Local runner creates racing opportunities to foster love of running

Writer / Christy Heitger-Ewing
Photographer / Brian Brosmer

Years ago, when Mike Cole was playing little league baseball, his parents noticed that he was lightning fast when he circled the bases.

“I think we’ve got a runner on our hands,” they said.

They were right. He tried track and cross-country in middle school, then became a serious runner in high school and at Ball State University.

“After college, most runners give up competition, but I was still hungry,” says Cole, who continued training in various capacities. He raced at the Duathlon World Championships (placing fourth in the world in his age group), the Japan Ekiden Championships and in the St. Louis Marathon where he placed third overall in 2008.

Now, at 41, Cole was a 2016 USA Track Field Indiana Men’s Master Runner of the Year.

Though he’s still racing, for the past 16 years he’s also coached students of various ages. Currently, he is assistant coach to the Zionsville boys’ cross-country team. He also provides private coaching for adult runners who are looking for that extra boost in training prior to competing in half and full marathons. Writing personal workout plans for clients and adjusting their workouts based on weekly feedback, Cole provides guidance for these self-motivated athletes.

“Runners have to have their own self-discipline to be successful,” Cole says.

Cole also stays busy with race planning. Two years ago, in an effort to promote the Zionsville running community, he and his wife, Julie, started Run2Race.

“Zionsville is such a great place to run with the trails, parks and the rail trail that passes through the center of town,” Cole says.

Run2Race puts on four annual races: a 10-mile and a 5K in November and a half-marathon and 5K in June. In the future, he’s considering adding a trail race. Cole wanted to bring some longer races to the community in order to showcase the town, including Lions Park, Starkey Nature Park and area neighborhoods.

Organizing races means charting the course, obtaining ordinance approvals, lining up sponsors and volunteers, setting up registration details, procuring refreshments and awards for race day and marketing the event.

“Inevitably, after a race, my wife will say, ‘That was awesome, but here are 14 things we need to do differently next year,’” Cole says.

Last year, 402 runners signed up for the half marathon. Cole hopes this year that number grows to 500 and, ultimately, 1,000. The 5K is popular for younger runners, too.

“It’s great seeing the elementary and middle school kids out there running rather than being sedentary,” says Cole, whose three sons (14, 11 and 9) run as well.

Through the years, Cole has faced his fair share of setbacks due to sickness and injuries. But like all dedicated runners, he hasn’t let obstacles soften his drive.

“A runner’s head is hard to figure out sometimes,” Cole says. “But we all have special running moments that motivate us to keep going.”

To register for the June 11 races in Zionsville, or to learn more about Run2Race, visit run2race.com.



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