Hot Days at Western States

Thoughts and advice heading into a hot Western States 100.

By on June 17, 2016 | Comments

[Author’s Note: This is the second in a three-part series leading up to this year’s Western States 100 taking place in California on June 25th.]

AJW's TaproomIt seems to happen every year. In the days leading up to the Big Dance, conversations inevitably ensue about the weather, and most specifically, the heat. This year, the 10-day forecast and the general trend all seem to suggest that we are in for a hot one next Saturday. This could all change, of course, but it’s worth keeping in mind as the excitement continues to mount toward Race Day.

The four hottest years on record, without a doubt, are 1981, 1995, 2006, and 2013. And, while there is generational difference of opinion on which one was the hottest, there is general agreement that 2006 takes the cake. That year had the perfect storm of race week course baking, a hot temperature even at the start in Squaw, and an even hotter Sunday. All that combined made it one of the lowest finishers rate years in the modern era as well as some of the slowest winning times. It was, in short, a bloodbath. And, all the finishers I know who made it to Placer High School that year, to this day, 10 years later, wear it as a badge of honor.

And so, given that it is looking like we might be facing a hot year again, here are my three pieces of advice:

  1. Keep yourself wet all day. There are many creek and river crossings on the course. Be sure to get yourself wet in every one. Even if it feels like you don’t need to do it. The wetter you are, the better you are. And, as you are preparing your crew for the race consider setting them up with an ice bucket and sponge, it’ll make a world of difference.
  2. Wear an ice bandana. You’ve seen bandanas in the old race footage from years gone by and in hot years there is nothing better than ice hanging around your neck and cold water constantly dripping down your body. Sure, you may end up chafed by the end of the day, but it will be worth it because you’ll finish and stay cool all along the way.
  3. Throw your splits out the window. So many WS runners fail to achieve their goals because they get wedded to time, whether a winning time or a buckle time or simply a finish time. The thing is, Western States usually has other things on her mind and as such the most successful “hot year” runners ignore time and pay more attention to heart rate, nutrition, and self-care.

There you have it folks, here’s hoping for a hot one! Those are always the best ones.

Bottoms up!

AJW’s Beer of the Week

Maine Beer Company ZoeThis week’s Beer of the Week comes from Maine Beer Company. Their Zoe is a zesty amber ale that goes great with food. Since so many of us are in the throes of 100-mile training and eating heartily a beer that pairs well with food seems to be a great choice this week.

Call for Comments

  • What was your experience running a hot race at Western States… or any other race?
  • Any tips for success?
Andy Jones-Wilkins

Andy Jones-Wilkins is an educator by day and has been the author of AJW’s Taproom at iRunFar for over 11 years. A veteran of over 190 ultramarathons, including 38 100-mile races, Andy has run some of the most well-known ultras in the United States. Of particular note are his 10 finishes at the Western States 100, which included 7 times finishing in the top 10. Andy lives with his wife, Shelly, and Josey, the dog, and is the proud parent of three sons, Carson, Logan, and Tully.