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Spotlight on Emma Ulmer - Olympic Marathon Trials Qualifier

Emma earns her first US Championship title in her debut marathon, December 2018.


Emma first started running at age 11 in a six week community youth track and field program. Because of her boundless energy her mother was hoping Emma would choose to run distance, but she wasn't interested in racing countless circles around the track and wanted to focus on sprints and hurdles. Her folks made a deal with her that she could compete in the sprint events if she agreed to at least give cross country a try in the fall. This is where Emma found her love for running, off the track on the dirt trails and green grass. In her first season, after just turning 12, she worked her way up to third on the varsity team and helped them to qualify for the Minnesota State Girls AA meet for the first time.


Emma (Bates) Ulmer first earned an Olympic Trials qualifying time in her debut marathon on December 2, 2018, at the California International Marathon in Sacramento, CA, with a race winning time of 2:28:19. She not only distinguished herself as the USATF Marathon Champion, but also as the USATF Running Circuit Champion for 2018. Unsponsored at the time, Emma took the opportunity to draw attention to the wildfires ravaging northern California by wearing "Run for Camp Fire Relief" on her singlet and assisted is spreading awareness for raising funds for support of those impacted by the fires.

Emma prepares to break the tape at CIM.

Emma signed up for the Chicago Marathon this past October, moving her wedding date to accommodate the race. Racing Chicago had its benefits for Emma as it allowed her a chance to race against a talented international and US field of women. Emma finished as top American woman in 4th place with a nearly three minute marathon PR of 2:25:27.

Emma nearing the finish line at the Chicago Marathon, October 2019.

Information at a Glance

Olympic Trials Qualifying Time: 2:25:27

Residence: Idaho City, ID

Hometown: Elk River, MN

College: Boise State University

Age on Race Day: 27

Affiliation: ASICS/Idaho Distance Project

Qualifying Race: Bank of America Chicago Marathon 2019

Marathon Best: 2:25:27

Social Handles: Instagram - @emmajanelbates

Of Note:

Won her debut marathon, the California International Marathon, in 2018 (2:28:19), making her the 2018 USATF Marathon Champion 4th place (top American), 2019 Bank of America Chicago Marathon. 2018 USATF Running Circuit Champion. Has twice represented U.S. in international competition: in 2018 IAAF World Half Marathon Championships and the 2016 Great Edinburgh International Cross Country Championships. 2014 NCAA 10,000m Champion. Lives off the grid about an hour north of Boise, using solar power for electricity and getting water from a spring several miles away.


©2019 by Idaho Distance Project