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2017 Runner Survey Results

Here are the results of the independent Western States Endurance Run (WSER) Runner Survey from the June 24-25, 2017 race, conducted by ultralive.net.

WSER runner registration takes place in Squaw Valley Friday before race day and 2017 allowed for another year of the ultralive survey team to be in position. Runners are happy to participate while they wait in line for check-in providing us a 92% participation rate of the 369 starters. At the suggestion of a fellow data geek we added an interesting question this year about the diet of WS runners!

Here are the surveys from 2014, 2015 and 2016.

Survey Questions

The runners were asked the following questions. Data was recorded by bib number allowing us to correlate the responses to finish times to make the analysis even more interesting. All data however is compiled and reported anonymously:

  • Number of 100’s completed
  • Number of years running ultras
  • Will they use a crew?
  • Will they use a pacer?
  • Did they attend the Memorial weekend training camp
  • Shoe brand
  • Sock brand
  • Pack type/brand
  • Lighting brand
  • Did they pay for coaching services?
  • Do they follow a non-traditional diet?
  • A few questions about lodging for the race to share with host sites

This year’s race proved even more challenging than past with pre- and in-race weather conditions. We can assume that had an impact on completion rate as well as finishing time. Of the 369 starters we saw 248 finishers (67.2%) under 30 hours of which 82 (22.2%) finished under the coveted 24 hour mark for a Silver Buckle (for comparison 28.9% in 2016).

Finish Hour

For sub 24 hour finishers completing the survey, 25 out of 69 (36.2%) finished in the 23rd “Golden Hour” of the race to get a silver buckle (compared to 29.4% in 2016). In the last two hours of the race, there were 101 (40%) finishers. The busiest times on the track are typically between 4-5 AM and 9-11 AM on Sunday morning and 2017 proved no different. The graphs show the distribution of finishers by hour (16 hours to 29 hours).

 

There was no difference in experience between those that started and finished the race with an average completing 5.5 100-mile races before toeing the start line at Squaw and 7.5 years running ultras.

There was an interesting difference however between sub and over-24 hour finish times with sub-24 hour finishers completing only 4.3 100-milers in their 7 years of ultra experience versus over 24-hour finishers with 6 100-mile races under their belts and 7.7 years of ultra experience.

Those that Did Not Finish (DNF) (121 in total) had on average completed 5.8 100-mile races before arriving in Squaw with 8 of them selecting WSER as their first 100 mile race. They also had an average of 7.5 years in ultrarunning, consistent with those who did eventually finish the race.

Number of 100-mile races completed prior to WS100 by finish hour

Number of years running Ultras finish hour

Shoes

This is the fourth year Hoka was the most popular shoe (25%) for all finishers with Altra making a significant jump from from 16% of our survey respondents in 2016 to 23% this year. Salomon squeaked past Brooks in our survey respondents this year for third place. There was a shift in shoes compared to finish hour this year with 31% of sub-24 finishers now wearing altra over 15% Hoka. We acknowledge some runners did plan to change shoes during the race and may have changed to a different brand so we asked that they provide the brand they planned to start the race wearing.

Shoes Worn by All Runners:

Shoes Worn by SUB-24 Hour Finishers:

 

Socks

Injinji continues to be the primary choice for all finishers with Drymax’s popularity increasing again this year like last. There was another shift however with sub-24 finishers who prefer Drymax over injinji.

Socks Worn by All Runners:

Socks Worn by SUB-24 Hour Finishers:

Paid Coaching Services

There was a decrease in the number of athletes using coaching services to 24% of all runners compared to 41% of 2016 starters using a coach. Near the same amount of those finishing the race used a coach and of the sub-24 hour finishers, 19% used a coach comparable to the 17.5% in 2016.

% of Starters Using Coaching Services

% of Finishers Using Coaching Services

% of Sub-24 Hour Finishers Using Coaching Services

Memorial Weekend Training Camp

The training camp held on Memorial Weekend is a great weekend to get on the course for those running, supporting or spectating the race. This year one-third of racers were able to attend at least one of the training days and while previewing the course may help it is not required to finish the race.

Attended Memorial Weekend Training Runs

% of All Starters, Sub-24 Finishers, over 24-Hour Finishers and those who DNF’d Attending Memorial Weekend Training Runs

Crew

The use of a crew and/or pacer are personal preference during a 100-mile race but may be more popular at WS – what are your thoughts? Here is a breakdown of crew and pacer use for all starters, finishers and those that DNF’d. The data may suggest that the use of a crew and/or pacer may increase your chance of finishing a 100-mile race and even finishing in under 24 hours.

Crew Use

Pacer Use

Lighting

Although Petzl’s popularity dropped slightly, it remains the favorite light brand for all runners regardless of finish time (sub or over-24 hour).  And the winner (Ryan Sandes) did require a headlamp this year for the final miles of the race.

Sub 24-Hour Lighting Choice

Over 24-Hour Lighting Choice

Hydration/Packs

For all runners, Ultimate Direction and Salomon almost tied for the first place spot compared to last year from a small decrease for UD and similar increase for Salomon use. Nathan maintained third place.

This remained consistent for all finishers

Among the sub-24 hour finishers however Nathan surpassed Salomon for second:

We saw a decrease compared to last year in the number of all runners opting for handhelds in lieu of a hydration pack (5% total) likely due to the known hot weather forecast they would face during the day.

 

Diet

A new question we added this year was at the suggestion of another data geek ultrarunner… if a runner follows any non-traditional diet. The question did generate a lot of good laughs and we will have to add the beer and pizza diet to next year’s survey however here is how the respondents answered:

Data Accuracy

369 runners started the 2017 Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run

Ultralive.net team surveyed a majority of those runners through the registration process at Squaw

Final survey reflects N = 341 (92%) athletes though individual questions may vary if athlete did not answer or know answer.

Credits

The team would like to thank all of the runners who took time to talk with us and answer these questions.

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

Analysis by Kara Teklinski who acknowledges she is not a statistical analysis expert and welcomes any thoughts!

2016 Runner Survey Results

Here are the results of the independent WSER Runner Survey from the June 25-26, 2016 race, conducted by ultralive.net.

All runners have to go through check-in the day before the race in Squaw Valley and the survey team was positioned at the entrance of the check-in. Participation was completely voluntary and 94% of starters took some extra time to answer the questions. And we were able to correlate the data to finish times to make the analysis even more interesting.

Here are the surveys from 2014 and 2015.

Survey Questions

The runners were asked the following questions:

  • Number of 100’s completed
  • Number of years running ultras
  • Will they use a crew?
  • Will they use a pacer?
  • Did they attend the Memorial weekend training camp
  • Shoe brand
  • Sock brand
  • Pack Type
  • Lighting system
  • Did they pay for coaching services?

For 2016 edition of the WSER, there were 353 official starters, 280 finishers (79.3%) in under 30 hours, and 102 finishing (28.9%) under 24 hours for the coveted Silver Buckle.

The survey had 351 participants and all of the sub 24 hour finishers are included in the survey. A total of 277 of the 280 finshers (99%) are in the survey.

Note: All graphs show numbers related to runners who participated in the survey and finished the race. DNS and DNF are not included in the final graphs.

Finish Hour

For sub 24 hour finishers, 30 out of 102 (29.4%) finished in the 23rd hour of the race to get a silver buckle. In the last two hours of the race, there were 113 (40%) 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 (15 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. Of the survey participants, 25 finished without a crew and 36 finished without a pacer. And 17 hardcore participants finished without a crew and pacer (NCNP). And finally, 4 of the 17 NCNP earned a Silver Buckle.

survey_2016_finish_hour (2)
survey_2016_crew_pacer (2)

Shoes

For the third year in a row Hoka was the dominant shoe for all finishers regardless of the group. Altra is now a strong second shoe of choice regardless of the finish time. Brooks fell to third most popular shoe with the overall finishers. Some runners did plan to change shoes during the race and may have changed to a different brand, but the data reflects only the brand that they started the race wearing.

survey_2016_shoes

survey_2016_shoes_sub24

Socks

Injinji was the clear choice again for all finishers. Drymax’s popularity increased since last year though it still remained a close second in both groups.

survey_2016_sock

survey_2016_sock_sub24

Paid Coaching Services

There was a slight increase in the number of athletes using coaching services but it is still a relatively low percentage of the finishers. Maybe because a lot of the coaches actually ran the race this year. Or ultrarunners are an independent bunch and don’t like a training schedule. The percentage was nearly identical to last year (2015 – 17.2%)

Although most of the data presented here reflects only finishers, it is interesting to include that of all starters, 40% used a coaching service.

survey_2016_paid_coaching

survey_2016_paid_coaching_sub24

Memorial Weekend Training Camp

The training camp held on Memorial Weekend was well attended by both types of finishers and both groups had nearly identical percentages. While previewing the course definitely helps it is not required to finish the race.

survey_2016_training_camp

survey_2016_training_camp_sub24

Lighting

For the second year in a row, Petzl was the favorite light brand for runners finishing the race.

This year only first place finisher Andrew Miller (sub 16 hours) ran without the assistance of a light as compared to 5 in 2015.

survey_2016_lighting

survey_2016_lighting_sub24

Packs

Ultimate Direction dominated again as the choice of pack for both sub 24 hour and overall finishers. For the faster runners (sub 24), the Salomon pack was second favorite and Nathan was third. This order flip-flopped for the overall finishers.

Handhelds: many runners did not carry a pack. 32% of the sub 24 hour finishers preferred this method. Only 19% of the overall finishers used handheld bottles.

survey_2016_pack

survey_2016_pack_sub24

Data Accuracy

  • 353 runners started the 2016 Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run
  • Ultralive.net team surveyed a majority of those runners through the registration process at Squaw
  • Final survey reflects N = 351 athletes though individual questions may vary if athlete did not answer or know answer
  • All graphs reflect data from the group of athletes who completed the race (277 of the 280 finishers completed the survey)

 

Credits

The team would like to thank all of the runners who took time to talk with us and answer these questions.

Many thanks to the ultralive.net survey team: Kara Teklinski, Emily Yu and Jessi Goldstein.

Analysis by Kara Teklinski and Ted Knudsen.

2015 Runner Survey Results

Here are the results of the independent WSER Runner Survey from the June 27-28, 2015 race, conducted by ultralive.net.

All runners have to go through check-in the day before the race in Squaw Valley and the survey team was positioned at the entrance of the check-in. Participation was completely voluntary and 94% of starters took some extra time to answer the 10 questions. 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 completed
  • Number of years running ultras
  • Will they use a crew?
  • Will they use a pacer?
  • Did they attend the Memorial weekend training camp
  • Shoe brand
  • Sock brand
  • Pack Type
  • Lighting system
  • Did they pay for coaching services?

For 2015 edition of the WSER, there were 371 official starters, 254 finishers (68.5%) in under 30 hours, and 96 finishing (25.9%) under 24 hours for the coveted Silver Buckle.

The survey had 349 participants (94% of the entrants) including nearly all of the elite runners. Of the survey participants 238 finished (68.2%) and 90 finished in under 24 hours (25.8%).

Note: All graphs show numbers related to runners who participated in the survey and finished the race in under 30 hours.

Finish Hour

For sub 24 hour finishers, 28 out of 90 (31.1%) finished in the 23rd hour of the race to get a silver buckle. In the last two hours of the race, there were 81 (34%) 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. Of the survey participants, 21 finished without a crew (8.8%) and 29 finished without a pacer (12.2%). And 10 (4.2%) hardcore participants finished without a crew and pacer. And finally, 3 of the 10 “screwed” runners earned a Silver Buckle.

 

survey_2015_finish_hour
survey_2015_crew_pacer

Shoes

For the second year in a row Hoka was the dominant shoe for all finishers regardless of the group. For the sub 24 hour finishers, Altra took over second place after not even being on the radar in last year’s survey. Again, Brooks was a strong second when you look at the overall finishers.

 

survey_2015_shoes

survey_2015_shoes_sub24

Socks

Injinji was the clear choice for both the overall and sub 24 groups. Drymax was again second in both groups as well. The “others” category is quite large and might mean people need to pay attention to what they wear on their feet.

 

survey_2015_sock

survey_2015_sock_sub24

Paid Coaching Services

It seems there are a lot of ultrarunning coaching services out there yet very few WSER finishers use them. Maybe because a lot of the coaches actually ran the race this year. Or ultrarunners are an independent bunch and don’t like a training schedule. The percentage was even lower than last year (2014 – 20.3% had a coach)

 

survey_2015_paid_coaching

survey_2015_paid_coaching_sub24

Lighting

For the second year in a row, Petzl was the favorite light brand for runners finishing the race.

This year only the first 5 finishers (sub 16 hours) ran without the assistance of lights as compared to 9 in 2014.

And we are pretty sure Rob Krar didn’t even pack a headlamp again.

survey_2015_lighting

survey_2015_lighting_sub24

Packs

Ultimate Direction dominated as the choice of pack for both sub 24 hour and overall finishers. For the faster runners (sub 24), the Salomon pack was second favorite and Nathan was third. This order flip-flopped for the overall finishers.

survey_2015_pack

survey_2015_pack_sub24

Data Accuracy

  • 371 runners started the 2015 Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run
  • Ultralive.net team surveyed a majority of those runners through the registration process at Squaw
  • Final survey reflects N = 349 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 (238 in the survey finished)

 

Credits

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

Graphs and comments by Ted Knudsen.

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.

survey_2014_shoes

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.

survey_2014_lighting

survey_2014_lighting_24

survey_2014_lighting_brand

survey_2014_lighting_brand_24

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.