2018 Western States 100 Men’s Preview

Drymax - 2017 Western States 100We’re excited about the 2018 Western States 100 men’s race. Are you? On the race’s 100.2-mile, point-to-point route tracing from the east side of California’s Sierra Nevada to its western foothills in the city of Auburn, a lot is undoubtedly going to happen.

In the men’s race, we have a couple men who’ve been *this close* to the win previously, gentlemen who’ve knocked on the door of the podium at least once and sometimes more than once, a few guys who’ve got outstanding Western States potential but who’ve not yet seen their best race, and some runners who on paper should have stellar days. One thing is certain amongst all this uncertainty, this race—be it the distance, the climate, the course’s downhill nature, the early altitude, or a combination of these factors and more—historically favors something in the realm of equally exerted physical talent and mental smarts.

Ahead of the race, we’ll publish interviews with some of the men’s favorites and, of course, we’ll cover the race live beginning at 5 a.m. PDT on Saturday, June 23. Stay tuned just a little longer!

A special thanks to Drymax for once again making our coverage of the Western States 100 possible!

Thanks also to BUFF® and Jaybird for their support of our Western States coverage.

Be sure to check out our in-depth women’s preview to learn about the women’s race, too. For a bit more fun, you can entry our Western States prediction contest until Wednesday, June 20th.

Most Likely Contenders for the Win

Francois Dhaene - 2015 Western States 100

François D’haene

France’s François D’haene (pre-race interview) is pretty much the king of 100k-plus-distance trail ultamarathons right now. Le Roi François I. But there’s one crown he doesn’t yet have, and that’s the Western States cougar. François has finished Western States once, taking 14th in 2015 while suffering the heat in the race’s second half. He returned in 2016 and did his due diligence by training in the heat on the Western States Trail. However, he injured himself on a run not long before the race and wasn’t able to start. Now, he’s back again. Like another top male in this field, I think François’s previous non-ideal turnouts at this race are blessings, not curses. He now knows and has said what his weaknesses are, the heat and the overall running speed required for success, and he’s been training them. Do I think he can legit win WS 100? I don’t know. But if he does win, he’ll have shown a new ability in a different-for-him terrain.

Jared Hazen - 2015 Western States 100 - third

Jared Hazen

Jared Hazen has withdrawn from this year’s Western States 100 due to injury. [Updated June 19] Jared Hazen could win Western States. And if he does, a lot of people will say, “Whoa, an underdog victory!” They will be wrong. Dear world, please remember that in 2015 and at the age of 20, Jared Hazen took third at WS 100 in 15:37. And before that, he ran Western States at the age of 19 and finished 14th, so there’s this, too. And, anyway, Jared’s just a quiet guy who keeps his head down and does the work. After multiple major injuries in 2017, Jared took second at both the 2018 Way Too Cool 50k and the 2018 Lake Sonoma 50 Mile. The last time Jared ran WS 100, he went out chill before moving into the middle of the top 10 at about halfway and into third position before the Rucky Chucky river crossing at mile 78. He also had energy to fight off a close, really-late-race chaser. A few more years of training and experience as well as the wisdom accrued via his 2015 podium finish: watch out 2018 Western States.

Tim Freriks

Tim Freriks (pre-race interview) could also win Western States. Tim’s had a couple of runs where he shook loose of highly competitive fields and won unchallenged, at the 2017 Transvulcania Ultramarathon and the 2017 The North Face Endurance Challenge 50 Mile Championships. Those performances, I think, represent glimpses of the kind of potential Tim has in trail ultras. Tim had an injury which sidelined him for a good spell in March and April, but it appears from social media that he’s been able to put in a good, six-or-so-week training block. While it’s unlikely we’ll see Tim be able to run to his full potential and there is also the fact that he’s not run 100 miles before either, history tells us that there’s something to being a little bit fresh at the starting line of a tough 100 miler.

Jim Walmsley 2017 Tarawera Ultramarathon champion sq

Jim Walmsley

At the risk of angering his fans, I’m going to call this one as directly as I ever have. Jim Walmsley (pre-race interview) has the physical talent to win Western States, but I haven’t seen him exhibit the mental approach that’s also required. At least three times we’ve seen him run too fast too early in a 100 miler and not end up running to his potential. Lest you call me a Jim naysayer, I may be a journalist, but I’m also a fan of this sport and, for the love of all things good, I want to see Jim Walmsley win Western States. Jim: put your head down, run with the lead pack, let any nonsensically fast runners go out and come back to you later, drink your drinks, eat your calories, and pour cold water on yourself as often as you can. If you’ve got loads left, or should I say when you’ve got loads left because you’ve run the first 80 miles so controlled, let it rip from Green Gate on, win this damn race, and maybe set a course record in the process.

Mario Mendoza

Mario Mendoza could also win Western States. This race is familiar territory for Mario, as he started the 2016 event, ran somewhere around the edge of the top 10 for some 40-plus miles, but dropped before the halfway point. I don’t know, but something tells me that run was more of a blessing than the curse that most people associate with DNFing. He came, saw what the race was all about, felt the heat, and ran the hills. Now, two years later, he’s got loads more experience at these long, tough ultras, and he’s perhaps far more capable of reaching his potential at something like WS 100. So far in 2018, Mario won the Bandera 100k, took third at the Lake Sonoma 50 Mile, and was sixth at the Trail World Championships. Sheesh, that’s a good year already and we’re not yet six months in.

Men’s Top-10 Material

Mark Hammond

Let’s open this section with the men who are already proven top-10 material by way of their 2017 Western States efforts. Not only did Mark Hammond (pre-race interview) run into the top 10 last year, he podiumed! In 2017, we were all surprised by his breakout run, but Mark sits in the shadows no more. Dude’ll be running with a target on his back now, perhaps especially because he exacted his podium finish with a well-meted, steady run from start to finish. He was fresh as a daisy at the finish line. Mark has raced a whole lot since last year, and his top performances have been second at the 2017 Run Rabbit Run 100 Mile, 12th at the 2017 TNF 50 Mile, and eighth at the 2018 Ultra-Trail Mt. Fuji.

Is it almost mechanical for you at this point, Jeff Browning (pre-race interview)? These reliable, stout 100-mile performances? In 2016 and 2017, Jeff took third and fourth at Western States. Backing up that 2016 finish, Jeff turned it around and took fourth at the 2016 Hardrock 100 a couple weeks later. And since his 2017 WS 100 effort, he also won the 2017 Bear 100 Mile and the 2017 Antelope Island 100 Mile. Almost as mechanical as his reliability is his pacing consistency of starting conservatively but maintaining a steady effort all day. Does anyone want to take bets on his placement at Robinson Flat, Foresthill, and the finish? Here are mine: 19th, 13th, fifth.

Ian Sharman

Ian Sharman will start Western States hunting for his ninth-straight top-10 finish. And Ian will finish WS 100 with exactly that. I mean, it’s actually humorous for me at this point, why more people who really want to finish top 10 at WS 100 don’t shadow Ian the whole race. Just kidding, running someone else’s race is not the way to run your own best race, but, really, there is a heck ton to learn about 100-mile racing from a guy like Ian. The last three years, Ian has been seventh, sixth, and seventh again. I’m guessing that’s right about where we’ll find him this year, too. After last year’s race, he also put down his fourth win of at the 2017 Leadville Trail 100 Mile, another project of reliability he seems to be working on.

Since 2013, Jesse Haynes has finished Western States inside the top 10 four times (2016 interview). He was eighth last year. Since that performance, Jesse took sixth at the 2017 Run Rabbit Run 100 Mile and won the 2017 Chimera 100 Mile. Nope, nope, nope, don’t bet against this guy and a top-10 finish, either. He did get lucky in the Hardrock 100 lottery, though, also, so perhaps he’ll take it just a bit easy given he’ll run another 100 miles four weeks later? Then again, maybe not.

What’s this, a Scottish runner who likes repeat trips to the heat of summer in California? Apparently! Paul Giblin is back for his third go at Western States. In 2016, Paul took fifth place and last year saw him cross the line in ninth. Since last year, he’s won the 2018 100 Miles of Istria in Croatia and taken fifth at the 2018 Canyons 100k.

Kyle Pietari was last year’s 10th-place finisher, and he rounds out the six men who are returning from last year’s top 10. He also finished eighth in 2016. Diehard Western States fans might recall his leg bandaged up at last year’s award ceremony. Seven miles into the race, he sprained his ankle hard, ran 93 miles on it, and still finished in the top 10. Since then, he’s had some strong runs at regional races in Utah and Colorado. I’m sure I’m not the only one curious about what Kyle can do this year with some WS 100 experience plus a healthy ankle.

Didrik Hermansen - 2017 Transgrancanaria

Didrik Hermansen

Fun and possibly forgotten trivia fact: Norway’s Didrik Hermansen took second at the 2016 Western States! What’s up with these gentlemen from cooler-weather countries coming back to suffer in the Cali heat?! Didrik’s second place at WS 100 came amidst what was a long run at the near front of the trail-ultra international-running scene in 2015 and 2016. He continues to run strong, but not quite as well—and certainly not as frequently—as he was back then. His top runs in the last year have been a 13th at the 2017 UTMB and a third place at the 2018 EcoTrail de Paris.

When you look at Kris Brown’s (pre-race interview) UltraSignup page, the ultra results start coming hot and heavy in 2015, strong running out of the gate and, then, of late with rapid improvement, namely his win of the 2017 San Diego 100 Mile, which appears to have been his first 100 miler, and his fourth place at the 2017 TNF 50 Mile. [Author’s Note: I stand corrected! Kris also ran the 2016 West Highland Way Race, which is 95 miles long and in Scotland.] I wouldn’t be surprised if Kris is one of the race’s breakout stories. He has loads of talent and trail-ultra experience at a relatively young age, and perhaps most importantly, he has already struggled and succeeded in the heat for 100 miles.

Second chances at a race like Western States are really fortuitous these days, and France’s Erik Clavery is back courtesy of another Ultra-Trail World Tour entry. Erik ran the 2017 WS 100 and finished 15th, and he did it by running fast early—in third to fifth places for much of the race’s first third—exploding somewhere around mid-race, and, then, managing to put himself back together and run it in. I can still remember how cooked he looked arriving into Foresthill last year. Erik’s got a decade of trail-ultra experience, with his greatest success in the realm of the slightly-not-so-mountainous races, so I can’t help but think the WS 100 course could be around his sweet spot. A smart race from his guy and I think he runs high 16 hours or low 17 hours, putting himself well into the top 10.

Zach Bitter

The last time Zach Bitter ran Western States was the infamous cold year of 2012 where he ran 16:53 and finished 14th. In his now eight-ish-year ultrarunning career, Zach is better known for his performances on flatter and faster terrain, including on the track. His top performances of late have included a second place at both the 2017 American River 50 Mile and the 2017 Javelina Jundred. Zach now lives and has been training in the Arizona summer heat, which should make Western States’s climate feel doable. It’s hard to figure what Zach’s max potential at WS 100 might be on a normal weather year.

This German speedster seems to be directly targeting Western States. Florian Neuschwander came to the U.S. to run the 2018 Sean O’Brien 100k in search of Golden Ticket, which he handily won. Florian has a ton of shorter-ultra-distance leg speed. Do I have it right that his 50k PR is 2:52? In 2015, he was ninth at the IAU 100k World Championships with a 6:52 effort. I think this is also Florian’s first 100-mile attempt? Florian is always one of the happiest guys out there, and attitude carries you a long way in this sport, so hopefully his attitude will carry him into this new distance.

Cody Reed

Cody Reed started ultrarunning in 2016, that year beating a bunch of fast, experienced guys at the Tamalpa Headlands 50k and doing the same again at the start of 2017 with the Way Too Cool 50k. In early 2018, he took second at the Bandera 100k to earn a Golden Ticket, and, then, second again at the Tarawera Ultramarathon. Cody has loads of talent, and he’s looking for his first 100-mile finish.

Now here’s an interesting entrant, Eric Senseman. Though he’s been a strong runner over his now lengthy trail running career, he seems to be in ascendant territory with his running at present. Last fall, he won the 2017 JFK 50 Mile and a couple months ago he earned a Golden Ticket with a fourth place at the 2018 Lake Sonoma 50 Mile. This will be Eric’s first 100-mile effort, but the guy seems to race as much with his mind as his body so this could turn out pretty good.

Sweden’s Johan Steene likes to run the longest, toughest stuff in ultrarunning, both on the roads and trails, and so his resume is diverse. For instance in the last couple years, he was second at the 2015 Vol-State 500k, he was a 2017 Barkley Marathons Fun Run finisher (which means he completed three laps within the time limit), and he was third at the 2017 IAU 24-Hour World Championships with 266.5k/165.6 miles run. Unfortunately, I don’t think Johan will be coming into WS 100 super fresh, as a month before race day he finished eighth at the 2018 IAU 24-Hour European Championships.

More Fast Men to Watch

  • Johnny Clemons — 3rd 2017 Pinhoti 100 Mile; 1st 2017 Cruel Jewel 100 Mile
  • John Fitzgerald — 5th 2017 Black Canyon 100k; 4th 2016 Quad Rock 50 Mile
  • Lon Freeman — 1st 2018 Canyons 100k
  • Masazumi Fujioka — 3rd 2018 and 2017 HURT 100 Mile
  • Brett Hornig — 5th 2017 Sean O’Brien 100k
  • Adam Kimble — 10th 2018 Way Too Cool 50k; 2nd 2017 Rio Del Lago 100 Mile
  • Karl Meltzer — 10th 2012 Western States; Winner of 41 career 100-mile races
  • Juan Moran — 2nd 2018 Black Canyon 100k; 4th 2017 Leadville Trail 100 Mile
  • Devon Olson — 4th 2018 Run Rabbit Run 100 Mile; 1st 2017 Leadville Silver Rush 50 Mile
  • Michael Owen — 2nd and 3rd at 2017 and 2016 JFK 50 Mile
  • Kenneth Ringled — 14th 2017 Lake Sonoma 50 Mile
  • Bob Shebest — 2nd 2018 Georgia Death Race; 1st 2017 Canyons 100k; I think he has the highest upside potential of this group
  • Paul Terranova — 11th 2017 Lake Sonoma 50 Mile; 10th 2015 Western States 100 Paul Terranova won’t start the race due to injury. [Updated June 21]
  • Charlie Ware — 2nd 2018 Sean O’Brien 100k; 3rd 2017 Run Rabbit Run 100 Mile; I think Charlie also has high upside potential
  • Coree Woltering — 2nd 2017 American River 50 Mile; 3rd 2017 Dunes 100 Mile

Notable Earlier Entrants not Running

  • Chris DeNucci
  • Jared Hazen
  • Andrew Miller 
  • Patrick Reagan
  • Paul Terranova
  •  Joe Uhan

Call for Comments

  • Who’s going to win Western States this year? And how do you see the race for the rest of the podium ultimately playing out?
  • Anyone fitter than we might think? Anyone we’ve not listed with a chance to crack the top 10?
  • Is anyone not running who is in this preview? Leave us comments to let us know. We’ll be updating this preview until the start of the race.
Meghan Hicks

is iRunFar.com's Managing Editor, the author of 'Where the Road Ends: A Guide to Trail Running,' and a Contributing Editor at Trail Runner magazine. The converted road runner finished her first trail ultramarathon in 2006 and loves using running to visit the world's wildest places.

There are 194 comments

  1. AT

    Yeah I need some popcorn too bro, throw in some extra salt and butter please..

    I love seeing so much debate and interest in the race..go over to LetsRun and it’s a bunch of yahoos that all believe they’re capable of blowing the doors of an ultrarunner because of their flat land speed, laughable at best.

    #SeeyainSquaw

  2. Bronco Billy

    Haha, Meghan, mechanical? No exactly, but it is a familiar experience I suppose after so many hundreds. :) And, I agree with Speedgoat. Jim is a great dude, I respect his hunger for the record over a consistent performance. With the now 10-day forecast for cooler temps in Auburn on race day, this could be his year to crush it. I say to Jim, do what you do bro! Make history. I personally hope for a heat wave so I can mop up some carnage you create. ;)

    Meghan, great article, spot on as usual. Like Speedgoat, I’ll be the one running alone too. Giddyup!

    1. Ling

      I agree. I love seeing runners like Jim and Zach Miller really go after it and risk blowing up rather than go for the careful, steady race. A lot of people try to convince them to run a “smarter” race. I want them to continue to go for broke.

      1. Jamie

        What’s more exciting than watching someone run smart for 60-70 miles and then break away or work their way up strongly through the field? Watching someone go out like crazy and then hemorrhage time over the last 30 ugly miles? That is boring, and everyone can do that.

  3. Jonathan Gardner

    Part of me wants to see Walmsley do what he’s done on previous journeys just to shatter the course record. The other part of me says, “No, no, go for the win!” Gotta admit that watching Olympics and world championships distance races is boring because it’s full of runners who are just waiting for the last 10% of the event to actually *race*. Walmsley makes it interesting when he just goes for it.

  4. Emerson Thoreau

    Nice write-up. Walmsley’s talent, “misses,” and Cowboys are upping the ante and curiosity factor — which drives a lot of attention. I am having fun watching the spectacle.

  5. Albert

    The fact that there are 122 comments shows how interested we are and how much excitement high level competition brings. You can like or dislike the way Jim and the Cowboys do things but people sure are talking about them a lot aren’t they? After last year’s WS I found myself being critical of Jim at first, then I thought that greatness comes about by taking chances, so I am definitely on the Jim Walmsley and the Cowboy bandwagon. In the end it’s all simple and plain fun! Go Jim and go Coconino Cowboys! Screw the naysayers and be epic!

    1. Emerson Thoreau

      I am somewhat reminded here of the McEnroe v. Borg epics, with the brash and boisterous American against the reserved and relaxed Euro. The clash of cultures is the spice of life.

  6. DG

    Not only would it be exciting to follow, but it would also be interesting to see the outcome were JW to be pushed by a fellow competitor deep into the course. Jim seems to be a bit of a front runner. He may very well feed off that and draw confidence. I wonder how he would respond to someone like Francois being within close striking distance late. Other than UTMB (which was a 5th place finish), has he ever really been hunted deep into a race?

    1. Andrew

      Not recently. He didn’t win everything when he first started ultras though. He got 5th, I believe, at his first Sonoma.

  7. Hendrik

    I believe we should expect Florian Neuschwander to be one of the first men finishing the race. He is very strong in climbing and he usually does a very good job pacing himself in such a long race. He usually likes to start rather slow, observing what happens in the front. He did this in the Sean O’Brien 100k (where he took the first position after 60km) and in the Rennsteiglauf in Germany, two weeks ago, where he passed the leader at km 62 of 73.

  8. Dominick Layfield

    Waaahht? Andrew Miller is not running? Man, I’m disappointed. After he absolutely *crushed* the Georgia Death Race to get a Golden Ticket to WSER, I’ve been expecting great things. Figured he’d sit quietly behind Jim and Francois, and likely close on them late in the race. Does anyone have details on why he’s not racing?

  9. Maher

    I am suprised to not see Kris Brown make the honorable mentions list…anyone else? I think he is a dark horse for atop 5 finish!

  10. Collin

    I don’t think Jim is a lock to win by any means, and the fact that he could blow up is part of what makes him fun to watch, but unless you think that going out too fast is what caused him to get lost in 2016 (to be fair, he was still decimating them at that point, so maybe he was moving too fast to see the course markings properly!), you’ve seen him go out too fast twice, not three times. Once was in weather that this year won’t likely match, and once was in a race that lasted 20 hours for him, not 14. However, you’ve also seen him pace a 100 miler perfectly and just happen to get lost with 7 miles to go while still in the process of destroying a quality field (he had just put 6 minutes on 2nd place in 5 miles from 85 to 90 before getting lost). The comment that he hasn’t displayed the mentality to win WSER seems completely incorrect after his 2016 race. If I were to bet, I’d put my money on Jim.

  11. Gary

    Just reading through this massive stack of comments and I absolutely love it. What a bananas sport we have…

    Something not fully mentioned here…I wonder if Jim’s “kryptonite” in 2016 wasn’t actually getting washed downstream at the river. If you watch that footage, he really had to expend a LOT of energy just to get across. I think THAT is the singular mistake from that year.

    Something like that gets in your head a bit… and as the number crunchers show, he was giving up time after the river. That’s no coincidence, IMHO.

    If he’d have used the rope, I’m convinced he’d have been champ with the CR.

    My dos pesos. Can’t wait to see what unfolds!

    1. Stephen

      We can’t read Jim’s mind, but I don’t think the river crossing had anything to do with him going off course in 2016. I believe he simply missed the markings for the left turn probably due to him briefly looking away or down, or taking a drink. At that time of day, the sun would likely have been in his eyes too. Let’s remember also that he did not use a pacer, which may have helped. I’m a big Walmsley fan, so I really hope this is his year. On paper he is the heavy favorite, but whoever has the best day will win. Jim has learned his lessons. He will race well, won’t get lost and won’t drop. Bank on it.

      1. Jim's Fan Club

        He had a pacer but he dropped him en route to the river. His pacer was a solid runner but if I recall had stomach issues or for poisoning and naturally with that factored in couldn’t stay with Jim.

  12. Mir

    oh….by the way, do not underestimate Jimi Hendrix. (a.k.a Coree Woltering). he is going to be among the first 10 people. i hope he is not wearing his speedo though because he is going to have severe chafing. lol. good luck man. @GCXC13

  13. Mir

    PS. Mr. Gordy Ainsleigh: due high traffic for the race that you created, i would like to ask you be kind enough and give your spot to another runner who is in waiting list. thank you for your help. cheers

  14. Alfredo

    As I said in another post, last year I found myself being critical of Jim’s tapering and execution of race strategy, and I also stated that I am rooting for him and the Coconino Cowboys big time. I want to see them all dominate and for Jim to set a course record. But I have to question why Jim would enter a useless mid-summer, middle of the day 10k in Phoenix (it ended up being very cool for this time of year), and lay down 5 min miles en route to a 31 minute time. I’m just trying to make sense of how that is going to help him taper for a major 100 mile race. Of course he is his own man and can do whatever the hell he wants, but I am shaking my head that he’d do that a week out from his third time at WS.

    1. dsg

      Alfredo, sounds like you are not a coach nor a high level runner. A hard 10km the week before a fat-burning long run is perfect taper. #TrustJim

      1. Alfredo

        What does being a coach or a high level runner have to do with questioning what a person is doing? It doesn’t make me stupid just because I’m a ‘regular Joe’. His strategy obviously did NOT work for him last year. You say ‘trust Jim’. Well, FYI he injured himself during his training this year. Did you know that? He has a track record of making some fairly poor decisions, as in running a 100 mile race not long after UTMB. He’s young and probably sees himself as invincible, but the reality is, you only have so much really hard training and super high level running in you at those distances. Just ask Roes, Krupicka, and lots of other incredibly talented runners. Perhaps what he does need IS a good coach, maybe at the least to save himself from himself.

        1. Mir

          Agreed. All those talented runners are out of game because they thought they can do it themselves. Tim T. And Dylon B. On the other hand still in the game and doing excellent. TIMOTHY O. Got smart and now following his coach schedule and slowly coming back to life again. I think even for us (mid-pack runner or slower) having a good coach is priceless. Cheers.

        2. sga

          Alfredo,you sound like the same guy that questioned why Galen Rupp would run 23 miles with the last two miles in 4:48 only 11 days before his Prague Marathon. Turned out the whole world learned a bit more about high level running as he blitzed a 2:06 victory.

          I have training from all the greats, including Bruce Fordyce and Matt Carpenter, and both have a tempo effort the week prior to championship races. It’s actually quite standard across the board from Canova to Pfitzinger to Salazar.

          Hope this helps.

          1. Alfredo

            Er, ok “sga” LOL. It helps and absolutely clears things up for me. I mean, how could I dare question someone who has been trained by the greats? *smirk*

            1. Ling

              It’s okay to question. You don’t have to say “how dare I question”. You questioned the fast 10k and you received an answer. No need to get snarky.

  15. Evan Kimber

    As of today, the forecasted high in Auburn on Saturday is 102 (and while this may move a couple degrees up or down until race day, we know with certainty it is going to be HOT). This (for me) changes the conversation when it comes to predicting top ten. With the elite front speed runners that are already high risk/reward strategies, an extreme heat day means the blow-ups/carnage/DNF’s will rise significantly. I would not expect any kind of sweep on Saturday (whether that is a Cowboys sweep or top speed guys sweep). Several of our top pics will almost certainly end up in the DNF category. The question is who holds up and who doesn’t. Do not underestimate the legendary Jeff Browning who can easily nab a podium spot on Saturday, and Sharman to execute his incredible consistency and come in as high as top 5. Meltzer can move into top 10 with his experience.

    I have to admit that I kind of (masochistically) root for hot days at WS because it makes the unfolding all the more fascinating, and gives indication of who is best trained, experienced, and strategized. Should be a great show!

  16. Cole Trickle

    Meghan knows best. I think Walmsley crashes and burns in the heat because (1) crappy taper — among other errors, running a 31 minute 10K in the heat days before a 100 miler; (2) he is so confident that the death blow of reality will take his breath away when the meltdown hits; and (3) despite all the laughs and cowboy talk, he has significantly more pressure on him than the other competitors.

  17. Brian

    I think it’s ok to pose the question, but in my opinion, I doubt him running a hard 10k a week before the race is going to impact his performance at States in any way. I’m fairly certain he won’t have any problem being fully recovered from a hard 6 mile run.

    1. Cole Trickle

      I don’t believe that you read my post very carefully. I stated “among other errors.“ The 10K that he ran should not be viewed in a vacuum. Rather, it is part of a larger mosaic of over training, typically born of insecurity. Ironically, the strongest among us, including Jim, don’t realize how strong they are and feel the need to overcompensate. I am hoping the best for him. But I must be candid on the outlook.

    2. Alfredo

      You have to look at the entire picture, Brian. It’s more than just doing the 10k. It’s the seemingly total lack of a real recovery and rest period prior to the race that is worrisome. Jim is human as we’ve seen in several 100 mile performances, and crashes and burns just like the rest of us. Doing a 31 minute 10k a week out, and a 10 mile run today at 6:43 pace may or may not affect his running, but my reasoning is WHY. Any fitness he has needed has already been acquired, so why take a chance and mess it up with a non-existent taper and rest period? I repeat, I want Jim to KILL it and set a course record, but again this year I am scratching my head at the approach just like I did last year.

      1. Shaun

        I don’t know if Jim is well-recovered or not. Only he knows that. I know it is super easy to make mistakes in the leadup to a race. The menu is large and the spectrum of mistakes is huge: too many “confidence” runs (running too hard to prove fitness to yourself); too high of volume; too low of volume; etc. I watched a Kilian movie re: his prep for Western States and he realized that tapering doesn’t really work for his body, he likes to work hard and feels better if he has significant volume the week before the race. Maybe that’s just mental, maybe not. Everyone is different and everyone responds to training differently.

        But…breaking (mostly) from conjecture, if Jim’s vDot is ~77 (as predicted by his 5K (13:44) and his suspected HM (1:02:56) and marathon potential(2:11:54), then his endurance run/easy run pace would be 6:16/mile. This sounds really fast to us mortals, but the chances are that his flat 10 miler yesterday was just an easy 65 minutes for him. Not a big deal for someone who does the volume he does.

        Prepping for a 100 miler is not an exact science, so far Jim is batting 0.95/2 or 0.475 at Western. I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt and suspect if his head is right he’ll make his mark this year. I hope for his sake that he doesn’t read these comments though as the last thing you need when strategizing your own final week before a race is Joe Blowhards second-guessing you and damaging your confidence.

        1. Bryan Rich

          I did some strava stalking to check out taper for both some WS and lavaredo folks. Walmsley’s taper really doesn’t look outlandish to me, especially compared to these other elites coming from a track background (plus browning for a more measured reference):

          Walmsley: 2wk 125 mi, 17.5hrs, 17.8k’; 1wk 57mi, 8hrs, 6k’; race wk 16mi, 2hrs, 900′

          Hawks: 2wk 119 mi, 22.75hrs, 36k’; 1wk 100mi, 15.75hrs, 22k’; race wk 14.5mi, 1.5hrs, 300′

          Tollefson: 2wk 87 mi, 12.5hrs, 17k’; 1wk 75mi, 10.5 hrs, 12.6k’; race wk 8mi, 1hr, 500′

          Freriks: 2wk 103 mi, 13.75hrs, 12k’; 1wk 50mi, 6.75hrs, 2.8k’; race wk 0

          Browning: 2wk 71.6 mi & biking; 1wk 45mi, 7.75hrs, 7k’; race wk 0

          1. Alfredo

            Great summary. I guess we just have to wait and see what unfolds in the race now! I like the guy’s comment below about this just being ‘exercise.’ LOL. Come on man, this is fun to talk about!

          2. speedgoat

            I ran 60 2ks out, then 41, and 20 miles this week, while laying motionless. :-) Rest the final two weeks is the key, because noone gets really warmed up till mile 50…unless they go out too fast. Training is in the bank with two weeks out, and nothing is going to make anyone faster at that point if they’ve done their homework. But again I’m old, 65 mile weeks is all my body can handle at this point, with about 15k of climb…

            Gonna be fun to “hopefully” mop up some mess at the river…we shall see.

            It’s just running, let’s go have some fun and eat some popsicles.

  18. Nico

    I think Jim should do what he always does, just go from the gun. He is more experienced now and knows better how to pace himself. It will be good to build up a fair margin on Francois, because I expect him to be better in the last part of the race. Francois has the endurance, but Jim has the speed. Nevertheless, whatever happens, it will be a super exciting edition of WS 100.

    By the way, the three times Jim started too fast in a 100 miler does not include WS 2016. I think they refer to WS2017, UTMB2017 and Diagonale des Fous 2017, though that last race was mainly not so successfull because it was too close to UTMB.

  19. Sascha Kowalski

    Glad u mentioned Neuschwander. He did some serious training and is burning for this. He has a great crew and pacer for the last 60k. Doing a not flat 2.29 Marathon for training and winning the hilly Rennsteig (75k) here in Germany is something. Im super corious how he´s doing against Jim and Francois etc. Greeting from Germany and GO FLOW!

  20. Lungstretch

    What I’ve yet to see anyone point out is that Jim actually did crush it in 2016. He didn’t have an epic crash, he simply missed a turn; otherwise he would almost certainly have shattered the course record. So, really, in my opinion, he’s 1 and 1 at WS. His first “fail” was nothing more than misfortune. Anyway, thanks for your phenomenal coverage. Can’t wait to see what unfolds on Saturday.

  21. eric

    earlier in the thread, there was a thorough breakdown of Jim’s splits as compared to course record. it isn’t clear that he would not have gotten it, but it is clear that he was slowing down considerably and then even if he were to maintain the slowed down pace, it would have been very close.

    This slowdown appears to have started in the 70s. so, not a major meltdown or blowup, but definitely not at mile 95 either.

  22. Bobby O

    Never forget an outlaw like Geoff Roes beat Killiian and Anton at one of the best states to date. But it had no hype. This distance on this course is no fucking joke. ;)

  23. David G

    Not to be a d*ck, but I did think you were a bit harsh with Jim W. in this pre-race preview, and damned if you didn’t call it wrong. Course record destroyed. I’m a huge Jim fan, and yes, you did piss me off.

  24. ajslk

    Course Record, DESTROYED
    Francois D’Haene, DESTROYED
    Meghan Hicks, DESTROYED

    Time for an apology, and not to me, but to Walmsley. This conscious bias is unsettling in this sport. They can’t accept runners different than them, from different backgrounds and with different experiences. s

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