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43rd WESTERN STATES 100-MILER FEATURES WIDE-OPEN MEN’S RACE, POTENTIALLY CLASSIC MATCHUP IN WOMEN’S RUN
A first-time champion will be crowned in men’s race; women’s race features defending champion Magdalena Boulet
For the first time in several years, the men’s race of the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run appears to be wide open, with several of the world’s top ultra runners vying on June 25-26, 2016, to become a first-time champion. The women’s race will feature defending champion Magdalena Boulet, a former U.S. Olympic Marathon team member, who will be challenged by one of the deepest women’s fields in recent memory.
A field of more than 360 entrants from more than 30 countries, and more than 40 states will make the 43rd annual, 100.2-mile trek on Saturday morning from Squaw Valley, Calif., the site of the 1960 Winter Olympic Games, before finishing at Placer High School in Auburn, Calif.
Western States, known as the world’s oldest and most prestigious 100-mile trail run, has a 30-hour time limit.
Boulet, 42, of Oakland, Calif., made her Western States debut in 2015 and despite going off course briefly early in the run, won in 19:05. The former UC-Berkeley track and cross-country standout has had a strong spring of training and racing, highlighted by her victory in the Canyons 100K (held in the iconic “Canyons” section of the Western States Trail) in May.
Boulet will be pressed by a number of strong female runners, including Kaci Lickteig of Omaha, Neb. The 29-year-old known as the “Pixie Ninja” finished second to Boulet in 2015, and posted a strong win on the mountainous Silver State 50-miler in Nevada in May. At least 20 other women have the potential of finishing in the women’s top 10, among them 55-year-old Meghan Arbogast, of Cool, Calif., who will be attempting to finish her 10th Western States – all in under 24 hours.
Another notable women’s entrant is Gunhild Swanson, 71, of Spokane Valley, Wash., who established the race’s over-60 record in 2005 in 25:40. She again made history last year with her dramatic finish, sprinting through the final 100 meters on the Placer High track with hundreds of assembled spectators screaming and cheering. Swanson finished a scant six seconds under the run’s 30-hour time limit to become the oldest female finisher in Western States history.
With two-time defending champion Rob Krar choosing not to run this year, Western States will crown a first-time champion for the first time since Krar’s first victory in 2014. The top returning runner from last year’s top 10 is Thomas Lorbanchlet, of France, who finished fifth. The field doesn’t lack talent or accomplishment, however, as among the entrants are Francois D’Haene, a former Ultra Tour du Mont Blanc (UTMB) champion who finished 14th at Western States last year; David Laney of Portland, Ore., who finished third at UTMB last year and was eighth at Western States in 2016; Sage Canaday, of Boulder, Colo., a former U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials qualifier who has excelled on the American tour of 50-mile and 100K distances; first-time 100-mile runner Jim Walmsley, of Flagstaff, Ariz., the JFK 50-mile and Sonoma 50-mile champion; and perhaps the most consistent 100-mile racer in the world in Ian Sharman, of Bend, Ore., who has placed in the top 10 at Western States for six consecutive years.
In an effort to celebrate the event, the Placer County Visitor Bureau has created two large banners which will be flying in Auburn. The group is also organizing a beer garden across from the track from 7-11 p.m. on Saturday. The finish line is open to the public and all are encouraged to attend. The first male will finish sometime around 7:30 p.m. or 8 p.m., with the first female to finish around 10 p.m.
WHAT: 43nd running of the Western States 100-mile Endurance Run
WHEN: Saturday, June 25, 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.