Diana Fitzpatrick was elected president of the Western States Endurance Run Foundation’s Board of Trustees in the organization’s annual vote for board officers.
Fitzpatrick becomes the first woman to serve as president of the Western States Endurance Run Foundation. She is the ninth president in the history of the Run.
Since joining the board in October 2012, Fitzpatrick has helped lead several ground-breaking initiatives for Western States. She played an instrumental role in guiding the implementation of Western States’ drug testing program in 2017, helped craft the policy that has afforded female participants a pregnancy deferral for up to three years and developed the framework for the Run’s transgender athlete policy. All three policy initiatives have been lauded throughout the sport. In 2018, Fitzpatrick, then 60 years old, made race history when she became the oldest female in Western States history to break 24 hours and earn a coveted silver belt buckle. Fitzpatrick’s time was 23:52.
An attorney who lives with her husband, Tim, in Larkspur, California, Fitzpatrick has long been actively involved in the running/ultra community. She and Tim coach the cross country teams at Marin Catholic High School. Fitzpatrick has also served as a volunteer running coach for inmates at San Quentin Prison.
“Diana’s track record speaks for itself,” said John Medinger, who had served as Western States president since 2016 and now that his presidency is over, still retains a spot on the board. “She would be the first person to try to deflect this sort of praise, but she is without question an influential and extremely important voice in our sport. She knows how to sweat the policy details and she also knows how to connect with people about the 47-year-old story that is Western States. She is going to lead Western States into innovative and exciting directions. The race is in very good hands.”
Fitzpatrick said she was “humbled” to be chosen president.
“I am honored, humbled and excited to take on this new role,” she said. “The goal will always be to continue forward as a team and let our passion for this event take us to new heights.”
Added Race Director Craig Thornley: “Diana hasn’t shied away from the challenging issues in our sport. She’s encouraged the race to be proactive and progressive in all aspects of our mission. She brings a wealth of experience and insight to the job as a key board member, creator of some of the most impactful policy we’ve ever implemented, high-level runner, coach, and race director (for several years Fitzpatrick and her husband were RD’s for the successful Headlands 50K).”
Fitzpatrick’s election as president adds another chapter to the prominent role that women have played throughout Western States’ 47-year history. Mo Livermore, who has served on the Western States Board since it was first formed in 1977, is one of the pioneering female figures in the sport of ultra running. Livermore along with friend Shannon Weil were co-race directors at a time when there were few female race directors in any running events in the world. The two served as co-RD’s from 1978-81 as Western States surged in popularity. Livermore then served as race director in 1982 and 1983. Before Livermore and Weil, it was Drucilla Barner, secretary of the Western States Trail Foundation and associate of Tevis Cup founder Wendell Robie, who encouraged Gordy Ainsleigh to make his run from Squaw Valley to Auburn with the horses of the Tevis Cup in 1974.
Livermore said: “It’s always a pleasure to work with Diana, whose appreciation and understanding of the foundational values of Western States blend authentically with her respect for each athlete and the particular issues each may confront. Her comprehensive analyses yield a standard of excellence which inspires, and her kind, thoughtful approach helps lead the Board towards decisions which reflect both the imperatives of the present and the challenges of the future.”
The other officers elected during Sunday’s vote in Auburn, California, were: Vice Presidents – Topher Gaylord, Tim Twietmeyer; Secretary – Allyson Thomas; Treasurer – Karl Hoagland. Hoagland will take over from Dr. Gary Towle, who after 38 years as the organization’s treasurer, will still remain a member of the board.
The board also announced that Dr. Andy Pasternak, a physician and ultra runner from Reno, Nevada, will now assume duties as WSER’s medical director. Pasternak has been the long-time medical director at the Tahoe Rim Trail 100-miler, and has served on the boards of Nevada State Medical Society and Washoe County Medical Society. He has also been the doctor, along with his wife, Dr. JoAnn Ellero, for the Peachstone, or “Cal 2” aid station at mile 70.7 of Western States. Pasternak succeeds Dr. Robert Weiss, one of the country’s leading kidney disease researchers/practitioners from UC-Davis.
Presidents of the Western States Endurance Run:
1978-1986, Curt Sproul
1987-1991, Doug Latimer
1992-1996, Tony Rossmann
1997-2000, Charles Savage
2001-2005, John Medinger
2006-2010, Tim Twietmeyer
2011-2015, John Trent
2016-2019, John Medinger
2020, Diana Fitzpatrick