Trail runners know Michelle Barton for her bright personality and phenomenal speed. The 39-year-old single mom from Southern California joined the elite ranks of her sport in 2007, when she broke five ultrarunning course records—racing 50-Ks and 50-milers—in just six weeks. This August, she’ll run in Colorado’s 113-mile TransRockies Run for the fourth time.
Q Ultrarunning distances exceed 26.2 miles, typically on challenging wilderness trails. What’s the allure?
A I enjoy the people and the amazing sights, the awesome, high-alpine lakes and forests that probably less than 1 percent of the population gets to see. My favorite thing is to go on a really long training run in the mountains with friends—just to explore new trails, to be out there in wilderness, to be one with nature for a while.
Q What came first for you: ultrarunning or vegetarianism?
A Vegetarianism for sure. I became vegetarian when I was 18 years old. I was at my cousin’s graduation party, and I bit into a piece of barbecued chicken that was completely undercooked. That was the defining moment. I was like, â??Oh no, I just can’t do this.â?
Q You must need an unreal amount of energy to train and race. What are your favorite fueling foods?
A I’m addicted to couscous for energy. And I love edamame and tofu—anything soy—to rebuild my muscles. Another protein powerhouse I like is black beans with brown rice. Something else I eat plenty of is plain Greek yogurt. It’s good for recovering from a race or run.