2018 Western States 100 Group Think Predictions

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 10th-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.

[Editor’s Note: You can read both our women’s and men’s previews ahead of the race and follow our live race coverage starting 5 a.m. PDT on Saturday.]

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 almost 1,600(!?) 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 100 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 Drymax, Jaybird, Buff, AltraJulbo, and CamelBak 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.

2018 Western States 100 Women’s Field

2018 Western States 100 Women's Group Think

Interesting Women’s Field Notes

  • With defending- champion Cat Bradley sidelined with injury, Western States debutant Courtney Dauwalter is this year’s women’s favorite despite three other recent women’s champions–Kaci Lickteig, Stephanie Violett, and Pam Smith–all in this year’s race. Those three were respectively ranked second, third, and 16th, which coincidentally (or not) mirrors the relative recency of their wins. (Note: It’s public that Pam’s coming into the race with an injury.)
  • Kaci Lickteig (2nd & 3rd) and Aliza Lapierre (4th & 6th) each got the most votes to finish in each of two positions. Despite ranking third overall, Stephanie Violett didn’t lead the voting for any single position. The largest outlier for position-leading vote getter and overall ranking was Meghan Laws, who led in eighth-place votes while ranking 13th overall.
  • The three most recent fourth-place women–Kaytlyn Gerbin (2017), Amanda Basham (2016), and Lapierre (2015)–were pretty tightly clustered in fourth to sixth in the ranking. Basham edged out Gerbin for fourth while Lapierre ranked sixth despite being the leading vote getter to take fourth.
  • There was a cluster of foreign women between seventh and 15th: 7. Lucy Bartholomew (Australia), 8. Ailsa Macdonald (Canada), 11. Emelie Lecomte (France), 12. Fiona Hayvice (New Zealand), 15. Cecilia Flori (Italy living in New Zealand). Hayvice, who was fifth last year, is the only one coming into the race with previous Western States 100 experience.
  • Keep your eyes on the second-ten-ranked women, as they could very conceivably take four or, even five spots in the top ten. There are some super-steady racers like Hayvice, Laws, and Smith, who’d benefit from a hot race, and someone like speedy Camelia Mayfield, who’ll be running her debut 100 miler… but grew up watching her dad run Western States.
  • There’s some awesome geographic diversity on display at the front of the women’s field, as on quick glance I don’t see a duplicate state or non-U.S. country until Mayfield doubles up on Oregon along with Violett (both in the town of Bend) in 14th.
  • Su Lin Woo of Singapore was the top-ranked woman (at 26th) not mentioned in our preview.
  • The introduction of the waitlist, and accompanying oft-revised entrants list means that Camille Herron, who withdrew from the race this week, is the only woman to be ranked while now known to not be racing.
  • In the masters (40+ years old) category, Meghan Laws was easily tops with 891 votes ahead of Fiona Hayvice’s 196 votes, even though Hayvice bested Laws in last year’s race. This doesn’t reflect the overall women’s ranking, where Hayvice was ranked one spot in front of Laws. In turn, Hayvice edged out Pam Smith’s 164 votes. Traci Falbo (72 votes) was the only other woman with more than 40 votes.
  • Notably, every single one of the 78 women in the contest received at least one vote. This may sound a bit crazy, but the vote-getting percentage has been in the 90%+ range in recent years, previously topping out at 96% (86 of 90) of the field in 2016.
  • Naming notes: Emelie Lecomte was briefly listed in the contest with reversed name order, mirroring her name on the official WSER list. Stephanie Violett was listed as Stephanie Howe Violett, which may have confused some. Reflecting the official WSER list, Corrine Malcolm was listed as Corrine Malcole.

2018 Western States 100 Men’s Field

2018 Western States 100 Men's Group Think

Interesting Men’s Field Notes

  • Unsurprising to anyone who’s been on the internet in, well, a while, Jim Walmsley’s the top point getter, overall vote getter, and first-place vote getter. The only person Jim trailed is Courtney Dauwalter and her domination of all three measures on the women’s side.
  • While Walmsley was the clear favorite, François D’haene was far closer to Jim in the overall ranking (within ~10%) than any woman was to Dauwalter (~60% more points than Lickteig in second) with a huge gap back to third. D’haene was easily the top vote getter to finish second and had one more vote than Tim Freriks to be the leading vote recipient to finish third. Freriks easily ranked third overall.
  • Despite receiving a third fewer total votes than those on either side of him, Jared Hazen was ranked fourth with more first-place votes than and as many second-place votes as Freriks, suggesting that if Hazen hadn’t pulled out of the race on Monday, he might have been ranked third rather than Freriks.
  • I’ll call Jeff Browning and Ian Sharman the rock-solid picks in the heart of the top ten. Browning was ranked fifth and received the most votes to finish fourth as well as fifth. Sharman was ranked seven with the most votes to finish sixth, seventh, AND eighth. Together, one of these two is the highest vote getter in ever non-podium top eight.
  • Despite finishing third last year, Mark Hammond was ranked eighth. Similarly, Paul Giblin was fifth in 2016 and ninth last year, but ranked 17th.
  • Unlike the women, there’s geographic concentration atop the men’s field with the same (and arbitrary) top 14 including five men from Arizona, two from Utah, and two from Oregon, so three states make up nine of the top 14 runners. If you go 20 deep, its six from Arizona, three from Utah, three from California, and two from Oregon, so 14 of the top-20-ranked men from from four states with only two other states (Colorado and Illinois) and four different countries represented.
  • After taking third and fourth overall the past two years, it’s no surprise that Jeff Browning was easily the top pick for the men’s masters win with 807 votes. Karl Meltzer had the second-most votes, 454, by a wide margin as he goes after the men’s 50-59 age group record. With 70 votes for the masters win, Bob Shebest was the only other man with more than 50 votes. That means some speedy guys got few votes, but it’s an all-or-nothing system when picking for the win!
  • A full 169 of the 291 men listed in the contest received a vote.
  • Naming notes: Raise your hand if you voted for Zachary Miller thinking it was this Zachary Miller or this Zachariah Miller (formerly 5th and 6th at Western States) rather than this Zachary Miller, who’s a solid runner in his own right. I think we’re going to need a runoff.

[Author’s Note: As noted at the outset, this is one of those late-night passion projects. I’m wrapping this up at 1:30 a.m., or about 2:30 a.m. for my body clock. Please forgive any typos or muddled thoughts. Turning this around on the night I close the prediction contest is a worthwhile challenge. I hope to reread the article and add more thoughts tomorrow.]

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!

There are 22 comments

  1. Marissa

    One of my favourite articles every year, Bryon. Two others: 1/ 9 or ~28% WC teams represented at WS (assuming you count England for GBR as there are English in race). 2/Speaking of English, Ian Sharman is the definition of consistent stats.
    (Year – If he was Top vote getter for a spot in Top 8 and what spot, place in M’s race, time)
    10- None; 8th place 17:26
    11- Top votes 7th place; 10th place 16:40
    12-No Top Votes, close on 7-8th place; 5th place 15:54
    13-Top votes 7th place; 4th place 16:20
    14-Top votes 5th place (close on 6th); 6th place 15:47
    15-Top votes 5-8th places; 7th place 16:44
    16 -Top votes 5th and 8th placed; 6th place 16:55
    17- Top votes 6-8th places; 7th place 17:42
    18-Top votes 6th-8th places;; ? place

  2. Runnerfarmer

    I have Mario Mendoza a bit higher mainly off the fact that he beat Jared Hazen in their golden ticket race. Mendoza is a smart runner and will do well.

    1. Derek

      I believe Mendoza beat Reed in Bandera and came in third behind Hazen at Sonoma. In any case he’ll be up front for sure.

  3. Tanner

    Walmsley over Francois? I know you guys want to see Jim succeed finally….but come on. Francois is a freight train that cannot be stopped.

  4. Sam

    I have Kris Brown and Roxanne Woodhouse winning… 8/1490 and 1/1490 predictors did that… I’m hoping my gamble pays off. Been wanting that triptych for years now!

  5. Patrick

    It’s possible that Francois’ build up to WS may not have been ‘ideal’ (long skiing/skimo season, dnf in China event with an injury, etc)….

  6. Dominick Layfield

    Whaaat? There are now three Zach Millers in US ultrarunning? My head is spinning!

    But looking at ZM3’s stats on Ultrasignup, while he’s clearly a strong runner, his presence in the voting list seems anomalous. Either he has a group of devout supporters who are voting for him to win against all odds, or a number of voters have him mixed up with ZM2 (the most well-known Zach Miller), or possibly ZM1 (Zach Miller the elder; now apparently retired from competitive ultrarunning).

  7. Myke

    Off the list is Johnny Montana (John Fitzgerald – the guy who dragged me into shooting ultrarunning while crewing him in college) who has yet to really nail a 100 but he runs strong and smart (and has raced alongside guys like Browning before) so I think he is a likely contender for the top 10 if he can handle the heat.

    1. Bryon Powell

      Sorry, you missed out. But feel free to post your picks for possible bragging rights.

      From the original article, “The contest will close at 6 p.m. PDT on Wednesday, June 20. That’ll give me time to, once again, analyze all your picks for a group analysis prior to the race.”

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