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.

Jim Walmsley, 2024 Western States 100 Champion, Interview

A video interview with Jim Walmsley after his win at the 2024 Western States 100.

By on June 30, 2024 | Comments

Jim Walmsley won the 2024 Western States 100, his fourth victory at this race. In this interview, he talks about how this was his most dynamic Western States experience thus far, what it was like to race all day with second place Rod Farvard, and the personal legacy he’s building with races like this one and UTMB.

For more on how the race played out, read our in-depth 2024 Western States 100 results article.

Jim Walmsley, 2024 Western States 100 Champion, Interview Transcript

iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Jim Walmsley after his win of the 2024 Western States 100. How are you, Jim?

Jim Walmsley: Doing good. Yeah. Really satisfied after yesterday.

iRunFar: Are you?

Walmsley: Yeah.

iRunFar: You’ve had a couple of races that didn’t go well here, a couple of races that have gone phenomenally. Where you put yesterday amongst?

Walmsley: Definitely in phenomenal category, if not in contention of the best run I’ve ever had here, and that, especially when you just get caught in a dogfight at the end, you don’t know what you’re going to have, how you’re going to respond, and you take away so much when those answers are there, and the legs are there, and you’re able to get the most out of yourself, and it takes competition to get to that level.

iRunFar: I was going to say, is it more rewarding having a perfect time trial, or to have where you are battling the whole way?

Walmsley: I like the time trial better. A little less stressful. It’s controlled by me.

iRunFar: [laughs]

Walmsley: But this one’s a lot more rewarding than a time trial going perfect. And yeah, my two fastest times I’ve had someone on my heels. This one even more so. But in front of me. Not even on my heels.

iRunFar: Many times.

Walmsley: Many times. So yeah, it was another fast year.

iRunFar: In retrospect, did you feel on top of your game coming into the race? Were you A+ Jim?

Walmsley:  Yeah, I mean, I didn’t do many tests. I don’t do as many tests as I used to do as a younger self and, so I was confident. But nothing to point at and say it’s there, but confident. And then I think looking at the weather and kind of how I was feeling, and even a little uphill race last weekend felt good and kind of check, check, check. And so I was thinking I could beat my second-fastest time of 14:30, and thinking that maybe 14:20s would be what it takes. But also, I did no pace splits. I did know some splits, rough estimates, but usually like, three and a half hours, four and a half hours. Just nine hours at Foresthill. I know that’s kind of the ballpark to be in but yeah, I just ran completely by feel all day and just let my legs take care of me.

iRunFar: So going up the Escarpment, Rod [Farvard] was at saying like it seemed like you were going slower intentionally maybe, or did it feel that way? Were you chilling on your way up the first climb?

Walmsley: Yeah, I want to chill. I think if you’re antsy and you’re chomping at the bit to get going, it’s not the best place to be in a 100 miler. You need to be patient and relaxed and let the day come to you.

iRunFar: This is not Jim 2016. [laughs]

Walmsley: No. I think I said in a previous interview with someone else that I wouldn’t want to race my younger self, but it has to do mostly with you just know it’s going to start with fire, and you don’t know is it going to stick, is it not going to stick, but you have to go with it. So you don’t know if I’m coming back. And I think you still have to call the shots of the younger self and just mentally be prepared for a fast run.

iRunFar: I mean, you’ve been pushed here before by Jared Hazen.

Walmsley: Yeah, but it was a very, very different experience because we didn’t see each other all day. I just knew that I was not gaining any time. I was not losing any. It was just there. I think it was stuck at eight minutes all day, and just this ghost of fear, where this one there was such a battle going on. Especially with Rod throughout most of the day. And I think it was Hayden [Hawks] and Dan Jones that first caught me, which up until that point, I didn’t know if everybody was just going to let me go and just like, oh, Jim does his thing and we’re going to run slower. Because that’s generally what happens, but then they ended up catching me and passing me, and so descending into Swinging Bridge, just kind of sat on them a bit, but I think the pace really chilled. And then before we hit the Swinging Bridge, essentially, Dakota [Jones] and Rod caught us right at the bottom, but then ran up Devil’s Thumb and was able to make gaps on the uphill. And there’s a big confidence check of just where everybody’s at and knowing that a climb like that I can just put at least a minute, but maybe more. I was with everybody, I was behind there. I started the climb behind all of them and then was at least a minute ahead. I don’t know exactly. So then the idea was well, maybe we go over the top and see. Because I think when the pack develops behind, if they get really complacent all of a sudden, if I can attack, then all of a sudden boom, I got 10 minutes. And it’s like, alright, now I’m in full control. But I’d say that didn’t happen. I got followed and chased and passed many, many times after that.

iRunFar: Yeah, that’s not something that you really used to. Because at UTMB, many years people will go out together and it’ll be seven guys and then five guys.

Walmsley: It’s attrition. Yeah.

iRunFar: And three guys, and by Courmayeur you might be alone by then. Or there might be one other guy.

Walmsley: I think there’s enough difference in strategies with this temperature management that creates a lot of that yo-yo effect. So I stuck to my plans and took care of me and what I needed to do and sometimes that cost me time, and just thinking that it would keep me fresher longer, and there would be an opportunity late. And I feel like at this point, I’ve been in some really hard-fought ultras, and just drawing confidence on those experiences. And yet again, I’m going to draw a lot of confidence from this one just knowing that I was able to respond when I needed to.

iRunFar: Did it ever start to feel like a two-man race with you and Rod?

Walmsley: I had no idea. I think we had heard someone’s coming to the river behind us. So that was my first thought. But I don’t know. And then I think the last time I passed Rod, 80-something miles, I didn’t know if someone was coming hard charging. You’re going to pass Rod, and then it’s like, what’s the gap behind me? And I’m like, I don’t know. Who’s it behind me, or what’s happening? All I know is I was really desperate to try to put some time in to not have an extreme race from Pointed Rocks in. I’d say there’s history of that happening. I think most notably like, Clare Gallagher and think, was it Brittany [Peterson]? Crazy downhill finish, and just knowing that can happen. I don’t want to get caught in that. So if I can deflate a little bit to just make it three minutes and just put in someone’s head they got to close 20 seconds, 30 seconds per mile faster. And if I can maintain a good pace, then I know I have a chance of not having a sprint finish.

iRunFar: Rod said it felt like you made a pretty distinct move heading toward ALT. Is that the case?

Walmsley: From his perception, probably it seems like that, but I mean, I left Green Gate, I glanced up when he was moving out. And then I glanced when I was at the same spot, and it was over two and a half minutes. So, in reality I was hard-charging to catch him and took four miles just to catch him. But at that point, I knew my momentum was going faster. So a little Zach Miller scenario again, like, do I pause, relax, or just go over the top and attack again? And yeah, I like that strategy I guess. So I just kept flowing. Because sometimes you slow or you change the pace a bit and maybe the feeling in the legs can change. The legs were feeling really good. The feet were feeling good. And I continued to roll with it.

iRunFar: There are historic cases of your people having collapses in the last 10 miles.

Walmsley: It’s in my head. I think I jokingly said I’m not going to run in 2026. Just the sixes are bad luck.

iRunFar: It’s not just you.

Walmsley: Brian Morrison had 2006. I had 2016. So the joke after mine was just years with six are bad. Yeah, good one to skip.

iRunFar: So is there some point in the last ten miles where you feel like you have a nice little cushion and your legs still feel good and you can kind of cruise? Not take it for granted but like cruise a bit?

Walmsley: At Pointed Rocks I think I had heard from my crew that the gap had opened, and essentially I was going to be able to hold on, but then at the same time I still want to continue to press, because people get motivated as they started smelling barn. And I know that happens, and I didn’t want someone hard-charging to be able to catch me.

iRunFar: You also didn’t have to take any risks.

Walmsley: Yeah, it definitely came to more management after Pointed Rocks.

iRunFar: Did you have any real low spells during the race?

Walmsley: I would say not like really low spells, but lots of low moments. I would say the dips weren’t so low. But flatness. Stomach issues. So, there’s ups and downs. I mean, average or warm year is still hot, and it’s to be expected. So, I think I was mentally prepared for the moments I did have. And then probably caught fire after Green Gate, I would say was kind of the only real flow that I felt I got, but perhaps that’s just mentally hanging in there, latching on when I needed to, and using the momentum of Rod and his pacers. I mean, he had an all-star team. So, latching on when I had to, and making it hard to get a gap. And just hanging, hanging, and knowing that if you get close enough, the motivation changes, and it can happen.

iRunFar: Yeah. So even though you’ve run a little bit faster on this course once, does this feel on par with that?

Walmsley: Yeah. I mean it was 14 degrees warmer. Perhaps we’re seeing rollover into some faster shoe stuff playing a factor. I mean, you have to consider that. I’ve joked that I drive here because I’m completely overkill with coolers, ice, crew, redundancy. Because I know what can go wrong, perhaps will go wrong, and just trying to make redundancy and that’s probably why the success of good races at this point. But you see more and more people doing more overboard, and I’m now at a point where I need to start looking a lot more around me, because people are doing a lot of good things that I need to consider adopting as well.

iRunFar: So it’s not just the competition pushing one another and the whole bar raising, its little incremental changes that different people are making.

Walmsley: There’s more and more people taking it as serious as I was taking it. And perhaps I came in with a bit of more intensity to try to go over the top with what I’m doing, and how I’m managing and this and that. Now you see people coming in with different strategies that are faster, essentially.

iRunFar: Have you picked any up in the last year or two?

Walmsley: I stuck with the same system that I’ve done. Two bottles, lots of ice everywhere. I know some places I need to adjust and carry things a bit more efficiently. The patient taking-care-of-myself strategy has proved to be a closer race in not-as-hot of years but it tends to work year to year.

iRunFar: You’ve won this race four times. You have the course record. You have a lot of the fastest times on the course.

Walmsley: A lot of my times got bumped back.

iRunFar: Yeah. Aside from this year. And now finally hit your goal of winning UTMB. You’ve accomplished a lot. There’s not a lot of boxes left to check. What motivates you? What’s next?

Walmsley: At this level it becomes more and more almost zeroing in on the Western States. Zeroing in on the UTMBs, and those really, as a career, set you apart and now you get compared to the Kilians [Jornet], François [D’Haene], Courtneys [Dauwalter] and essentially, that’s the category I guess I shoot for at this point. I mean, I feel like I lost that race several times. I felt like I broke away several times. And the ups and downs of this race was really wild.

iRunFar: So you could keep seeing yourself continuing to come back here?

Walmsley: Yeah, I think I told just before this race, if I can win either one again, perhaps the idea is to just try to defend titles as long as I can. And when that ends and ends, but I don’t know. But then also I think next year in 2025, UTMB and the Trail World Championships kind of conflict. The Trail World Championships isn’t a race I’ve been able to participate in, and it’s going to be in the Pyrenees, which I think is really cool mountain range. And really steep, really like something almost similar to UTMB. So that one’s really attracting, but we’ll have to see what goes on with UTMB this year.

iRunFar: You’re constantly thinking of legacy, and legacy in the terms of being one of those real dominant people in a particular race or two.

Walmsley: Yeah. And then whether I go back to road ultras, I don’t know. I’ve always said those kind of suck my energy a lot. Like marathon. It’s just really, really hard to concentrate on speed, fluidness with your stride, efficiency, asphalt surfaces. Road shoes now. I don’t know. But I definitely enjoy the trails. I think that’s where my heart is, and probably where I’ll stay.

iRunFar: Right on. Well, congratulations on your great run.

Walmsley: Thanks so much.

iRunFar: Take care.

Bryon Powell

Bryon Powell is the Founding Editor of iRunFar. He’s been writing about trail running, ultrarunning, and running gear for more than 15 years. Aside from iRunFar, he’s authored the books Relentless Forward Progress: A Guide to Running Ultramarathons and Where the Road Ends: A Guide to Trail Running, been a contributing editor at Trail Runner magazine, written for publications including Outside, Sierra, and Running Times, and coached ultrarunners of all abilities. Based in Silverton, Colorado, Bryon is an avid trail runner and ultrarunner who competes in events from the Hardrock 100 Mile just out his front door to races long and short around the world, that is, when he’s not fly fishing or tending to his garden.