2020 WSER and Training Runs Cancelled

To the Western States Community:

Due to the continuing public health threat of coronavirus (COVID-19), the Board of Trustees for the Western States Endurance Run has made the decision to cancel the 2020 Western States Endurance Run. In accordance with this decision, we are offering an entry spot for the 2021 race to all runners entered in this year’s race and a wait list spot on the 2021 wait list to all people on this year’s wait list. The 2020 Memorial Day training runs are cancelled and all registrations for those events will roll over to the 2021 Memorial Day training runs. More details on entry and registration for 2021 events will be provided later.

We have made the decision to cancel after careful deliberation, knowing that our foremost responsibility is to ensure the health, safety, and well-being of our 2020 entrants, our volunteers, our broader running community, and society at large. The current situation in the United States and throughout the world is one of disruption and uncertainty. We feel that moving forward with plans for a race in June is not aligned with what our government, medical experts, and society is asking us to do. While painful to do knowing the hopes and dreams that surround this event, we feel it is the responsible action to take in light of what is going on in the world around us.

We took into consideration the following in making our decision to cancel:

  • We considered our social responsibility in this global crisis to not continue to foster an environment where the training needs of our entrants are in direct conflict with current shelter in place rules in the U.S. and abroad.
  • With more travel bans, shelter in place rules, and lock downs, it seems increasingly unlikely that people from around the world will be able to assemble in Squaw Valley on the weekend of June 27.
  • We determined that we will not be able to secure all the necessary permits and approvals in time to postpone the race until the fall.
  • We took into consideration how disruptive this pandemic has been—its financial impact, work and job stress, family and health concerns, kids at home—making it difficult or impossible for many to focus on training for Western States.

By making this difficult decision to cancel the race now, we hope to relieve some of the pressure people are feeling during this time of stress and uncertainty. We also hope that having an entry secured for 2021 offsets some of the disappointment about not being able to run the race this year and creates a brighter light for the future.

We thank you for your patience and kindness during this difficult period. We hope you all remain safe and healthy and we look forward to gathering with you in Squaw Valley in June 2021.


Diana Fitzpatrick, President, Western States Endurance Run
Craig Thornley, Race Director, Western States Endurance Run
Members of the Western States Endurance Run Board of Trustees

COVID-19 Update #3

To the Western States community:

We continue to monitor the latest developments regarding the outbreak of COVID-19 throughout the country and the world. As an organization, our commitment to everyone involved with Western States remains the same: We will do everything in our power to put on a race this year provided we feel it can be done safely and responsibly. The situation continues to be extremely fluid and dynamic. The past week alone has seen several states enact strict limitations on businesses, gatherings and the delivery of essential services. Some states and numerous cities, towns and municipalities have implemented “shelter in place” restrictions.

We want you all to know that we are working on race solutions for many of the challenges that are inherent to this time of uncertainty. All options are on the table. We continue to plan for our runners to assemble during the weekend of June 27-28, but realize that we need to be proactive as well. In the event that the coronavirus situation does not improve, we are also exploring the possibility of postponing the event to the fall or guaranteeing a spot in the 2021 race for all 2020 race entrants. We are approaching our May training weekend in the same manner. We are hopeful the training runs will be held, but are also looking at options such as consolidating the training weekend or adjusting their place on the calendar in the event we choose to postpone to the fall. We are also aware of the community’s concern regarding qualifiers for Western States. We have a committee tasked with exploring a number of options that we hope will demonstrate fairness and an equitable understanding of how the 2020 ultra calendar has been thrown into disarray because of COVID-19.

The past few days have also brought into sharp relief what a world dealing with coronavirus looks like. People throughout the world are doing all they can to minimize contact with others, to practice social/physical distancing and to avoid large gatherings. We ask that in order to stay ahead of the curve that you continue to be aware of the latest US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines in order to ensure your health and safety and the health and safety of those around you. For our international runners, this means that you understand and are following any public health restrictions or guidelines that are in place in your particular country; for runners in the United States, please abide by shelter-in-place requirements or restrictions on movement if your state or city has implemented them.

Our goal in this unprecedented time remains the same. We will do everything we possibly can to keep our community safe, and to hold our race in 2020. We will continue to update you and be as transparent as possible as we figure out the best path forward for our runners and community. Thank you for your patience and trust in these unsettling times.


Craig Thornley, Race Director
Western States Board of Trustees

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.


Craig Thornley, Race Director
The Western States Board of Trustees


To the Western States community,

We continue to understand and share the concerns of people throughout the world regarding the outbreak of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and remain committed to your health and well-being.

We recognize that the situation is dynamic and evolves each day, with new information and understanding that informs the health and safety protocols issued by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Placer County Public Health. To the greatest extent possible, Western States will be implementing preventive measures and controls to ensure the health and safety of our runners, race volunteers, crew members and spectators. We continue to review and adapt our planning strategies as more is learned every day. All decisions regarding our event will be made in concert with advice and input from our partners in the health community, most notably Placer County Public Health and the State of California.

We do not anticipate cancelling or postponing our event at this time.

Since the situation is so dynamic, however, we will continue to regularly evaluate this decision based upon what the scientific community learns about coronavirus and what public health officials believe to be in the best interest of the communities they serve.

This is a challenging time for all of us. Perhaps the most important challenge of them all is to keep yourself and those around you healthy. We ask that you follow the protocols and information that are presented through the CDC’s website regarding good hygiene, travel abroad restrictions and what to do if you feel you are experiencing coronavirus symptoms.

Thank you for your support of Western States.

The Western States Board of Trustees

2020 Lottery Statistics

Last updated: December 6, 2019 at 10:59 am

The 2020 race lottery will be held on December 7, 2019 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 grow. We have a record 6666 applicants entered in the 2020 race lottery — an increase of nearly 14% over the 5862 applicants for the 2019 race.

Each applicant ran a qualifying race of 100k or longer within the last year to be eligible to enter. Some have done so for many years. 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 HOKA ONE ONE 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, and so on. The maximum number of years for the 2020 lottery is 8 years or 128 tickets.

You can view the 2020 applicants and their ticket counts. Applicants have until December 5 to notify us of any discrepancies. Here is the pdf of the tickets that will be printed, cut and then put into the barrel.

Beginning with the 2019 Lottery we introduced two different byes, or ways to sit out a lottery and not lose ticket counts. The generic One-Time Bye can be used by anybody for any reason as long as they have tickets to carry forward. This can only be used once in a lifetime and is only a one-year reprieve. The Pregnancy Lottery Deferral allows women with accrued lottery tickets who are pregnant or give birth during the qualifying period to re-enter either of the next two lotteries and maintain their consecutive lottery status. There is no limit to the number of times this can be used. Here are the lists of 2020 and 2019 Lottery Bye Declarations.

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. 102 of those 369 are automatic entrants. 264 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 of being selected as one of the 264 in the lottery or 50 on the wait list (314) are as follows:

  • 9 runners with 128 tickets, each has a 80.4% chance of getting drawn
  • 54 runners with 64 tickets, each has a 55.8% chance of getting drawn
  • 126 runners with 32 tickets, each has a 33.5% chance of getting drawn
  • 315 runners with 16 tickets, each has a 18.5% chance of getting drawn
  • 549 runners with 8 tickets, each has a 9.7% chance of getting drawn
  • 914 runners with 4 tickets, each has a 5.0% chance of getting drawn
  • 1447 runners with 2 tickets, each has a 2.5% chance of getting drawn
  • 3250 runners with 1 ticket, each has a 1.3% chance of getting drawn

So what are the chances of getting into the race if you are selected for the wait list? In 2019 the last person to get a spot on the starting line was drawn 31st. In 2018 the 36th person on the list got in, in 2017 the 39th person got in. Here is data for the 2019, 2018 and 2017 wait lists including when each runner was offered a spot.

Good luck to all.