Friday, June 24, 2011

Unbreakable: The Western States 100

Tomorrow, June 25th, will be the running of the Western States 100 ultramarathon race.

From the WS100 website: "In 1955, the late Wendell T. Robie with a party of five horsemen rode the Western States Trail from Squaw Valley to Auburn, proving that horses could still cover 100 miles in one day. Through his energy and vision, he subsequently founded the Western States Trail Foundation and organized the annual Western States Trail Ride, also known as the Tevis Cup "100 Miles - One Day" Ride.

In 1974, with the inspiration and encouragement of Drucilla Barner, 1st woman to win the Tevis Cup and Secretary of the WSTF, Tevis veteran Gordy Ainsleigh joined the horses of the Western States Trail Ride to see if he could complete the course on foot. Twenty-three hours and forty-two minutes later Gordy arrived in Auburn, proving that a runner could indeed traverse the rugged 100 miles in one day.

The Western States Endurance Run is one of the oldest ultra trail events in the world and certainly one of the most challenging.

The Run is conducted along the Western States Trail starting at Squaw Valley, California, and ending in Auburn, California, a total of 100 miles. The trail ascends from the Squaw Valley floor (elevation 6,200 feet) to Emigrant Pass (elevation 8,750 feet), a climb of 2,550 vertical feet in the first 4½ miles. From the pass, following the original trails used by the gold and silver miners of the 1850’s, runners travel west, climbing another 15,540 feet and descending 22,970 feet before reaching Auburn.

Most of the trail passes through remote and rugged territory, accessible only to hikers, horses and helicopters.

Due to the remoteness and inaccessibility of the trail, the Western States Endurance Run differs substantially from other organized runs. Adequate mental and physical preparation are of utmost importance to each runner, for the mountains, although beautiful, are relentless in their challenge and unforgiving to the ill-prepared.

The Run begins at 5:00 am on Saturday of the last weekend in June at the west end of Squaw Valley. Runners must reach the finish line no later than 11:00 am the following day in order to be eligible for an award.

Approximately 1,500 dedicated volunteers help out at each Western States Endurance Run. They are truly the life-blood of the Run and will do everything possible to make your day a success. Many spend more hours out on the trail than do the runners themselves."

The 2010 edition of the race was unprecedented, with 4 men running together for much of the race, unusual for a race of this duration. Happily, a film crew was on hand to document the race and interview participants:

"Unbreakable: The Western States 100 follows the four lead men on this amazing journey. Hal Koerner, two time defending Western States champion, and running store entrepreneur from Ashland, Oregon. Geoff Roes, undefeated at the 100-mile distance, an organic chef from Juneau, Alaska. Anton Krupicka, undefeated in every ultramarathon he has ever started, a graduate student living in Boulder, Colorado. Killian Jornet, the young mountain runner and two time Ultra-trail du Mont-Blanc champion, from Spain." (from the WS100Film website)

Have a great weekend all!


  1. Wouldn't it be awesome to do this race one day? It might be a little painful too!

  2. Special shout to my friend Chad who's running this weekend--what an adventure!

  3. A good friend of mine from my Houston running club is a multiple finisher of Western States 100...
    These guys make IM racing seem like child's play...

  4. This is a monster race but I'm sure Jeff DTC could handle it no problem. Hey do you know the elevation profile on the Leadville MTB race? It seems like there is less vertical than this, which would speak volumes to how gnarly Western States is.

  5. Patrick, WS100 has approximately 40,000' of elevation gain and loss, but its highest point is only 8,720'. Contrast that to Leadville's 19,000' of elevation gain/loss by also noting that this course never gets below 9,200'. For an even nmore eye-opening comparison, compare both those races to the Hardrock, which boasts 68,000'+ of elevation gain/loss, with an average elevation of 11,186'.

  6. All that comes to mind right now are cuss words.

  7. Craziness. Although I must say the thought of running that one day doesn't sound too off the wall to me :) Crap... I think finally I've turned into a runner, lol.

  8. You, Me, Patrick, and Jeff DTC should do it next year. Patrick can hire a film crew. It will be epic and inspirational. I'm sure of it.

  9. That race looks awesome - and gnarly for sure holy cow.


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