just Mike and me,
and, boy, was I humbled. And sore.

You see, Mike isn’t just any runner. He recently finished
second at the Western States 100 in a field of the top runners from the U.S.
and abroad. He’s one of just two runners – along with Scott Creel – to go under
3 hours, 10 minutes at the Bridger Ridge Run. He’s a national champ at 50 and
100 miles.

He’s also a hell of a nice guy.

So about five years ago when he was living in Missoula
while attending law school at the University of Montana, I decided to give him
a ring and set up a run for the morning before the ‘Cat-Griz football game. I was
in town to cover the game, but it didn’t start until noon, and I was going to
go for a run anyway…

Well, it sounded like a good idea at the time.

After meeting him at his apartment that morning, we
headed out on a leisurely jog. I remember getting near the football stadium
around 9 and smelling the bacon that was frying on many a tailgater’s grill. It
was a pleasant trot.

Until Mike suggested we take a trail up the back of Mount
Sentinel, which is where that city’s “M” is located. I soon realized this was
not going to be an ordinary run and that Mike (I knew this already) was no
ordinary runner.

Up the trail we went. And up. And up.

Soon Mike was gone. I began huffing rather furiously and
thinking, “just keep running.”

After a while, Mike came back to “catch” up to me. But
that didn’t last long, although the hill certainly did. Mike kept getting way
ahead of me, then stopping to turn around and wait for me. We did this three or
four times.

After awhile – a long while – we approached the top. I
figured I could at least keep up with him going down the hill. Wrong.

Mike looked as if he was simply tip-toeing down a flight
of stairs. Me? I always had the breaks on for fear of rolling down the

Again, Mike was gone. Oh, well. I felt a little foolish
not being able to keep up with him on a simple training run but it wasn’t the
end of the world.

After we got back to his apartment, after what was close
to a two-hour run, I remember him telling how there was going to be a marathon in
Missoula the next year. That race has exploded and is now one of the top races
in the Northwest. My, how time flies.

Anyhow, after Mike and I parted, it was back to my hotel
for a shower. Then the ‘Cat-Griz game.

By the early afternoon, my legs had already begun to feel
tired. And the cramped press box at Washington-Grizzly Stadium didn’t help

I remember one instance where I just wanted to get up
from my chair and getting a huge cramp in my hamstring. All I wanted to do was
straighten my leg, then “owww!”

I tried to keep cool and not disturb any of the other
writers near me, but it was hard to be discreet.

Even with the pain and the all the catching up to do
behind Mike that day, I was glad we could run for a bit. I probably won’t
initiate any runs in the future, but it just goes to show that in this sport,
you can run with anyone.

Or try to.



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June 2011
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