2016 Western States 100 Group Think Predictions

The wisdom of the masses predict the 2016 Western States 100 winners and top finishers.

By on June 24, 2016 | Comments

Western States 100 logoWhile it always means staying up late on one of the busiest weeks of the entire year, as always here are YOUR Western States 100 group think predictions in one of my favorite iRunFar articles of each and every year. Yes, it’s geeky, but it’s also informative as heck. For the eighth-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 800 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 30 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 Flora, Inov-8, and Julbo with the grand prize winner also getting a sweet triptych from Maggie Tides. Remember to follow us on Twitter to receive updates on the leaders throughout the day to see how your picks are performing.

2016 Western States 100 Women’s Field

2016 Western States 100 Women's Group Think Predictions

Interesting Women’s Field Notes

  • Following tradition, the women’s defending champ, Magdalena Boulet, has the most first place votes and points. Unlike the previous defending champ, she doesn’t also have the most second-place votes. That goes to last year’s runner-up, Kaci Lickteig. Magda did, however, receive a vote from roughly the same percent of voters (~97%) as Stephanie Howe did last year.
  • Without being the leading vote getter for any specific position Devon Yanko did rank third, while her highest vote getting position was fourth. While the voting for first and second were decisive, Yanko edged out a clustering along with Aliza Lapierre and YiOu Wang. Lapierre has a strong history at States (which likely contributed to her being the top vote getter to finish fourth as well as fifth), while Wang has never attempted a 100 miler.
  • Sally McRae was the top vote getter to finish sixth, seventh, and eighth to rank sixth overall. Nicole Kalogeropoulus edged out Amy Sproston by a single point.
  • Despite there being at least six notable women entered but not racing, the contest entrants did a reasonable job of withholding votes from them.
  • Notably, the top ranked foreign woman is Canada’s Alissa St Laurent in 12th. With Ruby Muir injured, the competitive end of the women’s race is a North American affair… and largely a U.S. one.
  • All seven of the returning top-ten women from last year’s race are ranked higher than their group think rankings from last year: Boulet 2=>1; Lickteig 4=>2; Lapierre 9=>4; Kalogeropoulus 13=>7; McRae 10=>6; Caroline Boller 15=>9; Erika Lindland 30=>15. Boulet, Lickteig, and Lapierre are all ranked in the order they finished last year. Kalogeropoulus and Boller are each ranked one place below last year’s finish. Lindland is ranked six places below last year’s finish. McRae is the only one ranked higher than last year’s finish, and she is by one place.
  • If last year’s women’s race was chock full of master’s up front, that’s not as much the case this year. Boulet dominated the masters voting with 501 votes. Meghan Arbogast was second (160) with Amy Sproston (65) and Caroline Boller (21) the only other women receiving more than 10 votes for the masters win. Realistically, those are the four master’s women who are better than long shots at the top ten.
  • In this writer’s opinion, at 16th Janessa Taylor might be the most underranked woman in the field. That’s a tough call given Anna Mae Flynn and Amanda Basham are ranked 19th and 20th.
  • 96% of the women’s field (86 of 90) received at least one vote. That continues the trend from 84% to 94% to 95% of the women’s entrants receiving at least one vote over the previous three years.
  • On the other hand, the number of women receiving 10 or more points dropped for the second year in a row, decreasing from 62 to 57 to 51 over the past three years.

2015 Western States 100 Men’s Field

2016 Western States 100 Men's Group Think Predictions

Interesting Men’s Field Notes

  • With the defending champ not returning, folks had to choose a new favorite. They did not shy away from inexperience in choosing Sage Canaday (1 100-mile attempt), David Laney (3 100 milers), Jim Walmsley (first attempt at 100 miles) in the first three positions. With 87 first-place votes, François D’haene is the only other runner with more than 2% of the first-place votes.
  • Interestingly, the top returning runner, Thomas Lorblanchet, is ranked one place below his fifth-place finish from last year.
  • Per the group think rankings, it would look like I most underestimated Andrew Miller, who was ranked 11th. Granted he’s one of two runners I strongly considered moving up from the “Other Notable Runners” category.
  • What are the chances that Konstantin Walmsley received some of votes intended for Jim?
  • Of the five returning top tenners, David Laney (8th=>3rd) and Ian Sharman (7th=>5th) are ranked higher than their 2015 finish, Paul Terranova (10th) is ranked how he finished last year, and the two foreigners, Thomas Lorblanchet (5th=>7th) and Andrew Tuckey (9th=>12th), are ranked below their previous finish.
  • Just like last year, Ian Sharman was the top vote getter to finish sixth, seventh, and eighth. This year, he also the top vote getter to finish fifth, as well. There’s a big gap up to François D’haene who’s ranked one spot above Sharman in fourth.
  • Also, just like last year, foreigners represent five of the top ten–4. François D’haene, 5. Ian Sharman, 6. Thomas Lorblanchet, 8. Didrik Hermansen, 9. Tòfol Castanyer.
  • Ranked third, Jim Walmsley is the top ranked 100-mile rookie this year. Max King was the highest ranked rookie in the previous two years at seventh. King finished fourth in 2014.
  • Jeff Browning (291) was easily the top masters vote getter over Paul Terranova (173). The next four vote getters were: Bob Shebest (77), Tòfol Castanyer (70), Andrew Tuckey (739), and Jesse Haynes (38), setting up a deeper men’s masters field than last year.
  • Like last year, 27 of the top 28 ranked men are running. This year, only Seth Swanson will miss out on the racing action.
  • To stir the pot, the top ranked Californian resident is Christopher Denucci in 14th… behind four three Oregonians: 2. Laney, 5. Sharman, 7. Browning, and 11. Andrew Miller.
  • Also, once again there was a big jump up in total number of men receiving at least one vote. Over the past four year, that tally has increased from 107 in 2013 to 116 to 137 to 164 this year.

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.