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.
Special thanks for Flora for making our coverage of the Western States 100 possible!
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.
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.
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.
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
- Andrew Miller (Salomon) — 15:39:36 (finish-line and post-race interviews)
- Didrik Hermansen (ASICS) — 16:16:08 (post-race interview)
- Jeff Browning (Patagonia) — 16:30:40 (post-race interview)
- Thomas Lorblanchet (Altra) — 16:39:55 (pre-race interview)
- Paul Giblin (Nathan) — 16:53:20
- Ian Sharman (Altra) — 16:55:11
- Chris Mocko — 17:01:47
- Kyle Pietari (Altra) — 17:05:01
- Christopher Denucci (Hoka One One) — 17:07:57
- Jesse Haynes (Patagonia) — 17:12:30 (post-race interview)
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.
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.
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.
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 Women’s Results
- Kaci Lickteig (Nike) — 17:57:59 (pre-race, finish-line, and post-race interviews)
- Amy Sproston (Montrail) — 18:54:44 (post-race interview)
- Devon Yanko (Oiselle) — 19:10:08 (pre-race and post-race interviews)
- Amanda Basham (Nike) — 20:11:39
- Alissa St Laurent (Salomon) — 20:27:11
- Meghan Arbogast (Altra) — 20:30:11 (post-race interview)
- Bethany Patterson (Nathan) — 20:40:42 (pre-race Taproom interview)
- Maggie Guterl (Nathan) — 20:50:07
- Jodee Adams-Moore (7 Hills) — 20:54:54
- Erika Lindland — 21:07:40
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!