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Wildfire in California causes thousands to evacuate, impacts Western States course

The Mosquito wildfire, which began west of Lake Tahoe amid extreme heat on Sept. 6, is the largest fire currently burning in California. The blaze has already burned through 58,544 acres in El Dorado and Placer counties.

Western States Endurance Run (WSER), one of the most famous ultra trail races in the world, sits right in Mosquito’s path. Runners begin the annual, much-revered 100-mile race in Auburn, and finish on the track at Placer High School.

On Tuesday afternoon the fire flared up, pushing toward the community of Foresthill and arriving at the edge of Foresthill High School, blazing through structures across the street. Firefighters appear to have kept the fires away from the high school, but it’s not clear how many cars and structures were consumed in the flare-up.

We connected with Craig Thornley, race director of WSER, on Tuesday. “Lives and homes are the highest priority right now. The WSER trail and our race is a lower priority,” Thornley said.

“That said, eventually the fire will be contained and the US Forest Service will be able to go in and assess the damage to the WS trail and the bridges. Currently, the fire has affected the trail as far up as Devil’s Thumb [aid station] through El Dorado Canyon and Michigan Bluff, to the turnoff onto the single track from Chicken Hawk. That’s about 10 miles of trail. It still could burn up towards Last Chance and Dusty Corners, but it is unclear what effect the burn scar will have on fire growth,” added Thornley.

The flames have forced more than 11,200 people to flee as they encroach on homes and buildings, burning 64 structures by Wednesday including at least 25 homes, according to Cal Fire. The fire grew more than 8,000 acres overnight and is spreading through the Sierra Nevada mountains.

“It continues to push steadily to the east in heavily forested areas with extremely dry vegetation,” officials said Wednesday morning. There is some optimism, however, as firefighters have the fire now 20 per cent contained.

(09/15/2022) Views: 61 ⚡AMP
by Keeley Milne
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Stay cool on your next run with these three tricks, use these tips to keep your core temperature down

If you’re training for a summer race this year, you’ll want to prepare for that event by exercising in the heat, as unpleasant as it sometimes may be.  Heat training will pay off, especially if race day is warmer than expected. There are ways to keep the heat from getting to you, especially during longer runs. Your goal is to keep your core body temperature down while staying aware of the signs of heat-related illnesses. Use these three tips to keep your body temperature down on your next hot-weather training session.

Choose your clothing wisely

Make sure you’re wearing light-colored clothing, in a sweat-wicking material, polyester, or polypropylene. Cotton attire may feel cool at first, but will get heavy and uncomfortable once you add sweat. Wearing a hat you can dip in water will keep your head (and core, as a result!) cool, and feels nice as well. Chris Kostman, race director of the Badwater 135 ultramarathon in Death Valley,  Cali., has more than a little experience with hot-weather events. In an interview with GearHub Kostman suggested spritzing your clothes with water before setting out: you’ll cool as the water evaporates.

Have a cold drink before you start, and keep drinking

Staying hydrated is essential during the hot months. Not only will it help prevent potentially life-threatening ailments like heat exhaustion and heat stroke, but it will also keep you feeling better and running faster. When we get dehydrated, our blood thickens, increasing our heart rate through a process called cardiac drift. Being mindful of how much you are drinking before, during, and after your outdoor workout is important. Studies show that drinking something partially frozen before exercising can keep your body temperature down for even longer than simply imbibing a cold drink, so stick that sports drink in the freezer before your run so that it’s icy. If you find you’re taking in a lot of water, or you’re participating in a long, hot endurance event, make sure that you’re also taking in electrolytes and sodium so that you replenish what you’re sweating out and avoid conditions like hyponatrema.

Learn from the pros: ice, ice, everywhere

The recent Western States 100-mile race reportedly had 5 pounds of ice, per athlete, per aid station. Ultrarunners at these warm races have devised techniques to wear the ice all over their bodies, and no matter the distance of your next hot training run or race, you may want to try some of their efficient ways to beat the heat. Fill a bandanna or tube sock with ice and tie it around your neck. The icy water it releases as you continue will keep you cool as you move. Sticking a baggie of ice into your hat can work as well, or wearing sleeves that you stuff with ice cubes and allow to melt.

The most important thing during hot-weather runs: take the signs of heat exhaustion seriously. If you’re very hot but aren’t sweating, you have a throbbing headache that doesn’t abate or you start to feel unwell, get inside, cool your body down, and monitor your symptoms.

(07/04/2022) Views: 260 ⚡AMP
by Keeley Milne
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Western States 100

Western States 100

The Western States ® 100-Mile Endurance Run is the world’s oldest and most prestigious 100-mile trail race. Starting in Squaw Valley, California near the site of the 1960 Winter Olympics and ending 100.2 miles later in Auburn, California, Western States, in the decades since its inception in 1974, has come to represent one of the ultimate endurance tests in the...

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2022 Western States 100 Men’s Race

This year’s men’s race had the notable absence of course record holder Jim Walmsley, who has dominated the race in recent years, leaving it wide open for a good number of runners with potential to win. Among them were seven of last year’s top 10, including second-place finisher Tyler Green, and Tim Tollefson, who was fifth last year but hotly fancied to be capable of winning this race on a good day. Last year’s eighth place man, Hayden Hawks, who ran Western States as his debut 100 miler, was also believed to have more to offer in this race.

Notably, joining them as a Golden Ticket entrant was Jared Hazen, the second fastest Western States finisher of all time.

And last but certainly not least, the relative new kid on the block, who has quickly shot up through the distances and dominated every ultra he’s ever started — Adam Peterman.

Peterman won his way into Western States at the Canyons by UTMB 100k, where he toppled the course record in his first ever 100-kilometer race. He took a gamble by taking on his first 100 miler a little over two months later, and defended the decision to iRunFar in his pre-race interview saying: “I don’t feel like I always need to just make logical steps because we’re running 100 miles, that’s an illogical game.”

The first 3.5 miles of Western States features 2,550 feet of climbing, to the first landmark at the Escarpment. First to the top was Adam Kimble, closely followed by France’s Ludovic Pommeret  — with Hawks, France’s Seb Spehler, and Hazen coming through in quick succession.

Tollefson, Tom Owens (U.K.), Peterman, Jonathan Rea, and Alex Nichols completed the front 10, all within a couple of minutes of each other.

By Lyon Ridge at mile 10, Ludovic had taken the lead and he came through Red Star Ridge at mile 15, four minutes clear of Spehler in second, with Kimble in third, and Hawks and Tollefson a few minutes back, followed by Hazen, Peterman, and Arlen Glick. Nine minutes separated the first eight runners to this point.

The two Frenchmen held the top positions into mile 24, just before Duncan Canyon, with Pommeret coming through six minutes off course record pace. At this point Tollefson had moved up to third and Hawks and Peterman sat comfortably in fourth and fifth, 8:10 back from the lead, with Glick following 10 seconds behind.

Pommeret held the lead into Robinson Flat, mile 30, with the pressure starting to show. Hawks had moved up to second by now and was looking a lot more comfortable, just two minutes back from the leader. Peterman had then moved up the field also to third position, just in front of Spehler, who’d dropped back to fourth, with Tollefson seconds behind. This chasing pack were just four-and-a-half minutes off the leader.By Millers Defeat at mile 34, Hawks had closed the gap to a minute, and by Dusty Corners, mile 38, he’d taken the lead from Pommeret.

Through Deadwood Cemetery, mile 49.5, Hawks maintained the lead and looked like he was having a super day. There had been some reshuffling in the other top positions, with Peterman, Hazen, and Glick all still in the mix.

By Foresthill, mile 62, Hawks was still in the lead but Peterman had separated himself from the other chasers in second. He arrived just three minutes back from Hawks and almost eight minutes clear of Hazen in third. Spehler, who had a promising first half, had dropped back the field suffering stomach issues, and Tollefson had also fallen back from the front runners.

Hawks was still in the lead after Foresthill, but by Cal 2, mile 70, Peterman had joined him at the front and the race was on! Hazen held third place, 14 minutes back from the leaders, with Glick in fourth another 15 minutes back from Hazen.

When the race reached the Rucky Chucky river crossing at mile 78, Hawks still looked comfortable but Peterman had stretched four minutes ahead, putting 30 seconds per mile on his opponent since Cal 2, showing unbelievable strength and determination for a 100-mile debut.

Hazen maintained third position, now 24 minutes off the lead, with Glick and France’s Vincent Vietmaking up the front five.

Hazen had started to struggle and dropped out at mile 85, with Glick moving up to third. Peterman had by now extended his lead to 10 minutes.

The top three positions remained unchanged for the remainder of the race, but Peterman utterly dominated in the closing miles, finishing in 15:13:48, almost 34 minutes clear of Hawks in 15:47:27. Glick rounded out the top three in 15:56:17.

t’s clear from this 100-mile debut that we will be seeing a lot more of Adam Peterman. He executed this win in a similarly patient manner to his win at the Canyons 100k, and he races like a runner with a lot more ultrarunning experience than he has.

Moving up all race again, Green ended the day in fourth position in 15:57:10, what was two places back but some 13 minutes faster than his debut at this race last year. Drew Holmen (pre-race interview) finished fifth after a strong, all-day performance. His 16:09 finish this year is also two places back but 14 minutes faster than last year. These two gentlemen have much in common.

Frenchman Pommeret stayed strong to finish in sixth place and first masters, and he was closely chased by fellow Frenchman Viet. Nichols moved up two spots this year to take eighth. Cody Lind moved back from fourth last year to ninth this year. And Scott Traer meted out his race effort perfectly to run his way into the men’s top 10 for 10th place.

Men’s DNFs included Spehler and Hazen, both due to various physical issues.

(06/26/2022) Views: 237 ⚡AMP
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Western States 100

Western States 100

The Western States ® 100-Mile Endurance Run is the world’s oldest and most prestigious 100-mile trail race. Starting in Squaw Valley, California near the site of the 1960 Winter Olympics and ending 100.2 miles later in Auburn, California, Western States, in the decades since its inception in 1974, has come to represent one of the ultimate endurance tests in the...

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2022 Western States 100 Women’s Race

Last year’s winner Beth Pascall was absent from the start list for 2022, but there was still plenty of talent toeing the line. Six of last year’s top 10 made the final starting list, including hot favorite and previous second-place finisher, New Zealand’s Ruth Croft and last year’s seventh-place woman Emily Hawgood, who was believed to be capable of ruffling some feathers on her second attempt.

Outside of the returning top runners, this year’s start list also featured 100-mile world record holder Camille Herron, former podium finisher Lucy Bartholomew (Australia), and second-place woman at last year’s UTMB, France’s Camille Bruyas.

Herron was first to the top of the Escarpment, the race’s high point at mile 3.5, with Ellie Pell hot on her heels. They were followed by Keely Henninger, Poland’s Dominika Stelmach, Katie Asmuth, Canada’s Marianne Hogan, Lindsey Hagen, and Camille Bruyas, all within a couple of seconds of each other. Hawgood followed along in ninth position, followed by Switzerland’s Luzia Buehler in 10th.

The race had yet to space out at Lyon Ridge at mile 10, with Stelmach, Herron, and Hogan coming in together, closely followed by Henninger, Hawgood, Asmuth, and Pell.

By Red Star Ridge at mile 15, Croft had begun to make her presence felt and climbed up the field to fourth position. Hogan led the field into Duncan Canyon, mile 24, just 20 seconds clear of Stelmach in second, then Hawgood, Henninger, and Croft.

By Robinson Flat, mile 30, Hawgood and Croft had moved up to share the lead and they continued to run together through mile 38, which they passed just under course record pace. Stelmach followed about 90 seconds back in third, a minute clear of Henninger in fourth. Herron had moved back to seventh position but still looked good.

The two leaders were still together at Devil’s Thumb, mile 47, but shortly after Croft managed to break away and ran through Deadwood Cemetery, mile 49.5, seven minutes back of course record pace. Hawgood came through just 30 seconds later, still looking happy and fresh and Henninger looked strong in third, 1:15 back from Croft.

The top two remained the same through mile 62, Foresthill, but Herron had begun to fight back and moved up to third position, about 18 minutes back from the leader and four minutes clear of Ailsa Macdonald in fourth. By the Rucky Chucky river crossing, mile 78, Croft had further extended her lead, but the real action was taking place behind her, with Macdonald making moves and climbing up to second place, 24 minutes back from Croft and three clear of Hawgood. Then with 10 miles to go at Quarry Road, Marianne Hogan, who had never been too far out of the frame, made a push and climbed up to third position. 

Croft sealed the deal with a 17:21:30 finish to take the win, the third fastest women’s time on record. Macdonald finished impressively close, just 25 minutes back in 17:46:46. Marianne Hogan took the final podium spot in 18:08:32, less than three minutes clear of Buehler in fourth, in a race that really wasn’t over ‘til it was over.

Hawgood, who ran a brave race, finished fifth in 18:16:02, almost an hour better than her previous time. We expect there will be more to come from her if she takes her place on the 2023 start line.

Leah Yingling was sixth in 18:32:31, and Taylor Nowlin, who had a strong second half, took seventh in 18:46:42. Herron, who’s had bad luck in this race before, had a strong eighth place finish in 18:51:54 and Asmuth and Bruyas rounded out the top 10 in 19:30:26 and 19:34:24 respectively. Overall, 11 women broke 20 hours this year, with Anne-Marie Madden finishing just outside the top 10 in 19:38:44.

Women’s DNFs included Bartholomew and Henninger, both due to injury.

(06/26/2022) Views: 197 ⚡AMP
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Western States 100

Western States 100

The Western States ® 100-Mile Endurance Run is the world’s oldest and most prestigious 100-mile trail race. Starting in Squaw Valley, California near the site of the 1960 Winter Olympics and ending 100.2 miles later in Auburn, California, Western States, in the decades since its inception in 1974, has come to represent one of the ultimate endurance tests in the...

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Canadian Reid Coolsaet set to run the 2022 Western States 100

The lotteries for the 2022 Western States 100 and Hardrock 100 took place this weekend, and Canadian Olympian Reid Coolsaet got his name on the Western States list. With over 8,000 applicants vying for only 340 lottery spots (221 for Western States and 119 for Hardrock), runners without automatic entry have a slim chance of having their names pulled, but 34 lucky Canadians got a spot on the start lines.

Western States

Of the top 10 male finishers at last year’s race, eight will be making their return to Olympic Valley, Calif., including second- and third-place finishers Tyler Green and Drew Holmen. Jim Walmsley, who won the race in 2018, 2019 and 2021 (the race was canceled in 2020 due to COVID-19), has not elected to return for the 2022 race. The top three podium finishers from last year’s race, Beth Pascall of the UK, Ruth Croft of New Zealand and Ragna Debats of the Netherlands, will all be returning, as will six more of the top 10 women from 2021.

Canada’s Ailsa MacDonald received automatic entry, thanks to her 13th-place finish at the 2019 Western States and first-place finish at the 2020 Tarawera 100 Mile. Other fast runners who have received automatic entry include Sébastien Spehler (second at Ultra Trail Cape Town this year), Tom Owens (fourth at UTMB in 2019), Cole Watson (third at the Javelina Jundred), Stephanie Auston (third at the 2020 Black Canyon 100K and second at the 2019 Tarawera 100K) and Zoë Rom (third at the 2021 Rio del Lago 100 Mile and third at the 2021 Tillamook Burn 50 Mile), among others.

Coolsaet will be one of the top Canadians in the race, despite being relatively new to the ultramarathon scene. In August, he won his first-ever ultra, the Quebec Ultra Trail 110K, despite missing a turn and having to run an extra 10 kilometres. He will be joined by several other Canadians, including:

Leo Fung, Calgary

Jesse Hulley, Calgary

Mike Jollie, Calgary

Kevin Jansen, Calgary

Rohan Aurora, Vancouver

Steve Day, North Vancouver

Adam Harris, Squamish, B.C.

Patrick Humenny, Kimberly, B.C.

Ricardo Tortini, Port Moody, B.C.

Dawson Mossman, New Maryland, NB

Aytug Celikbas, Oakville, Ont.

Matt Lowe, Hamilton

Derek Mulhall, Tecumseh, Ont.

Norman Nadan, Orangeville, Ont.

James Swartz, Toronto

Vincent Gauthier, St-Zotique, Que.

Fanny Barrette, Calgary

Tara Chahl, Edmonton

Chelsey Topping, Lethbridge, Alta.

Kelly Haston, Toronto

Karen Holland, Kimberly, Ont.

Hardrock 100

Hardrock is particularly difficult to get into, because the only way to gain automatic entry into the race is by winning it the previous year. A unique addition to this year’s lottery: entrants who were chosen for last year’s race but were unable to travel because of COVID-19 were given automatic entry for 2022, which included 16 men and two women.

There are some big names on the 2022 start list, including Courtney Dauwalter, Sabrina Stanley, Magie Guterl, François D’Haene, Kilian Jornet, John Kelly, Luke Nelson and Jeff Browning. Canada’s Stephanie Case, who was the first woman (and third overall) at the 450km Tor des Glaciers race in Italy, will also be on the start line.

Other Canadians who received entry into Hardrock include:

Suzanne Johnson, North Vancouver

Dana Samis, North Vancouver

Joanna Ford, Calgary

Larry Kundrik, Lethbridge, Alta.

Ken Legg, Powell River, BC

Randy Duncan, Victoria, BC

Christopher Aubrey, Sherwood Park, Alta.

Nathaniel Couture, Fredericton, NB

Matthew Fortuna, Oyama, BC

Leo Fung, Calgary

(12/06/2021) Views: 486 ⚡AMP
by Brittany Hambleton
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Western States 100

Western States 100

The Western States ® 100-Mile Endurance Run is the world’s oldest and most prestigious 100-mile trail race. Starting in Squaw Valley, California near the site of the 1960 Winter Olympics and ending 100.2 miles later in Auburn, California, Western States, in the decades since its inception in 1974, has come to represent one of the ultimate endurance tests in the...

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Jim Walmsley wins his third consecutive Western States 100

On an exceptionally hot day in California, Jim Walmsley won his third consecutive Western States 100 title Saturday in 14 hours, 46 minutes. Walmsley came through the Pointed Rocks aid station at mile 95 with a comfortable lead of about 81 minutes, and the live webcam followed his final mile by bike. 

Walmsley, who lives in Flagstaff, Ariz., had admitted earlier in the week that he hadn’t been entirely healthy throughout his build up and had been nursing an IT band injury, leading to speculation that he might not even make it to the start line, but apparently he had nothing to worry about, as his remarkable result proved. 

Walmsley ran 14:09:28 in 2019, the last time the race was run (it was cancelled in 2020 due to the pandemic), smashing the course record of 14:30:04 that he set in 2018, in his third appearance at the race. Today, he had put considerable distance between himself and Hayden Hawks by around mile 35, but it was clear another record was not going to be possible. (Hawks was in second position for most of the race, but shortly before Walmsley’s arrival at the finish line, announcers Dylan Bowman and Corrine Malcolm mentioned he was in danger of being passed by Tyler Green and Drew Holmen.) 

Walmsley is only the third man with three consecutive victories; the other two are Scott Jurek, who had seven straight victories from 1999-2005, and Tim Twietmeyer, who won five times, three of them consecutively in 1994-1996.

Beth Pascall of the U.K. led the women’s race all day and is a good bet to win, but the top five were very close together throughout, making it too risky to call. Pascall won the Canyons 100K race in California in April, and shattered the record on the Bob Graham fell round in the U.K. last year. At the time of Walmsley’s finish, she was sitting at 7th or 8th overall, with Ragna Debats of the Netherlands (who is 42) and Ruth Croft of New Zealand (in her 100-mile debut) just outside the top 10 overall.

For the first time, there were live broadcasts on YouTube and by iRunFar, so fans could follow every minute of the race, with constant well-informed and passionate commentary from Bowman and Malcolm about the oldest and best-loved 100-miler in North America. 

(06/27/2021) Views: 597 ⚡AMP
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Western States 100

Western States 100

The Western States ® 100-Mile Endurance Run is the world’s oldest and most prestigious 100-mile trail race. Starting in Squaw Valley, California near the site of the 1960 Winter Olympics and ending 100.2 miles later in Auburn, California, Western States, in the decades since its inception in 1974, has come to represent one of the ultimate endurance tests in the...

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The Western States 100 Is Back and It’s Going to be HOT!

Western States is famously competitive - and this year is shaping up to be one of the toughest competitions yet with hot temps, and a stacked field.

Jim Walmsley and Magda Boulet will be back at the Western States Endurance Run this week.

And so will Clare Gallagher, Patrick Reagan, Max King and Brittany Peterson. And, so too is race pioneer Gordy Ainsleigh and 312 other inspired runners who have been training for more than a year and a half to get to the starting line. In fact, we’re all heading back to the Sierra Nevada range this weekend — even if vicariously — to what feels like a bit of normalcy returning.

After a year mostly away from the trail racing running scene, things are starting to feel like old times. With stacked men’s and women’s fields, scorching heat in the forecast and last year’s Covid-19 hiatus hopefully mostly behind us, it’s definitely the event the ultrarunning community has been looking forward to. The race begins at 5 a.m. PST on June 26 and it looks like it’s going to be an epic one. (Follow via live tracking or the live race-day broadcast.)

“Yeah, it will be good to be there and see people and actually be in the race,” says Walmsley, who won the race in 2018 and 2019 in course-record times. “It’s been an odd year.”

Odd for sure, but with deep men’s and women’s fields, hot weather, dusty trail conditions and the late June gathering of a few hundred runners on this hallowed ground feels somewhat normal. The mountains and canyons in and around Olympic Valley northwest of Lake Tahoe have been a sacred place for the native Washoe people for thousands of years before Gordon Ainsleigh’s first romp over the Western States Trail in 1974.

It’s been an especially odd year for Walmsley, who, for the second straight year, had planned to use the first half of his year training for the 90K Comrades Marathon in South Africa. But that was canceled last year (with just about every other big race, including the Western States 100) and this year, too.

So instead, after setting a new U.S. 100K road record in January, he took a sponsor’s entry into the Western States 100 from HOKA One One and will be once again lining up in America’s most celebrated trail running race. With notable first-timers Tim Tollefson and Hayden Hawks in the mix along with Walmsley, Reagan, King, Matt Daniels, Alex Nichols, Kyle Pietari, Mark Hammond, Stephen Kersh, Jeff Browning and Jared Hazen all returning with previous top-10 finishes, on paper anyway, the men’s race is shaping up to be one of the most competitive in recent memory or maybe ever, even though it’s comprised entirely of domestic runners.

The women’s race might be even more competitive with former champions Boulet, Gallagher (2019) and Kaci Lickteig (2016) leading the way, plus elite American runners Camille Herron, Addie Bracy, Camelia Mayfield and Keely Henninger and international stalwarts Ruth Croft (New Zealand), Audrey Tanguy (France), Beth Pascall (UK), Emily Hawgood (Zimbabwe), Kathryn Drew (Canada) and Ragna Debats (Spain) joining the fray.

Who are the favorites? It’s hard to tell. Most of those runners, including Walmsley and Boulet, have admitted to having dealt with some minor injuries, inconsistent training, a lack of motivation and other setbacks over the crazy year that was. Based on what runners have been reporting, it seems like most are just eager to get back and immerse in a competitive 100-miler and see what they can do.

However, one of the keys will certainly be who can survive the heat the best. The forecast is calling for high temperatures in the upper 80s to the high 90s on Saturday after and the canyons between Robinson Flat and Michigan Bluff could even reach over 100 degrees.

Walmsley has said he’s dealt with some IT band issues and has focused mostly on running with a lot of vert, focusing on getting optimal recovery, strength sessions and body work, as well as spending as much time running in extreme heat as possible. That includes running and hiking countless laps to the summit of 9,298-foot Mt. Elden in Flagstaff, averaging 20 to 25 hours per week on the trails and also spending a lot of time on a bike trainer.

But he’s also spent a lot of time in the infrared sauna in his home and spent time with family in the Phoenix area, where he ran in the afternoons amid 115- to 120-degree heat.

“The heat training is kind of lucky for me, because growing up in the heat in Arizona, I didn’t know any different,” Walmsley says. “I just thought everyone was roasting in the heat. It’s what I grew up with and I try to lean into those memories and embrace the heat.”

Boulet, who lives in Berkeley, Calif., has also gone out of her way to train in the heat. While she says her build-up has been inconsistent compared to previous years, she’s been doing a lot of climbing and descending in the heat, and also working on box jumps to strengthen her legs for the long descent into Auburn. She says a recent 40-mile run up 3,849-foot Mt. Diablo east of Berkeley, is a good indicator that she’s ready to roll.

“I’ve definitely been spending more time in the heat lately, which is something I personally don’t enjoy running in,” says Boulet, who won the race in 2015, DNF’ed in 2016 and placed second in 2017. “But I know the importance of preparing in the heat and falling in love with running in the heat by race day. You can be as physically as ready as possible in terms of your fitness, but if you don’t have the heat training and you’re trying to tackle some of the parts of the canyons that are in the middle of the race, It’s really tough.”

Given the extreme heat, it’s not likely that anyone will challenge Walmsley’s 14:09 course record set two years ago, when it was in the low-80s and cloudy on race day. But there’s also no snow on the course this year, so the early sections that have previously forced runners to hike and walk early on will likely be faster, and that will likely result in fatigue that will slow them down in later stages of the race.

“You’ve got to take what the course gives you,” Walmsley says. “I’ve learned that you don’t fight the course where you shouldn’t. I have some splits in mind that would get me there under 15 hours and maybe close to 14:30, but it’s going to be all about feeling out what the course is giving me, following those guidelines and not forcing it. Because anyone who forces it in that heat will be doomed.”

(06/25/2021) Views: 459 ⚡AMP
by Outside Online (Brian Metzler)
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Western States 100

Western States 100

The Western States ® 100-Mile Endurance Run is the world’s oldest and most prestigious 100-mile trail race. Starting in Squaw Valley, California near the site of the 1960 Winter Olympics and ending 100.2 miles later in Auburn, California, Western States, in the decades since its inception in 1974, has come to represent one of the ultimate endurance tests in the...

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Jim Walmsley opens up about injury ahead of Western States 100

The defending WSER champion has been dealing with knee issues over the past few months, but he says he's ready to race this weekend

If you follow American ultrarunner Jim Walmsley on Strava and wondered why he’s been so quiet lately, he posted on Instagram on Tuesday to talk about an injury that has been nagging him for the past few months. Walmsley wrote that he has been dealing with knee and IT band issues, but he added that he has been pain-free for the past couple of weeks. His recovery couldn’t have come at a better time, as he is set to race the Western States 100 (WSER) in California on Saturday. Walmsley is the two-time defending WSER champion and course record holder, and he will be looking to make it three wins in a row this weekend.

As Walmsley wrote on Instagram, his knee and IT band issues began about three months ago. “It was at a point I saw as a crucial time to take it seriously and take some time to address it,” he said. He made big changes to his training schedule, taking five days off of running each week for the better part of a month. Walmsley said the injury came as a surprise, noting that his training load had been steady and his workouts had been going well for the previous month.

After his “reset with running,” Walmsley said he had eight weeks to go until WSER. While he might have felt better, he didn’t push himself too much, and he spent the next while taking care in his workouts and visiting his physiotherapist regularly. He added that he spent a lot of time riding his bike to make up for his lack of run training in this period.

Walmsley races at Hoka One One’s Project Carbon X 2, where he ran 6:14:26, just 12 seconds off the 100K world record. Photo: Hoka One One

“This block has been so much more work than usual,” he wrote. “I went through ups and downs with emotions, not knowing if I’d be able to line up healthy.” With just a few days to go until WSER, Walmsley’s careful training and build to race day worked out, and he said he feels better and healthier than he has at any point in the past three months.

“I feel like I’m gaining momentum at the right time,” he wrote, “and I couldn’t be more excited to be back at Western States ready to rock.”

(06/23/2021) Views: 468 ⚡AMP
by Running Magazine
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Western States 100

Western States 100

The Western States ® 100-Mile Endurance Run is the world’s oldest and most prestigious 100-mile trail race. Starting in Squaw Valley, California near the site of the 1960 Winter Olympics and ending 100.2 miles later in Auburn, California, Western States, in the decades since its inception in 1974, has come to represent one of the ultimate endurance tests in the...

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Western States site name to be changed

After researching the etymology of the racist and sexist term "squaw," officials of the California ski resort have decided to change its name.

The famed Western States 100 ultramarathon starts in Squaw Valley, Calif., near a river, some roads and several ski lodges of the same name, which many have found troubling for its racist and sexist roots. The area is also known as Olympic Valley, as it was the site of the 1960 Olympics, but for years, locals and tourists have all called it by its other name. It was recently announced that this will soon change, as owners of the Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows ski resort have finally decided to drop that title.

“With the momentum of recognition and accountability we are seeing around the country, we have reached the conclusion that now is the right time to acknowledge a change needs to happen,” said Ron Cohen, the president and COO of Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows. “We have to accept that as much as we cherish the memories we associate with our resort name, that love does not justify continuing to use a term that is widely accepted to be a racist and sexist slur.” Cohen went on to say the resort will find a new name to “reflect our core values, storied past and respect for all those who have enjoyed this land.”

The Western States 100 starts right at the ski resort and travels 100 miles southwest to Auburn, Calif. Race director Craig Thornley tweeted the statement from Cohen and his team, adding, “It’s really gonna happen.” Thornley’s tweet received mixed reviews from his followers, with some people saying the name should have been changed long ago, while others seem to think it’s fine the way it is.

As a member of the Washoe Tribe (a Native American tribe with origins near Lake Tahoe), Helen Fillmore, told a local radio station in July, when she is around people discussing the local resort, all she hears are racial slurs. 

“All of a sudden people are asking if you ski and telling you about how they’re going to go ski, racial slur. ‘Let’s go ski, racial slur,’” Fillmore said. “People don’t even think twice about how that word is impacting the person they’re talking to.” The dropping of the resort name will be welcome news to Fillmore and other members of the Washoe Tribe, although they have had to wait a long time for this change. 

The resort’s new name will be released in early 2021, and officials say it will begin to be implemented after the 2020/2021 ski season, meaning that by June, when the Western States 100 is set to be held, the race’s start should be at a newly-named location. 

(08/31/2020) Views: 843 ⚡AMP
by Ben Snider-McGrath
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Western States 100

Western States 100

The Western States ® 100-Mile Endurance Run is the world’s oldest and most prestigious 100-mile trail race. Starting in Squaw Valley, California near the site of the 1960 Winter Olympics and ending 100.2 miles later in Auburn, California, Western States, in the decades since its inception in 1974, has come to represent one of the ultimate endurance tests in the...

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With his race event cancelled, 72-year-old Eric Spector inspires other seniors to remain active

The key is to commit to staying fit, whether during a pandemic or not, says Eric Spector.

If these were normal times, Eric Spector would be in the final phase of training for the race of his dreams — the annual Western States Endurance Run, a 100-mile trail run from Squaw Valley to Auburn. It's an event he calls the Superbowl of ultramarathons.

But with the June event canceled, along with most other activities, due to the coronavirus crisis, the 72-year-old fitness enthusiast has been forced to adapt his fitness routine.

Rather than rigorously training in the hills above Palo Alto, Spector has turned to power walking. And rather than swimming and exercising at the Oshman Family Jewish Community Center, he has set up a gym in his garage where he can lift weights, ride a stationary bicycle and generally keep moving.

"The key is working up a sweat and getting the benefit of a cardiovascular workout," said the Palo Alto resident, who has participated in more than 20 marathons in the United States and abroad and was the oldest person to complete the 2018 Rio del Lago 100-Mile Endurance Run in the Sierra Nevada foothills.

Though a committed runner, Spector, who turns 73 on May 5, is no exercise snob. In fact, he's a promoter of exercise for anybody and everybody through his Twitter page, [ @fitatallages.

"It doesn't really matter what activity somebody chooses — the benefits of being fit are extraordinarily clear," he said."It prevents so many diseases and, if you get sick, your recovery time is usually much shorter because of your fitness.

"Whether you speed walk, bicycle, play racquetball, hike — the most important thing is that you do it regularly and that you sweat. With those two ingredients, it provides a longer, healthier, more vigorous life."

On his Twitter feed, Spector often shares links to inspirational stories of older athletes as well as small exercise tips like:"Well, you don't want to run? Then dance."

During the stay-at-home order, he has been sharing the many ways athletes, from Olympians to coaches, have adapted their fitness routines. One marathoner who qualified for this year's Olympics in Tokyo, shared this philosophy with the New York Times: The only thing athletes can control at this point, since competitions and events are canceled, is their training routines. Another story that Spector shared from Sports Illustrated features a running coach who provided some creative inspiration to those looking to compete or exercise: He organized a virtual ultramarathon where participants mapped out their own running loop in their backyards, neighborhoods or treadmills and livestreamed their runs on Zoom.

Spector said the key is to commit to staying fit, whether during a pandemic or not. He recommends picking an exercise and following through with a routine. This can be anything from walking around the block once a week to walking around the backyard everyday. Tracking when, where and for how long you do a particular activity will help you maintain a routine and stay motivated.

Exercise wasn't always a priority for Spector.

As a young man he was overweight and working long hours at a New York City startup.

"I wasn't at all plugged in to athletics of any kind — I'd really done nothing more than work and eat and put on some weight," he said.

But he became intrigued when some of his business school classmates flew in from California to run the 1978 New York City Marathon.

"I thought, 'If these guys can do it, I should be able to do it,' so I bought some sneakers, went out for a run to the west side of the Hudson River and barely made it," he said.

Spector kept at it, and a little more than a year later, he entered the 1979 New York City Marathon.

"It was my first running event ever but I did quite well and loved it," he said."I really loved the fitness, the clarity of mind, the stream of consciousness as you're running."

He grew to love the "runner's high," which he describes as"a kind of a euphoria, where you're not even conscious of the effort. It's just the rhythm and the joy of physical activity.

"For me, that kind of activity has been a mainstay of mental health and sanity, with the benefit of staying fit," he said.

(05/01/2020) Views: 829 ⚡AMP
by Chris Kenrick
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Western States 100

Western States 100

The Western States ® 100-Mile Endurance Run is the world’s oldest and most prestigious 100-mile trail race. Starting in Squaw Valley, California near the site of the 1960 Winter Olympics and ending 100.2 miles later in Auburn, California, Western States, in the decades since its inception in 1974, has come to represent one of the ultimate endurance tests in the...

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Western States 100 has been cancelled due to the war the world is in gaged in with the Cornavirus

The decision to cancel the 2020 Western States Endurance Run was a tough one.  In accordance with this decision, we are offering an entry spot for the 2021 race to all runners entered in this year’s race and a wait list spot on the 2021 wait list to all people on this year’s wait list.

The 2020 Memorial Day training runs are cancelled and all registrations for those events will roll over to the 2021 Memorial Day training runs. More details on entry and registration for 2021 events will be provided later.

We have made the decision to cancel after careful deliberation, knowing that our foremost responsibility is to ensure the health, safety, and well-being of our 2020 entrants, our volunteers, our broader running community, and society at large.

The current situation in the United States and throughout the world is one of disruption and uncertainty. We feel that moving forward with plans for a race in June is not aligned with what our government, medical experts, and society is asking us to do. While painful to do knowing the hopes and dreams that surround this event, we feel it is the responsible action to take in light of what is going on in the world around us.

(03/27/2020) Views: 721 ⚡AMP
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Western States 100

Western States 100

The Western States ® 100-Mile Endurance Run is the world’s oldest and most prestigious 100-mile trail race. Starting in Squaw Valley, California near the site of the 1960 Winter Olympics and ending 100.2 miles later in Auburn, California, Western States, in the decades since its inception in 1974, has come to represent one of the ultimate endurance tests in the...

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HOKA ONE ONE have been named as presenting sponsors of the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run.

The deal also includes a rebranding of a series of races which allow entry to WSER as the “HOKA ONE ONE Golden Ticket Races”.

The series for 2020 will consist of the Bandera 100km in January, Black Canyon 100km in February, Georgia Death Race in March, Lake Sonoma 50-miler in April and the Canyons 100km in April.

The USA’s most prestigious trail ultra takes place in Olympic Valley, California, and will next be staged on June 27 2020.

Race director Craig Thornley: “We are extremely excited that HOKA has made such a strong commitment to our mission as an organisation, which is to serve the ultra community as one of the thoughtful leaders in our sport and culminates each June with putting on the highest-quality, yet intimate 100-mile experience we can possibly present for all of our runners.”

Mike McManus, director of global sports marketing for HOKA ONE ONE, said: “HOKA was born in the mountains and gained an early foothold in the trail ultrarunning community, so it is only natural that we would help put on the original trail 100-mile race. The Western States Endurance Run is an iconic event with an incredible community behind it, and one where some of the best-known legends of ultrarunning are born. We are beyond thrilled and proud to be the presenting sponsor.”

Registrations for the ballot for the 2020 WSER will open on November 9.

(11/05/2019) Views: 1,173 ⚡AMP
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Western States 100

Western States 100

The Western States ® 100-Mile Endurance Run is the world’s oldest and most prestigious 100-mile trail race. Starting in Squaw Valley, California near the site of the 1960 Winter Olympics and ending 100.2 miles later in Auburn, California, Western States, in the decades since its inception in 1974, has come to represent one of the ultimate endurance tests in the...

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How high-tempo training with elite Ethiopians helped Briton Tom Evans to place third at the Western States 100 this year

Tom Evans spent two months in Ethiopia training with elite marathon runners to prepare for this year’s Western States 100 mile ultra marathon. The training paid dividends as he finished third with the fastest ever time by a non-American runner of 14 hours, 59 minutes and 44 seconds.

“The slowest runner [in the Ethiopian running group], except for me, was a 2:08 marathoner,” the Briton said. “That made it very interesting. Their tempo runs were on dirt tracks with rolling hills, so were perfect for Western States.”

“They would run until they dropped and we were being followed by a car so they’d be picked up,” Evans said. “At first, because of the altitude, I was the first to drop out but I began to get used to the elevation.”

WSER100 is one of the most prestigious 100 mile races in the world. It takes place in California, starting at altitude before descending into deep, hot canyons. Jim Walmsley won this year’s race in a record 14:09:28.

The brutal tempo sessions in Ethiopia were fuelled by fierce rivalries, with runners motivated by the hope of being picked up by foreign agents and given the opportunity to race and earn money abroad.

“It’s almost becomes survival of the fittest,” Evans said.

The “sag wagon” that accompanied the runners was always a tempting respite from the sessions.

“You can drop out when ever you want,” he said. “So, it’s about how much you want it. It was really good mental strength training as they were always going fast and furious.”

Being in a new environment forced the former soldier to be more flexible in his attitude to training.

“You had no idea what was going to happen. I had kids throw rocks at me one day,” he said. “It was such a culture shock. I just had to deal with what was ahead of me day by day.”

Evans said he had learned from them the importance of strong contrasts between hard and easy sessions.

He felt not all of the training was relevant to his competition goals. The other athletes in the group were all preparing for marathons or half marathons, so their longest run was just two hours. Evans would sometimes head out for eight hours at a time.

“They thought I was absolutely mental,” he said. “They couldn’t get over how much volume I was doing. But they were fascinated. They really respected what I was doing.”

There were no coaches on hand to force runners on to the track or trail, but the total immersion experience meant they were not necessary.

“I became so attuned to my body. I was making decisions to drop out of sessions all based on feel,” he said.

Evans, who has won the CCC event at the Ultra Marathon du Mont Blanc (UTMB) week, could feel the effects of his training when he ran WSER100.

“I just felt so much more efficient,” he said. “So, at the end, I was still able to run hard.”

“For me, coming third in my first 100 miler was a best-case scenario,” Evans said. “I knew it was possible, I just didn’t know if it was probable.”

For now, Evans is going back to shorter races of about 50km to 100km, but he said the experience had “lit a fire” in him. 

“I definitely want to come back and see if I can improve my place, if not my time.”

(07/21/2019) Views: 1,263 ⚡AMP
by Mark Agnew
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Western States 100

Western States 100

The Western States ® 100-Mile Endurance Run is the world’s oldest and most prestigious 100-mile trail race. Starting in Squaw Valley, California near the site of the 1960 Winter Olympics and ending 100.2 miles later in Auburn, California, Western States, in the decades since its inception in 1974, has come to represent one of the ultimate endurance tests in the...

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Jim Walmsley wins Western States 100 smashing his own course record

Jim Walmsley wins the 2019 Western States 100 in a course record 14:09:28, breaking his own course record of 14:30:04 set last year.

“I made up a lot of time pushing pretty good up Robinson, Devil’s Thumb as well, then things began to relax,” he said on the finish line, adding there were a few aid stations when he was not so fresh. “Things started rolling again when I crossed the river.”

“It was a big goal just to come here and try and win. It’s one thing to win at Western States, it’s a once in a lifetime thing, but to do it twice, puts you a bit more ‘two time guy right here.”

Jared Hazen took second at the 2019 Western States 100 in 14:26:46, also under Jim Walmsley’s previous course record.  

Before this year’s race Walmsley said his mindset and approach to the race have changed little, and with favorable weather and decent course conditions, a push to again break the record could be in play.

“I might kind of pull things back (from) maybe not running as risky, but at the same time, counter to that, there’s pretty good weather predictions right now,” said Walmsley. “This will be my fourth time racing, fourth year in a row, and it’s by far the coolest year. There’s also that tempting side of it of like, ‘I always want to see what I can run here.”

Walmsley was on a record-breaking pace in 2016, but strayed off course with less than 10 miles to go. He fought through exhaustion to finish 20th with a time of 18:45:36. In 2017, which had a similar amount of snow on the course as this year, Walmsley was several minutes ahead of his 2018 record time during the early portions of the course, but as the day wore on, temperatures climbed past 90 degrees and exhaustion knocked him out of the race with a little more than 20 miles to go.

“Ultimately, it’s about listening to my own pace and just putting everything out there regardless,” he said. “As long as I end up giving my best effort and going to the well to get there, I’m always happy with it. Whether it’s the DNF in 2017 or the course record last year. I’m pretty proud of both days and the fact that I know I gave everything at both races. You can always live with that.”

Coming into this year’s race, Walmsley said he feels he’s matured as a runner, which has given him the confidence to overcome the mental and physical hurdles that arise during a 100-mile race.

(06/29/2019) Views: 1,539 ⚡AMP
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Western States 100

Western States 100

The Western States ® 100-Mile Endurance Run is the world’s oldest and most prestigious 100-mile trail race. Starting in Squaw Valley, California near the site of the 1960 Winter Olympics and ending 100.2 miles later in Auburn, California, Western States, in the decades since its inception in 1974, has come to represent one of the ultimate endurance tests in the...

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Strong, talented and deepest field at Western States Endurance Run at this year race

More than 350 of the world’s best endurance athletes will emerge from the cold and dark Saturday morning to stand at the start line at Squaw Valley, eager to begin the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run from the resort to Auburn.

This year’s field of runners is one of the deepest in the history of the race, featuring the return of both the men and women’s champions along with several top-10 finishers from last year.

After coming up short in two previous bids to set the course record at Western States, Jim Walmsley, of Flagstaff, Arizona, broke through last year, finishing with a record time of 14 hours, 30 minutes, 4 seconds. Walmsley, 29, is set to defend his title this year against a deep field in the men’s division, which features eight of last year’s top-10 finishers.

Walmsley will make his fourth appearance in the race on Saturday. His attempt to break the course record in 2017 ended due to exhaustion at around mile 78. He rebounded the following year by setting the course record, and said breaking that mark could be in play on Saturday.

Walmsley said he’s also been told the early stages of the course are in better shape than they were in 2017, which had a similarly large snowpack. During 2017’s race he was also several minutes ahead of the record-breaking time he set in 2018.

“Ultimately, it’s about listening to my own pace and just putting everything out there regardless,” he said. “As long as I end up giving my best effort and going to the well to get there, I’m always happy with it. Whether it’s the DNF in 2017 or the course record last year. I’m pretty proud of both days and the fact that I know I gave everything at both races. You can always live with that.”

Among those who could challenge Walmsley will be 2017 Western States winner Ryan Sandes. The 37-year-old South African broke through in his third attempt to win at Western States, and then ran as a pacer during last year’s event.

“I feel like it was a big thing for me to win Western States and a big achievement, so I feel pretty relaxed going into Western States from that point of view, but Western States is still one of the biggest 100 milers in the world, if not the biggest,” said Sandes. “I’ve still got that drive and hunger and I think that’s why I came back here. That’s a big motivating factor and I’m definitely hungry.”

Other top competitors on the men’s side include: Mark Hammond, Ian Sharman, Jeff Browning, Charlie Ware, Kyle Pietari, Paul Giblin and Kris Brown.

On the women’s side, defending champion Courtney Dauwalter, of Golden, Colorado, returns after winning in her first time out.

Dauwalter, 34, finished with the second fastest time ever for a woman last year, reaching Auburn with a time of 17:27:00.

Second-place finisher Katlyn Gerbin, 30, of Issaquah, Washington will also be in the field. Lucy Bartholomew, 23, of Melbourne, Australia, finished third last year and will be in this year’s field as well. Bartholomew has spent the past few weeks training in the area, and running with Truckee-Tahoe athletes at local races.

Kaci Lickteig, 32, of Omaha, Nebraska, who won in 2016, will race as well.

Other returning top-10 finishers from a year ago include: Amanda Basham, Cecilia Flori, Camelia Mayfield, Aliza Lapierre and Corrine Malcolm.

(06/28/2019) Views: 1,327 ⚡AMP
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Western States 100

Western States 100

The Western States ® 100-Mile Endurance Run is the world’s oldest and most prestigious 100-mile trail race. Starting in Squaw Valley, California near the site of the 1960 Winter Olympics and ending 100.2 miles later in Auburn, California, Western States, in the decades since its inception in 1974, has come to represent one of the ultimate endurance tests in the...

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Kyle Robidoux is legally blind and will be making history as he takes on the Western States 100 this weekend

When 43-year-old Roxbury, Massachusetts resident Kyle Robidoux sets foot on the starting line at Squaw Valley Saturday morning, he will be making Western States history.

According to Race Director Craig Thornley, Robidoux will be the first known runner in the 45-year existence of the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run who is legally blind.

With the help of a team of sighted guides, Robidoux will attempt the 100.2-mile trek from Squaw Valley to Auburn. But he is no stranger to ultra running. Since being declared legally blind at age 19, Robidoux has completed a number of premier running events, including five Boston Marathons.

"I've run in three 100-mile races, all with varied terrain, but Western States by far will be the most challenging," said Robidoux, who is being sponsored by Clif Bar. "There are a variety of conditions, so it'll be important for me to run really hard when terrain is runnable, knowing on climbs I'll have to walk. I'll have to make up my time during the runnable stuff."

Robidoux was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa, a degenerative eye disease that affects night vision and typically leads to complete blindness, when he was 11. Though he still has an estimated 3 percent field of vision, his eyesight has gradually declined over time.

"I have very extreme tunnel vision, like looking through a paper towel roll," Robidoux said. "I have no peripheral vision, no up or down, no night vision at all. I'm not colorblind but I can't see contrast very well. When I'm running, I can't tell the difference between dirt, rocks or roots. I can't see elevation change and I can't see if I need to step up or down."

That's where his guides come in. Connected through an organization called United in Stride, which helps recruit sighted guides for visually impaired runners and vice versa, Robidoux's guides run side by side with him, bound together by a tether. The guides act as a sight coach throughout the race, giving various verbal cues to the visually impaired runner.

"Their goal is to keep me safe and keep other runners safe during races," Robidoux said. "They keep me moving forward and upright. That puts me in a position where all I have to focus on is running; not if I trip on something or run into someone else."

Among Robidoux's guides is seven-time WSER champion Scott Jurek.

"It will be fun seeing this course in a different light," said Jurek. "It's so cool to have an opportunity to be someone else's eyes."

After getting to know each other over the past several years, Jurek feels Robidoux is up for the challenge.

"Kyle's got a tenacity to him," Jurek said. "He might not be the fastest, but he's got an intense desire, something you have to have for Western States, whether you can see or not."

That desire sprouted from depression. Robidoux's initial resentment toward his diagnosis made him inactive, overweight and on a path toward Type 2 diabetes.

"I essentially dealt with it by not dealing with it," said Robidoux. "I was bitter and angry about my eyesight. I was convinced things were being taken away from me that I loved doing."

With the support of his family, Robidoux began seeing a therapist to help deal more effectively. Soon after, he started running again to improve his health and be able to play with his daughter, Lucy. He dropped 70 pounds and completed his first event – the Maine Half Marathon – by age 34 in 2010.

“I started to realize that things weren’t being taken away from me, I was giving up on them,” Robidoux said. “I still have days when I get really angry and frustrated. It’s a continuing process. There’s a strong likelihood that I’ll lose all of my vision. It’s scary, but I’m learning how to adapt and emotionally prepare for that.”

Robidoux has finished over 25 marathons and ultra marathons and plans to continue for as long as he’s able.

(06/25/2019) Views: 1,429 ⚡AMP
by Nick Pecoraro
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Western States 100

Western States 100

The Western States ® 100-Mile Endurance Run is the world’s oldest and most prestigious 100-mile trail race. Starting in Squaw Valley, California near the site of the 1960 Winter Olympics and ending 100.2 miles later in Auburn, California, Western States, in the decades since its inception in 1974, has come to represent one of the ultimate endurance tests in the...

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Cecilia Flori often smiles through pain, but now she’s hoping an injury doesn’t keep her from competing at the 2019 Western States 100-mile race

The gap between elites and amateurs can feel wide indeed, but one area of common ground is an injury that threatens the start line of an important race. That’s the relatable place elite ultrarunner Cecilia Flori finds herself as she struggles with a foot injury a few weeks out from the Western States Endurance Run, the 100-mile race on June 29, from Squaw Valley to Auburn, California.

Expected to be a favorite in this year’s event, Flori arrived in California more than a month before the race, hoping to train on the course. The 38-year-old Italian physicist, who currently calls New Zealand home, earned bib F5 and says she was feeling as fit as ever when her foot began to hurt.

“I’ve been working on my speed by running marathons this year,” she said. “I think the Western course suits my strengths and I was more than ready for it.”

Relatively new to the ultra scene—and running in general—Flori made a big entrance to the sport, nabbing a podium spot at the North Face Endurance 50-miler in Canada in 2015.

“I’ve always loved the outdoors and was a climber before a triathlete friend convinced me to run a half marathon with him,” she said. “I really enjoyed it and I was hooked.”

Flori says the flow of running is what drew her in. “The repetitive motion makes me feel alive,” she said. “It’s a primal feeling—I’m at one with nature when I’m on trails.”

Relocating for her research to scenic New Zealand in 2016, Flori migrated entirely from climbing to running, joining a running club for training. She took on some shorter distance trail races and then won the Taupo 100K. “I started thinking that maybe I was good at endurance,” she says. “In 2017, I entered the Tarawera 100 and took third behind [2008 U.S. Olympic marathoner] Magda Boulet and [2017 Comrades champion] Camille Herron. I was shocked but I realized I could compete on an international level.”

Herron has since become Flori’s coach, and it was that Tarawera race that made Herron take note.

“I watched her run neck-and-neck with Magda Boulet,” Herron said. “What I remember most as I looped around and saw her was the big smile on her face.”

Since then there have been few hiccups in Flori’s ascent to the upper echelons of ultras. She pulled off fifth at last year’s Western States in 19:44 and followed it up with a 10th place finish at the 101K CCC in the French Alps last September, which she admits, tested her. “It was a learning experience,” she said. “I was sick and had to stop at aid stations quite a bit. But I still managed 10th and I’m proud of myself.”

Herron says Flori has a bright future ahead of her. “I saw that same smile on Cecilia’s face at 62 miles into Western last year. For someone to look that good in fifth place tells me she has lots more to give.

(06/24/2019) Views: 1,494 ⚡AMP
by Amanda Loudin
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Western States 100

Western States 100

The Western States ® 100-Mile Endurance Run is the world’s oldest and most prestigious 100-mile trail race. Starting in Squaw Valley, California near the site of the 1960 Winter Olympics and ending 100.2 miles later in Auburn, California, Western States, in the decades since its inception in 1974, has come to represent one of the ultimate endurance tests in the...

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New Racing Rules Remove Some Barriers for Transgender Runners

As president of the board of the nonprofit that oversees one of the most prestigious ultradistance races in the country, John Medinger has had to deal with many concerns: sponsors, weather, permits, volunteers.

But it wasn’t until this year that he and his colleagues at the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run were compelled to address an issue few would have envisioned when it was first held in 1974: transgender competitors.

“It’s not something we would have been thinking about back then, that’s for sure,” said Mr. Medinger, 68, who has run Western States five times and has been involved in race management since 1991. “But it’s the nature of society now.”

And it’s something that the world of competitive athletics, including the Olympics, USA Track & Field and the National Collegiate Athletic Association, has been grappling with: how transgender women, in particular, should be entered and scored in competition and whether they have an unfair biological advantage over cisgender women, whose identity reflects the sex they were assigned at birth.

Although the science is mixed on the biology, some people contend that transgender women have an advantage because of size and the presence of testosterone, even though hormone levels change during transition.

But others, most notably the researcher and transgender runner Dr. Joanna Harper, are skeptical that such an edge exists, particularly in endurance sports in which (as opposed to say, sprinting or shot-putting) transgender women appear to have similar cardiovascular measures as cisgender women and thus little or no advantage.

While Western States starts near the site of the 1960 Winter Olympics, there is no prize money, scholarships or endorsement deals are at stake. 

There are no gold medals, but there is some precious metal involved: a handmade silver belt buckle for those who manage to complete the distance in less than 24 hours.

On June 29 and 30, 369 runners (chosen through a lottery entered by 5,862 runners) will take on the Western States challenge, as they attempt to navigate a mind-and-body-boggling 100 miles of trails and altitude changes from Squaw Valley to Auburn, Calif. The swiftest will be running to finish among the top 10 men or women. Recognition is also given to the top three males and females in five age groups from 30 to over 70.

The question of transgender fairness arose for Western States in December, when Grace Fisher — a transgender runner who is an outstanding ultradistance competitor — was selected through the race’s traditional lottery system.

The event’s management team decided it was time to come up with a policy. “We felt that this was not something we should ignore,” said Diana Fitzpatrick, a board member. “If it turned out that she finished in the top 10, it would be better for her and everyone that we had a policy in place.”

Back in high school in Utah, Ms. Fisher, now 38, was a male-identified track runner. She recalls that when some teammates ran a local marathon their senior year, “I said, ‘I’ll never do that, it’s crazy.’” Eventually, Ms. Fisher began running distances far longer than the marathon. She has completed about 40 ultramarathons, including eight 100-mile races.

She continued running during the years when, she said, “I was figuring things out.” After hormone treatments, she ran her first ultramarathon as a woman in 2015. She said she slowed down since her transition as a result of muscle mass loss, which can be attributed to hormonal treatments.

But Ms. Fisher, who lives in Hancock, Md., ran a personal best time in a 100-miler in Virginia last September of 18 hours 41 minutes. She was the first female finisher and fifth overall in that race.

Ms. Fitzpatrick, 61, a lawyer who is also a runner (she, too, has competed in Western States five times), worked with a committee of four other board members to develop the policy. They looked at existing guidelines from other organizations and races, and spoke to leading figures in transgender sports.

During the process, they were also cognizant that the runner who had sparked their action did not ask for the guidelines.

The guidelines they came up with, and which were announced in March, are being viewed as a model for other participatory running events.

Ms. Fitzpatrick acknowledged that “we really tried to have a `live and let live’ view on this.”

Hence Western State’s guidelines state that “a runner’s self-declared gender at registration will be accepted at face value.” No one need produce a driver’s license or other identification as has been the case for some races.

If, however, a finisher in the top 10 or among the top three in their age group is challenged, race management may ask the runner for documentation that they have undergone medically supervised hormone treatment for gender transition for at least a year before the race.

Even in the event that a transgender runner wins an award or is challenged and the challenge is upheld by race management, the guidelines state that “the runner will be allowed to keep their finisher’s buckle.”

That allowance, Ms. Fitzpatrick says, is to underscore that the new guidelines are “not about punishment.” By contrast, competitors who violate Western States doping policy are stripped of their silver buckle — as well as whatever other award they won.

“Underneath this all are real people with real feelings who have usually had a long, hard journey to get where they are,” Ms. Fitzpatrick said. “The last thing they need are additional challenges and hurdles.”

(06/22/2019) Views: 1,415 ⚡AMP
by New York Times
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Western States 100

Western States 100

The Western States ® 100-Mile Endurance Run is the world’s oldest and most prestigious 100-mile trail race. Starting in Squaw Valley, California near the site of the 1960 Winter Olympics and ending 100.2 miles later in Auburn, California, Western States, in the decades since its inception in 1974, has come to represent one of the ultimate endurance tests in the...

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Henri Lehkonen is more prepared than ever for the Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run

The Hong Kong-based Australian Henri Lehmonrn will run the Western States 100 with a power monitor attached to his shoe and will stick religiously to a predetermined wattage.

“It’s been a revelation. If I lost the thing, I’d buy another tomorrow,” he said. “It’s a miracle way to control yourself in racing.”

Lehkonen believes it is better than other similar metrics, like heart rate, because it removes variables like excitement or altitude.

“I’ve done enough races now when I’ve not followed the watch and I’ve blown up, and when I’ve followed the watch and I’m tearing past people at the end,” he said. “I follow it for the first third – that’s where the damage is done if you over exert yourself. Then you get the adrenaline from passing people.”

And it is working. In March, he ran the 100km Ultra Trail Australia (UTA). He was 69th after 1km, but finished 11th in a highly competitive field.

Power meters are common in sports like cycling, but are yet to be taken up widespread in trail running. Lehkonen was introduced to the meter by his coach Andy Dubois, who crunches the data to give him an accurate power curve for his races.

Aside from the gadgets, Lehkonen is leaving no stone unturned. It is notoriously hard to win a place at WSER100. Hopefuls enter a lottery, and improve their chances by entering the lottery multiple years in a row. This was Lehkonen’s third year submitting an application, which is relatively quick.

“It’s Western States. It’s that big and it’s hard to get into, so I’m viewing it as all in,” he said.

He flew to California for a weekend to look at the course. The race directors organised a three-day event where runners could do the last 112km of the course, with some of the checkpoints set up.

(06/21/2019) Views: 1,446 ⚡AMP
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Western States 100

Western States 100

The Western States ® 100-Mile Endurance Run is the world’s oldest and most prestigious 100-mile trail race. Starting in Squaw Valley, California near the site of the 1960 Winter Olympics and ending 100.2 miles later in Auburn, California, Western States, in the decades since its inception in 1974, has come to represent one of the ultimate endurance tests in the...

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Western States 100 course record holder Jim Walmsley makes Hong Kong debut

Hong Kong is in peak trail-running season, and one of the world’s champion runners, Jim Walmsley, has flown in for a series of events that will test his legendary speed and stamina.

Walmsley has set records for running across the Grand Canyon, smashed the Western States record, earned back to back titles as Ultrarunner of the Year, and is the world’s top ranked runner on ITRA. Despite this, he sets new goals tirelessly.

He is visiting Hong Kong primarily to compete in the Fast 50 Miles Ultra trail run: a gruelling 80km dash along a single trail from Route Twisk to Shing Mun and around the Shing Mun Reservoir, with about 2,500 meters of elevation.

(02/12/2019) Views: 1,274 ⚡AMP
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Britain’s UTMB CCC winner Tom Evans will make his Western States 100 debut next June

Tom Evans is among a top line-up of confirmed elite runners for next year’s Western States 100. The world trail bronze medallist is one of 10 runners invited by organisers of the Ultra Trail World Tour, which includes the Western States 100.  Also due to take part in the world’s oldest 100-mile trail event on June 29, 2019, is Italy’s Francesca Canepa, who won the main UTMB race this year, and Spain’s Jordi Gamito Baus, who was second on this year’s UTWT standings. Britain’s Beth Pascall, who was fourth in this year’s UTMB, is another who will be heading Stateside. Evans wrote on Twitter: “So excited to announce that I will be racing Western States 100 next year! It will be my first 100 mile race. I can’t wait for the highs and lows of training to get to the start line. It’s going to be one big journey." The race from Squaw Valley to Urban along the Western States Trail was established in 1977 and has since become one of the world’s toughest and most prestigious trail running contests. (11/29/2018) Views: 1,040 ⚡AMP
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Jim Walmsley breaks the Western States 100 record by over 15 minutes on a baking hot day

We posted on Tuesday that even with the forecasted hot weather, Jim Walmsley was going to break the course record set in 2012 by Timothy Olsen who clocked 14:46:44. 

For two years now, Walmsley’s public declaration that he will not only try and break the famous 100-mile course record but trim more than 45 minutes off it has bought him massive attention. 

Fast forward to this year's race.  Jim hit the 85.2 mile mark in 12 hours 16 minutes.  Could he hold on for 15 more miles? The temperature in Auburn, California where the race finishes at 6pm was 96 degrees. 

That was still a lot of miles in that kind of heat.  At Pointed Rocks (94.3 miles) he was still trying to hold it together.  He ran 10:50 pace for that 3.7 mile split.  It was hot.  Meanwhile Courtney Dauwalter continued to lead the women hitting 79.8 miles in 13 hours 48 minutes. Course records were still possible. 

Jim passed the 96.8 mile check point at No Hands Bridge and ran right on through without stopping.  He was 14 minutes ahead of the course record still. 

Courtney was 33 minutes ahead of course record at mile 80 with Lucy Bartholomew in second place some miles back. Frenchman Francois Dhaene was in second place at 90.7 miles about an hour behind the leader.  

Reliable reports told I Run Far that Jim was delayed for about ten minutes by a bear with cubs along the trail at around 95 miles.  He passed the Robie Point check point (98.9 miles) running 8:11 pace now knowing he was going to finally win the Western States 100 and maybe still set the course record. 

He kept it together and went on to win clocking 14:30:04 on a baking hot day, taking over 15 minutes off the course record.  

(06/23/2018) Views: 3,477 ⚡AMP
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Is the Western States 100 record going to fall this weekend?

The 2018 Western States 100 kicks off at 5 a.m. PDT on Saturday, June 23rd in Olympic Valley, California before covering the 100 miles to the city of Auburn. Western States is the world’s oldest 100-mile trail race.  In the decades since its inception in 1974, WS has come to represent one of the ultimate endurance tests in the world.  For this year Jim Walmsley plans to go slow and steady, having blown up in the sapping heat last year when chasing the record. “I still think this year I won’t be far from it [the record],” Walmsley told the South China Morning Post. “I am trying to be more conservative, but if there is a special day or special effort than I’ll have to go for it in the end.” For two years now, Walmsley’s public declaration that he will not only try and break the famous 100-mile (161-kilometre) course record but trim more than 45 minutes off it has bought him massive attention. But on the American runner’s 2016 attempt a wrong turn ruined his chances and in 2017 he failed to pace himself correctly in hot conditions.  The current record is held by American Timothy Olson, set in 2012 at 14 hours, 46 minutes and 44 seconds. (06/19/2018) Views: 1,317 ⚡AMP
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Francois d’Haene, is a favorite at Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run

Present on the Ultra Trail World Tour World Tour since 2014, this ultra-marathon of 161 kilometers and 6,000 vertical meters is one of the main ultrarunning events of the season. The Western States Endurance Run qualifies for the UTWT. But who will win this event?. On the 2018 edition, the names known and recognized will not fail. As favorite François D'Haene  from France 32 years old and Second participation for French on the ultra Californian marathon and he is appearing as the main favorite. In fact, his track record speaks for him: 3 victories on the Ultra-Trail of Mont Blanc, 2 on the Grand Raid and other very prestigious on the Ultra Trail of Mount Fuji, Hong Kong 100 or Madeira Island Ultra Trail. (06/14/2018) Views: 1,475 ⚡AMP
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Ultra Running Picture Of the Year 2017

Jessie Haynes at Western States 100 about to cross the American River. It is that time of the year when the ultra and trail running aficionados go crazy at the prospect of another Western States Endurance Run (WSER) – the oldest 100-mile race in the USA and the one with the legendary story of Gordy Ainsleigh and a lame horse. With 18.000ft of climb and 22.000ft of downhill, the race has in the past been full of incredible stories. This photo gives you the feel of the race. (12/12/2017) Views: 1,351 ⚡AMP
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