Thursday, June 27, 2013


So this weekend is the iconic Western States 100 miler, from Squaw Valley to Auburn, the 40th running of this event that started with one runner back in 1974 and is now the most sort after ultra in the States. There's no easy way in, no special exception for the pros. They all have to qualify like the rest of us. If you are having your first attempt at 10 runs, or 19 or 20 you get in, but lets be honest thats not going to bump the numbers too high.

Once you are in you have the prospect of 100 miles of trail in potentially 100 degree heat (forecast for Saturday at the finish is currently 99). The winner will be around 15 hours (last year saw the first 2 sub 15's in winner Timothy Olson and runner up Ryan Sandes who both broke the previous record) the first  woman 17 (Ellie Greenwood beat the 'unbeatable' Ann Transon record by 50 minutes last year). The rest have 30 hours to complete the race. In a good year 80% of the limited 400 runner field will complete. In a 'hot' year maybe as low as 50%. This year is going to be hot!

When I moved to the States, WS was definitely a long term goal, something to measure myself by, maybe even get a tattoo! But after an aborted qualifying attempt in Colorado, stupidly at altitude, I've had to adjust my goals and maybe accept I have neither the physical, or more importantly, the mental fortitude to join these guys. We all have our limits, Comrades is probably mine, and 50k where I enjoy playing.

Before the DNF I committed to supporting friend David Ross on his second attempt to get that WS buckle, so I'll be at Western States to see the Olsons, Meltzers and Koerners go through the 62 mile mark where I'll be waiting to 'pace' Dave to the finish. I've never been more excited to not be part of a race before! I get goose bumps thinking of following the race unfold during Saturday, and then being with Dave as he achieves a lifetime goal. Pacers are really only there to 'encourage' and be company for the official runners. We can't carry their provisions, run ahead to aid stations, tow or push them! 'Pure' runners consider it if not cheating than outside assistance, but only the really, really hard core in an already hard core event refuse the services of a pacer. And from a safety perspective it makes perfect sense. I can't see how I would be the difference between Dave finishes or not. but if he or anyone around gets into trouble at least I can raise the alarm.

The Western States 'family' at the 4 mile point of Saturday's race. 1000m climb straight up

It seems ridiculous that running 38 miles is only PART of a race, but that's the case on Saturday. I think it's far enough to feel like a very long day for someone who is used to 30 miles max most of the time. My biggest fear is that I'll be the one who struggles and gets into trouble, and that would be embarrassing and mildly concerning for the runner I'm supporting. 38 mies really is a long way whatever the conditions and whatever the pace.

Start of the Western States 100 miler

I'll tweet from the events up until Dave comes through and the after that if conditions allow. We should get decent info from the aid stations on the leaders. Irunfar will be the best place to follow this amazing race as it unfolds in what is a stacked field upfront.

@ilittle17 and @irunfar plus @wser100. For previews etc go here

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