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.


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


CONTACT: John Trent, media relations, (775) 842-4871,



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


CONTACT: John Trent, media relations (775) 842-4871,


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.

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.


John Trent
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

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.





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.




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.



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.




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.






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.



Data Accuracy

  • 376 Runners Started the 2014 Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run
  • 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)



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

Final statistics compiled by Kara Teklinski and Ted Knudsen.