Name: Preston Cates
Hometown: Boulder Colorado
Current Residence: Back and forth between Colorado and Hot Springs, Arkansas
Occupation: (Part-Time) Product Manager for an Organizational Design Firm
After a successful running career at University of Arkansas, Preston burst onto the trail/ultra scene in 2021 with a win at the Run Lovit 100k, 6th place finish at Canyons 100k, and 2nd place at the competitive Lake Sonoma 50 miler! Read more to see what's in store next for this promising, young running phenom!
1. Even though you were a talented Division I runner at the University of Arkansas, you once described cross country and track as not seeming to “click.” What was more appealing about the trail/ultra scene?
I won’t say any of my time as a track athlete didn’t click, but I think longer races better suited my skillset. I actually find myself hoping back in collegiate races occasionally, because it’s just fun to compete in them. I wouldn’t change my time as a collegiate athlete at all. Plus I think the speed training is incredibly beneficial now.
Regarding what is appealing to the trail/ ultra scene? A better question would be, what isn’t appealing? There are too many reasons why I love this sport. To speak on a few, the community is outstanding. Everyone who participates in this sports already peaks my interest. There is a unique story that everyone holds which is usually motivating, entertaining and sometimes obnoxious! I thoroughly enjoy listening to everyone’s experiences and reflections. Additionally, you get immersed in beautiful locations, eat copious amount of food, and feel accomplished at the end of a long day. It’s pretty remarkable.
2. You’ve lived in Boulder most of your life. How would you describe the vibe and running culture there?
I was born and raised in Boulder, Colorado. I left after high school in 2015 to go to college and then returned for majority of 2021. So cumulatively I’ve lived in Boulder for almost 20 years. The culture is hard to explain, but generally, everyone is warm hearted and excited to get outside and partake in their sport or sports of choice. The town is home to Olympic runners, triathletes, climbers and just badass, cool people.
I would say most residents are very humble about their outdoorsy, athletic accomplishments. They are more enamoured in the act of the activity itself rather than boasting about it. What’s also neat about Boulder is it welcomes all types of runners. Whether you crave speedwork, lots of vertical gain, or scrambling with hands up the flatirons - you can pick your poision. If you’ve never been, it’s definitely worth a visit!
3. You finished 6th place at the 2021 Canyons 100k, yet still made time to hug a race volunteer and instigate a dance party at one of the aid stations. How are you able to maintain a fun outlook while remaining competitive?
I'm a firm believer that you run the best when you’re happy. And nothing brings me more joy than connecting with people. Those specific instance’s came very natural; I was stoked to break up the grind and connect for a few special moments. I don’t find the two states interdependent. It’s generally not hard for me to maintain a competitive outlook because I’m naturally a competitive person.
Ultras are unique in the sense that it’s really you competing against yourself. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely pay attention to how I stack up against the competition and how the dynamics may shift, but usually I try to just focus on staying intune with myself. Gauging your energy outputs and staying patient is the name of the game (in my opinion).
4. What are a few songs/artists that must be on your running playlist?
I almost never list to music when I run. The exception are the treadmill sends. There I find myself listing to The Revivalists, Hippie Sabotage or a country playlist of some sort.
5. Favorite post-run beverage?
Usually it’s tailwind, but if we start from a brewery I’ll crush the suggested IPA, or whatever the employee may recommend. I’m not too particular on drinks.
6. What races and adventures do you have planned for 2022?
Lots of adventures! I have Black Canyons 100k coming up later this month. As of right now, that’s the only race I have planned so far, beacuse my schedule depends on how I compete there. I also am pretty certain that I’m going to move to Flagstaff, so I guess moving and exploring all the local trails is going to be an adventure in itself. I can’t wait to go run in the Grand Canyon. That’s definitely been on the to do list for awhile. I’m also excited for multiple tags up Humprey’s Peak and some of the other longer runs in the area.