Evansville's Mike New finds success, satisfaction as ultramarathoner
Mike New of Evansville has run well in ultramarathons in 2022, placing 1st out of 650 entries in the 50-mile run at Zumbro Falls in April and then finishing the Leadville 100 in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado in under 25 hours.
Evansville's Mike New would prefer to be outdoors in many of his pursuits, and that passion for the outdoors and fitness have collided in recent years where he is finding success as an ultramarathoner.
On April 8, 2022, New raced 50 miles in the night race at Zumbro Falls and finished first out of 650 entrants. He finished the race in nine hours and 28 minutes.
New’s goal this past summer was to race in the Leadville Trail 100 Run presented by La Sportiva on Aug. 19, 2022, in the Colorado Rockies beginning at 12:01 a.m. He took on the 50-mile race at Zumbro Falls as a training run.
“I figured I should probably do 50 miles before I do 100 miles,” New said. “Two weeks before, my buddy said we should run a 50 and see what it's like to get an idea. So we went down and just by chance I won it. I ended up winning that, but then from there, we already signed up for Leadville. So I was like, ‘Well, here we go. Let's see what happens.’”
The course for the Leadville Trail 100 fluctuates from elevations of 9,200 to 12,600 feet. Out of 700 participants on Aug. 19, New was one of 368 to finish the race and did so in 24 hours, 42 minutes, 9 seconds.
“Leadville was about 16,000 feet of climbing for the whole race,” New said. “Being from around here, obviously I'm not getting a lot of that elevation. So I spent a few days out at Andes Tower Hills doing the hills out there. I did go out to Colorado and did some climbing out there. I had never done it before. I wanted to see if I could do it and I'll probably do it again. I just like things that are really hard. I like the work you have to put in for it. It’s gratifying.”
For finishing the 100 miles in under 25 hours, New received a custom Leadville belt buckle. His time put him 76th overall among the 368 finishers, 43rd among the 242 athletes running the race for the first time, and 21st out of 115 men in his 40-49 age bracket.
New enjoyed winning a race like the 50-miler at Zumbro Falls, but even after strong finishes like he has had this summer, his drive to get better keeps him wanting more.
“It's an accomplishment, but I always feel like, ‘Well, could I have gone faster?’” New said. “I just always feel like I'm chasing something. I never get too content.”
New’s focus on ultramartahons is a new one.
“It kind of started in the last few years right before COVID hit,” New said. “I had done a marathon before, and right before COVID hit, some friends I skied with in college said, “Let’s sign up for Leadville.’ But then it was canceled. So then it reopened, and my buddy said, ‘Well, we should sign up.’ It kind of started from there.”
Between the end of the race at Zumbro Falls and the race in Leadville, New trained during almost any free time he had.
“When people ask me what I did all summer, I say, ‘I just ran,’” New said. “You're basically putting in 70-80 miles a week. My biggest week was a 100-mile week. I put in about 60-80 miles a week consistently. Saturday and Sunday are usually long runs. You're usually going to run 20 miles on Saturday and back up to 20 miles on Sunday. So it's an investment of time for sure.”
New said the biggest pleasure he gets from running these long and intense runs is accomplishing something that is difficult.
“It’s mental. It’s just taxing,” he said. “It’s rough and tough. When I tell people that I’m going to run 100 miles, they say, ‘Why in the heck would you do that?’ I can lend you my car is basically what you'll get from them.”
For New, being outdoors and accomplishing something that not many people would put themselves through is fun.
“I think it just pushes you to do things that are above your comfort zone,” New said. “And that's maybe the biggest thing is I like doing things that are outside my comfort zone.”
New has a strong passion for being outdoors, whether that be running, fishing or hunting.
“I'm a huge outdoors person,” he said. “I’m a fishing guy too and a big bow hunter. Usually, I do anything outside. I love being outdoors.”
Growing up in Alexandria, New said that he was an athlete in high school but that his primary athletic focus wasn’t solely on running.
“I've always been an athlete, but running hasn’t been my primary sport,” he said. “I did some track when I was in high school, but I was more of an endurance athlete and not as much a pure runner.”
New has also spent a lot of time cycling and skiing throughout his life.
“I started with cycling,” he said. “I did that professionally for a while, and then I went from that, and I went and skied in college at Northern Michigan University in Marquette, Michigan.”
New said that Alexandria has a great running community and that some of his buddies are better runners than he is.
“There are some incredible runners here, and we’re gifted with a really good community here,” New said. “I’m not a great runner compared to a lot of people in town here. There’s a really phenomenal running community and they're really good runners. And they push me when I run with them.”
New encourages people to give running long races a try.
“I think if people are thinking about doing something like that, they should do it,” he said. “Just try it. It sounds crazy, but when you're looking to do something big like that, you just have got to put your head down and try it.”