When the 2024 Black Canyon 100k was said and done, Hayden Hawks set a new men’s course record, Rachel Drake took the win in the women’s race, six men and women took home Western States 100 Golden Ticket entries, and all the event’s participants weathered some incredibly unique winter conditions in the Arizona desert. All in all, it was a big day for American trail ultrarunning.
The 2024 Black Canyon 100k took place on Saturday, February 10. After several weather delays, the race started at 9:30 a.m. local time.
The Black Canyon 100k is a point-to-point race that takes in 5,578 feet (1,700 meters) of elevation gain and 7,703 feet (2,348 meters) of descent. The race is held on the Black Canyon Trail, which is made up of singletrack, jeep roads, and an old stagecoach route.
The Black Canyon 100k is part of the newly formed World Trail Majors series and, importantly, a chance for elite runners to get their Golden Ticket entry to the Western States 100. Three men’s and three women’s Golden Tickets were up for grabs at this year’s race among the top finishers, so there was a lot to fight for.
Before the race had even begun, there was drama. Due to snowfall overnight, transport to the race was delayed, therefore the race was postponed. The race was also reduced from three to two waves to get everything underway as quickly as possible.
This could have impeded the athlete’s nutritional strategies, and the disruption may have had a psychological impact on some. But what beauty there was to see snow in the desert, a rare occurrence!
Read on for the full race story.
2024 Black Canyon 100k Men’s Race
It was an incredibly quick start to the race, with the men’s top 20 sticking side by side up until the first aid station at Antelope Mesa, 7.6 miles in. Matthew Seidel took the lead, passing through the checkpoint at 49:28, followed by Hayden Hawks, Bobby Peavey, and Hans Troyer.
The top 10 men came through within 11 seconds of each other, so it was tight.
This continued through checkpoint three at Bumble Bee, 19.2 miles into the race, where Seidel, Troyer, and Hawks all passed through the checkpoint within one minute of each other.
It was at checkpoint four, Gloriana Mine around mile 24, that things started to heat up in the men’s race. Hawks and Troyer were ahead, and both reached the checkpoint in 2:35, one minute in front of the rest of the competition.
Troyer, fresh out of college, managed to stay with veteran Hawks until Cottonwood Gulch where he dropped back and eventually went to fifth place by Table Mesa, just over 50 miles in. In the meantime, Hawks managed to hold pole position whilst Chris Myers and Jupiter Carera Casas (Mexico) moved up to fill the remaining podium positions.
As the race came to a close, it was less about who was going to win the race, but whether Hawks was going to set a new course record. Passing through Doe Springs with a little over three miles to go, he was going 34 seconds faster than the previous course record, 7:32:50, set by Anthony Costales in 2023.
After coming back from knee surgery six months previous, and suffering a DNF at last year’s Western States 100, not only did Hawks finish in first place, but he also managed to bag a course record at 7:30:18.
He was followed by Jupiter Carera Casas in 7:39:56 for second, and Chris Myers in third place in 7:43:02, with the top three men accepting their Golden Ticket entries to the 2024 Western States 100.
Some later drama in the men’s race occurred between ninth and 10th place, when Nate Jewkes pipped Hans Troyer to the post with a sprint finish.
2024 Black Canyon 100k Men’s Results
- Hayden Hawks – 7:30:18
- Jupiter Carera Casas (Mexico) – 7:39:56
- Chris Myers – 7:43:02
- Craig Hunt – 7:46:39
- Stephen Kersh – 7:47:33
- Tracen Knopp – 7:48:04
- Eric LiPuma – 7:48:48
- Gabriel Kline – 7:51:28
- Nate Jewkes – 8:03:55
- Hans Troyer – 8:03:58
2024 Black Canyon 100k Women’s Race
The women’s race was a game of strategy and started with Heather Jackson leading the pack by one minute at checkpoint one, 7.6 miles in, coming in at 54:06. Rachel Drake and Anna McKenna (Australia) followed shortly behind.
As the race went on, Jackson continued to widen the gap between her and her competitors. By the 12.8-mile mark, there was more than a two-minute gap between her and then second-place Sarah Biehl. The women in positions two to six were all close to one another.
Jackson held the lead through Black Canyon City, 37.7 miles in, but in the less than nine miles that followed to Cottonwood Gulch, Becca Windell and Drake had closed the gap and moved 16 minutes clear of Jackson, with Windell narrowly leading Drake through the checkpoint.
From here, Jackson dropped back, whilst Drake and Windell went head-to-head for the remaining miles. Windell had an incredible race, attacking from fifth place all the way up to third, then battling it out with Drake during the second half of the 100k.
But, the moment that Drake took the race was on the final river crossing. Both athletes were running together until this point, and it was only when they were exiting the river that Drake took the opportunity to drive ahead and take the lead. From there, it was her race.
Rachel Drake went on to take first place and crossed the finish line in 8:47:23. Coming in shortly after was Becca Windell in 8:52:46. Both women managed to complete the race under the nine-hour mark. Third place was taken by Lauren Puretz, who completed the race in 9:06:58.
At the finish, all three podium women accepted their Western States 100 Golden Tickets.
2024 Black Canyon 100k Women’s Results
- Rachel Drake – 8:47:23
- Becca Windell – 8:52:46
- Lauren Puretz – 9:06:58
- Jenna Bensko – 9:11:18
- Kathryn Drew (Canada) – 9:15:20
- Geneviève Asselin-Demers (Canada) – 9:17:38
- Tara Dower – 9:19:25
- Anna McKenna (Australia) – 9:28:24
- Riley Brady – 9:33:53
- Marci Klimek – 9:41:02
Riley Brady identifies as non-binary, but competes in the women’s race.