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Top Western States competitor Tyler Green balances roles as family man, pro runner and coach

Tyler Green greets fans atop the escarpment at Western States.

By Henry Howard


Scanning the leaderboards of the most competitive ultras during the past few years there are a few common names that keep coming up. On the women’s side, Courtney Dauwalter and Katie Schide are among those. For the men, Jim Walmsley and Adam Peterman, when healthy, are at the top.


And so is Tyler Green.


Green, who grew up in Portland, Ore., has two runner-up finishes and a fourth overall at Western States in the past three years. He also has taken sixth male/seventh overall at UTMB last year, third at Transgrancanaria 128K in 2023, second at Javelina Hundred and first at Bandera 100K, both in 2019.


His running began in second grade when he jumped in a race with his cousins.


“I wanted to compete,” says Green, who runs for Nike Trail, Osprey Packs, Leki, and Precision Fuel and Hydration. “In some ways the rest is history, though it's obviously a much more circuitous route to where I've been. I run all my life and always appreciated endurance sports. But the journey to trail running took a lot longer.”


An entry into trail races

Tyler Green counts Leki among his sponsors.

That journey included a year of running after high school before he lived and volunteered in Libya and Nepal for two years. Upon returning to the United States, he focused on biking and jumped into cyclo cross, mountain biking and then road racing.


Even though he was performing well and winning some races, the financial burden was too much. Green stepped away from racing bikes and then trail races began to call.


“Those began to spark my interest on doing some ultra marathons,” he says, noting his first was the McKenzie River 50K in 2014 where he finished second overall. “I actually had a little bit of a hesitancy to race. But one of my good friends, said, ‘Hey, I'm going to pay your entry for this. Let's register together.’ It was a lottery system at the time and we both got in. I bombed incredibly hard. I just had no idea what I was doing. Didn't bring enough hydration with me or enough fueling. I said I'm never doing that again.”

A week later, Green had signed up for five races for the next year.


“At some point in a race, we are like, ‘Why am I doing this?’” he reflects. “And then there's the elation of the finish or the brightness of the afterglow of the race that gets us back into signing up for a race. For me, it was just such a cool experience. I was there with some friends and we got to meet a number of other friends. Just the vibe of a low-key trail race and getting that first glimpse into the trail running community. That was what really brought me back.”


The competitive fire of Green, who finished second after leading the race for a while, also drew him back. “I did feel like I had a little bit of unfinished business,” he says. “The next year I went back and won the McKenzie River.”


That victory indicated to Green that was something he could not only do for enjoyment but actually be competitive at.


“I had no idea what kind of journey it would take me on, and I feel like that is a constant discovery for me,” he says. “I can compete at McKenzie and then I can compete for a Golden Ticket and then I can compete at Western States or UTMB. It wasn't this light bulb moment where I thought I could be really good at this and I could excel on the world stage. It's been a much longer process of revelation. You see people who come into the sport and they're just immediately amazing. I am not one of those people, it's taken me some time to figure it all out and find that success.”

Tyler Green has two runner-up finishes at Western States.

Leaving on a high note


Green is among the top Western States competitors on the start list again this year.


He had planned to race Madeira Island Ultra Trail but an unfortunate scenario with his passport jettisoned that at the last minute. Instead, Green and his wife, Rachel Drake, pivoted and ran the Tillamook Burn. Green ran the 50-miler and the 50K the following day, while Drake also ran the longer distance.


They celebrated their goodbye to the Oregon trail scene in fashion with both winning the 50-miler. They are moving this summer to Salt Lake City where Drake will do her medical school residency.


“The Tillamook 50-miler/50K was just what I was craving in terms of training and racing,” Green says. “It felt very much like racing a 100-miler but without nearly as much wear and tear on my body. It was also simply a great way to practice racing — 80 miles worth of it! When I couldn't race Madeira, I knew my body was craving a hard effort, so this accomplished that very well. It was also nice to have a final race with our Oregon community before we move in a few weeks.” 

Tyler Green is a pro trail runner for Nike.

While both Green and Drake won their respective categories, they couldn’t celebrate together — at least at the finish line.

“Rachel and I rarely race at the same time, so this was special!” he says. “And great practice for WSER as well, since we'll both be racing that at the same time. Sadly, I had to go straight to my uncle's 70th birthday party, so I couldn't see her finish! We'll make sure we're able to celebrate together at the Western States finish line.


Beyond the physical challenge, the race also helped Green in another way.

“The word that kept coming to mind this weekend was ‘resiliency,’” he explains. “I think that's the biggest training outcome from this, even if it's hard to trace back to any official physiological adaptation. My process goal was to run every step on both days, until I couldn't run another step. I was successful in this and I think that is a big step for my resiliency and resolve.” 


Destination: Salt Lake City


For the couple, Salt Lake checked all the boxes.


A great opportunity for Drake’s training. A good running community. A fit for their training as athletes. And, of course, a place where the Green, Drake and their 18-month-old child, Louis, could thrive.


After the Western States Memorial Day training camp, the family will be moving.

Tyler Green and Rachel Drake celebrate while Louis takes it all in..

“The move itself could potentially be a stressful time and also just physically demanding since we are doing the move ourselves,” he says. “That'll be challenging, but I don't like to make a big deal of things like this in my mind. Because how you perceive things is pretty powerful, and I don't want to put too much additional stress on it by just perceiving that it's going to be a hard time.”


Balance is key to the family. Green is no longer teaching middle school, as he focuses on helping to raise Louis, building his coaching business and improving as a runner.


“That has been a big change,” he says. “The main trick is that I'm able to stay at home and squeeze in runs throughout the day while I kick off various work demands. I also still coach cross country and track. During the season that gets a little bit busier. Part of that is that my high school athletes are buddies with Louis, and so a couple days a week, usually I'll have him on my back. As I go and coach, I'll just put him into an Osprey-like child carrier or sometimes just let him roam around the field or whatever. That's been cool. It's actually a great way to connect with the kids and for Louis to have a bunch of high school buddies all around.”


Flexibility is the key.


“There's a lot of juggling, and my wife's amazing with just helping us keep on track,” he says. “She runs and then I run and there's strength training involved and watching Louis. We both have jobs that we're trying to get done as well. It's 100% a juggling act. I'd say the biggest secret there is bringing Louis around with me or with us as much as we can.”


Green’s outlook on life was likely shaped, at least in part, by his experiences in Libya and Nepal. He taught in the latter for two years.


“That was the biggest experience,” he explains. “The biggest revelation there was just how deeply generous and caring people could be. I just was able to see that in a totally different light in meeting local Nepalese. It was just a really powerful experience for me to be able to see that and understand a bit of my own culture by learning about a different one.


He taught English in Libya for about a year, a year after the overthrow of Moammar Qadhafi.


“That was a really challenging experience,” he says. “It was a year of pretty serious turmoil within the country. I was really struggling in the first few months there. I just really wanted to go home.”


Tyler Green spends quality time with his young son.

That experience plays out today in his running career. Ultras can be challenging. But from what Green learned in the turbulent times in Libya, offers him perspective during dark times in races.


“After a while I realized, ‘You know what? I'm here. How can I make this the best that I can be? The best that it can be?’” he reflects. “I just doubled down, meeting friends and working on my teaching craft. Finding a place to go on runs for some mental one and physical release. That has some application to ultra-marathoning where we get in 50 miles or 60 miles into an ultra, and it's hard.


“Of course you want to extrapolate out that if it's this hard now, well, how hard is it going to be in 20 miles or 30 miles? It must just be even worse. But perhaps we don't always need to extrapolate out like that. We can refocus it — it doesn't always just get worse. It can get better. What can you do to make it better?”


Speed drill


Name: Tyler Green

Hometown: Portland, Oregon

Number of years running: 30

How many miles a week do you typically run: 80 to 90 miles

Point of pride: “Very gradual but steady improvement of my ultra racing abilities.”

Favorite race distance: 100 miles.

Favorite pre-race or training food/drink: Toast with dark chocolate, coffee and Trail Butter.”

Favorite piece of gear: Nike Ultrafly Next% racing shoes

Who inspires you: “My wife, Rachel Drake.”

Favorite or inspirational song to run to: “Ocean Between the Waves by The War on Drugs.”

Favorite or inspirational mantra/phrase: "All you have is this moment."

Where can other runners connect or follow you:

IG: @narrowgreenarrow

Website is a little outdated but it's



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