2016 Western States 100 Women’s Preview

An in-depth preview of the 2016 Western States 100 women’s field.

By on June 13, 2016 | Comments

Flora HealthAs expected, there’ll be heated competition among the women at the front of this year’s Western States 100 with the past two winners taking on a bunch of talented challengers.

The race kicks off at 5 a.m. PDT on Saturday, June 25th in Squaw Valley, California before covering the 100 miles to Auburn.

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

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

Inov-8 logoAs you’d expected, we’ll be providing plenty of video interviews leading up to the race as well as plenty of live coverage. You can read about the rest of the field in our men’s preview.

The Likely Winners’ Pool

Magdalena Boulet - 2015 The North Face Endurance Challenge 50 Mile Championships

Magda Boulet

This year’s Western States women’s field has all of last year’s top four scheduled to return. As last year’s champ in her 100-mile debut, Magdalena Boulet (pre-race interview) has to be the favorite as she returns to defend her title. Since her win last year in Auburn, she’s built additional mountain experience in taking second at the CCC last August. She did falter last December in dropping from The North Face Endurance Challenge 50-Mile Championships. This May, Boulet returned to the Canyons 100k once again winning while lowering her time from 11:32 last year to 10:58.

One must certainly consider Kaci Lickteig (pre-race interview) as a possible champ. She was sixth at the race in 2014 before placing second last year just 15 minutes behind Boulet. In April, Kaci Lickteig ran the Lake Sonoma 50 Mile for the third-straight year, earning her fastest time (7:22) and best place (2nd). Her time from Sonoma was the fourth fastest in race history, and just four seconds slower than the third-fastest time. Lickteig also just returned to the Silver State 50 Mile for the second-straight year, improving her time from 8:01 to 7:41, so all indications are that she’s ready to step up her game at States.

Stephanie Howe - 2015 Western States 100

Stephanie Howe

Stephanie Howe underwent Achilles surgery last autumn and didn’t run from October until late March. It now appears that she won’t be racing Western States this year as she hasn’t quite had enough time to prepare adequately for the race. Like Boulet last year, Stephanie won Western States in her 100-mile debut in 2014. She followed that up with her third-place finish at the race last year, 27 minutes behind Boulet. Last year, she was also second at the Way Too Cool 50k, first at Lake Sonoma, and eighth at UTMB. Then,  Howe hasn’t raced this year (as far as we know). [Updated June 13]

Suggesting that YiOu Wang (pre-race interview) could win Western States is a case of going with the hot hand. Heck, just like YiOu, Stephanie Howe and Magdalena Boulet won the past two Western States under quite similar circumstances despite being 100-mile rookies. After a couple DNFs at 50 miles, YiOu won April’s Lake Sonoma 50 seven minutes in front of Lickteig. A month earlier, she was second at the Way Too Cool 50k. In mid-May she set the course record at the longstanding Quicksilver 50k.

One of these days, Aliza Lapierre (pre-race interview) will win a really big race. In her four Western States finishes, she’s placed sixth (’11), third (’12), sixth (’13), and fourth last year. Last year, she was also runner-up at the Ultra-Trail Mount Fuji. Once again she stuck to low-key tune-ups as she focuses on Western States. This year, that includes wins at the Traprock 50k in April and Miwok 100k in early May.

Other Likely Podium Contenders

After not starting Western States in 2014, Nicole Kalogeropoulos (formerly Studer) showed up to take sixth at last year’s race. Before and after, she continues to crush trail races in Texas with notable results like a second at the Bandera 100k and a 14:22 win at the Rocky Raccoon 100 Mile, both in January 2015. Last year, she ventured abroad taking 13th at UTMB in August and 10th at Les Templiers (73km) in October.

If we saw a little bit less of Devon Yanko (pre-race interview) on the trails from 2013 to mid-2015, she’s certainly back! After a couple races in the latter half of last year, she ran a 14:52 to win the Javelina Jundred last October amidst a busy month of racing. She qualified for Western States by winning the Sean O’Brien 100k in February ahead of winning the American River 50 Mile in April. She recently skipped the Comrades Marathon to focus on Western States.

Amy Sproston - 2013 Western States 100

Amy Sproston

It’s been a couple years since we’ve seen Amy Sproston line up for Western States, but the last time she did she took third in the fiery 2013 running. She was eighth in both 2011 and 2012. Last year, she won the HURT 100 Mile and placed second at the TNF 100k-Australia before a rough ninth place at Ultra-Trail Mount Fuji in September. She won February’s Black Canyon 100k to earn her spot into this year’s Western States.

I’ve no idea how Jodee Adams-Moore will do in her first go at 100 miles, but she’s certainly got podium potential on the upside. She’s raced over 50 miles once, winning April’s Gorge Waterfalls 100k to earn her WS100 spot. Among her ultra accomplishments are a win at the Chuckanut 50k in 2013, a win at the Red Hot Moab 55k in 2014, a fourth at Lake Sonoma 50 in 2014 (her 50-mile debut), and a sixth at Transvulcania 2014.

Other Top-10 Favorites

Caroline Boller took eighth in her 100-mile debut at last year’s Western States. In February, she won the USATF Road 50k National Championships with a 3:22 at Caumsett.

Sally McRae was seventh at last year’s Western States after taking 10th in 2014. Since then she’s finish 26th at UTMB and won the Salmon Falls 50k.

Erika Lindland - 2015 Western States 100

Erika Lindland

Erika Lindland’s had a great progression over the past five Western States going 26th (2011), 21st (2012), 11th (2013), and ninth (2015) in her four runnings. Her trend at Western States suggests she could move up further, but taking 13th at Lake Sonoma and finishing an hour and 22 minutes behind Boulet at the Canyons 100k the spring suggest it may only be another spot or two.

Bethany Patterson adds strength to this year’s East Coast contingent, as she’s found as much success in her second stint as an ultrarunner as she did in her first. In the past year, she’s won Mountain Masochist 50 Mile, Georgia Death Race, and Promised Land 50k (in the second-fastest time in race history) to go along with a second at last year’s White River 50 Mile and February’s Holiday Lake 50k++. She DNFed her only go at Western States in 2004.

Janessa Taylor is possibly the least widely known runner with the highest ceiling at this year’s Western States. She’s had a bunch of success in ultras in the Pacific Northwest and California the past few years and has been largely unbeatable the past two years. In January, she took second at the Bandera 100k to earn her way into Western States. Last spring, she ran 16:55 to win overall the Badger Mountain Challenge 100 Mile with 14,000 feet of climb.

Amy Rusiecki - 2013 IAU Trail World Championships sq

Amy Rusiecki

Amy Rusiecki has been racking up top ultra finishes back East for nearly a decade now. Over the past year, that included a win at the Grindstone 100 Mile and Bull Run Run 50 Mile. She’s not had as good luck out west with an 18th at the Leadville 100 Mile last August and an eighth at the Nueces 50 Mile in 2013.

Amanda Basham has jumped right into ultrarunning, having finished plenty of ultras in the past two years. She took second at the Gorge Waterfalls 100k to get into States. She ran the TNF EC 50 Mile the past two years, taking ninth and, then, 10th, while winning the Cayuga Trails 50 Mile last June. She bailed on Cayuga earlier this month while she recovered from an ankle injury.

Anna Mae Flynn is a shorter-distance mountain runner who has converted quite abruptly to the longer stuff of late. She earned her WS100 entry with a third at Lake Sonoma. Last month, she DNFed Transvulcania with dehydration-type issues.

Canadian Alissa St. Laurent should be in the top-10 mix. She brings to the racing table multiple wins of the burly Canadian Death Race, a win of the 2015 Cascade Crest 100 Mile, which was a massive course record, and more. She was 13th in 22-plus hours at the 2014 edition, but her running since then indicates she can finish well up in the field. [Added June 16 — Her omission was a copy-paste error on the editors’ part as we prepared this article. We apologize!]

Meghan Arbogast - Pre-2014 Western States 100

Meghan Arbogast

After finishing in the top 10 for eight-straight Western States, Meghan Arbogast took 12th last year. She’s back this year as she goes for her 10th WS100 finish. Arbogast was fourth earlier this year at the Moab Red Hot 55k and 10th at the Marathon des Sables.

In 2014, Leslie Howlett took a step forward with her ultrarunning with an eighth place at Lake Sonoma and a fourth at the Run Rabbit Run 100 Mile. Last year, she took sixth at the Bandera 100k before taking second at the Wasatch 100 Mile. She didn’t have strong a race at last December’s TNF EC 50 Mile, placing 21st.

Other Notable Women

  • Jamie Frink — 2nd Bighorn 100 Mile 2015; 8th Western States 100 2009
  • Maggie Guterl — 2nd Georgia Death Race 2016; 1st Brazos Bend 100 Mile 2015 (17:21)
  • Becky Kirschenmann — 4th Ice Age 50 Mile 2016; 5th Run Rabbit Run 100 2015; 1st Pine to Palm 100 Mile 2014
  • Amy Phillips — 2nd American River 50 Mile 2015; 1st Flagline 50k 2015; 3rd Leona Divide 50 Mile 2016

Notable Non-Starters

Two of last year’s top 10 declined to return: Emma Roca (5th) and Nikki Kimball (10th).

Also not running are:

  • Amelia BoonePer a recent blog post, it looks like a broken leg will keep her from running the race.
  • Denise Bourassa — A prior top-10 finisher currently listed as a DNS.
  • Gina Lucrezi — Injury will keep Gina from improving on her finish from last year.
  • Ruby Muir — This talented Kiwi is sidelined with injury.
  • Michele Yates — She recently had hip surgery and won’t be racing.

Call for Comments

  • So which women is going to win this race?
  • Who’s going to join her on the podium?
  • Who do you think is most likely to surprise folks this year?
  • As always, let us know if you think there’s someone else you think should be on our radars or if someone we’ve listed is definitely out of the race.
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.