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Granite Chief Wilderness Trail Reroute

Granite Chief Wilderness Trail Reroute Project Receives $800,000 Award Through Great American Outdoors Act.

The Western States Endurance Run (WSER) is pleased to announce that the U.S. Forest Service – American River Ranger District (USFS) has secured $800,000 in funding for the Granite Chief Wilderness Trail Reroute Project (Project) through the Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA).  The USFS, the Western States Endurance Run Foundation (organizers of the WSER), and the Western States Trail Foundation (organizers of the Tevis Cup Ride), worked together over several years to develop and gain approval of a plan for non-motorized alternative trail access through Granite Chief Wilderness (the Wilderness). Planning activities culminated in a 2019 Decision Memo, issued by the USFS, that formalized the decision to proceed with the Project.

The trail through the Wilderness that WSER uses on race day stretches from approximately miles 4 through 10.5 of the WSER course. Although the western portion of the trail through the newly expanded Wilderness has been recently rehabilitated and meets current USFS trail building specifications, other portions of the existing trail through the Wilderness were developed long before modern trail building criteria and techniques were defined, while other portions of the trail were created by citizens (social trails) that are not within the formally recognized trail network. The existing trail alignment is problematic with regard to both user safety and resource damage. In places the trail is overly steep with grades up to 30%, and over time have become heavily rutted and channelized, contributing to excessive erosion in sensitive sub-alpine riparian terrain. For decades volunteers from WSER and the Tevis Cup Ride have partnered with the USFS to maintain the trail through the Wilderness, but because of its design, or lack of design, it has required an increasing level of commitment. 

The Project is designed to close sections of the existing trail that have unsustainable grades that traverse a series of hillside springs (bogs) and replace these trail sections with sustainable trail segments that will be farther upslope and out of the densely vegetated area where the springs discharge. The Project has been divided into nine trail segments (see figure), and will result in 5.7 miles of new trail, along the ridge connecting Granite Chief, Needle and Lyon Peaks. New trail segments will access alpine terrain that has not previously been accessible, which will afford stunning views to the south, east, and west. When completed the new trail system will allow recreational users the opportunity to walk, run, or ride shorter loop routes from both the east and northwest side of the Wilderness. New trail segments will be designed using Best Management Practices to minimize erosion and be safer for all users. Unsustainable sections of the existing trail will be closed and vegetation in the affected area restored.

On a typical year the project area is covered by snow from October to June, and therefore field work can only be performed during summer months. The Project has been scheduled for the summers of 2022, 2023, and 2024. A 20-person professional trail crew will live in the Wilderness and work 5 days each week, for a total of 14 weeks. On weekends volunteer trail crews will perform work commensurate with their skill level. For the summers of 2022 and 2023 access has been arranged with the Palisades Tahoe Resort, and trail workers will use Palisades Tahoe maintenance roads to bring supplies and personnel into the Wilderness from the east. For the summer of 2024 access will be from the northwest edge of the Wilderness using Forest Service Road 51.

Craig Thornley, Race Director for WSER, states: “I have been very excited about this new trail since I first walked it a few years ago. It will not only provide a more environmentally sensitive and sustainable way to traverse the Wilderness and substantially improve the views, but because the new route across the Wilderness will be shorter it will allow us to make other changes farther down our event route to incorporate more single-track and sustainable trail sections.”

Chuck Stalley, the Ride Director for the Tevis Cup also supports the project, as “it will provide safer passage for our horses and their riders and require less annual maintenance.” 

Matt Brownlee, the USFS District Trails Manager, is fully committed to the Project “This exciting new trail realignment project will require three years of hard work but will provide years of public enjoyment while at the same time protecting sensitive resources in federally protected wilderness. This project was originally identified in 1993 due to accelerated erosion and lack of trail design parameters but didn’t gain traction until 2016 when myself/WSER/WSTF representatives began initial ground-truthing. Obvious terrain and construction hurdles will make this a logistically challenging project but will benefit the American public for years to come. A mentor of mine used to say “just go out there and make it better”, I truly feel that’s what we are going to accomplish with this legacy project and I welcome any and all who would like to be part of it.”

The USFS has estimated the Project will cost $1,350,000. With $800,000 in GAOA funding, there will be $550,000 in uncovered costs. The WSER is presently pursuing other grants that would reduce the amount of uncovered costs and will start fund raising to further close the cost gap.

Dylan Bowman Named to WSER Board

The Board of Directors for the Western States Endurance Run has named Dylan Bowman to the board, WSER President Diana Fitzpatrick announced Monday.

Bowman, 35, a three-time finisher at Western States has been an elite-level ultra runner for more than a decade. He is considered an influential voice in the sport, having served as host of one of the sport’s leading podcasts, “The Pyllars Podcast with Dylan Bowman,” which provides insight into ultrarunning, sports, business and the outdoor industry as well as serving as commentator for the live broadcasts provided by Western States and the Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc (UTMB) over the past year.

“We are incredibly pleased and very excited to have Dylan on our board,” Fitzpatrick said. “In many ways, Dylan represents where the sport of ultra running is today and where it is going in the future. He has long been a passionate advocate for building the sport in the right ways. Dylan clearly understands what our race’s legacy is and he is someone who we believe can help our organization bring that legacy to the next generation.

“Dylan’s perspective and his many talents as a communicator and community builder will help increase the reach of our race and will help us further bridge the digital connection in how we share ideas relevant to our race, how we present and share our race with a worldwide audience, and perhaps most importantly of all, how we can continue making strides in building an even stronger sense of community and inclusion in our sport.”

Bowman, who grew up in Colorado and is a former college lacrosse player, ran his first ultra at age 23 in 2009. Since then, he set the course record at New Zealand’s Tarawera 100K and notched other international victories including Ultra-Trail Mount Fuji and the Ultra-Trail Australia 100K. He is also an accomplished FKT runner, having set the Wonderland (Washington) Trail FKT. This summer Bowman finished second at the Hardrock 100. In addition to his career in communications and digital media, Bowman is a former volunteer coach for the 1,000 Mile Club, a running club for incarcerated men held at the Bay Area’s San Quentin Prison.

Bowman’s appointment came about following the retirement from the board of Mark Falcone. Falcone announced earlier this spring he would be stepping down after serving on the board in a variety of capacities for more than 15 years. In addition to countless hours devoted to stewarding the Western States Trail through trail work, Falcone was one of the few Western States board members to ever also serve on the board of the Tevis Cup horse ride.

GU ENERGY LABS NAMED PERFORMANCE NUTRITION SPONSOR

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

WESTERN STATES, GU ENERGY LABS REACH SPONSORSHIP AGREEMENT

GU Energy Labs to serve as exclusive performance nutrition sponsor

AUBURN, California – The Western States Endurance Run (WSER) and GU Energy Labs are proud to announce that GU Energy Labs is now the exclusive performance nutrition sponsor for Western States.

“We are so excited to have GU as our exclusive nutrition sponsor,” said Diana Fitzpatrick, president of the Western States Endurance Run Foundation (WSERF). “Our race has a long and established history in our sport, and GU also has a long and established history in developing cutting-edge sports nutrition products that have helped revolutionize human performance in endurance events.

“GU’s strong community-based values, in addition to the quality products they produce, make this a perfect match. We couldn’t be happier to have GU as our partner.”

“I could not be more proud to return to our partnership with Western States as performance nutrition sponsor and support the tremendous work of the foundation,” said GU Co-Founder and CEO Brian Vaughan. “GU was born and tested on the trails of this historic race nearly three decades ago and has fueled some of its finest finishes over the years.”

“Beyond the race itself, I’m excited to support the foundation’s substantial community and trail stewardship initiatives, which preserve and maintain the trail system for all to enjoy.”

As exclusive nutrition sponsor, GU will provide a full suite of hydration, energy, and recovery products on course, including both their original and ROCTANE Energy Gels, new Liquid Energy Gels, Hydration Drink Tabs and ROCTANE Energy Drink. ROCTANE Protein Recovery Drink will be available to runners at the finish. Additionally, to fulfill its mission to be maximally sustainable, GU will supply reusable HydraPak SpeedCups and HydraPak 5-serving gel flasks to athletes and facilitate the recycling of all brands of sports nutrition wrappers on course through TerraCycle.

About Western States Endurance Run

Western States, first run in 1974, is the world’s oldest 100-mile trail race and one of the most prestigious. Each June, 369 runners from across the US and around the world embark from the start line in Olympic Valley, California, to take tackle a challenging course to the coveted finish line at Placer High School in Auburn, California.

About GU Energy Labs

GU Energy Labs strives to help athletes to reach their highest potential with products that deliver the right nutrients, in the right amounts, at the right time. Developed in collaboration with Olympians and age groupers alike, the GU nutrition matrix of Hydration, Energy and Recovery products has helped countless athletes achieve their dreams since its inception in 1993. Headquartered in Berkeley, GU Energy Labs produces all of its Energy Gels onsite with just the right blend of heart and science. Recommit to becoming your best athletic self, learn more about GU products, and discover how nutrition planning can help you get there at www.guenergy.com.


Lottery Changes Announced

The Western States Endurance Run has implemented the following changes to the annual lottery, effective immediately:

1. Runners will no longer need to have consecutive qualifiers to keep their ticket count in the lottery. Each runner will keep their ticket count active after failing to get drawn in the annual lottery. The next time they qualify and apply, regardless of when that is, their ticket count will double per the WSER 2^(n-1) formula.

All runners who entered the 2020 race lottery (held Dec 2019) will keep their 2020 ticket count. Runners who exercised their One-Time Lottery Bye in 2020 will keep their 2019 ticket count. All women currently using the Pregnancy Lottery Deferral can reenter the lottery at any time and will maintain their ticket count from the year they declared the deferral. All other runners will start at zero, and receive one ticket when they first qualify and apply.

Example

Mia has previously qualified four consecutive years and did not get drawn in the most recent lottery (the 2020 lottery, held December 2019). She had 8 tickets in that lottery. The next time she qualifies and applies to the WS lottery – regardless of whether that is next year, 2025, or 2032 – her ticket count will be 16.

2. The One-Time Lottery Bye is eliminated as it is no longer necessary.

3. The Pregnancy Lottery Deferral is eliminated as it is no longer necessary.

4. Entrants who withdraw from the Race before 1 p.m. on the day before the Race will maintain their ticket count from their most recent lottery the next time they enter the lottery. (Previously, entrants who withdrew from the Race prior to Race day would start over at one ticket in their next lottery.)

5. The Pregnancy Entry Deferral (for women entered in the Race who become pregnant prior to Race day) remains in effect, except that there is no time limit on how long a woman may defer her entry into the Race. To reenter the Race, they must run a qualifier and inform the Race Director of their intention to enter prior to the lottery for that year’s Race.

BOULET, TEKLINSKI AND YANG NAMED TO WSER BOARD

The Board of Directors for the Western States Endurance Run has named three new members to the board, WSER President Diana Fitzpatrick announced.

The new members of Western State’s Board of Directors are: Magdalena Boulet, Kara Teklinski and Billy Yang.

“We are so pleased that Magda, Kara and Billy will be joining us,” Fitzpatrick said. “They each represent unique skill sets, backgrounds, perspectives and personal and professional achievements that will help advance our race in new and exciting ways. All three possess not only an abiding passion for our race, but perhaps more importantly, bring perspectives, experiences and skills that will help further Western States’ mission in setting the standard for 100-mile runs.”

Boulet, who serves as senior vice president of innovation, research and development for GU Energy Labs, is one of the most accomplished and respected runners in American history. In addition to being a member of the 2008 United States Olympic Women’s Marathon Team, she is a past Western States champion, winning the race in 2015. An immigrant from Poland and a graduate of UC-Berkeley, where she excelled as one of the nation’s top 10,000-meter runners, Boulet became a United States citizen on Sept. 11, 2001. Boulet, who lives in Oakland, California, has been named one of the 15 Most Powerful Women in Running by Women’s Running Magazine.

Teklinski, who serves as the business manager and chief of staff for Roche/Genentech Product Development Global Clinical Operations, has played an integral role for many years in enhancing the race’s digital footprint. She has helped bring industry standard excellence and innovation to Western States’ live tracking of runners, which each race day is viewed by millions throughout the world. Her work extends each December to the massively popular livestream of the Western States lottery. Teklinski, who lives in Mill Valley, California and has been a Western States volunteer since 2010, has vast experience in supporting global launches of products and in leading cross-organizational projects.

Yang, who owns Billy Yang Films, has been a longtime chronicler of ultra running through his many films on the sport, as well as through his highly regarded podcast, the Billy Yang Podcast. Yang’s “Life in a Day” from 2017, which movingly tells the story of several of the race’s female competitors from the 2016 race, is considered one of the best films ever made about Western States. Yang, who lives in Los Angeles, came to America in the early 1980s when his father moved the Yang family from Seoul, South Korea. In addition to film and digital storytelling, Yang has an extensive background in marketing and product and brand activation.

The new members succeed three longtime board members who are now emeritus members and are part of the race’s Advisory Council. The group includes John Medinger, a longtime voice of the sport who is the only individual in the race’s long history to serve two separate times as president; Antonio Rossmann, whose more than 30-year tenure on the board included an historic legislative lobbying effort that maintained the use of the federally protected Granite Chief Wilderness in perpetuity for the race; and Donn Zea, whose versatile career on the board included key initiatives in trail stewardship, the strengthening of collaborative relationships with international events that included the Ultra Trail World Tour and governmental affairs.