Over the last few years, I have been honored to facilitate a panel discussion on the Thursday evening prior to the Western States 100 with a group of ultrarunning veterans. These panel discussions have not necessarily been elite-runner Q and A’s or press conferences, but rather these discussions have provided opportunities for Western States runners, pacers, and crews, in the days leading up to the race, to hear stories and advice from experienced Western States runners in a relaxed, informal environment.
In 2011, the panel included current Western States Race Director Craig Thornley, long-time finisher Luanne Park, and two 18-time finishers, Jim Scott and Scott Mills. The following year, we pulled together Western States Board President John Trent who was going for his 10th finish that year along with 10-time finisher Gary Wang, eight-time finisher Suzie Lister, three-time women’s winner Nikki Kimball, and, at the time, up-and-coming young ultra star Rory Bosio. Last year, we moved to a larger venue and it’s a good thing we did as we chatted with race founder Gordy Ainsleigh, two-time women’s champ Ellie Greenwood, 25-time finisher and five-time winner Tim Twietmeyer, and Western States legend Ann Trason.
So it is in this context that I am thrilled to introduce the 2014 Western States 100 Veteran’s Panel. Once again, we will assemble in the Squaw Valley Conference Center at 6:30 p.m. on June 26 and the following runners will be on hand to answer my questions:
Ronda Sundermeier – Finisher of 23 100-mile races including four Western States. Most recently won the women’s race at the Bryce 100. Began running ultras in 1999.
Karl Meltzer – 10th-place finish at WS in 2013. Winner of over 35 100-mile races in a stellar career spanning back to the early ’90s.
Meghan Arbogast – Perhaps the most outstanding Masters runner in the world today, Meghan is a seven-time Western States finisher and perennial top-10-er.
Nick Clark – Maybe the toughest guy in ultrarunning, Clarky ran the Grand Slam last year, holds the current record for the WS/Hardrock double, and has finished in the top 10 for the past four years.
Mike Morton – Mike won Western States and set the then-course record back in 1997. After 16 years away, Mike returned in 2013 to finish third. Along the way he also set records in 24-hour events and narrowly missed the course record at Badwater.
Tom Green – Tom ran his first Western States in 1986 on the way to becoming the first runner ever to complete the Grand Slam of Ultrarunning. In the 2014 race, Tom will be going for his 10th finish. Needless to say, he will be a fun guy to have on the panel!
While it is several months away, I am really looking forward to this great discussion in Squaw Valley. In fact, the entire race-week agenda this year is going to be amazing. In addition to the Veteran’s Panel and the usual pre-race briefing activities the day before the race, for 2014, Western States has organized a two-day medical conference on Tuesday and Wednesday, June 24 and 25 which will provide cutting-edge research for medical practitioners around the world as well as a full day of fun on Thursday, June 26 including the traditional hike up to the top of Squaw, the crew briefing with trustee John Medinger, the detailed course description with 20-time finisher Charles Savage, and the guide for first timers with former race director and long-time trustee Mo Livermore. Clearly, for the entire ultrarunning world, this is a week not to be missed.
AJW’s Beer of the Week
This week’s Beer of the Week comes from Truckee, California, a few miles away from the Western States starting line in Squaw Valley. The Manifesto Pale Ale from FiftyFifty Brewing is a classic American Pale Ale that is eminently quaffable. I am going to make sure I save time to visit this brewery in June.
Call for Comments (from Meghan)
- Are you attending Western States as a runner, crew, pacer, or fan this year? If so, what pre-race festivities are you most looking forward to?
- If you could pick the brains of the members of the 2014 Western States 100 Veteran’s Panel, what kinds of questions would you ask?