2016 Western States 100 Results

Flora HealthAmidst a day of constant race lead changes and shake-ups, Andrew Miller and Kaci Lickteig used winning combinations of brains and brawn to win the 2016 Western States 100.

In addition to this article, you can find our full play-by-play of the race as well as a collection of our pre-race interviews and preview on our Western States 100 live coverage page. We’ve also collected a bunch of other 2016 Western States 100-related resources in our 2016 WS 100 roundup article.

You can watch videos of the men’s and women’s podium finishes, as well as finish-line interviews with Andrew and Kaci.

Special thanks for Flora for making our coverage of the Western States 100 possible!

Inov-8 logoThanks also to Inov-8 for their support of our Western States coverage.

Ps. To get all the latest ultra news from iRunFar.com, subscribe via RSS or email.

2016 Western States 100 Men’s Race

At just 20 years of age but with incredible maturity developed through six previous years of ultrarunning, Andrew Miller (post-race interview) ran the early miles not even close to the front of the pack. When we saw him the first time at mile 16, he was running in 10th place. Each time we encountered him after that, he had moved up another place or, at the least, stayed steady where he was. At Michigan Bluff, just past halfway, he moved into podium position. By the Rucky Chucky river crossing at mile 78, he was second.

2016 Western States 100 - Andrew Miller - River Crossing

Andrew Miller in second across the American River. Photo: iRunFar/Bryon Powell

In one of the most unusual storylines we’ve seen in quite some time in trail running, when almost-all-day leader Jim Walmsley (pre-race and post-race interviews) went off course and slowed way down, Andrew assumed the race lead with 6.5 miles to go, rolling across the finish line looking just about as shocked with his win as his fans were. Whatever under-the-radar status Andrew Miller retained going into the race, it’s now long gone. It took grace, wisdom, and fitness to win this year’s race, and Andrew possessed more of those qualities at this race than the rest of the field.

Second place, Norway’s Didrik Hermansen (post-race interview), may not be well known to American trail running fans, but he has well-established presence on the Euro ultra scene and is known for his leg speed. However, for Didrik, 100 miles was an unknown quantity as he’d not yet successfully finished the distance. Didrik ran in the men’s top 10 all day, looking wicked comfortable in the back half of it early and still good if a little hot in the 95-degree-Fahrenheit afternoon temperatures in the front half later on. At mile 93.5, he’d assumed second place and closed strong from there.

2016 Western States 100 - Didrik Hermansen - Michigan Bluff

Didrik Hermansen enjoying the sauna that is the climb to Michigan Bluff. Photo: iRunFar/Bryon Powell

Third place was Jeff Browning (post-race interview). What? The guy was barely inside the top 20 when we first saw him 16 miles into the race. No beans about it, the dude knows how to race 100 miles. Into the top 10 about a third of the way through the race, into the top five by mile 85, and then the podium at mile 93.5. Jeff now has a couple dozen 100-mile finishes and is a true master of the second halves of races. I think we’d all like to take that chapter from Jeff’s 100-mile racing book.

2016 Western States 100 - Jeff Browning - River Crossing

Jeff Browning crossing the American River. Photo: iRunFar/Bryon Powell

France’s Thomas Lorblanchet (pre-race interview) came into this race wearing bib M5 and it seemed like almost every time we saw him today he was also in fifth place. Look up the definition of ‘consistent’ in the dictionary and you’ll surely find Thomas at Western States. He’s a quiet, focused racer so it’s hard to get a read on how he’s feeling except for through how he’s moving. And his legs deceived neither us nor him today–he was surefooted from start to finish.

Rounding out the men’s top five was Scottish speedster Paul Giblin. Another established presence on the Euro ultra scene, Paul also has a penchant for occasionally training and racing in the U.S. Paul looked strong early and late, but honestly a bit choppy in the race’s middle third. However, two out of three thirds ain’t bad and neither is fifth place at Western States.

Jim Walmsley created quite a stir for some 93.5 miles of racing wherein he led the race basically unchallenged and challenging the 14:46:44 course record set four years ago by Timothy Olson. His effort seemed inhuman–and truly asking all of us observing at aid stations to plausibly reset the definitions of what is possible. None of us knew what to make of a guy who put himself 32 minutes ahead of the course record at the river crossing at mile 78. Unfortunately, before mile 93.5, he took a wrong turn and went several miles off course before turning around, returning to the course, and basically walking it in. And never mind the incident at the river crossing before that wherein he was briefly swept downstream from the monitored crossing as he swum across the river. In the weeks before the race, it was said many times that Jim was going to create fireworks with however his day turned out and that was never a truer statement.

Another race favorite, Sage Canaday (pre-race interview), took things out pretty hard. Observing his run, he seemed somewhat torn by the dueling ideas that 100 miles is a long race and that Jim was running quite strongly ahead of him. Through the race’s middle third, Sage, too, was ahead of record pace, but by fewer minutes. By the river, his stomach had stopped working. Like Jim, Sage finished, but looked a bit worse for the wear when it was all over. Likewise, the early third-place runner David Laney (pre-race interview) faded hard but finished.

2016 Western States 100 Men’s Results

  1. Andrew Miller (Salomon) — 15:39:36 (finish-line and post-race interviews)
  2. Didrik Hermansen (ASICS) — 16:16:08 (post-race interview)
  3. Jeff Browning (Patagonia) — 16:30:40 (post-race interview)
  4. Thomas Lorblanchet (Altra) — 16:39:55 (pre-race interview)
  5. Paul Giblin (Nathan) — 16:53:20
  6. Ian Sharman (Altra) — 16:55:11
  7. Chris Mocko — 17:01:47
  8. Kyle Pietari (Altra) — 17:05:01
  9. Christopher Denucci (Hoka One One) — 17:07:57
  10. Jesse Haynes (Patagonia) — 17:12:30 (post-race interview)

Full results.

2016 Western States 100 - Andrew Miller - Finish

Andrew Miller winning the 2016 Western States 100. Photo: iRunFar/Bryon Powell

2016 Western States 100 Women’s Race

Kaci Lickteig (pre-race and post-race interviews) was a real sight to behold, light and airy in body posture and spirit from start to finish. It seems that this just was her year to win Western States. With defending champion Magda Boulet (pre-race interview) quickly eliminated from the competition when she dropped with stomach issues at mile 16, Kaci was the relatively unchallenged race leader all day. Mile 16, mile 23, mile 30, mile 38, mile 47, mile 55, mile 62, mile 70, mile 78, mile 80, mile 85, mile 94, mile 97, mile 99, and the finish—get the picture?—these were all the places we saw Kaci on course and we found her to be categorically smiles, hugs, happiness, and joy each of those times. We’ve seen her race here several times before, and those times we witnessed her working through clear low patches and difficulties. This race seemed different, however, with almost no blips on her radar. Her seemingly seamless race certainly showed that stars do sometimes totally align for a single race, a single experience. Kaci’s 17:57:59 is the fourth-fastest time on the course—only times run by women named Ann Trason or Ellie Greenwood have been faster. Her finish also represents another marked improvement on her two previous finishes: a sixth in 20:07 in 2014 and second last year in 19:20. With such improvement each year, I don’t know that we’ve seen close to the extent of Kaci’s potential here.

2016 Western States 100 - Kaci Lickteig - Rucky Chucky

Kaci Lickteig crossing the American River in the lead. Photo: iRunFar/Bryon Powell

Second-place Amy Sproston (post-race interview), now here’s a person who is unpredicatable via observation. I seriously have no idea how Amy is really feeling based upon how she looks. Fortunately, if you ask her how she’s doing, she’s generally totally honest with wherever she’s at. Though whether she’s feeling good or bad, she is always incredibly focused on the tasks at hand, and today was no exception. Amy took it relatively easy before pushing later in the race, especially when she found herself pressured from behind by third place Devon Yanko. In the race’s final miles, Devon temporarily closed the gap to Amy, but this clearly spurred Amy on and she, in turn, pushed and put a goodly number of minutes back on Devon. At the finish, Amy cited Devon as part of her inspiration for her strong finish. With several finishes in this race and her highest previously having been third place and some 30-ish minutes slower, let’s just say that when this woman is on, it’s on. And today it was on.

2016 Western States 100 - Amy Sproston - Robinson Flat

Amy Sproston cruising through Robinson Flat. Photo: iRunFar/Bryon Powell

Devon Yanko (post-race interview) was the third woman. After looking chill early, I think she almost gave up on her race in the miles before Dusty Corners at mile 38 after missing her crew at an aid station, running out of supplies, and experiencing cramping. At mile 38, things seemed enough amiss that we wondered if she’d be able to recover and remain in the race. Fortunately, she sussed out her issues by spending a bit of extra time at a couple aid stations, regrouping, and running the second half of the race with a smile on her face and some spring in her step. Her podium finish is a living, breathing example of the fact that 100 miles is a long way, and there’s a lot of time for things to go both bad and good.

2016 Western States 100 - Denvo Yanko - Robinson Flat

Devon Yanko smiling her way through Robinson Flat. Photo: iRunFar/Bryon Powell

Amanda Basham was one of my favorite performances in the women’s race. We’ve previously watched her race a couple times, at two The North Face Endurance Challenge 50-Mile Championships races where she hovered on the cusp of top-10 women’s finishes. Here, Amanda spent the first part of the race hanging out in right about the same spot, just inside and outside of the women’s top 10. We saw her a few times in the race’s two thirds, and each time she was super chill, no fuss, and no pressure. After the halfway point at Michigan Bluff (mile 55.7), that’s when she crept into the top 10 and stayed there for good. From there, she slowly but steadily crept up on the rest of the field, picking off places until she full on lambasted the race’s final 10 miles or so. In this, her first 100-mile finish, as we understand it, she showed the world that she has the combination of street smarts and fitness to hang with the big guns at the 100-mile distance.

Canada’s Alissa St. Laurent rounded out the women’s top five and brought a little international flare to the women’s race. At every aid station we visited, and though her position jumped around here and there, Alissa was consistently within the top 10 and she consistently looked confident in her pace and position. Her 20:27 fifth place improves upon her first finish here in 2014, where she finished 13th in 22:17. Something tells me that there is a lot of potential remaining with Alissa’s efforts at Western States.

2016 Western States 100 - Alissa St Laurent - Robinson Flat

Alissa St Laurent running through Robinson Flat. Photo: iRunFar/Bryon Powell

2016 Western States 100 Women’s Results

  1. Kaci Lickteig (Nike) — 17:57:59 (pre-racefinish-line, and post-race interviews)
  2. Amy Sproston (Montrail) — 18:54:44 (post-race interview)
  3. Devon Yanko (Oiselle) — 19:10:08 (pre-race and post-race interviews)
  4. Amanda Basham (Nike) — 20:11:39
  5. Alissa St Laurent (Salomon) — 20:27:11
  6. Meghan Arbogast (Altra) — 20:30:11 (post-race interview)
  7. Bethany Patterson (Nathan) — 20:40:42 (pre-race Taproom interview)
  8. Maggie Guterl (Nathan) — 20:50:07
  9. Jodee Adams-Moore (7 Hills) — 20:54:54
  10. Erika Lindland — 21:07:40

Full results.

2016 Western States 100 - Kaci Lickteig finish fist

2016 Western States 100 champ Kaci Lickteig. Photo: iRunFar/Bryon Powell

Thank You

A huge team of volunteers and their selfless efforts brought you our Western States 100 coverage. We sincerely thank Mauri Pagliacci and Dani Torres, who put in a miraculous 40 hours of office work bringing to you our live coverage of both Lavaredo Ultra Trail and Western States on back-to-back days. Thank you to Nick Pedatella, Ellie Greenwood, Travis Liles, Travis Trampe, and Alex Nichols for volunteering to moderate our CoverItLive discussion. On site at the race, we are grateful to the volunteer efforts of Kim Wrinkle, Andy Jones-Wilkins, Sarah and Adam Bradham, Betsy Hartley, Scott Yates, Stephanie Howe, Michelle Forshner, Alisa Chang, Katy Gifford, Tina Frizner, and Leah Cox. It takes a village!

Meghan Hicks

is iRunFar.com's Senior Editor, the author of 'Where the Road Ends: A Guide to Trail Running,' and a Contributing Editor at Trail Runner magazine. The converted road runner finished her first ultramarathon in 2006 and loves using running to visit the world's wildest places. For more information on Meghan and her adventures, please visit her personal website.

There are 88 comments

  1. Florian

    So what really happened with Walmsley in the end? According to his Strava the wrong turn was like 6,5km out and back. Did he just walk it in cause he was frustrated or did he blew up hard anyway? Huge kudos for finishing anyway to Jim!

  2. Gabriel contreras

    I love that all the favorites blew up , and yes, Jeff browning blew by for 3rd! Experience rules the day. Ian Sharman 6th WOW!

    1. JacobsA

      I don’t love that a lot of talented individuals who worked their ass off for a race ended up having huge unforeseen setbacks. Though I do appreciate Browning’s patience and persistence.

    2. Jacob

      Oh yea! That’s what we want to see!! All the young guys play it safe and never try and push the sport further… That’s really exciting… Not. Be mature, why would you wish people who work so hard and are so talented to blow up? Walmsey went 6k off course at least, he was crushing everyone. 90 miles into a race, that’s just devastating. Laney is experienced, this was his 3rd western and 4th hundred on top of many other races. He went for it, that’s what great runners do. It didn’t work out that day. Sage was the only person who tried to run with Walmsey, props to him for gutting it out.

      1. Brett-SC

        I don’t mean to drop a turd in the punch bowl, and this is going to sound ignorant, immature, and Sunday evening quarterbacking, but I wonder if the dropping his pacer was all for show. In his pre-race interview, he talked about wanting to do that. If your pacer joined at Foresthill/Mile 62 and in less than 8 miles you already dropped him, you either didn’t have a guy join you who could run, or it was all for a show. Then he tried to swim alone across the river reports said instead of using the line? The guy was as brash as he could be during the pre-race interview…and for the first 75 miles he sure backed it up didn’t he? But I wonder if he pushed karma too far. Those extra set of eyes to spot the turns would have helped at highway 49. Such a shame to see a mind boggling performance not close it out.

        1. Chi Woodruff

          You’re right on the money Brett…he tried to use a play from his idols playbook. Dropping the pacer was a disgusting immature joke. Did you read the man on a mission article on irunfar where he talks about idolizing Connor McGregor? What a waste of talent and what could have been an almost unbeatable course record at ws100. Imo he disrespected the most prestigious race in ultra running and it blew up in his face.

          http://www.irunfar.com/2016/06/man-on-a-mission-an-interview-with-jim-walmsley.html

          Here’s his comment:
          A person I love—and he’s such an easy person to hate—is Connor McGregor. He talks way more smack than anyone. But, he’s—he’s a jerk. But it’s awesome: up until his last fight, he literally backed up everything he said. He gets such a following from it. It’s because he’s outspoken and he tells people what his goals are, and he accomplishes those goals through hard work.
          I’ve had this goal [laughs]—I’m talking about a course record at Western States, and wearing a helmet and holding a beer [laughs].

          1. Bob

            Love and idolizing are two different emotions.

            And in regards to the word “talent” that people throw around. It’s not like Jim woke up like that. He had to dedicate and sacrifice an incredible amount to be able to get to that level. That word is so disempowering to athletes and gives people an “out” in life where they can give credence to the fact that someone has simply more god-given talent than them. Which in turn disempowers all the hard work and dedication.

            To get to the point of athleticism where you are setting course records requires such an amount of drive, focus, determination, and hard work, that when someone says they “wasted” their talent, is totally discrediting the athletic calculus that it took to build that equation of a human being.

            In other words. Any GOAT of any discipline didn’t just wake up like that. It dowsnt matter if your the best parent in the world or the best footracer in the world. You think Jordan just woke up as the GOAT? Or that Tom Brady didn’t have to crawl through glass to get to where he is? It’s easy at surface level to say these individuals are talented. But that’s a complete BS line of thinking in my head as it disempowers you as a person where you can just write off people as being talented. Talent isn’t real. The facts are that these people have been working their whole lives to get to this point of greatness and they didn’t just wake up out of bed as the greatest of all time.

            Sure, some people have more access to different things in life which gives them the opportunity to pursue activities at a very young age which in turn gives them more hours in said activity. Which can give the perception that the individual has “god-given talent”, but that perception isn’t real. The fact is that they had a jump on the activity at a much younger age. And combining that early stage of development in childhood along with some good coaching and you have all the makings for a GOAT. But none of that was free. The individual had to be in the right place, the right time, and the right uniform (social economic class) in order to get to where they were. None of which has been gifted by the cosmos. The individual could have gotten addicted to video games, cheeseburgers, or some other thing along the way and never pursued greatness. But no. They chose to dedicate and focus their lives to said activity. Which has nothing to do with talent. Unless talent is something mentally whete you can stave yourself from distractions; but I would argue that is a muscle that was developed by the environment as well.

            I love that Jim went out like that he did. He worked his assistant off and doesn’t owe anybody anything. Jim could have stalked 2nd place, held back, and made a move in the end and secured the W. But nope. He went out like a man possessed because he worked his ads off so he could. Jim didn’t just wake up the day before with no training. Nope. He has been working his ass his whooe life from what it appears. And to say that he wasted his “talent” is complete BS in my opinion. And he also didn’t disrespect anyone in my opinion. It would have been disrespectful to hold back and not let us see what all his hard work and dedication could amount to.

          2. Meghan Hicks

            Regarding Jim’s pacer, our reporter at Peachstone (mile 70.7), from whom the report that Jim had dropped his pacer originated, said that Jim’s pacer was suffering a preexisting, ahem, lower-intestinal issue that required visits to the woods and which slowed him.

  3. Peter Andersson

    Just because it’s 100 miles doesn’t mean there has to be 100 “all smiles” used when describing the female runners – including all on the Tweets Feed it might even have been more than that – seriously, the unbalance use makes the author look more than just a little sexist…

    1. Nathan Toben

      I believe multiple people, men and women were responsible for yesterday’s incredible coverage of the men and women’s field. This is how they provided us with such detailed, minute-by-minute photographs and updates of runners spread out over 3-5 hours. Perhaps there was a a bit of imbalance in the front runner women compared to the front runner men but I can imagine that the logistics of such are more of a challenge to capture the front runner women, especially in the beginning, as runners are all couched together while brazen boys are flying off the front, making for easy photos. Grateful for the coverage. So inspiring.

    2. Jesse

      I believe that accusation is a little strong and off base. I have run/raced with Kaci, and she is always smiling. It’s actually very impressive. Jorge Maravilla can also be the same way, and has been described as such. I don’t think it’s a sexist thing, it’s just a way some ultrarunners retain a positive mindset, and is easily observable by anyone reporting on it.

    3. Meghan Hicks

      I wrote the women’s narrative text at 3:45am after covering the race for 24 hours straight. I could hardly stay awake to write it, but I did and then I took a nap from which I just woke up.

      I wrote the men’s narrative text much earlier in the night last night, when I was still lucid as the men’s race ended hours earlier.

      We always update our results article with more information, including on the women’s race, the day after the race, which we will do today.

      As for Kaci Lickteig being happy and all smiles, I probably have five or six quotes from her in my notebook from yesterday, from her seeing our volunteers along the course and her response being a response of joy/happiness when they asked her how she was feeling. This is what she said, and so this is what we reported.

      Our race coverage was planned for 100% equal men’s and women’s coverage. I feel we provided very close to balanced coverage yesterday. In the end, we had one technological glitch in the middle of the race which affected our coverage of the women’s race for a brief period of time. (There was another glitch even earlier in the race which affected our men’s coverage, too, though I’m not sure if anyone noticed that? Flat tire on a dirt road in the backcountry–it happens!) Additionally, Jim Walmsley being as much as 30 minutes ahead of the course record required that our volunteer team move faster down the course than we had planned–because 20 minutes makes all the difference in how many people a volunteer can see come through an aid station sometimes.

      Honestly and truly, iRunFar believes in equal women’s coverage–we’ve provided fair race coverage of races around the world for a long time. We are absolutely giving it our best shot. It’s extremely difficult to provide the coverage we do. We have limited resources and we are a small group of people. We are working in really remote areas. I entrust that you can gracefully accept these facts, and be patient with us today as we fill out the full women’s race story (and more of the rest of the race story, too) here in the results.

      It’s Sunday morning presently, so after a short nap, we are returning to finish line to cover the final finishers and award ceremony, and to do post-race interviews. Thank you for following our coverage and this race’s incredible storyline.

      1. Zach Stuckey

        Meghan (and all of irunfar) –
        Thank you all so much for helping the rest of us follow this sport and the incredible athletes. You guys do a fantastic job serving the whole ultra running community.
        As for the “all smiles”, spot on. Kaci was all smiles, it seemed. And you have also described male runners that way in the past (Zach Miller comes to mind).

        Thanks again for all you do for the sport.

      2. another_william

        Dear Meghan,

        iRunFar has always covered men’s and women’s races equally well and yesterday was no exception.
        Just looking at photos of Kaci made me smile (that river crossing!), and why shouldn’t you mention her being in good spirits? It’s just stating a fact.
        I’d like to thank you and all the others for your hard work, which allowed me to stay up all night (in Europe) to follow a 100 mile race on another continent. It’s much appreciated!

      3. Peter Andersson

        My apologies for possibly being unclear – I saw nothing that even hinted a deliberate or undeliberate reporting ratio between the male and the female fields/top 10s. With the women’s top 10 being out longer it’s also clear that any problem catching them early on is/was being made up for in the later stages – simple mathematics really! :-)

        Naah, my observation was all about the overall way male and female runners are/were being described with subtle differences in language here and in the Tweets, nothing to do with Kaci personally from my side but I’ll take your word for it she’s partly a single positive factor driving up the numbers. ;-)

        1. Meghan Hicks

          Peter,

          Thanks for specifying the direction toward which you are pointing your criticism.

          My narratives for the men’s and women’s races are now complete within this article. Here are the main themes of each of yesterday’s top runners, which our team observed/interpreted in the field, which I *thought* we had expressed through our live coverage, and which I effort-ed to summarize into this article:

          Kaci- Happiness all day, no problems needed to overcome
          Amy- Ups and downs through the day that she worked through, stoic in expression but verbally expressive
          Devon- Major physical and mental battle at a third of the way through, surmounted and found success

          Andrew- Conservative early which enabled swift movement later, surprise victory in context of race
          Didrik- Smooth all day, if he had issues they were imperceptible to observation
          Jeff- Surprise third place given how far back he was early but not a surprise given his extended 100-mile racing history

          The following are legitimate questions as I am constantly trying to improve our approach/coverage/perspective. They are not meant to be callous or sarcastic. Do you find any of these themes sexist? Do you think they weren’t expressed during yesterday’s live coverage or in this results article (notwithstanding the delay of posting a complete women’s race narrative)?

          1. Peter Andersson

            My bad. I’m Scandinavian. It’s a big cultural thing here to view gender issues through a language filter and comment on it on the fly-by. Usually it’s me who’s the one telling people they shouldn’t be soo… slipshod (pun intended) when they throw around the word sexist, and here I go and do it myself not taking into account it probably still has more severe overtones in an american context. Our local SJWism is starting to get to me too I fear. :-(

            1. Michael Owen

              Peter, reporting it reporting. If anyone has met Kaci, she is all smiles – nicest runner out there, even while winning WS. Other female runners are more intense, less smiley. We probably didn’t see IRF reporting people smiling who were not smiling. Any race that Jorge Maravilla is in, IRF reports him as smiling, because he is a big smiler at races. If Kaci, or him, were not smiling and looking tired/intense, I am sure IRF would report that as well because it paints a narrative of the runners, especially runners that we’ve come to know throughout the years, this type of reporting connects with the viewers. Remember there are on’y 140 characters on Twitter, and IRF’s reporting is unique, but also really accurate.

  4. joel anderson

    I wonder why Walmsley did not use a course navigator on his watch. This works so well on the Suunto watches, especially when a course is unfamiliar. The potential for smashing the course record yesterday was fantastic, we’ll have to wait until next year to see him do it.

    1. Put an MTB up front!

      Big city marathons have lead cars to prevent the lead runners from going off track, and I know some who use bikes through smaller downtown passages where a car has to go around. Makes me think. Why aren’t WS100, the superbowl of ultrarunning, using a mountainbiker or two for the similar purpose over at least the last 15-20 miles?

      1. Bryon Powell

        But if for the leader, then what about everyone else? It’s not like a big city marathon where folks can always visually track the person in front of them. I’m paraphrasing the WS Participant Guide, but it basically says we’ll mark the course, but it’s ultimately each runner’s responsibility to know the course. They can do that by prerunning the course, by carrying instructions, by programming it into a phone or a GPS unit, etc.

        The same general principle holds for the safety issue you note elsewhere. The sport is held in an outdoor environment where folks are ultimately responsible for themselves (and those around them). There’s a good discussion of that over in the comment thread on this article: http://www.irunfar.com/2016/06/with-whom-lies-responsibility.html

        1. Put an MTB up front!

          It’s obviously not an easy question. I’d say that compared to other sports it makes ultra runnings biggest even, its Super Bowl if you like, look amateourish by “allowing” a leader to get lost with less than ten percent of the race left (and add to that it’s only possible even for the very best to crank out 2-3 efforts a year on that level, months of preparation (and sponsor interrests) just gone because of unclear markings). There is a kind of a world series now, which WS100 is part of, aimed at lifting the overall game of the sport and its biggest events – if you want more sponsors to come in and eventually live coverage via drone etc, then this kind of situations need to be delt with. Or you can stay with the “personal responsibility” line, both options are possible I guess. Personally I think an MTB leader could also be equipped with live streaming GoPro photage or something like that, but that’s just me. As for “MTB only for the leader” – yes, there’s only one leader car in a regular marathon – but that said MTBs for the top 10 wouldn’t be much harder to organize, I’m sure voluntairs would line up.

          1. Mike D

            Wrong turns happen on any major stage. Think back to 1994 NYC Marathon when German Silva took a wrong turn with less than a mile from the finish. I don’t think having a lead mountain biker does anything to help the sport. In fact, one could argue that it could be negatively impacting because mountain bike use on trails has a greater effect if say the trails were wet. Plus, not all segments can easily be lead by bike. In a few shorter distance trail races, for whatever reason there was a lead bike and I ended up easily going by it on the uphills.

        2. Andrew L

          I was thinking about something similar when I read that Walmsley was lost that wouldn’t be quite a lead biker, though there’s nothing wrong with that idea too in my mind. In skiing they use forerunners to check out the course ahead of the competitors. The race organizers could also have many forerunners or bikers for either the whole race or critical sections that would do the course around a 1/2 hour or hour ahead of the lead runner. The purpose would be to double check the visibility of the course markers.

          1. Cary stephens

            Well, Andrew Miller and his pacer didn’t have any problem making the turn. Ya gotta keep your wits about you at mile 90 when tired.

            1. Put an MTB up front!

              Let’s put it this way instead: There are two different issues at play here.

              One; The runner’s responsibility to take care of himself/herself (I think that ones pretty much settled for the 99% of runners who’s not in it for the win).

              Two; The race organisations responsibility to take care of the interrests of sponsors for the top runners in a sport where they can only go all out 2-3 times a year.

              Do we want the sport to continue to grow? Do we want more sponsors to come in and support the best runners? Do we want those best ultra runners in the world to be able to train full time and live on running/sponsor money for the best years of their carreers? If yes-yes-yes then this kind of thing that happened to Walmsley this weekend can not be allowed to happen again in a race of WS100s magnitude.

            2. Sean

              Cary, that’s a bit disingenuous of you to say “Andrew Miller and his pacer didn’t have any problem making the turn”, as, well, you were his pacer. It’s okay to not refer to yourself in third person, and instead, say “Andrew Miller and I…”.

            3. Cary

              This is in response to Sean, below. I agree, I should have said I was his pacer. I had no intent to hide that fact, and in fact have mentioned it on other posts and forums. In any event, I hope Jim comes back next year to give it a go and stays on course. As for MTB’s comment, I am not in total agreement if you are saying we should treat the elite (and their sponsors) differently than the rest of us. I understand the impact on the sport/sponsors argument you are making, but I just don’t think the sport should treat the elites up front any differently than the rest of us who are further back. That just doesn’t feel right in my opinion. After all, staying on course for 100 miles is in fact one part of the challenge. Beefing up course markings for all is something we could agree on.

  5. Mackey

    World class equitable tell it like it is coverage!! Thank you Irunfar, Meghan and Bryon and team. I can’t imagine the effort it must take to keep your ship sailing. I made my donation today.

  6. sam bosworth

    I don’t think anybody is saying they’re glad runners blew up. Pacing and Navigation are integral part of racing any distance-especially 100s. This great race demonstrated in cruel, dramatic beautiful fashion. What a show everyone put on!

    1. JacobsA

      Uh, “I love that all the favorites blew up” is definitely saying they are glad runners blew up. But hell yeah it was a beautiful, and at points dramatically tragic race.

  7. Alice

    Thank you so much for the coverage.
    It was professional, clearly every attempt was made to be objective – and entertaining too.
    I was watching parts of it with a b/f who is not an ultra runner (but clearly a saint for watching it with me :)) and he said it sounded very unpleasant and Very Weird to hear people screaming “don’t help him! Don’t help him!” When the leader was clearly struggling in the water. I tried to explain the rules, but I can imagine to an outside of the race person it sounds very disheartening.
    It is of course not the I Run Far job, but it would be interesting to hear the race organuzation’s perspective – and also to the fact that he went off course so far. Of course things happen, it’s part of the sport, but he was gone an awful lot of time between aid stations for nobody to get concerned? Not saying somebody should have gone to make sure he stayed on course in order to win the race, but he was by himself, and absent between aid stations – for sake of safety, should not they have sent somebody to check? Universe forbid, he could have had a medical emergency (after that river episode) and nobody cared to go check? And yes, lots of comments yesterday about “that’s why you need a pacer” – but didn’t the current Female Record holder dropped her pacer once too and was applauded for being “courageous”? Some runners do not use pacers. I am in no way criticizing the race or the coverage especially but let’s not be too harsh to judge the guy – he probably already regrets it badly enough himself.

    1. Put an MTB up front!

      Good questions. See my suggestion above. Also, not many years ago a female runner in the top three had the path blocked by an aggresive bear with cub for a long period of time. It ended OK, but next time someone might not be so lucky. It’s 2016, the leader possibly bleading out alone for thirty minutes without anyone noticing seems weird for such a big event.

      1. Michael Owen

        MTB, if we are afraid of things that could happen no one would run 100 mile ultras in the wilderness. Adding a lead mountain biker would take away from what ultrarunning is. It is not suppose to be easy.

          1. Andrew L

            I disagree. I compete in orienteering, and enjoy navigation when that is part of the game, but getting lost in a trail race is not cool, and is rarely really the runner’s fault. Sometimes it’s is the fault of vandals removing flagging, sometimes it’s inadequate course marking, but you shouldn’t have to use a map in a trail race, unless it’s one of the races where that is part the game, like mountain orienteering or rogaines. You can’t expect everyone to pre-run a 100 mile course, or have a pacer who knows the course.

            In ultras as well as shorter trail races, the runners who go off course are disproportionately the leaders of the race because they are the first to encounter possibly altered markings or inadequately marked turns that are sometimes later fixed, and do not have a train of other runners to follow. Why should they be penalized with having navigation a more important factor than the mid-pack runners?

            1. Brian

              Inadequate trail marking, vandalism or other things may be an issue at some trail races, but I haven’t heard anyone say that was an issue here. Walmsley didn’t even mention it in his post race interview. Just like not holding onto the rope when crossing the river (which he was probably told to do several times), getting lost was most likely his fault. To further emphasize the point, everyone was told that if you go 1/4 to 1/2 mile without seeing a flag then you did something wrong. Getting lost or taking a wrong turn can happen to anyone, but this was clearly the runners error.

  8. Anna Chock

    Thank you to the Irunfar team for the wonderful coverage! I can only imagine the logistics of getting from place to place – your efforts were majorly appreciated.

  9. Stephen

    Great reporting, loved the photos, interviews and tweets. You must be exhausted. Thank you for all the hard work!

    Having a pacer doesn’t guarantee the runner won’t get off-course. There are plenty of junctions along the course where you could miss a ribbon as you are looking down or taking a drink. Also heard that Kyle Pietari (M8) went off course and ran an extra 1.5 miles early in the race. I saw a runner take a wrong turn in front of me during the WS training runs last year. It’s just a bad break for JW. His first 93 miles were epic. And his last 11 miles demonstrated great courage.

  10. Kevin

    Awesome coverage all week, guys!

    The Walmsley fiasco was epic, both at the river and Hwy 49. Feel terrible for the dude. It struck me as odd during Walmsley’s IRF pre-race interview that he had a lack of interest in training on the course. I’d imagine that’s a decision he wants back.

    That said, Walmsley gripped it and ripped it. Kudos to him. It took a bad turn/s, but it was a stunning performance. 20-30 years from now, when some world class long distance runner has a ~13 hour course record at WS, nobody will remember who won the 2016 race. This Walmsley story will get better every year, and every time it’s retold.

    Congrats to all finishers!

    1. Rusty

      I’m pretty sure that quite a few people will remember in “20-30 years from now”, that a 20 year old kid from Oregon beat a strong, experienced opposing field. How would no one remember this? Browning, 2015 UROY Laney, Lorblanche, Sharman? It’s definitely a story to go in the books, but I wouldn’t undermine the performance of Andrew Miller by saying no one will remember! Just my opinion. :D

      1. Kevin

        Miller’s winning performance was great. However, Hazen was 19 or 20 last year, and I believe his podium finish was a few minutes faster than Miller’s? If a youngster can put it together mentally for a hundo, which is not an easy task, I suspect extreme youth helps one’s chances.

        Hard to project what others will think about this race 20-30 years from now, I guess. For me, Walmsley calling his shot, essentially backing it up, then crashing and burning before the coronation is unforgettable.

      2. speedgoat Karl

        similar to Jordan Spieth “losing” the Masters. Noone remembers how well Willet played to “win”. Hopefully Andrew will continue to inspire with his stellar running, and not dissapear like many fast younger ultrarunners. Get it Andrew…..you ran an amazing race, congrats!

  11. Pavlina

    Your coverage has helped me through a 24-hour work shift (yay for time difference!). It was amazing to be able to follow the stories of individual runners. Thank you for all the hard work and congratulations to all finishers!

  12. Rob

    I think it’s pretty cool that those 3 front guys that could have hopped in a van at some point, didn’t. They took AJW’s advice and kept moving to the finish. Kudos to them and everybody else that got up off the couch over the weekend.

  13. Florian

    I would like to see it when people pay more respect to the front guys, especially Andrew Miller, Kaci Lickteig and the other top 10 finishers who worked their butts off. Sure, Jim Walmsleys race was very entertaining to follow and its nice that he gutted it out anyway. But Western States is still 100 Miles and not 93, right?

    It seems to me that everyone is just about how much of a badass race that was upfront. Im personally more inspired by people like Andrew or Kaci who are quiet pre race and then go out and smash it instead of people telling before the race that they will be disapointed if they dont win or get the CR and then blow up. Nothing personal against Jim or Sage but grinding it out and coming out on top might just be more that an average person and ultrarunner can relate to.

    1. Cary stephens

      Agree 100%. After all, it is a 100 mile run. I respect humble hard work. It fits the ultrarunning ethos more than look at me bravado.

      1. Andy

        Which is basically the same, isnt it? He walked it in after the wrong turn, no matter why the result is the same in the end.

      2. Brett-SC

        Looking at Jim’s splits relative to Rob Krar’s from 2015 (minus means Jim is gaining time, plus means he is losing time):
        Foresthill to Peachstone (8.7 miles): -5 min
        Peachstone to Rucky Chucky (7.3 miles): -1 min
        Rucky Chucky to Green Gate (1.8 miles): +1 min
        Green Gate to Auburn Trails (5.4 miles): +9 min
        Auburn Trails to Browns Bar (4.7 miles): +12 min

        This is all before he got off track. Jim went from gaining 30 seconds/mile to losing 2 minutes/mile.
        Relative pace differential:
        Foresthill to Peachstone (8.7 miles): -:35 seconds/mile
        Peachstone to Rucky Chucky (7.3 miles): -:08 seconds/mile
        Rucky Chucky to Green Gate (1.8 miles): +:33 seconds/mile
        Green Gate to Auburn Trails (5.4 miles): +1:40 minutes/mile
        Auburn Trails to Browns Bar (4.7 miles): +2:33 minutes/mile

        This is in fact a blowup. At Browns Bar, Jim was only about 9 minutes up on the course record. Based on his trend, even if he had not gotten lost, he would have gone positive to course record splits before No Hands Bridge. Unless he somehow would have had an amazing rally. Notice the pace differential from AT to BB – in order to stay under course record splits, he would have had to increase pace over 2 minutes per mile.

        1. Brett-SC

          I made 2 math errors, both consequential. I also made 1 other omission error.

          First, I should have used the actual CR splits from TO in 2012. Even though RK 2015 is close, might as well use the best data (plus they aren’t too different anyways).

          Second, I calculated +12 minutes to CR split AT to BB. THIS IS WRONG. And when corrected, you’ll see it substantially changes the trend line of where Jim’s paces were headed.

          Third, Jim’s swim instead of taking a raft, and his swim detour need to be taken into account.

          So redone:

          Minus means Jim is gaining time, plus means he is losing time:
          Foresthill to Peachstone (8.7 miles): Even to Olson
          Peachstone to Rucky Chucky (7.3 miles): -3 min to Olson
          Rucky Chucky to Green Gate (1.8 miles): +7 min to Olson
          Green Gate to Auburn Trails (5.4 miles): +6 min to Olson
          Auburn Trails to Browns Bar (4.7 miles) [here is where I made my math error on the other page, calculating +12 minutes to Krar]: +3 min to Olson

          Now look at the revised pace differentials:
          Foresthill to Peachstone (8.7 miles): :00 seconds/mile
          Peachstone to Rucky Chucky (7.3 miles): -:25 seconds/mile
          Rucky Chucky to Green Gate (1.8 miles): +3:54 seconds/mile – this is likely from not taking a raft and the swimming detour
          Green Gate to Auburn Trails (5.4 miles): +1:07 minutes/mile
          Auburn Trails to Browns Bar (4.7 miles): +0:39 minutes/mile

          At Browns Bar, Jim was 17 minutes up on the course record, not 9 as I had typed above. Notice also the blow-up trend line when calculated correctly is no longer a blow up trend line. Instead, if you ignore the one big split change because of the river crossing issues, the trend is instead a very mild positive differential and well within the margin of being managed. 10.3 miles and 17 minutes ahead of CR splits absent getting lost is plenty of cushion when you’re not actually blowing up.

          My apologies for the first post. Hopefully all this detail makes it abundantly clear Jim had it in his sights.

          1. Andrew L

            The simple way was just to look at his 8:56 section pace from Auburn Lake Trails to Browns Bar. That’s not blowing up.

            1. Brett-SC

              Tim Olson ran an 8:18 pace through there. A course record split by definition is a comparison. So you have to make the comparison. Zach Bitter’s mile 90-93 last December was a 7:30 pace. I get what you’re saying, but context and comparisons do matter – ALT to BB is a net downhill. A 9:00 pace could be screaming if it were a net climb.

          2. Patrick

            Thanks for taking the time to put this together. I think walmsley was definitely the most compelling story of the race and it’s interesting to see the breakdown of the times relative to the course record. Another thing I’m curious about is how high could he have finished if he had gotten back to this pace or something close to it right after he realized his mistake.

  14. Bill foulks

    Sports fans love the “could have been’s” and the “what if’s”. It makes for beautiful drama, and is much more interesting than the predictable conclusion. Like underdog poetry. Guys like Bo Jackson, Reggie Lewis, Len Bias, and Mike Tyson come to mind, and if those names don’t evoke an emotional response I’ll simply say “Pre”. It’s like dealing with unrequited love. We simply need to give up the quest for closure. What happened, happened. I think the above “could have been’s” are a little too extreme to compare to Jim Walmsley’s performance. His absolute, almost, masterpiece is akin to what happened to the ’86 Red Sox, or J.R. Hildebrand during the Indy 500, or to the horse, California Chrome. “They come and they go Hobbs, they come and they go”. Let’s appreciate the poetry on this and revel in our sport’s glory.

  15. Aaron Ophaug

    Anyone know the story of Sally mcrea’s race? I think she finished 12? She never made a big move nor really got passed.

    1. Brian Vanderheiden

      I talked to her the next day at the awards ceremony. She said she started struggling a little before Michigan Bluff and never really got back on track.

  16. justsayin

    i’m a bit surprised race organizers haven’t offered a more public expression of regret and remorse for what could, and should, have been; wouldn’t be surprised if they hadn’t gotten around to properly marking the missed turn. case in point:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F04_T2HZYy8

    not sayin’ it was malicious – just feel terrible for the young fella. next time they’ll know what to expect

    1. Jack Turner

      Yeah…I get the every man/woman for themselves out there attitude of organizers and supporters and the — oh well, not quite ready at stations and leader missed the hard to see turn off, stuff happens in these folksy/grass roots races — but man, this is a tough one. Did they at least offer him auto qualification for next years?

    2. Meghan Hicks

      Every race has its own policy for trail markings–the materials they use to do it, how frequently the markings occur, etc. Here is Western States’s trail-marking policy, taken from the website:

      ‘Trail Markings: Trail markings will consist of yellow surveyor’s tape tied to branches, “W.S. TRAIL” signs nailed to trees, and arrows and signs. (“Pioneer Express Trail” markers are located along portions of the trail. Do not refer to these as Run markers.) In addition, reflectors will be placed along the last 38 miles of the trail for the dark hours. Run Management does its best to provide an adequately marked trail, but it is necessary for runners to continually remain alert as they travel. On occasion, persons not associated with the event have altered or removed course markings, or Run management cannot place signage at a critical turn on Run day due to unusual circumstances. A working knowledge of the trail, particularly of those miles that will be covered in the dark, will be of infinite benefit to the runner who attempts the Western States Endurance Run. YOU are ultimately responsible to follow the correct course.’

      Running trail races and ultramarathons requires certain amounts of self-reliance–as defined by each race’s rules, location/amount of aid stations, the environmental conditions present on the race course, and many more variables. We are and should be responsible for ourselves to the extent mandated by rules and conditions. Navigation is one of the many logistics we must successfully navigate in order to reach the finish line. In short, I do not find it to be primitive or amateur-ish for a race to require a runner to be responsible for following a race course.

      Notable to this story, Jim has publicly taken responsibility for missing the turn and getting off course.

      1. Sports Explainer

        “Notable to this story, Jim has publicly taken responsibility for missing the turn and getting off course.”

        Notable as well, the youtube video above clearly shows a total clown show with Jim at an aid station; he was probably cool about it and never said anything critical about that either.

        What kind of race organizer loses track of the leader guy, ruins the whole race and then acts like that’s cool?

        Didn’t the womens’ race leader go off route last year as well? It did not ruin the race like this year, but two years in a row (or is it three?) and they still think this response flies with sports fans and tennis shoe lovers?

        They don’t even have a “timing system”, not even the chip/pads you run past and they beep, people see the split times online.. even those are “primitive”; live online GPS based tracking of every runner is cheap and easy in 2016, just ask letsrun forum about RY’s RV setup.

        The event is sponsored by multi-billion dollar companies and yet the best/only live coverage was a couple friends with smart phones tweeting while on a crowdfunded vacation.

        Sorry, Western States 100 has “amateur-ish” written all over it.

        1. Meghan Hicks

          Sports Explainer,

          Your comment demonstrates a gross misunderstanding of several things about which you write and is composed in a severely de-constructive manner. If you are interested in legitimately furthering this conversation, I would urge you to do so constructively. It’s totally fine to disagree and share contrary opinions, but our comment policy requires respectful discourse.

          Because you’re effectively trolling, I almost didn’t otherwise respond. However, I am choosing respond to make some facts clear about iRunFar’s live coverage of Western States because I feel your statement is categorically disrespectful to the group of people who enacted it. Our live coverage team was composed of a large group of volunteers who dedicated their day (or more, in some cases) to drive/hike/run to/from remote locations on the course and report on the passage of lead runners. The other 2 people of our team are iRunFar’s paid staff, myself and Bryon Powell. Bryon and I worked 12 to 24 hours a day for 6 days to produce all of iRunFar’s onsite pre-race, in-race, and post-race coverage. There is no vacation being had by anyone while reporting on Western States. It’s long, arduous, hot, dirty, tiring–but massively rewarding–work. If you would sincerely like to learn about more about our live coverage, contact us, http://www.irunfar.com/contact. I’m happy to speak with you offline. Please refrain from further disrespecting our volunteer team via your comments about the nature of our live coverage here. Thank you.

  17. Eric C

    I still can’t past the opening line of this report without a chuckle.
    “Amidst a day of constant race lead changes and shake-ups…”

    I saw one meaningful (tragic) lead change in the men’s race, and zero in the women’s race. Did I miss something? :)

    1. Meghan Hicks

      Eric,

      While imperfectly worded (likely due to being written in the middle of the night ;), I was attempting to refer to the volatility of the men’s and women’s top-10 races, not just the races for the women’s and men’s wins. There was great shake-up in both races from start to finish. In the women’s race, indeed, Kaci dominated line to line, but after her the women’s podium and top-10 positions shifted again and again. In the men’s race, same thing, inclusive of the leadership position ultimately.

    2. Jacques Seb

      Ridiculous comment just because YOUR definition of a lead change is different from that of everyone else’s. While you’re at it, let’s split some more hairs and parse every sentence in the article.

      Thank you for the great coverage, iRF!

  18. Simon

    Hey guys. I was following the coverage from England and thoroughly enjoyed every minute. I can’t begin to imagine the logistical planning that goes into something like this so thanks for covering it so well and keep up the fantastic work. Happy trails :-)

    1. Bob

      Man, that’s kinda harsh on Sage. Would you call him a douche to his face? Allthough I respect your opinion, I think this state of the union has little to no class. If you aren’t going to say those things to his face, then why write about it on the Internet and try and tarnish the guys reputation?

      I’m not trying to get into flame war. But, jeese, man. Sage is like one of the nicest guys.

    2. Emeson Thoreau

      Canaday set himself up for that disaster with (1) overtraining and overracing relative to trying to peak for WS and (2) trying to run with a guy, Walmsley, that is another class. Patience, discipline, and knowing one’s limits are invaluable for winning big prizes.

    3. ChrisB

      Posting a link bait blog post about a race being talked about so you can crap on not only the participants but the Western States race itself is in pretty poor taste.

  19. Lucy T

    Even if you’re there in person (I was), it’s impossible to see everything and follow everyone – the spread of the field and the logistics of getting to the various aid stations means you can’t come close to having any idea what’s going on. Irunfar’s coverage was *excellent* to fill in the blanks and be able to “watch” the rest of the race through tweets.

    My only wish is someone gets some kind of cell repeater down at the river crossing. I spent the night down there volunteering and it was an agonizing informational black hole as far as getting those play-by-play tweets.

    Otherwise, a truly magical place to witness the highs and lows of the entire field.

    (And you even got to see Bryon in a wet suit). ;)

  20. Thomas

    This race and the coverage was insane, thanks therefore.
    Question: How can it be, that this insane runner called Jim Walmsley, I never saw such a more inspiring run, has no maine Sponsor ?
    Are companies like Salomon, North face, nike, asics blind ?
    This guy is going to be the reference in trail running in the future, he is defining new Levels.

    Greetings from Germany

    thomas

Post Your Thoughts