2022 Western States 100 Men’s Preview

An in-depth preview of the men’s race at the 2022 Western States 100.

By on June 14, 2022 | Leave a reply
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Thanks to HOKA for sponsoring iRunFar’s coverage of the 2022 Western States 100.

It’s that time again, with the 2022 Western States 100 quickly approaching. Along the race’s 100.2 miles, 18,000 feet of climbing, and 22,000 feet of descending, there will be plenty of excitement, heartbreak, and every emotion in between starting the morning of Saturday, June 25, at 5 a.m. PDT.

Below, we lay out the members of the men’s field likely to make a run at the top 10 and secure a guaranteed spot in next year’s race. As of publication, seven of the previous year’s top-10 men will return. While three-time defending champion Jim Walmsley won’t be racing, the next four men from last year’s race — Tyler Green, Drew Holmen, Cody Lind, and Tim Tollefson — will be back, as will Jared Hazen, who’s run the second-fastest time in race history. There are also a bunch of exciting runners who’ll be making their Western States debut, including Arlen Glick, Tom OwensAdam Peterman, Ludovic Pommeret, and Sébastien Spehler.

It doesn’t look like the 2022 race will go through the entire waitlist and start with fewer than the race’s allotted 369 spots, as it did last year.

Anyway, we’ll be storytelling the race every step of the way starting now and through to well after the race. Of course, and as part of that, we’ll cover the race in person. Stay tuned!

BUFF logoSquirrel's Nut ButterA special thanks to HOKA for making our coverage of the Western States 100 possible!

Thanks also to BUFF® and Squirrel’s Nut Butter 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, and, then, follow our live race coverage on Saturday!

Returning Top 10

Seven of last year’s top-10 men will be returning for this year’s Western States 100 with five of those heading to Olympic Valley with a Western States buckle for the first time, as their 2021 finish was their first finish at the race. The three men from last year’s top 10 who aren’t currently scheduled to return this year are three-time champion and course-record holder Jim Walmsley, as well as Kyle Pietari and Stephen Kersh. Here’s who’s coming back.

2021 Western States 100 - Mens Top Ten

The 2021 Western States 100 men’s top 10. Photo: iRunFar/Bryon Powell

Tyler Green – 2nd, 16:11:02 (pre-race interview; 2021 post-race interview)

2021 Western States 100 - Tyler Green

Tyler Green

Tyler Green’s made quite a jump over the past three years, with his second-place finish at last year’s Western States 100 being the exclamation point on that. He’s continued to run strong since then, taking 10th at last year’s TDS in the Alps and winning the 2022 Moab Red Hot 55k in Utah’s Redrock desert this winter. Tyler has a pair of finishes at Western States that highlight how different the relationship between times and places can be at the race, having run only 40 minutes slower (16:51) in 2019 to take 14th. Let’s see how Tyler’s time and place suss out as the top returning runner for 2022.

Drew Holmen – 3rd, 16:23:09 (pre-race interview; 2021 post-race interview)

I’m not sure Drew’s finished any lower than his third place at last year’s Western States at a trail ultra over the past two and half years, and that’s no knock. His last finish any lower that I can find was a strong fourth at the 2019 The North Face 50 Mile Championships. So far this year, Drew’s placed third at the Chuckanut 50k in March and second at the Quad Rock 50 Mile in early May, so it looks like he’s starting off another strong season.

Cody Lind – 4th, 16:49:40

Cody Lind - 2021 Western States 100 - Finish

Cody Lind

Cody Lind did his family’s long history with the race proud with his fourth-place finish at his Western States 100 debut last year. In the season leading up to his first Western States, he took second at both the Black Canyon 100k and the American River 50 Mile. Since then, he’s had a poor run at the 2021 OCC and was 9th male at the Broken Arrow Skyrace 52k last year and 14th at the Way Too Cool 50k this March. Will he be able to repeat the magic of his first run on this storied course?

Tim Tollefson – 5th, 16:55:49 (pre-race interview)

If Cody had close ties with the race, then Tim Tollefson has close ties with the area dating back to his childhood. Tim envisioned his 2021 Western States as a homecoming, and he made it a good one in finishing fifth. Still, I think Tim would agree that fifth isn’t the height of his potential at the race. This is evidenced by his third-place finish at the 2017 UTMB and his wins of races such as Lavaredo Ultra Trail 120k (2019), Ultra-Trail Australia 100k (2017), and the Javelina Jundred 100 Mile, where he ran 13:28 in 2020. Tim’s 2022 is off to a great start with wins at the Way Too Cool 50k in a blazing 3:13:28, as well as the American River 50 Mile.

Hayden Hawks – 8th, 17:48:47

Hayden Hawks - 2021 Western States 100

Hayden Hawks

Making his second attempt at the 100-mile distance last year, Hayden Hawks was eighth man home. This was a step in the right direction, but certainly not what Hayden is capable of when he finally nails the distance. That day will come, and it’ll match results like his wins at Lavaredo Ultra Trail 120k (2018), the Broken Arrow Skyrace 52k (2019), the Black Canyon 100k (2020), and the JFK 50 Mile, where he ran a super-fast 5:18:40 to win in 2020. Since last year’s Western States, Hayden has taken fifth at the highly competitive OCC last August and won the Nine Trails 35 Mile last November.

Kyle Curtin – 9th, 18:18:31

Kyle Curtin’s been running ultras for a decade now, but his run at last year’s Western States 100 felt like an outlier at the time. Yes, he’d won the Tahoe 200 Mile in 2018 and placed second, third, or fourth at some regional races over the previous half-decade, but in deeper competition, he’d been 12th at the 2018 Bandera 100k and 43rd at the 2019 UTMB. Well, that Western States run may indicate a lasting step up if his wins at the Peterson Ridge Rumble or Cruel Jewel 50 Mile over the past two months are any indication.

Alex Nichols – 10th, 18:33:14

Alex Nichols - 2021 Western States 100

Alex Nichols

Having watched Alex Nichols race all over the world for a decade, I don’t think I’ve ever seen him as disappointed in his performance as when he crossed the finish line as 10th man and 15th overall at last year’s Western States. For whatever reason, it wasn’t his day. Still, Alex has nailed the 100-mile distance before, winning Run Rabbit Run in 2016 and taking second at Western States in 2017, and did so again in running 13:44 to take third at the Jackpot Ultra 100 Mile back in February. Given the field, it’d be fun to see Alex in hunting mode coming out of the canyons this year.

Additional Top Contenders

Jared Hazen - 2022 Canyons by UTMB third place - feature

Jared Hazen

Jared Hazen (pre-race interview) likely comes into this year’s Western States 100 as the favorite, despite having dropped out of last year’s race. That’s what happens when you ran the second-fastest time (14:26!) in race history only two runnings ago. That second-place finish in 2019 pairs with his third-place finish in 15:37 in 2015, when he was only 20 years old. (He finished 14th as a 19 year old the previous year.) Jared ran his way back into this year’s race by taking third at the Canyons by UTMB 100k in April.

Despite his win at the 2019 The North Face 50 Mile Championships and a second-place finish at the 2019 Lake Sonoma 50 Mile, it’s possible that many American ultrarunners don’t know just how good Frenchman Seb Spehler (pre-race interview) is. He’s also won the Grand Trail des Templiers twice, in 2017 and 2018, while also finishing second last year. That said, as far as I can tell, Seb has only run longer than 91k once, and that was in taking second at the Ultra-Trail Cape Town last December.

Adam Peterman - 2022 Canyons by UTMB 100k champion - feature

Adam Peterman

Has Adam Peterman (pre-race interview) won every ultra he’s started? I’ve got him down for wins at last July’s Speedgoat 50k, the 2021 JFK 50 Mile, the Chuckanut 50k in March, and the Canyons by UTMB 100k in April, where he earned his spot in this year’s Western States. So, can a guy who’s never run a 100 miler and who’s been running ultras for less than a year land a top finish at Western States? We’ll see.

I’d think that Arlen Glick (pre-race interview) has more 100-mile wins than any other man in the field. Since March of 2021, he’s won the Umstead 100, Mohican 100, Burning River 100, and the Javelina Jundred, where he earned his Western States spot, while he was third at last December’s Desert Solstice Track 100 Mile in a speedy 13:27 and first man and second overall at the Jackpot 100 in February in 13:10. It looks like Arlen’s fastest 100 miler might be from Tunnel Hill in November 2020, where he ran 12:57. Despite all these results and more, Arlen will be a big question mark for Western States, as we’re not aware of him running any more mountainous ultras. Will a recent week spent training on the Western States course be enough?

2019 UTMB - Tom Owens

Tom Owens

Pulling together a succinct race resume for the U.K.’s Tom Owens is a challenge I just might not be up to. He’s been racing at a top level internationally for at least as long as I’ve been writing for iRunFar! Needless to say, he’s run well at just about any mountain race across Europe and far beyond. Still, despite all this experience, Owens is a relative newbie when it comes to 100 milers, having only run UTMB in 2019 and 2021. He finished fourth in his 2019 run while dropping in the second half of last year’s UTMB due to vision problems.

Gosh, where will Ludovic Pommeret of France surprise us next?! Ludo was a big surprise when he came from far behind to win the 2016 UTMB at 41 years old. Last year, in his mid-forties, he was fourth at UTMB and won the Diagonale des Fous less than two months later. Further back in his resume, he’s got at least a couple more second-place finishes at Diagonale des Fous, so his mountain 100-mile resume is as strong as anyone’s in this field. These results could lead folks to incorrectly think that Ludo might not have the speed needed for Western States, but he’s sped to plenty of results at faster French Trail Championships and Trail World Championships. To that end, I recently heard rumors that he recently ran a quick road marathon just as his skimo season was wrapping up.

Tyler Fox has been running ultras for six years, and has really stepped up his game the past few. Yes, he won the Never Summer 100k in 2017 and The Bear 100 Mile in 2018, but his results were more mixed in those years, too. Since the start of 2021, in races over 50 miles, Tyler was fourth at the 2021 Black Canyon 100k, won the 2021 Bighorn 100 Mile, and been second at the Bandera 100k in January to get his Golden Ticket. Altogether, this looks like a solid resume for a strong finish at Western States.

I think Jonathan Rea has won every ultra he’s run since taking ninth at the Run Rabbit Run 100 Mile in September 2019. That would include wins at the 2020 Never Summer 100k, 2021 Golden Gate Dirty 30 Mile, 2022 Bandera 100k (where he earned his Golden Ticket), and the Quad Rock 50 Mile in early May. With only one other 100-mile finish, an 11th at the 2018 Run Rabbit Run, Jonathan would have a lot less 100-mile experience than most top men’s contenders at most Western States 100s, but this year seems to have a little less such experience than usual.

Black Canyon 100k - Trueheart Brown

Trueheart Brown

Trueheart Brown is no longer on the entrants list. [Updated: June 22] I don’t know where this father and Forest Service firefighter came from, but Trueheart Brown sure has shown up. Since making what I believe was his ultra debut in placing second at the Flagstaff Sky Peaks 50k in October 2019, he’s followed that up with a seventh at the Black Canyon 100k and a second at the McDowell Mountain Frenzy 50k in 2020. In February 2022, he returned to the Black Canyon 100k, where he won. Not bad for his fourth ultra.

While I don’t know his long-ago running background, Scott Traer has been running fast ultras since he got into the sport a decade ago. From the past three years, three sub-14-hour 100 milers stand out on his racing resume, with a 13:44 at last year’s Umstead being the fastest. While I’m quick to notice his flat and fast 100-mile results, Scott took fifth at the Run Rabbit Run 100 Mile in 2019 and was second at the Cascade Crest 100 Mile in 2016. He’ll be running this year’s Western States courtesy of his second place at the Black Canyons 100k in February.

While I’d seen his name before, I didn’t know as much about France’s Vincent Viet as I should have. In addition to winning the Endurance Trail des Templiers to earn his Western States spot, he was 15th male at UTMB. While he didn’t have a great run at UTMB in 2019 (50th male), he was fifth at CCC in 2016 and eighth in 2012. Vincent got his 2022 off to a strong start in March with a win of the EcoTrail Paris 45k.

Cole Watson worked his way through impressive results at short trail races in 2016 and 2017, winning such races as the Mt. Ashland Hillclimb, Lithia Loop Trail Marathon, TNF 50k – San Francisco, and the Canyons 50k. In 2018, he won the Chuckanut 50k and moved up to run 73k in placing 12th at Transvulcania. The 2020 Bandera 100k was his first race at 50 miles or beyond and he placed third. In taking the next step up to the 100-mile distance, Cole fared equally as well, placing third at the Javelina Jundred late last year. So far this year, Cole has won the Fourmidable 35k and been third at the Canyons by UTMB 25k.

Jeff Colt tends to be fairly selective in his racing and race consistently well when he does. In the realm of current Golden Ticket races, Jeff was fifth at the Bandera 100k in 2018, third at Bandera 100k in 2019, and third at this year’s Black Canyon 100k, to earn his spot in Western States. Jeff’s only run two 100 milers, placing seventh at Run Rabbit Run in 2018 and winning last September’s IMTUF 100.

2022 Canyons by UTMB 100k - Rod Farvard

Rod Farvard

California’s Rod Farvard has run a handful of Golden Ticket races over the past few years and has consistently been right on the edge of running his way into Western States, such as his fifth place at the 2019 Black Canyon 100k and fourth at the Bandera 100k this January. Things worked out for Rod in again placing fourth at the Canyons by UTMB 100k in April, where he got his entry into this year’s race. Rod won his only 100-mile finish, the Kodiak 100 in 2019, but DNF’ed Western States last year.

Also, keep an eye out for Trevor Fuchs. Last year, he was third at the Wasatch 100 Mile (which he won in 2016 and 2017) after taking eighth male at the Hardrock 100 a few months earlier. In early 2020, Fuchs won the HURT 100 Mile, having improved his time and placing at the race from 2018 to 2019 to 2020 before DNFing there this year.

Still More Fast Men to Watch

  • Brandon Benefield – 2nd 2018 and 2021 Cascade Crest 100 Mile; 1st 2022 Sun Mountain 50 Mile [Added 6/17 – HT, Jared Friesen]
  • Reid Coolsaet (Canada) – 14th male 2022 Canyons by UTMB 100k; 1st 2021 Quebec Mega Trail 110k
  • Michael Dubova – 2nd 2021 Old Dominion 100 Mile; 1st 2020 & 2021 Hellgate 100k
  • Wesley Hunt – 3rd 2021 Pinhoti 100 Mile; 6th 2021 Rocky Raccoon 100 Mile
  • Brett Hornig – 18th 2019 Lake Sonoma 50 Mile
  • Seth Kelly – 12th 2015 Western States 100; 6th 2021 Burning River 100 Mile
  • Adam Kimble – 12th male 2018 Western States 100; 8th 2021 Leadville 100 Mile; 3rd male 2020 Tarawera 100 Mile
  • Greg Miller – 2nd 2021, 2019, & 2018 Rio Del Lago 100 Mile
  • Peter Mortimer – 1st 2022 HURT 100 Mile; 2nd 2021 Cocodona 250 Mile
  • Daven Oskvig – 3rd male 2021 Canal Corridor 100 Mile
  • Marvin Sandoval – 3rd 2021 Moab 240 Mile; 5th 2021 Leadville 100 Mile
  • Ryan Witko – 1st 2019 Arkansas Traveler 100 Mile; 2nd 2018 Vermont 100 Mile

Previously Entered, But Not Running

  • Aurélien Collet
  • Jesse Haynes
  • Ryan Montgomery
  • Kyle Pietari

Call for Comments

  • Who will be the first non-Jim Walmsley men’s champion since 2017?
  • What will the full podium look like at race’s end?
  • Who’ll take it out hot and who’s most likely to make a late-race charge up through the ranks?
  • Who do you think will be the race’s biggest surprise?
  • Also, be sure to let us know if someone we’ve listed isn’t racing or if there’s someone else we should have our eyes on during the race. We’ll be updating this preview until the starting gun goes off.
Bryon Powell

Bryon Powell is the Editor-in-Chief of iRunFar. He’s been writing about trail running, ultrarunning, and running gear for 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.