The 2024 Hardrock 100 is history! Check out our in-depth results article for the full race story, as well as our interviews with champions Courtney Dauwalter and Ludovic Pommeret.

2024 Western States 100 Women’s Preview

An in-depth preview of the women’s race at the 2024 Western States 100.

By on June 17, 2024 | Comments

Hoka logo - 2024 runner - 300x250With the 2024 Western States 100 upon us, it’s time to take a look at the women who we think will challenge for the front end of the field!

This point-to-point 100.2-mile race, with 18,000 feet of climbing and 22,000 feet of descending, is always hotly contested, and because heat nearly always plays a factor on race day, we mean this both figuratively and literally.Advertisement

Unlike last year, where a big winter left snow lingering on the first 25 miles of the course, runners will most likely face more normal conditions this year. The landscape changes caused by the wildfires of 2022 will still be present, and runners will again have to contend with far less tree cover over the middle miles of the course. If the heat turns up for race day, we can expect this lack of shade to factor into the outcome, as runners will undoubtedly struggle to stay cool.

Last year’s women’s race was one for the ages, with both Courtney Dauwalter and Katie Schide (2024 pre-race interview) coming in under Ellie Greenwood’s 2012 course record of 16:47. Dauwalter came away with the win in a time of 15:29:33 while Schide finished in 16:43:45. While Dauwalter is staying home this year, and Schide’s running has only gotten better, so she’s our odds-on favorite for the win.

It wasn’t just the top two that went fast last year. Eszter Csillag (2024 pre-race interview) ran a time of 17:07, which is the fourth fastest time ever, to take third. Katie Asmuth placed fourth in 17:21, and fifth-place Emily Hawgood (2024 pre-race interview) finished in 17:26, which would have won the women’s race most other years. With three of these top five from 2023 returning, we can expect fireworks at the front of the race. And this trio is joined by many other race veterans and rookies looking to go fast.

Read on to learn about more of the top runners. We’ll also be updating this article through race day with any last-minute changes.

You can trust the iRunFar team to be there reporting on the race and how it all plays out starting at 5 a.m. U.S. PDT on Saturday, June 29. Stay tuned!

A special thanks to HOKA for making our coverage of the Western States 100 possible!

Fractel logo - 2024Thanks also to Fractel for sponsoring our race coverage.

Be sure to also check out our 2024 Western States 100 men’s preview, and then follow along with our live coverage this weekend.

Katie Schide - 2023 Western States 100 second place

Katie Schide after taking second at the 2023 Western States 100. She is a strong favorite for the win in 2024. Photo: iRunFar/Meghan Hicks

Returning Top 10 Women

Six women from last year’s top 10 are slated to return in 2024. Notably missing is last year’s winner and course-record holder, Courtney Dauwalter. Also absent are fourth place Katie Asmuth, sixth place Taylor Nowlin, and 10th place Meghan Morgan.

Katie Schide (U.S., living in France) – 2nd, 16:43:45 (2023 post-race interview; 2024 pre-race interview)

2023 Western States 100 - Katie Schide

Katie Schide

There are very few instances where breaking a course record won’t net you the win in an event, but that’s exactly what happened to Katie Schide last year when both she and Dauwalter went under Greenwood’s record time. One can only imagine the motivation Schide has coming into this year. Winner of the 2022 UTMB and the 2023 Diagonale des Fous 100 Mile, she’s off to a fast start in 2024 with a win at the Canyons 100k.

Eszter Csillag (Hungary, living in Hong Kong) – 3rd, 17:07:55 (2023 post-race interview; 2024 pre-race interview)

Eszter Csillag - 2022 UTMB

Eszter Csillag

Finishing third in her first attempt at Western States in 2023, Eszter Csillag brings back her course knowledge in an attempt to challenge for the top spot. The Hungarian living in Hong Kong made her presence known to the ultrarunning world after a standout year in 2022, finishing fifth at UTMB, fourth at the Trail World Championships – Long Trail, and fifth at Transgrancanaria. In 2023, she also won the Translantau 100k.

Emily Hawgood (Zimbabwe, living in U.S.) – 5th, 17:26:22 (2024 pre-race interview)

Emily Hawgood - 2023 Western States 100

Emily Hawgood

After two fifth-place finishes in 2022 and 2023, Emily Hawgood is undoubtedly looking to climb her way higher in the finishing order. Originally from Zimbabwe, Hawgood has been living in the U.S. and consistently placing near the front of highly competitive ultras, including taking sixth and 10th at UTMB in 2022 and 2021, respectively, and second at the CCC in 2023. She started off this year fast with a win at the Chianti Ultra Trail 45 Mile.

Ida Nilsson (Sweden, living in Norway) – 7th, 17:43:34 (2024 pre-race interview)

Ida Nilsson - 2023 Western States 100

Ida Nilsson

A presence in the ultrarunning world since 2015, Ida Nilsson returned to the ultrarunning scene with force in 2022 with her second place at the Trail World Championships – Long Trail. In 2023, she was fifth at the Black Canyon 100k and won the Canyons 100k before finishing seventh at Western States and later winning the Ultravasan 90k. It was an impressive year, to be sure. She’s seemingly taken a different approach to 2024 by racing less, starting the year off with a second-place finish at Transvulcania.

Priscilla Forgie (Canada) – 8th, 17:46:34

Priscilla Forgie comes back this year looking to improve on her eighth place from 2023. The Canadian had a big 2023, as she also finished second at the Canyons 100k and 12th at CCC. Previously, Forgie won the 2021 Canadian Death Race, the 2022 Squamish 50 Mile, and the 2022 Ultra-Trail Harricana 122k all north of the border.

Leah Yingling – 9th, 17:49:00

Leah Yingling - 2023 Western States 100

Leah Yingling

Running inside the top 10 at Western States in 2023, Leah Yingling continues to show her ability to run at the front of ultrarunning fields. She had a breakthrough year in 2022, including taking sixth at Western States, third at the Bandera 100k, third at the Transgrancanaria Advanced 65k, second at the Canyons 100k, and 19th at the Trail World Championships – Long Trail. In 2023, she also placed eighth at UTMB. Last month, she won the Quad Rock 50 Mile and before that in March 2024, she ran some 400 miles at the lululemon Further six-day event.

Zoë Rom and Leah Yingling - 2022 Western States 100

Zoë Rom and Leah Yingling (left) early in the 2022 Western States 100. Yingling returns for a third year in a row in 2024. Photo: Tony DiPasquale

More Top Contenders

Fu-Zhao Xiang - pre-2023 UTMB

Fu-Zhao Xiang

On paper, it seems that Fu-Zhao Xiang (pre-race interview) from China will most likely feature at the front of the race at some point. She is a four-time finisher of UTMB, where she placed fourth in 2023. She also won the Translantau 140k in 2023. Xiang excels in long mountainous ultras, and only time will tell how the heat and runability of the Western States course treat her. It seems that since her win at Translantau last year, she’s focused on speed at shorter events and came away with wins at three 50k or shorter events over the course of two weekends in mid-April. It’s worth noting that Xiang has raced in the area before, as she took fourth at the Broken Arrow Skyrace 46k last June.

Norway’s Yngvild Kaspersen earned her entry into Western States by winning the 2023 CCC. Since winning the Zegama Marathon and finishing second at Les Templiers in 2016, she’s consistently run at the front of the field of medium-to-long ultras. She’s shown her talent in everything from vertical kilometers to 100k distances. More recently, she placed second at Transvulcania in 2022 and seventh in the 2023 Black Canyon 100k. Again, it’s unknown how this mountain specialist will cope with the heat, the relatively flatter terrain, and the 100-mile distance.

2022 UTMB - Ragna Debats

Ragna Debats

Ragna Debats (pre-race interview), from The Netherlands and living in Spain, has an ultra-racing resume dating back a decade, and she’s never been far from the front of any field. She earned her Golden Ticket entry with a second-place finish at the Javelina 100 Mile in 2023. In 2021, she placed third at Western States and set a new women’s masters course record with a time of 17:41:13. In 2019, she won the Marathon des Sables, so she knows how to cope with the heat, and in 2022, she won both the Istria 100 Mile and Transgrancanaria.

An American living in France, who has based most of her top-level running outside of the U.S., Emily Schmitz is someone we’re really looking forward to seeing race Western States. Her credentials in mountain ultrarunning surely make her a heavy favorite for a top-10 finish, but she remains a wild card in that we think this is her first 100 miler. Among her top performances over the years have been a fifth place at the 2023 CCC and seventh at the 2023 Trail World Championships – Long Trail. In 2022, she took fourth at the Ultra Pirineu 100k. Some of these races have ranged to 14 hours long, so she’s got all the time-on-feet experience needed for a first 100 miler.

Coming from a triathlon background, gravel bike racer and ultrarunner Heather Jackson could be a force to contend with. While she DNFed her first attempt at Western States last year, she had won the Canyons 50k and placed second at Black Canyon 100k earlier that year. She also won the Javelina 100 Mile in October of 2023. With seven Ironman triathlon wins to her name before retiring from the sport in 2022, she now splits her time between racing her gravel bike and ultrarunning. We’ll have to see how she implements any lessons she learned from her 2023 attempt to improve her performance this year.

Lin Chen - 2024 Hong Kong 100k women's champion

Lin Chen

As far as we can tell, Lin Chen from China has only raced outside of her home country twice, once when she placed second at the 2023 Trans Jeju 100k in South Korea and then again when she won the 2023 Doi Inthanon 100 Mile in Thailand, earning her Golden Ticket entry to Western States. Her results in China are impressive — rarely does she place outside of the top five in events ranging from 20k to over 100 miles. She won the Anta Hong Kong 100k this January.

Rachel Drake is on a steep ascendency in the sport, but this will be her debut 100 miler, so only time will tell how she’ll fare with the longer distance. Earlier in 2024, she won the Black Canyon 100k, earning her Golden Ticket, and the Tillamook Burn 50 Mile. Last year, she placed sixth at OCC and fourth at the Kodiak 50k. In 2021, she won the Black Canyon 60k.

Kaci Lickteig - 2021 Western States 100 pre-race portrait

Kaci Lickteig

One should never count out Kaci Lickteig, a nine-time Western States finisher and winner in 2016. After finishing third in 2019, she’s struggled to refind the form that had her at the very top of the race, finishing 10th, 18th, and 12th in 2021, 2022, and 2023 respectively. But that doesn’t mean her form is gone, a fact demonstrated by her win at the 2023 IMTUF 100 Mile.

Ragna Debats 2021 Western States 100

Ragna Debats on her way to placing third and setting a masters record at the 2021 Western States 100. She’ll contend at the 2024 race edition. Photo: iRunFar/Meghan Hicks

Still More Fast Women to Watch

  • Kellie Angel (née Emmerson) (Australia) – 2nd 2023 Lavaredo Ultra Trail 80k; 17th 2023 CCC; 19th 2019 UTMB
  • Careth Arnold – 4th 2024 Canyons 100k; 6th 2023 Black Canyon 60k; 3rd 2022 Bandera 100k
  • Lotti Brinks – 1st 2023 Grindstone 100k; 1st 2024 & 2nd 2023 Gorge Waterfalls 100k; 1st 2022 Javelina 100k
  • Eleanor Davis (U.K.) – 1st 2023 Nice Côte d’Azur 100k; 2nd 2023 Eiger Ultra Trail 50k; 8th 2022 OCC; 8th 2022 Trail World Championships – Short Trail
  • Anna Li (China) – 2nd 2023 Doi Inthanon 100 Mile; 1st 2024 Mount Yun 100k
  • Anna Louden (née Kacius) – 3rd 2024 Canyons 100k; 1st 2023 Javelina 100k; 4th 2023 Black Canyon 100k; 7th 2022 IAU 100k World Championships
  • Sally McRae – 11th 2016, 7th 2015, & 10th 2014 Western States 100; 1st 2023 Moab 240 Mile
  • Jo Meek (U.K.) – 4th 2022 Mozart 100k; 21st 2021 UTMB; 5th 2020 Black Canyon 100k
  • Lauren Puretz – 3rd 2024 & 7th 2022 Black Canyon 100k; 4th 2023 & 8th 2022 Javelina 100 Mile; 5th 2021 Bandera 100k
  • Giulia Vinco (Italy) – 3rd 2023 Nice Côte d’Azur 100k; 3rd 2023 Transgrancanaria Advanced 85k; 13th 2021 Lavaredo Ultra Trail; 13th 2019 UTMB
  • Madeline Wighardt (Canada) – 3rd 2023 Leadville 100 Mile; 9th 2023 & 11th 2021 JFK 50 Mile; 2nd 2022 Quebec Mega Trail
  • Becca Windell – 2nd 2024 Black Canyon 100k; 1st 2021 Bear 100 Mile; 5th 2021 Canyons 100k
2022 Western States 100 - Ruth Croft and Emily Hawgood - Robinson Flat

Ruth Croft and Emily Hawgood (right) run stride for stride at mile 30 at Robinson Flat of the 2022 Western States 100. Hawgood returns to the 2024 edition. Photo: iRunFar/Bryon Powell

Previously Entered, But No Longer Running

  • Marjo Liikanen (Finland)
  • Devon Yanko

Call for Comments

  • Who do you think will reach the Placerville High School track first? Race rookie or veteran?
  • Is anyone going to get close to course-record time?
  • Did we overlook any other women you think will run near the front?
Eszter Horanyi

Eszter Horanyi identifies as a Runner Under Duress, in that she’ll run if it gets her deep into the mountains or canyons faster than walking would, but she’ll most likely complain about it. A retired long-distance bike racer, she gave ultra foot racing a go and finished the Ouray 100 in 2017, but ultimately decided that she prefers a slower pace of life of taking photos during long days in the mountains and smelling the flowers while being outside for as many hours of the day as possible. Eszter will take any opportunity to go adventuring in the mountains or desert by foot, bike, or boat, and has lived the digital nomad lifestyle throughout the west for the past seven years.