‘Second Sunrise’: John Trent’s Western States 100 History Book

The new coffee table book chronicles 50 years of the iconic Sierra Nevada endurance event with over 175 photographs.

By on December 7, 2022 | Comments

Who better to write a book about the Western States 100 than John Trent?

The trail runner and writer stumbled across the Western States 100 as a young sportswriter, fresh out of school. As he watched runners shuffle to the finish line in Auburn, California, Trent was awed by the thought of “normal” people who’d just run 100 miles. Since then, Trent has participated in the nonprofit event in just about every way possible. He’s completed it 11 times, volunteered, captained an aid station, served on the board since 2004, and served as the president from 2010 to 2015.

And now he’s written a coffee table book about the famous race, complete with 175 full-color photographs gleaned from 50 years of rich history.

Second Sunrise - book cover with image of Courtney Dauwalter running Western States in the snow, with a beautiful sunrise in the background.

A draft cover design for “Second Sunrise: Five Decades of History at the Western States Endurance Run” by John Trent. Photo: Luis Escobar

Second Sunrise: Five Decades of History at the Western States Endurance Run,” is a labor of love, conceived of and designed by book designer Vicky Vaughn Shea. She brought Trent on board to handle the writing, and together the duo produced a 192-page, full-color coffee table book that attempts to do justice to the Western States 100’s quirky characters, myriad challenges, and indomitable spirit.

“Western States is a profoundly transformative event in people’s lives. Working on ‘Second Sunrise: Five Decades of History at the Western States Endurance Run’ has been a reminder that this is the essence of what Western States is all about,” Trent told iRunFar.

“It’s a race that transforms lives. Western States has always had this amazing way of bringing out the best in people and of fostering a sense of community that even to this day is pretty special in the world of ultrarunning.”

Second Sunrise Five Decades of History at the Western States Endurance Run - sample spread

One of the full-color spreads from “Second Sunrise Five Decades of History at the Western States Endurance Run.” Photo: Gary Wang

But much like a runner in the last quarter of the Western States 100, the 10 x 9.5-inch hardcover book needs a little bit of help getting over the finish line. Shea and Trent are running a Kickstarter campaign to secure funding for publication, which is set for March 2023 for now. At this writing, the campaign has raised about $7,000 of its $55,000 goal, with 22 days to go. Pledging $45 gets you the book (shipping August 2023), while higher pledge tiers include signed copies, merchandise, and more.

Given the Western States 100’s hardscrabble history, it’s perhaps appropriate that publication will require a bit of a grassroots effort.

“There have been more than a couple of times as I’ve worked on the manuscript where I’ve thought to myself, Goodness, these people really did believe that this race could be great, didn’t they? Even when times were difficult and the path for the future was not clear, the people involved with this race simply wouldn’t give up,” Trent said.

“That’s what I hope people will come away with once they read ‘Second Sunrise,'” he continued. “Western States is a race about the human condition. Every year when it is run, it reminds us that we are capable of more, or of giving more, and of sharing more of ourselves with others.”

Kuni Yamagata finishing the 2021 Western States

Kuni Yamagata finishing the 2021 Western States 100 during the Golden Hour before the cutoff, as photographed in “Second Sunrise.” Photo: Gary Wang

And fear not, 2023 runners. The Mosquito Fire may have ravaged portions of the Western States Trail, but that’s not going to stop the run this coming June.

“Western States Trail crews have been out working on the Western States Trail for the past several weeks,” Trent said. “There is no doubt in anyone’s mind [the race will be held in 2023]. Western States is the race that simply refuses to give up.”

Call for Comments

  • Have you run the Western States 100?
  • Or were you one of the lucky few to get in in the draw for 2023?
  • Have you seen John Trent in action at the Western States 100 as a runner, crew, pacer, or board member?
Jim Walmsley and Jim King chatting at the Western States 100.

A photo from “Second Sunrise,” where past Western States 100 champions Jim Walmsley and Jim King chat. Photo: Gary Wang

Andrew Marshall
Andrew Marshall is a writer, painter, and photographer with work in publications across the web. Andrew lives, runs, bikes, paddles, and skis in the Tahoe basin on the California/Nevada state line. He's one of the few unapologetic cat people in the outdoor industry. You can find him on Instagram or Twitter.