This Will Never Catch On: The Birth Of An Icon

On Sunday evening after the Cal St Memorial Day Weekend Training Run we have a special evening planned for you. Gordy Ainsleigh, Shannon Weil, and Dr. Bob Lind will talk about the birth of the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run. The discussion will be facilitated by 25-time WS finisher Tim Twietmeyer and 10-time finisher John Trent.

In 1974, with the inspiration and encouragement of Drucilla Barner, the first woman to win the Tevis Cup and Secretary of the Western States Trail Foundation (Tevis Cup), 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.

1974 Western States Trail Ride Start List

1974 Western States Trail Ride Start List

In 1975, a second runner, Ron Kelley, attempted the same feat, only to withdraw within two miles of the finish with ample time remaining.

In 1976, Ken “Cowman” Shirk ran the 100 miles, finishing just 30 minutes over the 24-hour mark.

In 1977, 14 men from four states participated in the first official Western States Endurance Run, which was held in conjunction with the Tevis Cup Ride. Runners were monitored by Dr. Bob Lind at the three veterinary stops set up for the horses, and although the race organization transported the entrants’ gear, runners were responsible for producing all of their own supplies, except water. Three runners finished the course: Andy Gonzales, age 22, in the record-breaking time of 22:57, and Peter Mattei and Ralph Paffenbarger, ages 53 and 54, who tied in 28:36 (and the 30-hour award was born!).

In the fall of 1977, the Board of Governors for the Western States Endurance Run was formed as part of the Western States Trail Foundation. It was made up primarily of the handful of runners and riders who had helped monitor the progress of the 14 pioneers earlier that summer. The Run organization later became its own entity and is now known as the Western States Endurance Run Foundation.

1978 heralded a dramatic increase in both interest and participation in the Western States Run. Culminating a year-long effort by the inspired “Gang of Four” (Phil Gardner, Mo Livermore, Shannon Weil, and Curt Sproul) to create an independent event, the race took place in June, a month earlier than the Tevis Cup Ride. The event mushroomed to include 21 aid stations and six medical checks, thanks to an ever-growing corps of loyal volunteers and the support of the Placer County Sheriff ‘s Communications Reserve and the Search and Rescue Unit. Sixty-three adventurers ran the race, and the first woman, Pat Smythe, finished in 29:34.

  • What: “This Will Never Catch On: The Birth Of An Icon.” Discussion with race founders Gordy Ansleigh, Shannon Weil, and Dr Bob Lind, facilitated by Tim Twietmeyer and John Trent.
  • When: Sunday May 25, 2014, 6-9pm
  • Where: Canyon View Community Center, 471 Maidu Dr, Auburn, CA
  • Cost: Free
  • Food: Firetrail Pizza will be on site selling pizzas.

Lottery Ticket Increases 2^(n-1)

On January 25, 2014, the board of trustees changed the policy for number of tickets in the lottery for each consecutive year an applicant applies for the lottery, fails to be selected and otherwise does not gain entry into the race. Instead of a single additional ticket in the hat, the ticket count will increase by 2^(n-1) where n is the number of years applied. This will be in place beginning with the upcoming 2015 race lottery (held in December 2014).

  1. First year applicants will have 1 ticket (2^0).
  2. Second year applicants will have 2 tickets (2^1).
  3. Third year applicants will have 4 tickets (2^2).
  4. Fourth year applicants will have 8 tickets (2^3).
  5. Fifth year applicants will have 16 tickets (2^4).
  6. Sixth year applicants will have 32 tickets (2^5).

This new policy increases the probability of being selected for consecutive lottery losers more significantly than the previous linear model (1,2,3,4,5, etc). As before, if an applicant gains entry into the race either by being selected in the lottery or any other means (MUC, UTWT, Sponsor, Race Admin, etc) the ticket count will start over when they apply for the lottery. Also, as before, in order to gain extra tickets, the applicant must qualify and apply for the lottery each year.

Please see our lottery page for more details.

2014 Runner Update #1

The following was emailed to 2014 run participants on 12/13/2013

Presented by


Dear 2014 WS Entrant,

Congratulations on your entry into the 2014 Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run. Whether you were a top ten 2013 runner or a lottery winner with five tickets in the barrel, you have the opportunity that 2700 people wanted: to start at Squaw Valley at 5:00 a.m on June 28th, climb up 2500 feet to Emigrant Pass, and then run to Auburn.


This is the first of several emails you will receive from me between now and June 28. These are to help answer general questions and to update you on the latest information regarding course conditions, shuttle services, etc. They will also be posted on the website in the news section so you can refer to them later. I will also be posting regularly on our Facebook Page.

The American Fire
As you are probably aware, the August American Fire burned 27,000 acres in the Tahoe National Forest, affecting several miles of the Western States Trail. The USFS has been proactive working with Western States Endurance Run Foundation and Western States Trail Foundation (the Tevis) crews to go into ”the black” this fall to prepare the affected sections of the trail for the winter. While there is still considerable work to do next spring, I am pleased to report that we will be using the historic trail for the race. One new challenge will be crossing the North Fork of the Middle Fork of the American River (Deadwood Canyon) just below Devil’s Thumb. The Swinging Bridge at the bottom of Deadwood suffered damage which will require substantial work next spring/summer. For the race it is looking like we’ll be crossing the river just downstream of the bridge either with the help of a cable or boats. Details TBA.

Participant Guide
Please read the online participant guide which contains information that you must be familiar with, including medical and other risks; performance, pacer and crew rules; aid station and drop bag information; race week agenda; lodging info; and a course description.

Service Requirement
Since 1998, WSER has required eight (8) hours of volunteer service by each entrant. Performance of this requirement can be in the form of trail maintenance or volunteer services at any official running event. Please submit this form to us by May 15, 2014.

Western States Store and WSER Logo
Branded merchandise is available at the WS Store. It is always available online and they will also be physically set up at training runs and the start/finish line. They will have crew shirts available before the race.

If you are planning on making your own crew shirts, you may use the WSER logo as long as you don’t sell the shirts. Please respect our intellectual property.

Training Runs
There are four training runs scheduled before the race which offer an opportunity to get time on the final 70 miles of the course. On Feb 15 we’ll run the last 20 miles. On Memorial Day weekend we have three training runs on three successive days over the final 70 miles. These runs are open to anybody. If you are planning on doing them, sign up early at ultrasignup as each of them fill to capacity long before Memorial Day.

If you have any questions don’t hesitate to send me an email.

Train Smart,

Craig Thornley, Race Director


2014 Lottery Results

The 2014 Western States Lottery was held on Saturday December 7, 2013 at the Placer High School Auditorium. Around 250-300 people braved the snow and ice to attend.

This year we had 127 automatic spots that were either designated pre-lottery or are reserved from the 400 total we will accept into the race.

  • Top Ten 18 of the top ten men and women are returning
  • Raffle 14 from previous two raffle drawings
  • Race Admin 29 aid stations and other race administration roles
  • Special Consideration 2
  • Foreign Consideration 12 – We accepted 12 foreign entrants pre-lottery for global representation
  • MUC 23 (out of 30) – There are five races where top three men and women can qualify. We are estimating that not all will be taken.
  • UTWT 6 – Ultra-Trail World Tour spots for elite athletes
  • Gordy 1 – The founder of the race from 1974
  • Board of Trustees 3
  • Tenth Finishes 4 – Andy Jones-Wilkins, Erik Skaden, John Nichols, Tom Green are all going for their 10th finish
  • Sponsors 15
4307 Tickets Loaded into Barrel

4307 Tickets Loaded into Barrel

We pulled 270 names from the barrel of 4307 tickets and 2704 unique names in front of the live audience. This is how many were chosen from each ticket group.

  • 101 one ticket holders selected
  • 78  two ticket holders
  • 45 three ticket holders
  • 27 four tickets holders
  • 19 five ticket holders

We then did a special drawing from members in the audience for an additional 3 spots. These went to Deno Dean, Dawn Hitchcock, and Tina Frizner.

Here is the video of the Lottery from start to finish.

Here are the results of the Lottery in order drawn.

Congratulations to all accepted runners.

Next year’s lottery will be held on December 6, 2014 at Placer High School in Auburn.

2014 Lottery Statistics

Updated December 4, 2013 1:30 p.m. PST

The rapid growth in number of applicants for the WS lottery, continues. We currently have 2705 applicants entered in the December 7 lottery for the 41st running of the Western States Endurance Run on June 28-29, 2014.

As described on our lottery page, each runner who enters the lottery and fails to gain entry into the Run (and otherwise doesn’t gain an entry via other means such as an aid station, sponsor, or MUC spot) will have one additional name in the hat (for a total of two) when entering the lottery the following year, thus improving the probability of being selected. Every lottery applicant will receive an additional name in the hat for each consecutive failure to gain entry.

Here is the final list of applicants and their corresponding ticket counts and also the file of tickets that will get printed and placed in the barrel. Finally, here is the current list of accepted applicants in the race with a column denoting how they got it outside of the lottery.

Based on Monte Carlo Simulations, and a draw of 270 names, we have calculated the probabilities of being selected as follows:

Tickets # of Entrants Probability (%) Expected # Selected Expected % Selected
1 1727 6.5 112.2 41.6
2 561 12.6 70.6 26.1
3 258 18.3 47.1 17.5
4 106 23.6 25.0 9.2
5 53 28.5 15.1 5.6
Totals 2705 270.0 100.0

The lottery will take place at the Placer HS auditorium. We will begin introductions a little before 9am and start drawing names right at 9 a.m. We expect to be done by 11 a.m. Note that there is no food or drink allowed in the auditorium (water ok).

As names are pulled from the hat, they will be posted at as close to real-time as possible. There will also be a live video feed.