The 2016 Western States 100 is officially in the books. By all accounts it was a great race filled with all the excitement and intrigue that typically accompanies America’s most prestigious ultra event. And, from where I sit, it proved, unconditionally, the absolute value of the Sharman Ultra Golden Ticket Races entry process.
What began in 2002 as an experiment has now evolved into one of the most impressive and intriguing race series in the world. And, looking at this year’s top-10 men’s and women’s results suggests that the Golden Ticket Races do indeed bring the best to the starting line in Squaw Valley, California.
Let’s take a look at the data:
On the men’s side, first place, seventh place, ninth place, and 10th place all gained entry with a Golden Ticket. On the women’s side, it was even more impressive as second place, third place, fourth place, seventh place, eighth place, and ninth place were all Golden Ticket-ers.
Check that out, fully 50% of the top-10 finishers came from those six races. Then, digging a little deeper reveals a bit more intrigue.
Two of the Golden Ticket races yielded three top-10 runners each. In the Georgia Death Race, the eventual men’s winner, Andrew Miller, nabbed his spot as well as the seventh- and eighth-place women, Bethany Patterson and Maggie Guterl. In the Pacific Northwest at the Gorge Waterfalls 100k, another three top-10 WS100 runners emerged, seventh-place male Chris Mocko as well as fourth-place female Amanda Basham and ninth-place female Jodee Adams-Moore. Interestingly, at Gorge Waterfalls, Adams-Moore finished ahead of Basham.
At the Sean O’Brien 100k in Southern California, two top-10 runners punched their tickets, 10th-place male Jesse Haynes and third-place female Devon Yanko.
And, at the Black Canyon 100k in Arizona, second-place female Amy Sproston punched her ticket and at the Bandera 100k, M9 Chris DeNucci punched his.
Interestingly, at the only 50 miler in the 2016 Golden Ticket series, the Lake Sonoma 50 Mile, no Western States top-10 finishers punched their tickets.
As an interesting side note, Jim Walmsley, who created quite a stir with his first-90-miles split, also gained entry via the Golden Ticket process at Bandera 100k and again at Lake Sonoma. Women’s winner, Kaci Lickteig, while guaranteed entry based on her second-place Western States 100 finish in 2015, also would have ticketed with her second place at Lake Sonoma.
In short, it appears the race would not have been nearly as competitive or as entertaining were it not for the Golden Ticket series.
Last but not least, f I were a runner with my eyes on a top 10 at Western States, I’d steel my gaze on Georgia and Oregon. Just saying…
AJW’s Beer of the Week
This week’s beer of the week comes from a long-time Taproom favorite Ballast Point Brewing Company in San Diego, California. While I am not normally a fan of fruity beers, their Grapefruit Sculpin IPA is top notch and has done an amazing job of helping me return home from Western States and readjust to the seething East Coast heat and humidity.
Call for Comments (from Meghan)
What are your thoughts on the Golden Ticket Races series for its ability to increase the competitiveness of the Western States 100?