In just a few days, The Western States 100 will be open for applications. These applications will be used for the lottery, which establishes the starting field for the 2013 race.* Between November 10th and November 24th, thousands of ultrarunners will complete their applications online. About two weeks later, on December 8th, the lottery will be held live in Auburn, CA. Not everyone can be there in Auburn, so the results are posted live online. In past years, a live video feed provided results as they happened.
In June 2010, I crossed the finish line of the Western States 100 in 23:04. My 4 year old son, Jalen, ran with me as I experienced a surreal moment that I had dreamed about for many years. To this day, if I need to draw on a magical uplifting moment in my life, I think back to that illuminated Auburn High School stadium. It was not just because I had just a great race, but the journey of several years before I was finally selected to run in the race.
What makes the Western States 100 so special? In part, I think its found in the history of the trails. I also think Western States sets the bar for professionalism. It is not just the runners…from the race director and staff to volunteers and crowds, everyone seems to be in agreement that they are all contributing to a very special race. When runners toe the line at the Western States 100, they not only maintain high expectations for themselves, but also for this historic event. In essence, honest respect is felt and projected by everyone…for the race’s history, past peformances, the trails, and each other.
Most ultrarunners know about the Western States 100. Afterall, it was highlighted in Dean Karnazes’ best selling book, “Ultramarathon Man”. It’s also among the most competitive races in the country. Most ultrarunners can recite the history of the race from it’s humble beginnings to it’s current place in our endurance subculture. While the “WS100” still holds a place among the more difficult mountain ultras, it is not the difficulty of the race that attracts so many of us each year. It is the magical experience of running on the same trail that Gordy ran so many years ago. A venue with it’s own memories of monumental performances…where hearts were broken and, for others, the impossible overcome in a feat of individual celebration.
In 1974, Gordy Ansleigh lined up for the “Tevis Cup” 100 mile endurance horse race without his horse. Gordy ran the traditional 100 mile horse race on foot from start to finish. He completed the race shortly before the 24 hour cut-off in spite of doubts from others that such a feat was even possible. Gordy’s incredible effort gave birth to the tradition of the 100 mile belt buckle, which, to this day, is most commonly awarded to finishers of 100 mile ultramarathons.
“I want to thank the rest of you for making me look normal.”
– Gordon Ainsleigh(1)
Additional Information about Western States 100
Women’s Division (2012) Ellie Greenwood: 16:47:19
Men’s Division (2012) Timothy Olson: 14:46:44
*Automatic Entry into Western States includes the following (excerpt from www.WS100.com)
- Top 10 male finishers from the previous year’ race.
- Top 10 female finishers from the previous year’s race.
- Up to 36 slots are reserved for winners of the Montrail Ultra Cup Series.
- Each running club that sponsors and staffs an aid station at Western States is allowed to designate one runner. Generally speaking, each is a volunteer who has worked that particular aid station for at least three prior years.
- Certain sponsor agreements specify a designated runner for the sponsor.
- Members of the Board of Trustees.
- Pioneers: Gordy Ainsleigh, who ran solo in 1974 and Cowman A-Moo-Ha, who duplicated the feat in 1976.
- Nine-time finishers going for their first attempt at a tenth finish.
- Winners of the twice-annual Raffle Drawing. The drawings are held 18 and 12 months prior to the Run for which the winning entries apply. (2)