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Jerry Gordon 1937-2015

Jerry Gordon, Michigan Bluff aid station captain, passes away at age 78

Jerry Gordon, for 25 years the aid station captain at Michigan Bluff, passed away on June 21. He was 78.

For many, Jerry will be remembered for the wit, wisdom and warmth he provided at the Michigan Bluff aid station from 1983-2007.

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Jerry and Norma Gordon

John Medinger, Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run Board of Trustees member and past president, recalled on Monday Jerry’s smile and sense of humor whenever the two men crossed paths.

“We were always very jocular with each other,” Medinger said. “For the several years I was president of Western States, I would usually go to Michigan Bluff during the race. Jerry would invariably come up to me and say, ‘I hope you’re not here to tell me what to do. This is my aid station. I’m in charge here.’ And I would always respond, ‘Don’t kid yourself, Jerry. Norma (Jerry’s wife) is in charge here.’”

Medinger added: “There would be laughter all around, much clapping on shoulders. It was so predictable that I’d see him sometimes on training runs from the Bluff and ask him if he was in charge today and, if so, was it ok if I ran to Last Chance and back? … Jerry was simply a great guy. He loved Western States, everything about it, everyone involved in it.”

Outpouring of sentiment regarding Jerry’s passing was heartfelt on social media, as dozens of his friends and acquaintances – many of them from past Western States – recalled how his presence at Michigan Bluff made a profound difference for them.

Fourteen-time Western States women’s champion Ann Trason wrote:

“Sadly, Jerry Gordon (Aid Station Co-captain) of Michigan Bluff Aid Station for over 25 years, passed away today. He was born May 28th, 1937. Proud father, Grandfather and great Grandfather, husband of Norma Gordon and wonderful friend to so many runners of the Western States Run and Trail. Built his home himself, at Michigan Bluff, over 25 years ago. … You will be missed Jerry, and thank you for your support the 16 years I passed through Michigan Bluff during the race and for those last 10 years, you were my neighbor.”

Craig Thornley, race director of Western States who, along with a group of runners from Oregon and northern California trained and vacationed at Michigan Bluff for many years, remembered the painstaking attention to detail that Jerry brought to his duties at Michigan Bluf: “One story I remember him telling us was that he had figured out the perfect soup for the aid station was ‘Campbell’s Chicken and Stars’ because the noodles were small enough that runners could actually drink the soup from a cup. The longer noodles required a spoon or were otherwise too difficult to drink. Jerry was a big joke-teller, too. He was a great guy. We are really going to miss seeing him at Michigan Bluff on race day. For many of the runners who go out on training weekends in the winter and spring and pass through Michigan Bluff, I know the experience without seeing Jerry there will never quite be the same again. He helped all runners, all the time. He always loved talking to the people who were out on the Trail.”

Details regarding a memorial service and other next of kin are still forthcoming. Trason said she will have a card for Norma and Jerry’s family for all members of the WS community to sign at Squaw Valley this week, available at the UltraRunning tent. She will also have a card at Michigan Bluff for all to sign at Michigan Bluff on race day.

Jerry Gordon at Michigan Bluff

ARC Granite Chief Fundraising Update

Dear Western States stakeholder,

It has been a few months since our last update regarding the Granite Chief fundraising campaign that Western States embarked upon last fall with the Western States Trail Foundation (“The Tevis Cup”) and the American River Conservancy.

Here is the latest news:

Western States has successfully met its fundraising goal of $50,000. Your contributions, matched by the Western States trustees from our reserves created for purposes just as this most vital one, produces a total Run community support exceeding $100,000. Thanks to all of you for the generosity and interest you’ve shown in this effort. Your support is yet another example of the wonderful community and truly remarkable spirit that envelops all aspects of the WS 100.

According to the American River Conservancy, about $7.5 million of the overall fundraising goal of nearly $11 million needed for the Granite Chief acquisition has been achieved. The project’s deadline (escrow closure with the present owner) has been extended until July 31, which will allow ARC to complete the effort toward its fundraising goal. The ARC is now partnering with the Northern Sierra Partnership, of Palo Alto, Calif., and the Nature Conservancy, to advance the project, which we hope to achieve by the end of July.

On behalf of the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run Board of Trustees, thank you again for your generosity in helping move this important initiative forward. We will of course continue to keep you advised of further developments.

Sincerely,

John Trent
President
Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run Board of Trustees

2014 Runner Survey Results

Here are the results of the independent WSER Runner Survey from the June 28-29, 2014 race, conducted by ultralive.net.

All runners have to go through check-in the day before the race in Squaw Valley and we positioned the survey team at the end of the process: right after the “mug” shot and right in front of the entrance to the Western States store. Participation was very good (93% of starters) and we were able to correlate the data to finish times to make the analysis even more interesting.

Survey Questions

The runners were asked the following questions:

  • Number of 100’s started
  • Number of 100’s completed
  • Number of WSER started
  • Number of WSER completed
  • Number of years running ultras
  • Crew and Crew Size
  • Will they use a pacer?
  • Did they attend the Memorial weekend training camp
  • Shoe/Sock brand
  • Lighting system and brand
  • Hydration system

For 2014 edition of the WSER, there were 376 official starters, 296 finishers (78.7%) in under 30 hours with 129 finishing (34.3%) under 24 hours for the coveted Silver Buckle.

The survey had 352 participants (93% of the entrants) including nearly all of the elite runners. Of the survey participants 276 finished (78.4%) and 116 finished in under 24 hours (32.9%).

Finish Hour

For sub 24 hour finishers, 37 out of 116 (31.8%) finished in the 23rd hour of the race to get a silver buckle. In the last two hours of the race, there were 75 (27.2%) finishers. The busiest times on the track are between 4-5 AM and 9-11 AM on Sunday morning.  The graphs show the distribution of finishers by hour (14 hours to 29 hours). The first graph shows the average number of years running ultras compared to finishing time. The data implies that the number of years of experience does not correlate to a faster or slower finish time. The second graph shows the number of runners utilizing a crew or pacer compared to finishing time. Basically everyone uses a crew and pacer and the numbers correlate directly with the number of finishes in a given hour.  Of the survey participants, 22 finished without a crew (7.9%) and 27 finished without a pacer (9.7%). And 10 (3.6%) hardcore participants finished without a crew and pacer.

survey_2014_finish_years

survey_2014_finish_crew_pacer

 

Shoes

Hoka was the dominant shoe for all finishers regardless of the group. Of note, Brooks was a strong second when you look at all finishers but not a big contender for the sub 24 group. Pearl Izumi was in the top 3 for both groups of finishers.

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survey_2014_shoes_24

Socks

Injinji was the clear choice for both the overall and sub 24 groups. Drymax was second in both groups as well. Nearly half the finishers wore these two types of socks.

survey_2014_socks

survey_2014_socks_24

Training Style

Either you don’t need a coach to finish WSER or there is a huge untapped market out there for the coaches. You decide. With or without a coach your chances of a sub-24 and finishing are about the same.

survey_2014_training

survey_2014_training_24

Lighting

Petzl is the clear leader with Black Diamond a strong second. Almost everyone uses some kind of headlamp and about a quarter of the finishers use both a handheld and headlamp.

The first 9 finishers of the race didn’t need a headlamp as it wasn’t dark enough yet. M10 was the first “headlamp” finish.

The winner, Rob Krar, didn’t even pack a headlamp. Go big or go home.

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survey_2014_lighting_24

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Hydration

Bottles are the predominant mode of hydration in the race. Nearly three-quarters of finishers (overall and sub 24) use a bottle. It seems that the hydration belt is definitely out of favor these days when you have such a large selection of hand held bottles and/or hydration packs to choose from for carrying liquids.

survey_2014_hydration

survey_2014_hydration_24

Data Accuracy

  • 376 Runners Started the 2014 Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run
  • Ultralive.net Team surveyed a majority of those runners through the registration process at Squaw
  • 12 responses were removed due to data capture error (6 bib numbers had two rows of data with different responses, attributed to misreading Excel line number line instead of bib number)
  • Final survey reflects N = 352 athletes though individual questions may vary if athlete did not answer or know answer
  • Most graphs reflect data from the group of athletes who completed the race (276 in the survey finished)

 

Credits

Many thanks to the ultralive.net survey team: Kara Teklinski, Monique Winkler and Dana Katz.

Final statistics compiled by Kara Teklinski and Ted Knudsen.

 

 

ARC Granite Chief Expansion

Dear Friend of Western States,

The Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run needs your help.

In July, it was announced that the American River Conservancy (ARC), a non-profit, 501(c)(3) public-benefit organization based in Coloma, Calif., had signed a purchase contract to acquire 10,000 acres of mountain meadows and old-growth forest at the headwaters of the American River. The purchase area, located immediately west of Lake Tahoe and Squaw Valley, has long been considered by our board to be the most strategically vital area in ensuring that the Western States Trail remains open and accessible for all public recreation for years to come. Once completed, the ARC’s purchase will join together two existing roadless areas, the Wild and Scenic North Fork American River and the Granite Chief Wilderness into a large block of contiguous protected land. The Western States Trail crosses this 10,000-acre of private land. Our board strongly believes that purchase of this land will guarantee the availability of these trails to hikers, runners, and equestrians, and enable the 100 miles of the Western States Trail to qualify for National Trail designation. We’ve agreed to help ARC in the next phase of this effort, which will include fund-raising for the $10.167 million purchase price from the parcel’s private owners. The Western States Endurance Run Foundation has pledged up to $50,000 to match donations made by friends of our organization.

Hodgson's Cabin Near WS Trail

Hodgson’s Cabin Near WS Trail

Against this backdrop, we are seeking your support. Please consider a donation on behalf of this historic effort to ensure that the “high country” portion of the Western States Trail remains open to the public in perpetuity. Deadline for donations in support of this effort is March. 1, 2015. One hundred percent of all donations will go toward the purchase price of $10,167,000, and, if for any reason the American River Conservancy fails to raise sufficient funds to acquire the subject property, then 100 percent of the donations will be returned to the donor. To make a contribution, please go to the Western States website at the following link. http://www.wser.org/granite-chief-wilderness-campaign/

To find out more about the ARC and the acquisition, go to arconservancy.org. Thank you in advance for your consideration regarding this project and your much-appreciated support of our race.

Sincerely,

John Trent
President
Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run Board of Trustees

Steve Marchi 1955-2014

Steve Marchi, a longtime river crossing cable captain at Rucky Chucky, passed away over the weekend.

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Steve receives his Friend of the Trail Award in 2009

Steve, who was one of the prime contributors to ensuring the safe passage of all runners via a safety cable held by a line of volunteers across the American River just below a series of treacherous Class 4-6 rapids, was 59 years old.

Marchi’s wife, Jodi, informed race director Craig Thornley of Steve’s passing.

Steve had a long and notable career at Lawrence Livermore Laboratory, where he worked from 1977 until his retirement in 2013. He was an active volunteer, giving his time not only at Western States, but also at local food banks.

“Steve set a wonderful example of how important all volunteers are to the success of our race,” said John Trent, president of the Western States Board of Trustees. “He not only braved frigid water through the day and into the early morning hours of the next day on race day for more than a decade, making sure that runners from all over the world could safely cross the Rucky Chucky river crossing, from what I understand he also actively recruited all his friends and neighbors to join him at the river crossing to do the same.

“Steve passed the spirit of our race onto many, many others, and for this our entire race owes a debt of gratitude to him. On behalf of the entire Western States board and our nearly 2,000 volunteers, I wish to express our sincere condolences to Steve’s wife, Jodi, and his sons, John, and Alex, for their loss.”

Friends and family are invited to a visitation on Thursday, June 12 from 6 to 10 p.m. and a funeral service at 10 a.m. on Friday, June 13 at Graham-Hitch Mortuary in Pleasanton.  In lieu of flowers, Steve’s family wishes that donations may be made to the Alameda County Food Bank or Open Heart Kitchen.

To read more about Steve’s life, go to: Obituary from Contra Costa Times