2015 Western States 100 Group Think Predictions

The wisdom of the masses predict the 2015 Western States 100 winners and top finishers.

By on June 26, 2015 | Comments

Western States 100 logoIt’s time for what has, perhaps, become my favorite iRunFar article of the year, our Western States 100 group think predictions. Yes, it’s geeky, but it’s also informative as heck. For the seventh-straight year, we’ve tabulated and taken a look at all the votes cast in our Western States prediction contest. In the past, these ‘group think’ predictions have generally been (much) better at forecasting the race’s outcome than individual pickers. So, if you’re looking for a solid relative ranking of this year’s Western States 100 competitors, look no further.

How the Group Think Predictions Work
Back to the predictions. Below, we attempt to apply a hive-mentality approach to see how the men’s and women’s fields play out when the collective thoughts of over 1,100(!?) participants are accumulated. In addition to showing how many picks the top runners received for each place, we ranked the runners by MVP-style voting (i.e., 8 points for first, 7 points for second, and so on). Both the men’s and women’s tables show all WS runners who accumulated 50 or more points. Read on to see how the masses predicted the outcome for the Big Dance this weekend as well as some iRunFar analysis of those predictions and commentary on the race.

The Just Rewards
Thanks again to all who participated in the contest! After this weekend, four lucky winners will be crowned and receive prize packs courtesy of CLIF, Flora, Inov-8, and Julbo with four additional winners receiving prized from CLIF. Remember to follow us on Twitter to receive updates on the leaders throughout the day to see how your picks are performing.

2015 Western States 100 Women’s Field

2015 Western States 100 Women's Group Think Results

Interesting Women’s Field Notes

  • As usual, the defending champ–in this case, Stephanie Howe–has the most first place votes and points. She also has the most second-place votes, making her the runaway favorite. She also received a vote from more than 97% of entrants (1128 of 1162).
  • After good separatation between the top three–Stephanie Howe, Magdalena Boulet, and Michele Yates— and fourth, there was a tight grouping of fourth and fifth. In fourth, Kaci Lickteig’s votes were skewed toward higher places than Nikki Kimball’s, but Nikki received 38 more votes.
  • As with last year, there was only one foreign women in top ten. This year, it’s Emma Roca in seventh while last year it was Nathalie Mauclair in 9th.
  • Repeats. Just as last year, Meghan Arbogast came out as the sixth pick and Gina Lucrezi as 20th.
  • There are four former champs on this list: Howe (1st), Nikki (5th), Pam Smith (8th), and Anita Ortiz (12th).
  • The women’s master’s race is awfully deep this year. The top eight vote getters were: 1. Magdalena Boulet (325), 2. Meghan Arbogast (274), 3. Nikki Kimball (222), 4. Pam Smith (128), 5. Anita Ortiz (57), 6. Emma Roca (42), 7. Denise Bourassa (14), and 8. Joelle Vaught (13).
  • Amazingly, of the top 22 ranked women, only one of them is known to be not racing this weekend: Larisa Dannis.
  • This year’s under-the-radar award goes to Maria Semerjian of France. She was 23rd with 16 votes and 48 points despite placing seventh at UTMB in 2013 and third at UTMF last year.
  • The least known runner in the table is likely Robin Watkins of Washington, DC. She’s won the 2013 Massanutten Mountain Trails 100 Mile, the 2014 Grindstone 100 Mile, and was second at the 2015 Mount Mitchell Challenge 40 Mile, among other races.
  • 79 (95%) of the 83 women’s entrants received at least one vote. That’s up from 94% of the field last year and 84.5% in 2013. What’s more, each of the top 17 women received at least one vote to finish in each of the top eight spots… except Stephanie Howe, who didn’t have a single vote to finish sixth.
  • For the first time in years, the number of women receiving 10 or more points dropped from 62 in 2014 to 57 this year. There were 27 and 43 such runners in 2012 and 2013, respectively.

2015 Western States 100 Men’s Field

2015 Western States 100 Mens Group Think

Interesting Men’s Field Notes

  • As with Stephanie Howe, the men’s defending champ Rob Krar walked away from the field. He received slightly fewer points (8344 to 8370) but more votes (1135 to 1128) than Howe did on the women’s side.
  • Krar’s received 92.2% of the maximum number of points, the highest percentage a man has received in the seven years we’ve held this contest. Scott Jurek previously held the record at 88.7% in 2009 with Geoff Roes receiving 88.0% in 2011.
  • Krar had more combined first- and second-place votes than any other runner had total top eight-place votes, with the exception of…
  • Dylan Bowman, who was clearly the second ranked runner as well as top second-place vote getter. Last year, he was ranked third in the group think… and that’s where he finished.
  • François D’haene and Ryan Sandes were closely grouped for third. François had more votes to finish first or second while Sandes was the leading vote getter for both third- and fourth-place.
  • Interestingly, last year’s runner-up Seth Swanson was ranked below three runners – Bowman, Sandes, and Alex Varner–who he beat in last year’s race.
  • Ian Sharman was the top vote getter to finish sixth, seventh, as well as eighth. His total points ranked him seventh overall. There was a huge gap down in both points and total votes after Ian.
  • Foreigners represent five of the top ten–3. François D’haene, 4. Ryan Sandes, 7. Ian Sharman, 8. Gediminas Grinius, 9. Julien Chorier–and seven of the top twelve men–11. Brendan Davies, 12. Sondre Amdahl.
  • Justin Houck is the top ranked 100-mile rookie in 13th. Last year, the top ranked rookies were Max King in 7th and Alex Varner in 13th. Both finished well above their rankings, with fourth- and seventh-place finishes, respectively.
  • Mike Wardian (265 votes) edged out Paul Terranova (228) in the men’s masters voting. 12th overall ranked runner Sondre Amdahl only received 132 masters-win votes. Fourth through sixth were Jesse Haynes (120), Jorge Pacheco (98), and Ian Torrence (81).
  • 27 of the 28 topped ranked runners are thought to be toeing the line this weekend. The lone runner in the table not racing is Dave Mackey, the 2004 runner up. Dave suffered a horrible leg injury while trail running in May. Consider donating to help Dave with his medical bills.
  • There was a big gap down at the end of the table with the next runner, Emmanuel Gault, receiving 31 points on 14 votes.
  • There was a big jump up in total number of men receiving at least one vote with 137 vote getters on the men’s side up from 107 in 2013 and 116 in 2014.

Call for Comments

  • So what do you think about the group think prediction?
  • What interesting observations have you made about the data?
  • How would you change your picks based on what you know now?
  • Want to make any of your predictions public? If so, leave a comment!
  • Any statisticians want to dive into this?
Bryon Powell

Bryon Powell is the Founding Editor of iRunFar. He’s been writing about trail running, ultrarunning, and running gear for more than 15 years. Aside from iRunFar, he’s authored the books Relentless Forward Progress: A Guide to Running Ultramarathons and Where the Road Ends: A Guide to Trail Running, been a contributing editor at Trail Runner magazine, written for publications including Outside, Sierra, and Running Times, and coached ultrarunners of all abilities. Based in Silverton, Colorado, Bryon is an avid trail runner and ultrarunner who competes in events from the Hardrock 100 Mile just out his front door to races long and short around the world, that is, when he’s not fly fishing or tending to his garden.