2015 Race Recap

2015 Western States 100, June 27-28, 2015

Krar repeats, Boulet makes smashing debut … but Swanson steals the show 371 starters and 254 finishers – 68.5%

Rob Krar defended the men’s title with one of the most memorable runs on record, finishing in 14:48:59 after breaking the race open with a dramatic move from Michigan Bluff. Krar was only two minutes behind Timothy Olson’s course record on a day when temperatures were warm from the start and reached well into the 90s at the river crossing. Magdalena Boulet, 41, of Oakland, Calif., and a 2008 U.S. Olympic marathoner, rebounded from a wrong turn not long after the Robinson Flat aid station to win the women’s race in her WS 100 debut in 19:05. And yet, it was the Run’s final moments that captured the attention of all. First, with a little less than four minutes to spare before the 30-hour cutoff, the Run’s youngest female finisher, Katie Trent, 22, of Reno, Nev., finished. Youth had been served, but age had yet to be fully recognized. Gunhild Swanson, 70, of Spokane Valley, Wash., was vying to become the first over-70 female to ever finish the race. Swanson, who was joined over the final mile by several friends and supporters, including Krar, who had run stride-for-stride with Swanson in his flip-flops once Swanson had cleared the final Robie Point aid station, entered the track with a little less than two minutes to spare. The sun-baked Placer High crowd then rose to its feet as Swanson had less than 50 meters to go. With the fevered cheering of the crowd reaching an absolute, chaotic and magical crescendo, Swanson determinedly rushed across the finish line in the history-making, age-defying time of 29:59:54, which then sent the crowd into utter pandemonium. The race’s 254th and final finisher had not only made race history, she had stolen the show in what observer called, “our finest hour … ever.”

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WSER Sponsor Profile: Julbo Eyewear

A favorite of the running community, Julbo Eyewear is synonymous with mountain running. We caught up with runner, climber and CEO of Julbo USA, Nick Yardley in the days leading up to this year’s race.

Julbo has been a sponsor of the WSER for years. Why keep coming back? What about the race compels the brand to be involved?

2015 will be our 3rd year sponsoring the WSER and it started for us after I ran the race in 2012 (finished in 22:56), When I crossed that finish line I just knew that Julbo needed to be part of this wonderful event moving forward; it was one of the most profound and rewarding days of my life. As the granddaddy of all Ultras in the US, the WSER draws an incredibly talented field of top athletes and has a bigger atmosphere than other races. It remains THE race that those new or old to the sport aspire to completing.

The event itself has a wonderful feel, mixing history, welcoming volunteers, great organization, positive energy and terrific scenery. Even the toughest soul will feel the emotion welling up some time over the weekend and the need to shed a tear.

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Nick Yardley at WSER in 2012

You went from mountaineer to ultra runner, talk about the similarities in mountain culture that push each scene and how that culture is present at WSER.

While it may be hard for many who have never climbed to believe, at the core of both sports there is an incredible connection and similarity. The type of climbing I love most is alpine climbing, moving fast and light over mountainous terrain, often for many hours or even days at a time, seeking the zone where mind and body work as one and all else has no meaning.

Ultra running is really the same thing, it’s a beautifully simple sport and the goal is to move light and efficiently through wild terrain in search of that zen spot. As I had less and less time to climb, I needed another outlet. I knew I could suffer for a long time if needed so ultra running seemed like a great opportunity to explore and I’m still at a loss for words at all the wonderful experience and incredible folks the sport has brought me into contact with.

Who are the heavy hitting Julbo athletes taking on WSER? Any race favorites?

Well all the Julbo athletes are my favorites! We are extremely lucky to have some of the very finest athletes in the sport wearing our glasses, I’m going to be rooting hard and loud for every single one and see them all as real contenders.

The well-known names to look out for though are Rob Krar, Stephanie Howe, Ian Sharman, Gina Lucrezi, Dylan Bowman, Denise Bourassa, and Mike Wardian.

Julbo pushes the technical aspect of product. Anything this year that’s tailor made for the WSER?

It looks like it’s going to be a mother of a hot race this year, sun protection is going to be really key to success. Runners are going to be wanting well vented glasses with lenses that they can wear slogging up the escarpment at the start of the race and down the through the heat of the canyons where you’re constantly popping in and out of the shade I think the Zebra lens is likely to be the model most popular in the Venturi frame – but I do know some folks will be cruising in their vintage Megeve’s and getting style points.

Anything to add?

As a running community we’re lucky to have such a great event to aspire to. We all owe a debt of gratitude to Craig Thornley (RD) the board and all the volunteers that make it possible.
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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

2015 Ultra-Trail World Tour Press Conference

MEDIA ALERT

CONTACT: John Trent, media relations, (775) 842-4871, president@wser.org

WESTERN STATES 100, ULTRA-TRAIL WORLD TOUR, TO HOLD PRESS CONFERENCE, FRIDAY, JUNE 26

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AUBURN, Calif. – Media are invited to attend a joint press conference, sponsored by the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run and representatives of the Ultra-Trail World Tour (UTWT) on Friday, June, 26 in Squaw Valley, Calif.

The event will begin at 2:30 p.m. and will be held at the Squaw Valley Conference Center.

Several of the world’s finest ultra runners, along with representatives from the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run, UTWT, and WS 100 Presenting Sponsor Montrail will be on hand to discuss this year’s Western States 100-Miler, the UTWT, and the future of the UTWT — series of 11 races held throughout the world with rankings for runners of all abilities who finish the races. Topher Gaylord, President of Mountain Hardwear, Inc., and a longtime WS veteran who has been one of the sport’s thought leaders for more than two decades, will lead the proceedings.

Western States is the only North American stop for the UTWT.

WHAT: Press conference, “State of the Sport,” sponsored by WS 100 and UTWT.

WHERE: Squaw Valley Conference Center, Squaw Valley, Calif.

WHEN: 2:30 p.m., Friday, June 26.

2015 WS 100 Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT: John Trent, media relations (775) 842-4871, president@wser.org

WESTERN STATES 100-MILE ENDURANCE RUN FEATURES STELLAR FIELD FOR 42nd RUNNING

The world’s oldest and most prestigious 100-mile trail race returns defending men’s champion Krar and women’s champion Howe

The top trail runners in the world, including defending men’s champion Rob Krar and defending women’s champion Stephanie Howe, will embark on the 42nd running of the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run, June 27-28.

Western States is the world’s oldest and most prestigious 100-mile trail run. The race features a field of more than 360 entrants from more than 30 countries, and more than 40 states. Runners start from Squaw Valley, Calif., the site of the 1960 Winter Olympic Games. They climb and descend about 40,000 feet through the alpine beauty of the Granite Chief Wilderness and the deep, equally picturesque, yet infernal canyons of the historic California Gold Country, then cross the Middle Fork of the American River before finishing at Placer High School in Auburn, Calif. The 100.2-mile race has a 30-hour time limit.

Krar, 38, of Flagstaff, Ariz., ran one of the more memorable races in race history last year. After breaking open the men’s race with a record-setting split time of 2 hours, 3 minutes on the critical 16-mile Cal Street section from Foresthill, Calif., at mile 62 to the mile 78 mark at the Ruck-A-Chuck river crossing, he finished in 14:53 – only seven minutes off Timothy Olson’s 2012 course record.

Howe, 31, of Bend, Ore., took the lead in the women’s race shortly after the 30-mile mark and ran to a commanding victory. Her 18:01 finishing time was the fourth-fastest in race history.

Both Krar and Howe will be pressed by two of the deepest men’s and women’s fields in race history. Nine of the top 10 finishers in last year’s men’s race return; all 10 of the top 10 finishers in the women’s race from 2014 are entered. The men’s returners are led by runner-up Seth Swanson, 36, of Missoula, Mont., who finished in 15:19, and third-place finisher Dylan Bowman, 29, of Mill Valley, Calif., who ran 15:36.

In addition to Howe, past women’s champions entered include 2013 winner Pam Smith, 40, of Salem, Ore.; Nikki Kimball, 44, of Bozeman, Mont., a three-time women’s champion (2004, 2006, 2007); Anita Ortiz, 50, of Eagle, Colo., who won the race in 2009. 2008 U.S. Women’s Olympic Marathoner Magdalena Boulet, 41, of Oakland, Calif., will be making her WS 100 debut.

Other runners of note include:

Gordy Ainsleigh, 68, of Meadow Vista, Calif. Ainsleigh , who has finished the race more than 20 times, was the first runner to complete the 100 miles between Squaw Valley and Auburn in 1974 when he joined the horses in the 100-mile Tevis Cup;

Meghan Arbogast, 54, of Cool, Calif., eighth last year and generally considered the finest veteran (over 50 years old) runner in the world;

Gunhild Swanson, 70, of Spokane Valley, Wash., who established the race’s over-60 record in 2005 in 25:40. If Swanson finishes this year, she will become the first over-70 female runner to do so.

“Last year was a pretty remarkable day – we had temperatures that weren’t bad (89 degrees was the high), Rob and Stephanie ran remarkably strong races, and we had 296 finishers, including 129 silver buckles (for sub-24-hour finishes),” race director Craig Thornley said. “This year has the potential to be even better. The men’s race will be exciting with Rob and a host of talented runners running to beat him. And our women’s race may very well go into the books as our deepest and most competitive field ever.”

“We had a relatively dry winter in the high country, so conditions are snow-free and potentially fast. Thanks again to the Montrail Ultra Cup, (which has provided an avenue for qualification for many of sport’s elite runners through a national series of qualification races), there are probably close to a dozen to 15 runners with a legitimate shot at winning either our men’s or women’s race.”

WHAT: 42nd running of the Western States 100-mile Endurance Run

WHEN: Saturday, June 27, 5 a.m. start at Squaw Valley, Calif., finish at Placer High School, Auburn, Calif. More than 360 trail runners from more than 30 countries and more than 40 states to compete.