June 24, 2011

Western States 100 Preview

For those of you who don't know, at 5am tomorrow the 38th running of perhaps the most prestigious 100 mile races, the Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run, will begin. Runners will begin their journey in Squaw Valley and make their way over some tough and beautiful terrain to the finish located in Auburn. Lucky for participants, the weather this year is looking to be mild and cool, so much so in fact that this year the race is being run on a slightly modified snow course, guaranteeing some fast finishing times for the lead runners. Speaking of which, 2010 champion Geoff Roes will be returning to defend his title, and considering his performance last year (a 15:07 finish, breaking the course record), it looks like he will be one to watch. Also returning is 2010 3rd place finisher, 23 year old Spaniard Kilian Jornet, who is sure to up the ante. A slough of other top ultra runners with impressive racing resumes will be out there competing as well, adding to an already impressive field. In the women's race we are sure to see some blazing fast times as well. 2010 women's champion Tracy Garneau (running her WS debut in 19:01) will be returning once again, as will 2nd place finisher Meghan Arbogast, 3rd place finisher and three-time Western States champion Nikki Kimball, and 2009 champion Anita Ortiz. A couple newer faces will be out there as well with some impressive ultra wins under their belt and should give these ladies a run for their money. Fun fact: all these women also happen to be 40+ years old and can still kick some ass!
starting clock at Squaw Valley counting down to Saturday

This past Wednesday I was fortunate to attend an awesome Western States Trail Summit put on by the store I work at (Fleet Feet Sacramento). Leading the discussion was 25 time Western States finisher (and multiple winner) Tim Twietmeyer, and joining him were three of the top athletes in ultra running Geoff Roes, Kilian Jornet, and Liza Howard. I already mentioned the guys above, but Liza can certainly hold her own - as a mom, she still finds the time to train and compete, with wins at both Rocky Raccoon 100 and the famed Leadville 100. We were able to meet these amazing athletes, hear them discuss their training, racing, and opinions on a variety of topics. All three seemed very down to earth and humble, and truly seem to just love running. As I mentioned above, both men will be competing Saturday for the title, but poor Liza had to drop out due to an injury. It turned out to be an excellent event and a real unique experience. One thing I wasn't expecting was for all three of them to be so tiny! I guess that's partly why they're so fast : )
 (from l to r) Liza, Kilian, and Geoff
Fleet Feet staff w/ Liza (r), Kilian (r, in green), and Geoff (4th from r)

I'm also super excited to have the opportunity to volunteer Saturday night at the Fords Bar aid station at mile 73 which is hosted by my work. I will be there from about 8pm til 4am, so I should get to see a good chunk of the middle- and back-of-the-packers, including my coworker, Diane! As some of you may remember, Diane helped me immensely when I was training for AR 50, taking me up to the trails and imparting some of her wisdom to me. She also ran the first half of the actual race with me, serving as a wonderful unofficial pacer early on. I couldn't be more excited for her! This will be her third 100 miler but her first Western States, and I can't wait to see her out there killing it! It's definitely going to be a long night, but certainly a memorable one. I just feel lucky to be a part of such a prestigious event and get a glimpse at so many runners realizing a dream on their way to an incredible accomplishment. When my shift ends I plan on making my way to the finish at the local high school track where I'll hopefully catch Diane's finish and try to control my emotions as runners round the track to finish 100 freaking miles! Will be back soon with a recap of the weekend's events!

p.s. Live updates for all participants can be viewed here.

1 comment:

  1. very cool post...getting to hang out with all these runners must have been a great time. have fun at fords bar! I remember that place the last two years. painful! enjoy.