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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.

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.

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.

COVID-19 Update #2

To the Western States community:

The coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak throughout the country and the world has been extremely dynamic over the past few days. The decisions we make in the coming days and weeks — individually and as a community — will have profound impacts on the intensity and the duration of coronavirus that all of us experience.

On March 15th, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issued new guidelines recommending that organizers of in-person events — including sporting events — with 50 or more people cancel or postpone those events for the next eight weeks. We are very aware of the potential impact the postponement and cancellation of races will have on our runners and broader community. We plan to address issues related to WSER qualifiers, Golden Ticket races, and other things — including the feasibility of holding the race itself — as the situation develops and becomes more clear. For now, we will continue to make decisions based on the health, safety and well-being of our runners and broader community and in accordance with governmental rules and guidelines. For more information on COVID-19 and the ultrarunning community, see Corrine Malcolm’s extremely informative article in irunfar, COVID-19: A Trail Running and Ultrarunning Community Guide.

We thank you for your patience and consideration during this time of uncertainty.  We will keep you informed as things develop and we figure out how to address issues raised by this public health crisis. Our community is stronger together and we will need to draw on that strength and resilience in the coming days and months as we navigate these unchartered waters together.

Sincerely,

Craig Thornley, Race Director
The Western States Board of Trustees