Another lap around the sun is complete and we’re back at the start line for the 2022 Western States 100. In case anyone needs a reminder of this unique, point-to-point net-downhill course, here are its stats: 100.2 miles, 18,000 feet of climbing, and 22,000 feet of descending.
Last year’s women’s race was a real show-stopper, with superb times logged throughout the top 10, with race leader Beth Pascall improving on a fourth-place finish on her previous attempt to take the win in 17:10. This was closer than the winning time usually gets to Ellie Greenwood’s 2012 course record of 16:47, and on a scorcher of a day, which did not lend itself well to fast running.
This year sees seven of last year’s top 10 back for another go, including second-place Ruth Croft, as well as huge names like Camille Herron and Camille Bruyas among the Golden Tickets entrants, along with the return of fan-favorite and previous third-place finisher Lucy Bartholomew.
If conditions are a little more tolerable this year, there are several names in this preview who are capable of shaking that decade-old course record and over 20 women with the potential to finish in the top 10.
iRunFar will be there to report firsthand on all the action as it unfolds starting at 5 a.m. PDT on Saturday, June 25. Stay tuned!
A special thanks to HOKA for making our coverage of the Western States 100 possible!
Returning Top 10
New Zealander Ruth Croft will be a serious contender at this year’s States. She made a hell of a debut at the 100-mile distance at last year’s race, finishing second to Beth Pascall in a time that would have been good enough to win the race most other years. Grueling conditions on the day must also be taken into account, with temperatures reaching 101 degrees Fahrenheit (38 Celsius).
2021 was a great year for Croft, who also won Endurance Trail des Templiers, the Ultra-Trail Australia 50k, and the Tarawera 102k.
She’s carried her good form into this year, with a win at the Three Peaks Mountain Race 52k in her home country, and if she has a good day she will be hard to beat.
Spanish-Dutch runner Ragna Debats finished a close third behind Croft last year, in what was also her first foray at the 100-mile distance. In that third place, she also reset the women’s masters course record. She’s had some more practice at it since, winning the brutally technical Istria 100 by UTMB 100 Mile this year, as well as the Transgrancanaria 126k. Debats has excelled in harder, technical, mountainous races, but told us in her pre-race interview last year that she actually prefers faster runnable terrain, as per Western States. A highly adaptable all-rounder, she shouldn’t be far off the front.
Brittany Peterson – 4th, 18:07:42
This will be Brittany Peterson’s third effort at Western States, and she was in the top four on both her last tries, taking fourth in 2021 and second in 2019. Since then, she’s also placed second behind Camille Herron in the 2021 Javelina Jundred Mile.
Peterson suffered disappointment in the 2022 Canyons by UTMB 100k a couple of months ago and failed to finish, but hopefully that run will still stand to her as a good training effort on similar trails to Western States.
Katie Asmuth ran a great race at Western Sates last year to finish fifth, having earned her place with a win at the 2021 Bandera 100k, where she famously fell and broke her nose, and still powered on to win the race. Last year’s Western States was not Asmuth’s first 100 miler, as she previously won the 2019 Bear 100 Mile and placed second in both the 2020 IMTUF 100 Mile and the 2018 Angeles Crest 100 Mile.
So far this year, she’s been mixing it up with shorter distances, winning the 30k at Sean O’Brien in January, the 60k at Black Canyon in February and, more recently, setting a new course record in the Bishop High Sierra 50k.
Zimbabwean Emily Hawgood, who now lives in the U.S., could make a real impact this year. After placing seventh at Western States last year, she went on to take 10th place at UTMB, pulling off a double that few elite runners can manage to get right. She did so having already raced three 100ks that spring in pursuit of a Golden Ticket, which she eventually nabbed at the Canyons 100k.
Hawgood has had an easier buildup this year, with her place on the start line already secured. In February, she won the Salmon Falls 50k in California and she has been busy training on the Western States route. It will be interesting to see what she can do this year with a fresh pair of legs and a lot more course knowledge.
Keely Henninger – 9th, 19:42:37
In another 100-mile debut, Keely Henninger placed ninth last year in a strong time of 19:42, with a deferred entry from a win in the 2018 Lake Sonoma 50 Mile. Although this was her first 100 miler, 30-year-old Henninger has been racing 50-mile ultras and a broader array of distances for almost a decade. So far this year, she’s taken a win at the George Waterfalls 50k and looks to be in good shape going into her second 100-mile effort.
Kaci Lickteig – 10th, 19:47:56
Seven-time Western States finisher Kaci Lickteig has had a real mix of form in this race. Her best results in the race were a win in 17:57 back in 2016, and a third-place finish in 17:55 in 2019. Even her sub-par days are still pretty good, though, and she remains one to watch. She’s recently recovered from hamstring surgery as well as a battle with anemia in recent years, and it will be great to see her have a good run.
More Podium Potentials
Last year’s second-place UTMB finisher, Frenchwoman Camille Bruyas (pre-race interview) is up there with our favorites for Western States. She’s been keeping a relatively low profile so far this year after her super season last year, where she won the Lavaredo Ultra Trail 120k and ran UTMB in a fantastic time of 24:09 to take second place. She has, however, been running well in some smaller French races this year, including a win at the Trail Nivolet Revard 51k in May. The 29-year-old has been racing ultras prolifically since 2016 and has been on a steady upward trajectory since then. Highlights of her results include a third in the 2019 CCC and fifth at the 2018 Diagonale des Fous.
Camille Herron is an ultrarunner who needs no introduction. The multiple world-record holder qualified through a win in the Javelina Jundred Mile last October, where she set a blistering course record of 14:03. More recently, in February 2022, she reset her own 100-mile world record to 12:41:11 at the Jackpot 100 Mile. She hasn’t had much luck at States before — she DNF’d twice, in 2017 and 2019, and gutted it out last year to finish down the field. However, anyone ruling her out just yet should be reminded that it took men’s course record holder Jim Walmsley a few goes to crack this race too.
Anne-Marie Madden (pre-race interview) of Canada earned her place at Western States with a third-place finish at Black Canyon 100k this year. This experienced runner has a lengthy back catalog of good results, including a second-place finish at the 2020 Tarawera 102k, second in the 2019 The North Face 50 Mile Championships, and third in the 2016 Broken Arrow Skyrace 54k. This is Madden’s first 100 miler, but the years of accumulated training and race experience will surely stand to her for the bigger distance.
Marianne Hogan (pre-race interview) is another Canadian runner who was a little off the radar for a while. She raced well at ultras back in 2017, with lots of wins including the 247k Transalpine Run stage race and the Quad Rock 50 Mile. She also took fifth at the Mont Blanc Marathon 90k that year. Since then, there was a bit of a gap in her competitive running CV until she placed second in the Ultra-Trail Cape Town 100k in November 2021, and then took the win at the Bandera 100k in January 2022 to secure her place on the start line of Western States with a Golden Ticket. She missed the 2022 Canyons by UTMB 100k start due to an ankle sprain a few months ago, but assuming she’s recovered now, she should do very well.
Luzia Buehler (pre-race interview) of Switzerland was just outside of the top 10 on her last run at Western States, placing 11th in 2019 in 20:23. Since that race, she placed fifth at the 2021 UTMB in a superb time of 26:06 and won the highly competitive 2020 Sean O’Brien 100k. With a couple more years of ultrarunning and that stellar UTMB finish since her last time at Western States, we can imagine that she should be a really strong contender for a top-10 spot.
Leah Yingling has to be rated highly for Western States after her stormer of a run in the 2022 Canyons by UTMB 100k, a very relevant race to States, being run largely on the same trails. She ran a very patient race, gradually climbing up through the field to finish in second place. She demonstrated that she has buckets of endurance and it’s likely that the longer, 100-mile distance on this route will suit her to a tee. She has 100-mile experience too, having twice placed second at the Bear 100 Mile, in 2021 and 2018.
The third-place woman at the 2022 Canyons by UTMB 100k a couple of months ago, Aroa Sio of Spain, should also do well at States. She ran a very strong Canyons and was never far off the front. She has plenty of other great results to her name in Europe, including fourth place at the 2021 Skyrunning World Champs 68k and third in the Sierra Cazorla Trails 72k this year.
We’re crossing our fingers that Lucy Bartholomew can be the comeback queen of the 2022 Western States! The Aussie runner had a lot of success a few years back, including wins in the Ultra-Trail Australia 100k and Ultra-Trail Cape Town 100k and second in the Marathon du Mont Blanc 80k in 2017, and notable third place in the 2018 Western States in a time of 18:59. She followed this up with a disappointing run at the 2019 Western States and took a step back from big limelight races for a while, but she appears to be training well now and it will be great to watch her have another go at her favorite race.
Poland’s Dominika Stelmach is another runner who’s coming to Western States with a lot of experience under her belt and has been making good progress these past couple of years. She qualified coming second in the Black Canyon 100k this year, after winning the Cappadocia Ultra-Trail 100k last year and the Chudy Wawrzyniec 80k in Poland in 2020, among a litany of strong results at shorter distances too, demonstrating that she has the leg speed for this fast, net-downhill 100 miler.
Ellie Pell, who will be making her 100-mile debut at Western States, has already had a pretty incredible 2022 so far. Back in January, she took second in the Bandera 100k to get her Western States Golden Ticket. Then, she was fifth in the highly competitive Chuckanut 50k in March, and she followed that up with a third at the George Waterfalls 100k in April. Previous strong results include third at the 2019 JFK 50 Mile.
Taylor Nowlin first caught this reporter’s attention when she broke a week-old fastest known time on the Grand Canyon Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim back in 2018, taking the crown from Sweden’s Ida Nilsson, who had just nabbed it from America’s Cat Bradley. Nowlin’s had some good results since then including fourth at the Broken Arrow Skyrace 52k in 2019, ninth at OCC last year, and second in the Madeira Island Ultra-Trail 60k, also in 2021. She earned her place on the Western States start line with a fourth-place finish at this year’s Black Canyon 100k and it will be interesting to see how she fares in her 100-mile debut.
Still More Fast Women to Watch
Stephanie Auston (Australia) – 3rd 2020 Black Canyon 100k; 2nd 2019 Tarawera 100k[Updated: June 15]
- Allison Baca – 1st 2019 Silver Rush 50 Mile; 2nd 2022 Moab Red Hot 55k [Added: June 22]
- Meghan Canfield – 12-time Western States 100 finisher, most recently 18th in 2018
- Tessa Chesser – 2nd 2021 Javelina Jundred Mile; 9th 2021 Canyons 100k
Cecilia Flori (Italy) – 12th & 5th 2019 & 2018 Western States 100; 2nd 2020 Black Canyon 100k[Updated: June 24 – Achilles issues]
- Erika Hoagland – 5-time Western States 100 finisher, most recently 10th in 2016; 1st 2019 Rio del Lago 100 Mile
- Anne-Lise Le Quere (France) – 2nd 2021 Endurance Trail des Templiers
- Ailsa MacDonald (Canada) – 13th 2018 Western States 100; 1st 2020 Tarawera 100 Mile; 6th 2019 CCC
- Zoë Rom – 3rd 2021 Rio del Lago 100 Mile; 3rd 2021 Tillamook Burn 50 Mile
- Amber Weibel – 14th 2019 Western States 100; 4th 2021 High Lonesome 100 Mile
Previously Entered, But Not Running
- Courtney Dauwalter – 1st 2021 UTMB
- Jazmine Lowther (Canada) – 1st 2022 Canyons by UTMB 100k
Call for Comments
- Who do you think will come out on top in this year’s Western States 100 women’s race?
- What do you think will be the winning time?
- Are there any other fast women we’ve overlooked who’ll be running?