2014 Runner Update #3

This email was sent to all entrants on June 10. If you are an entrant and did not receive this, please check your spam folder. 

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Dear Runner,

As you may have seen on our Facebook page or in our Twitter feed, the Western States Trail is now completely open with the exception of the Swinging Bridge just below Devil’s Thumb. What that means for you is you get to ford the North Fork of the Middle Fork of the American River with the aid of a cable at about mile 46 as runners did on Memorial Day weekend. It is currently above shorts level, but it may drop by race day. It will feel very good on race day.


We can still use some help to assure our research will be successful this year. Here’s what you can do:

1. If you have not already done so, please take a moment to go the link http://goo.gl/KXEH4X to complete a short survey related to the psychology study.

2. Please consider participating in the study on gastrointestinal (GI) distress by contacting Taylor Valentino (taylorvalentino@gmail.com) or Dr. Kristin Stuempfle (kstuempf@gettysburg.edu).

3. Please consider participating in the study on cardiac function by contacting Dr. David Oxborough atd.l.oxborough@ljmu.ac.uk.

4. Please plan to get a blood draw after finishing the race. You will get an email within a few hours providing your results.

5. Please find us in the finish line medical tent if you have had vision issues during the race.

6. Please complete our post-race questionnaire on GI distress and hydration that you will receive by email after the race.

Details of each study are available at http://www.wser.org/2014/05/21/2014-research-activities/

Course Preview

This year there will be live video feed from many cameras on the course. In addition to the live feed, here is the course preview created by our friends at UltrasportsLive.TV

Montrail Ultra Cup

Western States is the final event of the 2014 Montrail Ultra Cup. 21 runners have gained entry into this year’s race by finishing top three (or four) at one of the five qualifying races. If you finished at least one of these races and have not signed up, you still have time.


General Information Form

If you haven’t filled out the general information form, please take a moment and do so right now. It feels good to hear Tropical John Medinger thank your crew and pacers and say whatever you want when you run those final 250 meters around the track at Placer High School.


Race Program

Here is a link to the 2014 WS Race Program. A printed copy will be available for you at Squaw Valley when you arrive.

Enjoy the countdown to the race. I won’t tell you how many days until Dr Lind fires the shotgun because you probably already know.

I will send you one final email the week of the race.

Craig Thornley
Race Director


Steve Marchi 1955-2014

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


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


2014 Research Activities

The following was emailed to 2014 entrants on May 15, 2014.

Presented by


Want to know how you can help advance science this year at the WSER?

We have several studies again this year, and we need your help for these to succeed. Please read the information below so you are aware of the studies and opportunities to help advance science. Note that you can immediately participate in Study 1. We would like to recruit participants in advance of registration for Studies 2-5, so please contact the investigators if you are interested in participating in those studies.

Marty Hoffman, MD
WSER Research Director

Study 1. Study on Psychological Predictors of Performance

This study examines the ways that ultramarathon runners use their minds to complete an ultramarathon. The study will take approximately 10-15 minutes of your time and will involve answering a series of questions in our online survey that will ask you about your basic demographic information, running history, training profile, and the ways in which you mentally train, prepare, and execute an ultramarathon race.

You will be asked to provide your name so that we can match your survey responses with your Run outcome. Once we have your Run results, all identifying information will be permanently erased from your survey responses.

As a thank you for your time, you will be entered into a random drawing for one of four $50 gift certificates to the WSER store for completing the online survey.

If you have any questions about your participation, please contact Dolores Christensen at christensen.dolores@gmail.com.

Study 2. Incidence and severity of gastrointestinal distress during a 100-mile ultra-marathon and it association with hydration status, core temperature and endotoxemia

During 100-mile ultramarathons, gastrointestinal (GI) distress is the primary reason for dropping out among non-finishers and it is the second most common problem impacting race performance among finishers. This study investigates the incidence and severity of GI distress in runners participating in the WSER, and explores possible mechanisms that may cause GI distress including hydration status, food intake and core temperature. We are looking for 20-30 participants for this study.

Participation includes the following:

Swallowing an ingestible thermometer (roughly the size of a multivitamin) 1 hour before the race start, to allow measurement of core body temperature at miles 30, 56, 78 and the finish.

Being briefly interviewed at miles 30, 56, 78 and the finish about food, fluid, and electrolyte capsule intake, and the incidence and severity of GI symptoms.

Giving a small sample of blood (about 1 teaspoon) pre-race and post-race for the measurement of blood lipopolysaccharide (LPS) concentration.

We anticipate data collection at miles 30, 56 and 78 taking less than 5 minutes.

To participate: Please contact (prior to the Run), Taylor Valentino (taylorvalentino@gmail.com or 415-408-8342) or Dr. Kristin Stuempfle (kstuempf@gettysburg.edu or 717-337-6448).

Study 3. The impact of training longevity, gender and age on the 12-lead ECG of the veteran ultra-endurance athlete: An aid for pre-participation screening

The 12-lead ECG is a quick diagnostic test that provides us with important information related to the health of your heart and is used routinely for pre-participation heart screening in young athletes.

At this year’s race (24-48 hours prior to the race) we will be undertaking a study to establish the normal 12-lead ECG criteria for the veteran endurance athlete. The ECG will take 5 minutes while you will be asked to complete a short questionnaire as well as having your height, weight and blood pressure taken. If considered appropriate (usually 10% of the screening population), we may invite you for an echocardiogram (ultrasound of the heart) to improve the sensitivity of the screening – this will take an additional 20 minutes.

So if you are over 35 years old and want to know more about the health of your heart please volunteer for this study – the more participants we have the better. We can be found in the registration area on the Thursday and Friday before the race.

To participate: The study is under the direction of Dr. David Oxborough. If you require more detailed information or wish to participate in this study, please contact him prior to the Run at d.l.oxborough@ljmu.ac.uk.

Study 4. The impact of completing the Western States 100 mile Endurance Run on the 12-lead ECG: insights from conventional, right-sided and posterior lead placements

In 2011, we published data from the WSER highlighting a possible negative impact on the right side of the heart following completion of the race. We developed this further in 2013 with conventional 12-lead ECG findings providing some support for the structural and functional changes observed from the right side of the heart. That aside, the 12-lead ECG with conventional lead placements is limited in providing detail of the right side or posterior aspects of the heart and therefore in order to build on previous findings we propose to undertake a study utilizing 3 different resting 12-lead ECG’s. Furthermore we plan to assess the blood electrolyte concentration in order to establish any link to any changes in 12-lead ECG findings.

You will be required to have a 12-lead ECG with conventional lead placement, right-sided lead placement and posterior lead placements, have your blood pressure taken, provide a small venous blood sample and have your height and weight recorded 24-48 hours prior to the race and within 1 hour of completing the race. Each testing point will take approximately 15-20 minutes.

If you are interesting in learning about the health of your heart and the cardiac impact of completing the WSER, please volunteer for this study. We are looking for approximately 20-30 participants.

To participate: Please contact the study director, Dr. David Oxborough (d.l.oxborough@ljmu.ac.uk), prior to the Run to participate or to get further details about the study.

Study 5. Heart rate variability, arrhythmias and QT dispersion during the Western States 100 mile Endurance Run

Very little is known about the heart’s electrical activity during ultra-endurance exercise.

At this year’s race we will be undertaking a study to develop our knowledge in this area. We will require a small sample of athletes to wear a small heart monitor for the duration of the race. The monitor will record real-time ECG data from 3 electrodes positioned on the chest.

To participate: The study is under the direction of Dr. David Oxborough. If you require more detailed information or wish to participate in this study, please contact him prior to the Run at d.l.oxborough@ljmu.ac.uk.

Study 6. Ultra-Eye Study

We continue our efforts to learn more about the underlying cause of transient vision loss that occasionally occurs during ultramarathons. In the event that you have some vision issues during the race, we ask that you come to the finish line medical tent and ask for the research team so that we can perform a quick examination. Contact Dr. Marty Hoffman (research@wser.org) for further information on this study.

Study 7. Gastrointestinal distress in runners participating in the 100-mile Western States Endurance Run

This study investigates the frequency and causes of GI symptoms. The more participants we have, the better. In fact, we would like every WSER runner to participate in the study.

Participation includes simply completing a short, on-line, post-race questionnaire. You will receive an e-mail after the race with a link to the questionnaire. It will ask you to provide information about your GI symptoms during this and prior races.

If you have any questions about this study, please contact Dr. Kristin Stuempfle (kstuempf@gettysburg.edu or 717-337-6448) or Dr. Marty Hoffman (research@wser.org or 916-843-9027).

2014 Runner Update #2

The following was emailed to 2014 run participants on 4/29/2014

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Dear 2014 WS Entrant,

Hope your training is going well… Just 60 days until Dr Lind fires the shotgun in Squaw Valley to start the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run! This is your second Runner Update.

Preparations are going well from our end. The biggest challenge and effort has been getting the trail open after the American Fire burned approximately 19 miles of the Western States Trail last August. This has been an incredible collaborative effort on the part of the WSER trail crew and our dedicated partners: the Western States Trail Foundation (The Tevis), the US Forest Service, and the talented eight-member AmeriCorps crew, together with the many enthusiastic, skilled volunteers whose love of the trail inspires their hard work.


Pacific Slab Bridge Stringers

The fire burned two bridges that we use in the race. The smaller Pacific Slab bridge just west of Last Chance will be replaced this coming weekend. The Swinging Bridge over the North Fork of the Middle Fork of the American River will not be replaced until after the race. We will be fording that river with the aid of a cable. The crossing is not as long as the Rucky Chuck crossing at mile 78, but you will get wet. It is likely to be top-of-shorts level or less come Race Day. At mile 46, in the heat of the day just before you climb the steep switchbacks to the oasis known as Devil’s Thumb, this will be refreshing…and a special memory of Western States 2014.

To find out about upcoming trail work opportunities, please visit the joint trail work website wstrail.org.

Bib Numbers

Last weekend I assigned the bib numbers. I tried to give everybody the bib number they requested. Your number will not change so go ahead and use it on your crew shirts or drop bags.

Service Requirement and General Information Form

Your service requirement forms must received by May 15, 2014. Please check the confirmation page to ensure that your form has been received. Please don’t wait until the last minute, or make us contact you to ask where it is. This is a requirement of the WSER board, and has been so since 1998.

Please also take a few minutes to fill out the General Information Form so that Tropical John Medinger will have something to say about you as you run around the track at Placer HS on June 28 or 29.

Race Program

The 2014 race program will be available as a pdf download about two weeks before the race. You will receive your hard copy up at Squaw Valley when you check in. This will include a list of all runners, aid station information, shuttle service, etc.

Research and Medical Conference

In addition to trail stewardship and putting on a world-class 100 mile endurance run, the Western States Endurance Run Foundation is committed to supporting and promoting medical research to increase understanding of the effects of endurance sports on the human body. There will be several research studies this year. Details on participating in this year’s research studies will be sent out about six weeks before the race.

It’s not too late to register for the first Medicine and Science in Ultra Endurance Sports conference, which will be held on June 24 and 25 in Squaw Valley. Registration is $300, and medical professionals can get CME credits for attending. If you know somebody who might be interested in attending, please forward them the information.

Training Run Weekend

After the Cal St Memorial Weekend Training Run on Sunday, May 25, we have a special evening planned. 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. Details can be found here.

Shannon Gatorade WS100 1979

Shannon Weil 1979

If we don’t see you at the training runs, we’ll #seeyouinsquaw.

Train Smart,

Craig Thornley, Race Director


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, 6-9 p.m.
  • Where: Canyon View Community Center, 471 Maidu Dr, Auburn, CA
  • Cost: Free
  • Food: Firetrail Pizza will be on site selling pizzas beginning at 4:30 p.m.