With the 2005 competition adding a “most races” award, I suspect Michael will have another phenomenal year capped by a trip to Italy. Have no doubt that he is the man to beat, and we will be seeing a lot more of him (and Kasey) in years to come.
Running wild again
West Ottawa graduate fares well in trail running series
By ERIC GAERTNER Assistant sports editor
When Michael Robbert was a West Ottawa High School cross country runner in the early 1990s, he enjoyed running on the various courses around the area. The West Ottawa three-sport athlete has taken his passion for trail running to a whole new level locations these days.
Robbert, 29, of Littleton, Colo., competes in the Trail Runner Trophy Series, a relatively new series of 200 trail races held throughout the United States and Canada.
"It's kind of the culture out here," Robbert said of picking up the desire to run the trails. "I'd been living in Ohio for three years and I'd become a couch potato. It only took me three weeks living here (in Colorado) and looking at the mountains everyday to decide to start running again."
In addition to enjoying the mountain scenery, Robbert's running took on a competitive nature. The former high school cross country runner, track athlete and diver said his competitive personality eventually forced him to compete against others.
So far, Robbert has fared well.
Robbert finished second overall last season in the non-ultra male division, which features races ranging in distance from 6.2 miles to 26 miles, of the series that ran from March 1 to Sept. 30. Scott Dunlap, 35, of Woodside, Calif., edged Robbert by less than two points in the series.
"Michael had an absolute phenomenal season," said Garett Graubins, senior editor of Trail Runner magazine which runs the series. "He's certainly a major talent in the sport.
"He gave it his all. I heard stories of Mike rolling into town the night before the race, competing in the race, then rolling out of town to the next race."
The Trail Runner Trophy Series uses a scoring system that gives runner one point for each mile he or she completed at each race and a bonus for placing in the top three in his or her age division.
Robbert, the son of Jim and Millie Robbert of West Olive, ran in 22 races last season. He won his age division five times. During the season, Robbert and Dunlap ran in the same event twice with each finishing ahead of the other once.
"(Competitive trail runners) need to be obviously a fast runner, but also a good uphill runner and be able to go downhill real hard," Graubins said. "They also need quick feet for difficult trails.
"Michael's definitely a jack of all trades and a master of some."
Robbert credits his wife for making it possible for him to compete in many races.
"I never would have made it through this last season of racing without the help and support of my wife Kasey," Robbert said. "She drove me to most of the races and more importantly she provided my with praise when things were going well and encouragement when things weren't so well.
The 2005 Trail Runner Trophy Series will feature a similar format and an added grand prize to the runner who races in the most series events. The winner will receive a trip for two and be able to compete in the trail running event in Italy. Robbert would have won the prize if it would have been in effect last season.
Contact Eric Gaertner at email@example.com or (616) 546-4276.