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2019 WS Press Release


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


Women’s champion Dauwalter and men’s champion Walmsley to defend titles against talented fields

The talk since the beginning of 2019 has been whether or not the Western States Endurance Run would be dramatically impacted by what seemed to be an endless Sierra winter. Although snow levels reached as much as 188 percent of normal earlier this spring, Race Director Craig Thornley reported earlier this week that the 46th running of the world’s oldest 100-mile trail race would not be using a re-routed or altered “snow course.” In fact, Thornley said, much of the snow from May had receded considerably for this year’s event, which starts on Saturday at 5 a.m. in Squaw Valley, Calif. The 100.2-mile event finishes at Placer High School in Auburn.

“There will be snow on the course, but the impact is going to be minimal compared to the way things looked during our Memorial Day Weekend training runs,” Thornley said. “We’ve had years where the snow was continuous for the first 25 to 30 miles of the course. That definitely won’t be the case this year.”

Based on reports from last weekend’s final trail maintenance work party, runners will encounter snow approximately four miles into the course for two miles, then in intermittent patches through Robinson Flat aid station at mile 30. Other than that, Thornley said the course is in “excellent” shape. Given a weather forecast that looks favorable on Saturday  – the National Weather Service is calling for a high of 78 for the 62-mile mark in Foresthill, California – this year’s race is shaping up to highly competitive.

“Both fields are deep, talented and should be exciting to watch,” Thornley said, noting that both men’s course record holder, 2018 champion Jim Walmsley of Flagstaff, Ariz., as well as 2018 women’s champion, Courtney Dauwalter of Golden, Colo., are back to defend their titles. “Jim and Courtney are running really well,” Thornley said, alluding to the world record for 50 miles on the roads Walmsley set earlier this spring in Sacramento, as well as Dauwalter’s dominant win at the Tarawera 100K in New Zealand in February. “Jim and Courtney are going to be challenged by a number of really talented runners from around the world, though. It should be a great race.”

Other top female entrants include 2018 runner-up, Kaytlyn Gerbin, of Issaquah, Wash., as well as third-place women’s finisher Lucy Bartholomew, of Melbourne, Australia, and fourth-place finisher Amanda Basham of North Logan, Utah. 2018 men’s third-place finisher Mark Hammond of Millcreek, Utah, along with fourth-place finisher Ian Sharman of Bend, Ore. (shooting for his 10th straight Top-10 finish) and fifth-place finisher and 2018 Hardrock 100 champion Jeff Browning of Logan, Utah, lead the men’s contenders.

This year’s Race will be one of the more internationally flavored events in recent memory, with 80 foreign-born entrants from more than 25 countries.

WSER will also feature a runner who is visually impaired, Kyle Robidoux, from Roxbury, Mass., as well as an amputee runner, Dave Mackey, of Boulder, Colo., who finished second overall in 2004 to Scott Jurek. Mackey will be vying to become the first amputee athlete to finish the race since Amy Palmiero Winters in 2010. Scott Mills, 68, of Oceanside, California, will attempt to become just the seventh runner in Western States history to finish the race 20 times or more.

2019 WSER will also feature a rare finish line scene. Due to Placer High School football field artificial turf installation, the iconic finish on the Placer High track will be run in a reverse direction. Runners will enter the LeFebvre Stadium gates and then run their final 250 meters on the track in a clockwise direction, which is a different direction than past years. Race organizers will utilize a large grassy area west of the traditional finish line for all Race activities, operations, and camping.

WHAT: 46th running of the Western States 100-mile Endurance Run

WHEN: Saturday, June 29, 5 a.m. start at Squaw Valley, Calif., finish at Placer High School, Auburn, Calif. Western States Endurance Run: https://www.wser.org

2019 Lottery Statistics

Last updated: November 30, 2018 at 9:21 am

The 2019 race lottery will be held on December 1, 2018 in front of a live audience at the Placer High School auditorium in Auburn, CA beginning at 8:30 a.m. PST. We expect to be done by 11:00 a.m. As names are pulled from the hat, they will be posted at https://www.ultralive.net/lottery as close to real-time as possible. There will also be a live video feed on our Facebook Page.

Demand for the race continues to increase as we have seen a 19% increase in the number of applicants for the 2019 lottery. There are 5862 applicants. This compares to 4909 in 2018 and 4248 in 2017.

As described on our lottery page, each runner who enters the lottery and fails to gain entry into the Run (and otherwise doesn’t gain an entry via other means such as an aid station, sponsor, or Altra Golden Ticket spot) will have additional tickets in the hat when entering the lottery the following year, thus improving the probability of being selected. Every lottery applicant will receive 2^(n-1) tickets in the hat where n is the number of consecutive years entering the lottery without gaining entry. That is, 1st year applicants = 1 ticket, 2nd year = 2 tickets, 3rd year = 4 tickets, 4th year = 8 tickets, 5th year = 16 tickets, 6th year = 32 tickets, 7th year = 64 tickets. The maximum number of years for the 2019 lottery is once again 7, or 64 tickets.

You can view the 2019 applicants and their ticket counts and pdf of the 20,119 tickets that will be printed, cut and then put into the barrel.

As we began in 2017, we are using a wait list model instead of overbooking like we had for decades to get the target 369 starters which is the number we are legally allowed to run through the Granite Chief Wilderness. 104 of those 369 are automatic entrants. 262 will be drawn in the lottery. The final three entrants to get to 369 will be drawn from those in the audience. We will also draw an additional 50 names for the ordered wait list. The probabilities for being selected as one of the 262 in the lottery or 50 on the wait list (312) are as follows:

  • 30 runners with 64 tickets, each has a 67.3% chance of getting drawn (18.1 estimated to be drawn in lottery + 2.1 estimated to be drawn for wait list)
  • 95 runners with 32 tickets, each has a 42.8% chance of getting drawn (35.1 + 5.6)
  • 191 runners with 16 tickets, each has a 24.4% chance of getting drawn (39.3 + 7.3)
  • 455 runners with 8 tickets, each has a 13.1% chance of getting drawn (49.6 + 9.8)
  • 697 runners with 4 tickets, each has a 6.8% chance of getting drawn (39.0 + 8.1)
  • 1281 runners with 2 tickets, each has a 3.4% chance of getting drawn (36.4 + 7.6)
  • 3113 runners with 1 ticket, each has a 1.7% chance of getting drawn (44.5 + 9.5)

So what are the chances of getting into the race if you are selected for the wait list? In 2018 the last person to get a spot on the starting line was drawn 36th on the wait list, in 2017 the 39th person got in. Here is data for the 2018 and 2017 wait lists including when each runner was offered a spot.

Good luck to all.

2018 Runner Survey Results

Here are the results of the independent Western States Endurance Run (WSER) Runner Survey from the June 23-24, 2018 race, conducted by ultralive.net.

WSER runner registration takes place in Squaw Valley Friday before race day and 2018 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 369 starters.

Here are the surveys from 201420152016, and 2017.

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
  • Did they pay for coaching services?
  • A few questions about lodging for the race to share with host sites

This year’s race was the 9th hottest on record but that fact did not seem to impact the runners. Of the 369 starters we saw 299 finishers (81%) under 30 hours of which 123 (33.3%) finished under the coveted 24 hour mark for a Silver Buckle.

A total of 284 of the 299 finshers (95%) 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, 43 out of 123 (35%) finished in the 23rd hour of the race to get a silver buckle (compared to 36.2% in 2017 with only 69 Silver Buckles). In the last two hours of the race, there were 101 (40%) finishers. The busiest times on the track are typically between 4-5 AM and 9-11 AM on Sunday morning and 2018 proved no different. The graphs show the distribution of finishers by hour (14 hours to 29 hours).

Despite the heat in this year’s race, the finish rate of 81% is much higher than last year’s 67.2%.
An interesting data point for this year is that only “experienced” runners had a DNF – at least one 100 completed and over a year of ultrarunning.


This is the fifth year Hoka was the most popular shoe (34.9%) for all finishers with Altra staying in second place with 23.2%. Salomon (10.9%) again was ahead of Brooks (6.0%) which was the second most popular shoe just three years ago (2015). The rankings remained the same for the top 3 most popular shoes with the sub-24 hour finishers as well. 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.


Injinji was just barely the favorite over Drymax for the most popular sock choice for finishers. And it was Drymax ahead by sixteen 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

A little over a quarter of the runners use a paid coaching service for both the overall and sub-24 hour finishers. And from the data it seems that using a coach does not decrease the chance of a DNF compared to the finishers.

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 38% of the runners who did not complete the race were at the training camp.


Petzl’s remains the favorite light brand for all runners regardless of finish time (sub or over-24 hour) with Black Diamond second again. Only one runner was able to complete the course without a light – Jim Walmsley (and he did have a Petzl just in case!)


Salomon was the top choice for all runners (sub 24 and overall) with Ultimate Direction and Nathan in second and third. Not everyone chooses and pack and 38 responded to the survey saying they would only use handheld bottles for the race.

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 – what are your thoughts? The following chart shows the correlation of using a pacer or crew to finish hour.

Special recognition should go to the 18 runners in the survey with no crew and no pacer. Five of them managed to finish in less than 24 hours to earn a well deserved silver buckle.

Data Accuracy

369 runners started the 2018 Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run

Ultralive.net team surveyed a majority of those runners through the registration process at Squaw Final survey reflects N = 353 (95.6%) 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 and inspired by the Ironman “bike survey” in Kona.


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 Jessi Goldstein.

Any feedback or insights are welcome!

2018 WS 100 Press Release


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


Deep fields for both women’s and men’s race should make for memorable 2018 WSER

The talent level for any year at the Western States Endurance Run is usually exceptional, and the women’s and men’s fields for the 2018 event, scheduled for June 23-24, true to form, will be no exception.

“It’s been very interesting to watch our elite entrant list develop this spring,” Race Director Craig Thornley said. “The Altra Golden Ticket Series (a series of five races held throughout the country, where the top two finishers gain entry into Western States) has given us some new faces for both the women’s and men’s races. In some ways, the sport feels like it is experiencing a changing of the guard, and we are seeing that through some of our Golden Ticket entries. That said, the new faces are going to be joined by a number of key returning top-ten finishers from 2017, plus some great past champions.

“Both fields are deep, talented and should be a lot of fun to watch. It’s anybody’s guess who is going to win, whether it’s going to be a runner who is young and inexperienced or older and battle-tested.”

One of the most intriguing “new faces” at Western States will be Courtney Dauwalter. The 33-year-old school teacher from Golden, Colorado, has taken the ultra running world by storm over the past two years. She ran her way into Western States with a Golden Ticket victory at Southern California’s Sean O’Brien 100K in February. Before that, she notched an outright win at the Moab 240 in October, and previous to that set the American Record for 24 hours in 2017 at the Riverbank One Day Classic. In April, she won the Ultra Trail Mount Fuji 100-miler in Japan.

Top Western States veterans include Kaci Lickteig, 31, the 2016 women’s champion from Omaha, Nebraska, who is rounding into form this spring following her recovery earlier this year from a pelvic stress fracture; 2014 women’s champion Stephanie Violett, 34, of Bend, Ore., who also finished third in 2015; Katlyn Gerbin, 28, of Issaquah, Washington, who finished fourth in 2017; perennial top-ten finisher Aliza Lapierre, 37, of Williston, Vermont; Amanda Basham, 28, of North Logan, Utah, who finished fourth in 2016; New Zealand’s Fiona Hayvice, who finished fifth in 2017; and the ageless Meghan Laws, 57, of Cool, California, ninth in 2017, who will be looking for her 12th Western States finish. Three athletes who qualified via the Ultra Trail World Tour (UTWT), which has partnered with Western States over the past several years to bring more international runners into the race, are 22-year-old Lucy Bartholomew of Australia, Cecilia Flori, 37, an Italian citizen living in New Zealand, and Emilie Lecomte, 39, of France.

Overall, there are 73 runners from outside the United States who will be competing this year. This represents approximately 20 percent of all entrants.

On the men’s side, Jim Walmsley, 28, will lead the “Coconino Cowboys,” a group of training partners who all live in Flagstaff, Arizona. Going into this year’s race, five “Cowboys,” including Walmsley, had qualified for Western States through Golden Ticket races.

Walmsley was on course record setting pace in 2016 before taking a wrong turn near 90 miles, eventually finishing in 20th place. In 2017, Walmsley again set a torrid pace through a muddy and snowy high country and on through to 62 miles at Foresthill. He later became sick on the way to the Rucky Chucky river crossing near mile 78 and dropped out.

This spring, showing fine form, Walmsley won the Lake Sonoma 50-miler in a course record setting time of 5:51.

Three of his four “Coconino Cowboy” teammates will also be starting Saturday, including Tim Freriks, 27, who ran away from a strong field at The North Face Endurance Challenge in San Francisco in December.

Walmsley will be challenged by one of the  top mountain runners in the world in France’s Francois D’Haene, 31, the 2017 Ultra Tour du Mont Blanc champion; Mark Hammond, 33, of Millcreek, Utah, the third-place finisher at Western States in 2017; Jeff Browning, 46, of Logan, Utah, who has finished third and fourth over the past two years at Western States; Mario Mendoza, 32, of Bend, Oregon, who won February’s Bandera 100K in Texas and was sixth at the World Trail Championships; Norway’s Didrik Hermansen, runner-up in 2016; and Ian Sharman, 37, of Bend, Ore., who will be gunning for his ninth straight top-ten finish.

Age-group entrants also could make headlines this year. Diana Fitzpatrick, 60, of Larkspur, California, will be shooting for the women’s 60 to 69 age group record, of 25:40 set in 2005 by Gunhild Swanson. Karl Meltzer, 50, of Sandy, Utah, will be attempting to take the oldest record on the books at Western States – Doug Latimer’s 50 to 59 age group record of 18:43 set in 1988.

2017 men’s champion Ryan Sandes and women’s champion Cat Bradley will not be competing this year.

Temperatures following a mild spring will test the field of 369 entrants. The National Weather Service is calling for a high of 100 degrees at the finish in Auburn, California on Saturday.

WHAT: 45th running of the Western States 100-mile Endurance Run

WHEN: Saturday, June 23, 5 a.m. start at Squaw Valley, Calif., finish at Placer High School, Auburn, Calif. 369 trail runners from more than 30 countries and more than 40 states to compete. Western States Endurance Run: http://www.wser.org

Foresthill Firefighters Association Community Service Project

Western States Endurance Run, Foresthill Firefighters & Smokey want your help to protect the trails we run on and the community at the heart of WSER.

The What: In the spirit of our Mission Statement, the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run, in partnership with the Foresthill Volunteer Firefighters Association (FVFA) is endorsing a community service fundraiser project inspired by our community of runners.

The How: The theme for this effort is: “Gifts of Runner Origin”.

Western States runners, crews, and spectators are encouraged to bring a gift that is unique to, and represents, the places we call home. Donated items will be accepted during registration and packet pickup near the Start Line at the Squaw Valley Ski Resort on Thursday and Friday June 21-22. All donated items will be collected by FVFA volunteers and delivered to Foresthill where they will be available for purchase during race day festivities on Saturday, June 23 and the Annual FVFA Garage Sale in August.

100% of proceeds will support the Foresthill Volunteer Firefighters Association.

The Why:  Firefighters and Fire Districts in California and across the country work to protect the forests, mountains and range lands that trail runners rely on to pursue our passion. They also provide emergency medical services. Every runner can help make a difference.

For Additional Information or Questions Contact:

njcomstock3@gmail.com (802) 233-4059  or
jgcomstock3@gmail.com (802) 233-0823