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Marathon Mantras Pay Off for Emma Bates

JUL. 27, 2022
As she pounds out her long runs, Emma Bates hears a voice. “Get your mind right.”
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It belongs to her coach, driving or sometimes biking alongside as she puts in her miles near Boulder, Colorado.

“How easy can you make it?”

Same voice, same concept. Be mindful. Don’t look ahead. Be honest with yourself about how you’re feeling at the moment.

On Monday, July 18, Bates heeded those voices. Just 10 days after her 30th birthday, Bates finished seventh in the World Athletics Championships marathon – helping Team USA place three women in the top eight for the first time since the event began in 1983.

Before the race, Bates said she was in the best shape of her life. She was right: her time of 2:23:18 was a personal best by more than a minute.

“That was 100 percent the funniest marathon I’ve ever done,” she said at a post-race press conference hosted by ASICS. “It’s so special to think back on being on U.S. soil, having all these U.S. fans chanting USA, USA. It really makes me well up, because I just know how special this is.”

But earlier this year, things weren’t looking good. After running a personal best 2:24:20 at the Chicago Marathon last fall, Bates was felled by Covid in December and struggled to recover.

Emma Bates

“I didn’t feel myself until about 2 ½ months ago,” she said before the race. “I don’t know if I ended up getting long Covid, but we know that my ferritin (iron) levels were really, really low. Once I corrected that everything kind of followed, and my breathing kind of corrected itself. I was having heart palpitations and those went away. I’m so, so happy that it came around at the right time.”

Since then, she said, things have gone better than ever.

“I think it’s because I was so fired up, because it was so difficult for so many months, and I was trying to force it a little too much,” she said. “And so once I was able to relax, I was really able to excel.”

It doesn’t hurt that she loves her training partners, the women of “Team Boss,” coached by Joe Bosshard.

“They are just the most wonderful people,” she said of her group, which include Emma Coburn, Aisha Praught-Leer, Dom Scott and Cory McGee. “We have so much fun every single day, every single workout, every run we go on. Being able to call your co-workers friends and just have a good time is something that has really elevated my training.”

As she approached the finish line in Eugene, another teammate was waiting for her – fellow ASICS athlete Sara Hall, who had just finished.

“Sara has been in this sport for a very long time in many different events and has always proven herself and has always given over 100 percent in everything she does, and so to see her at the finish line waiting for me was just something I never thought would be in the cards for me,” said Bates. “She’s a huge reason I’m in the marathon.”