Dave Mackey And The 2004 Western States 100

AJW's Taproom[Author’s Note: For 2018, I am devoting one of the Taproom articles each month to an ultrarunning history column. This is the first edition.]

It was the last Sunday in June in 2004 and I was standing in the Placer High School cafeteria experiencing what is, to this day, one of the highlights of my ultrarunning career. The day before, I had completed the Western States 100 for the second time and I was in front of the awards-ceremony crowd to receive my buckle. Also in the front of the room on that day (they still held the awards ceremony indoors back then) was then-six-time Western States champion Scott Jurek (who’d win Western States once more the next year, in 2005, to accumulate his storied seven wins) and the race runner-up that year, Dave Mackey, from Colorado.

Dave came to Western States that year after an incredible spring season. Running his first 100-mile race ever, the adventure racer/rock climber turned ultrarunner impressed the locals with a gutsy race from start to finish. In an age of high-mileage training and regular racing, Dave practiced moderation that year, rarely topping 60 miles per week in training, cross-training at least twice a week, and only racing a few times leading up to the race. I even recall running a bit with Dave that year at the Western States Memorial Day Training Camp when he decided to stop his run and walk it in the last three miles, saying simply, “I’ve run enough for one day.”

At the 2004 Western States, Dave ran stride for stride with Scott through much of the first 30 miles while 28-year-old Hal Koerner lurked a few minutes behind in third. However, by the time they reached Last Chance (mile 43), it had become a two-man race. On the steep descent down to Deadwood Canyon and the subsequent lung-busting climb up Devil’s Thumb, Dave made his move into the lead and by Michigan Bluff (mile 55) he had a 90-second gap on Scott. The crowd at the bluff wondered, Could the kid from Colorado dethrone the multi-time champ?

Alas, Scott reeled Dave in on the run into Foresthill and re-took the lead on the descent to the Rucky Chucky river crossing on his way to a then-course-record win in 15:36. Dave held on for second in 16:30 which was, at the time, the fastest-ever second-place time.

In the cafeteria on that Sunday morning when they handed Scott the microphone for the traditional winner’s speech (the winners used to give speeches at the awards ceremony), I was awed by his words. After thanking the race organizers, the volunteers, his pacer and crew, Scott turned to Dave and said, “And, lastly, I want to thank Dave Mackey. This guy right here deserves a piece of this course record. I can say for sure that were it not for the push Dave gave me, the guts with which he ran, and the way in which he tested us all, I would not have run as fast. Thanks, Dave!”

And then the place erupted in massive applause as Dave flashed his trademark toothy grin.

Last weekend, Dave ran and finished his first ultramarathon since having his leg amputated in November of 2016 as a result of a severe leg injury the previous year. As he ran, I thought back to Dave at the 2004 Western States. If he ran with guts and “tested us all” back at Western States in 2004, he most certainly did that last weekend at the Bandera 50k, too. Thanks for inspiring us all, Dave!

Bottoms up!

AJW’s Beer of the Week

Fair Winds Howling Gale IPAThis week’s Beer of the Week comes from Fair Winds Brewing Company in Lorton, Virginia. Their Howling Gale IPA is a unique take on the New England IPA variety. While not exactly fruity and decidedly less bitter than the 80 IBUs suggests, this nice little IPA walks the fine IPA line between too much and not enough quite well. It’s certainly worth a try if you find yourself down this way.

Call for Comments (from Meghan)

  • Who has a Dave Mackey story from his first go at Western States in 2004?
  • Did anyone run with Dave last weekend at Bandera as he returned to ultramarathon racing?

There are 14 comments

  1. Andrew

    Thanks Andy for this nugget. I drink this stuff up like reading about a favorite band. These guys are who I look up to and Dave has always inspired me. In fact when he came out east to run UROK in 2011 I made sure to find him in the post race shuffle and grab a picture with him. Couldn’t have been more humble and kind. Same goes for Koerner. Never had a chance to meet Jurek, but from the quote above he sounds like he’s right there with these guys… a cut above.

  2. Kenny

    As always, great read. The second best thing about Friday is the Tap Room (first best is the weekend,) looking forward the reading more Ultra-lore from AJW!

  3. Pixie Ninja

    Wow, reading this story sent chills up my spine. So good!! These are the stories worth re-telling time and time again. Thank you for sharing and I can’t wait to read more! Congrats to Dave too for showing us there are no limits to the possibilities in life and what we can do and achieve.

    1. AJW

      Thanks Kaci! My plan at this point is to do one a month for 2018, so 12 pieces total. And, if successful, perhaps continue the series in 2019. At this point I have 5 stories lined up and they are all pretty good ones.

      1. Andrew S.

        It’s awesome AJW! As a general history buff, and someone relatively newer to the sport (2013), it is awesome to read these anecdotes of the past legends of the sport.

  4. Wesley Hunt

    What a privilege to read your stories, AJW. Keep’em rolling…

    Hal joined us for the Arkansas Traveller 100 back in 2015, and folks are still talking about it. He was humble and authentic, and his encouragement to every runner with whom he crossed paths left quite an impression.

    You legends need to know how much it means when you participate in our regional races. Consider this an open invitation to join us in the Ouachita National Forest any October you’re up for it. I’ll pace you for the last 52 if you’ll let me. And, of course, drinks and beverages on me.

  5. Quiglry

    Great historical piece. As I get older, I am slowly realizing that running knowledge and training – not to mention times – haven’t really improved that much, if at all. For example, Steve Jones ran a 2:07 in Chicago back in 1984, while Galen Rupp won last year with a 2:09. Yes, I understand comparing times is not easy due to different temps and courses and snow, etc., but I think you could have noted that Dave Mackey’s time from 2004 would have also given him second place in 2017! Similarly, Scott Jurek’s time from 2004 would have given him the win last year. Reading about the legends of the past is much more enjoyable and useful than reading about the latest fad! Thanks.

  6. David Leeke

    Thank you AJW for writing this touching piece of history. I appreciate your love for our sport. And also thank you for helping new runners, like myself in better understanding the work and grace the leaders put into these events and daily lives.
    Also a huge cheers to Dave Mackey for continuing to inspire me/us all in redefining perseverance and courage!

  7. Billy Satterwhite

    I was at the Bandera 50k finish line right as Dave crossed. It gave me chills. One of the coolest moments in sports I have witnessed!

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