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2022 Runner Survey Results

Here are the results of the independent Western States Endurance Run (WSER) Runner Survey from the June 25-26, 2022 race, conducted by ultralive.net.

WSER runner registration takes place in Olympic Valley Friday before race day and 2022 allowed for another year of the ultralive survey team to be in position. Runners are happy to participate while they wait in line for check-in providing us a 95% participation rate of the 383 starters.

Here are the surveys from 20142015201620172018, and 2019.

Survey Questions

The runners were asked the following questions. Data was recorded by bib number allowing us to correlate the responses to finish times to make the analysis even more interesting. All data however is compiled and reported anonymously:

  • Number of 100’s completed
  • Number of years running ultras
  • Will they use a crew?
  • Will they use a pacer?
  • Did they attend the Memorial weekend training camp
  • Shoe brand
  • Sock brand
  • Pack type/brand
  • Lighting brand
  • Watch brand
  • Did they pay for coaching services?
  • A few questions about lodging for the race to share with host sites

This year’s race saw 11 women finish in the top 30 runners overall, with the “top 10’s” of both women and men all under 20 hours. Of the 383 starters we saw 305 finishers (79.6%) under 30 hours of which 101 (26.4%) finished under the coveted 24 hour mark for a Silver Buckle.

A total of 290 of the 305 finshers (95.1%) are in the survey.

Note: All graphs show numbers related to runners who participated in the survey and finished the race. DNS and DNF are not included in the final graphs.

Finish Hour

For sub 24 hour finishers completing the survey, 40 out of 93 (55%) finished in the 23rd hour of the race to get a silver buckle. In the last two hours of the race, there were 117 (38%) finishers. The busiest times on the track are typically between 4-5 AM and 9-11 AM on Sunday morning and 2022 proved no different.

The graphs show the distribution of finishers by hour (15 hours to 29 hours), distribution of finishers by completed 100 mile races, and distribution of finishers by year of running ultras. Interestingly, many of the finishers over 24 hours have finished more than ten 100 mile races and have been running ultras over 10 years.

The hot temperatures in this year’s race definitely attributed to the finish rate of 79.6%.

Shoes

Again Hoka was the most popular shoe (42.8%) for all finishers with Altra in second place with 19.7% and Salomon in third (8.3%). The rankings switched for second and third place with the sub-24 hour finishers. We acknowledge some runners did plan to change shoes during the race and may have changed to a different brand so we asked that they provide the brand they planned to start the race wearing.

Socks

Injinji was just barely the favorite over Drymax for the most popular sock choice for finishers. And it was Drymax over Injinji for the sub-24 hour finishers. The “other” category was quite large this year and runners seem to like a large variety of socks.

Paid Coaching Services

31% of the runners use a paid coaching service overall. Sub-24 hour finishers were slightly less likely to use a coach. And as a continuing trend, 48% of the DNF runners used a coaching service.

Memorial Weekend Training Camp

The training camp held on Memorial Weekend is a great weekend to get on the course for those running, supporting or spectating the race. Only a third of the runners in the survey attended the camp. However, attending camp does not seem to decrease the chance of a DNF as 40% of the runners who did not complete the race were at the training camp.

Lighting

Petzl’s remains the favorite light brand for all runners regardless of finish time (sub or over-24 hour) with Black Diamond second again.

Packs

Salomon was the top choice for all runners (sub 24 and overall). For sub 24 finishers, Nathan edged out Ultimate Direction for second place.

Watches

Garmin was the most popular watch overall in the survey. However, for the sub 24 finishers Coros was the most popular watch. Suunto was the third most popular in both categories.

Crew and Pacer

The use of a crew and/or pacer are personal preference during a 100-mile race but may be more popular at WS. The following chart shows the correlation of using a pacer or crew to finish hour. In the overall survey, almost everyone (98%) planned on using a pacer.

Data Accuracy

383 runners started the 2022 Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run

Ultralive.net team surveyed a majority of those runners through the registration process at Olympic Valley Final survey reflects N = 364 (95.1%) athletes though individual questions may vary if athlete did not answer or know answer. And also note that this analysis was done by amateur statisticians.

Credits

The team would like to thank all of the runners who took time to talk with us and answer these questions. Many thanks to the ultralive.net survey team: Kara Teklinski, Emily Yu and David Canfield.

Any feedback or insights are welcome!

KRAUS AND ROCHE NAMED WSER MEDICAL RESEARCH DIRECTORS

Emily Kraus and Megan Roche have been named Medical Research Directors for the Western States Endurance Run, WSER President Diana Fitzpatrick announced.

Kraus and Roche succeed John Diana, who had served as Medical Research Director for WSER since 2016.

“Emily and Megan both bring impeccable professional credentials as well as a deep understanding of our sport to their new post,” Fitzpatrick said. “We have always viewed our medical research director position as one that needs to constantly evolve as runners in the sport increasingly turn to science-based information for the best practices in enhancing human performance. With Emily and Megan, we have two individuals who have proven track records in understanding the value of collaborative approaches in research, catalyzing that research and making it available for the betterment of the running community.

“They are both incredibly dynamic individuals who we feel will help take our medical research effort to the next level. I wish to thank Dr. John Diana for his incredible record of service to WSER over the past few years. Dr. Diana brought his own personal brand of collegiality, professional sense of collaboration and a strong sense of cohesiveness to our medical research effort. We are extremely grateful for all of the work he did in furthering our research agenda.”

Added WSER Medical Director Andy Pasternak: “Emily and Megan have all of the professional experience and personal qualities necessary to lead WSER’s medical research enterprise. Their insight into what the position needs to do in the coming years is very exciting. They truly wish to see our medical research endeavors continue the impactful legacy that has already been established by our previous medical research directors, while also positioning our future research studies so that they can help re-define how science-based discovery and translational research is being used to further our sport.”

Kraus is a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Orthopedic Surgery at Stanford University School of Medicine. She received her M.D. from the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, Nebraska, in 2012 and her B.S. in Nutrition Science from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, in 2008. She has produced more than 20 peer-reviewed original research papers on a variety of topics. In 2018-2020, she served as principal investigator for a study at Western States on “Genetic and Serologic Determinants of Bone Health in Ultramarathoners,” which was renewed for further study in 2021.

Roche is the Research Lead for the Stanford Lifestyle Medicine Program as well as Research Lead for FASTR (Female Athlete Science and Translational Research). She is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Epidemiology and Population Health at the Stanford University School of Medicine. She received her M.D. from Stanford University School of Medicine in 2018, earned her M.M.S. in Management from Duke University in 2013 and her B.S. in Neuroscience from Duke in 2012. Her more than a dozen research publications include studies on bone stress and mental health of athletes, among many others.

For more than 40 years, medical research activity has played an important role at the Western States Endurance Run. WSER’s late Medical Director Dr. Robert Lind welcomed and encouraged researchers from throughout the country and the world to come to WSER and study its runners. One of the earliest studies that established the connection between the body’s release of endorphins and physical activity was conducted at WSER in 1981 by Dr. Walter Bortz of Stanford University. Since 2006, more than 80 research publications or abstracts in human performance have been produced by researchers from throughout the world based on studies conducted on WSER runners.

2022 WS 100 Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT: John Trent, media relations, (775) 842-4871, press@wser.org

WESTERN STATES ENDURANCE RUN READIES FOR 2022 RACE: ‘CHANGING OF THE GUARD’

Women’s contenders poised to make history again while men’s field looks to crown first champion in post-Jim Walmsley era

The 2021 edition of the Western States Endurance Run featured one of the most competitive and historic women’s races ever held, while Jim Walmsley cemented his Western States men’s competition legend with a third commanding win. The 2022 edition of Western States, which will be held on June 25-26, promises to be just as notable. Deep women’s and men’s elite fields are vying to earn the top crowns at the 49th annual event. Presenting sponsor HOKA will again play an important role in this year’s event, including its support of Western States’ second annual Live Broadcast, which will begin just before the Saturday, June 25 start at 5 a.m. and will continue until race weekend activities conclude around noon on Sunday, June 26. The Live Broadcast can be accessed via Western States’ YouTube channel, with veteran elite runners Dylan Bowman and Corrine Malcolm providing commentary.

“We have incredible depth in both the men’s and women’s fields this year,” Race Director Craig Thornley said. “In 2021, on a brutally hot day, our women’s race made history with the high percentage of female finishers who finished in our top 30 – 15 of them were women, which speaks to what a pitched and exciting competition we had last year.

“We are expecting our women’s elite field, which features several notable international standouts as well as some of the most well-known figures in American trail running, to be highly competitive again this year.

“Our men’s race should be fascinating as well, as we look to crown a new race champion following a succession of memorable runs by three-time champion Jim Walmsley. The storyline for our men’s race will be ‘a changing of the guard.’ It is anybody’s guess who among a field of proven veterans and exciting newcomers will be our 2022 men’s champion.”

Seven of the top 10 women’s finishers are back for this year’s race, including second-place finisher Ruth Croft of New Zealand. Croft’s time of 17:33 was just behind 2021 women’s champion Beth Pascall of England, whose time of 17:10 run on a day where temperatures reached 101 degrees was the second-fastest in race history. Pascall is not running this year due to a long road back from injury during the winter and early spring. She will be at the Laverado Ultra Trail by UTMB the same weekend as Western States.

Top American entrants include Brittany Peterson of Pocatello, Idaho, who finished fourth in 2021 and was second in 2019, Katie Asmuth, of Mammoth Lakes, California, 2021’s fifth-place finisher, Keely Henninger, of Portland, Oregon, ninth in 2021, Kaci Lickteig of Omaha, Nebraska, 10th in 2021 and the 2016 Western States women’s champion, as well as Zimbabwe’s Emily Hawgood, who finished seventh last year.

Perhaps the most intriguing women’s entrant is Camille Herron. The 40-year-old from Warr Acres, Oklahoma, is the 100-mile world record holder, having broken her own record in February 2022 with a 12:41 run at the Jackpot 100-Miler in Las Vegas, Nevada. Herron, who also set the 100-mile American track record with her 13:21 at December’s Desert Solstice timed track event, fought through an off day and finished Western States in 2021 in 27:28.

Walmsley, as Thornley indicated, has cast a significant competitive shadow over the men’s race over the past five years. He set the Western States course record in winning the 2019 race in 14:09, and all three of his victories (2018, 2019 and 2021) represent three of the four fastest races ever run at Western States. Walmsley is living and training in France this summer as he prepares for August’s UTMB Mont-Blanc event.

Last year’s top men’s finishers will be well represented in 2022, with second-place Tyler Green of Portland, Oregon, third-place Drew Holmen, of Boulder, Colorado, fourth-place Cody Lind of Challis, Idaho, and fifth-place Tim Tollefson, of Mammoth Lakes, California, all returning. Jared Hazen, who ran the second-fastest time (14:26) in Western States history in finishing second to Walmsley in 2019, is also in this year’s field.

An added wrinkle to this year’s event will be Western States’ inclusion in the UTMB World Series. The UTMB World Series is considered the world’s ultimate trail running circuit that unites the sport’s biggest stars and runners of all abilities across 25 events held worldwide in 2022.

All runners who successfully complete Western States will be awarded four “Running Stones,” which can be used as entries into the lottery for the iconic UTMB Mont-Blanc and the UTMB World Series Finals in 2023. The top three finishers at Western States gain entry into UTMB in either 2022 or 2023. The top two finishers at UTMB Chamonix in August earn “Golden Tickets,” or automatic entry, for the 2023 Western States.

“The UTMB World Series has already proven to be a groundbreaking and important step forward for our sport,” Thornley said. “Western States has always made a concerted effort to make our sport more inclusive, internationalized and united. Our race is very proud to be part of the UTMB World Series, which at its core is an effort to give more runners more opportunities to compete at many of the most challenging and iconic events in the world.”

Now in its 49th year, the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run has a 385-runner field from throughout the United States and more than 30 countries. Runners start at 5 a.m. on Saturday, June 25, 2022 in Olympic Valley, Calif., and travel 100.2 miles, through the Sierra high country and the canyons of the American River on the ancestral lands of the Washoe and Nisenan tribes, before finishing at Placer High School in Auburn, Calif.

Granite Chief Wilderness Trail Reroute

Last updated: January 26, 2023 at 10:25 am

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

2023 Volunteer Opportunities

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 2023, 2024, and 2025. 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 2023 and 2024 access will be 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 2025 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. GAOA funding will cover $800,000 of the cost and WSER has secured funding for its share of the remaining $550,000 in cost.

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.