Sandes of Time – Ryan Sandes at the 2017 #WSER Western States Endurance Run on IRUN4ULTRA

I recently caught up with South Africa’s Ryan Sandes after his impressive victory at the 2017 Western States. You can listen to a full and in-depth interview HERE on Talk Ultra podcast.

Ryan’s story is one that inspires and it just shows what is possible.

“An impulsive decision one Sunday afternoon completely changed my life back in 2008. Could I run 250km, self-supported through a Desert? Without another thought, I maxed out my credit card and entered a race I knew almost nothing about. The lead up to the Gobi Desert Race consumed me but most importantly it enabled me to dream.”

You can read the full article on IRUN4ULTRA HERE

Western States Endurance Run #WSER 2015 – Race Preview

WSER logo ©westernstatesendurancerun

WSER logo ©westernstatesendurancerun

The stories been told many times, 1974, lame horse, decided to do it on foot and Gordy Ainsleigh pretty much invented modern day 100-mile trail running. I have never seen or witnessed the Western States course and that does frustrate me. However, we have many stories, videos and race reports to fill the gap. It’s not the toughest course out there but it has the history and it’s fair to say that if you are going to Western States to do well, you need to be a runner!

Looking at the top contenders, the female race all looks relatively simple. We have a host of past stars turning up and therefore it’s relatively easy to look on predict where the action will come from.

Stephanie Howe as the past champion is a hot favourite. Steph doesn’t race a great deal but when she does she makes it count: 3rd at TNF50, 2nd at Way To Cool 50k and most recently victory at Lake Sonoma – all looks good!

Larisa Dannis was 2nd last year and has had a 2nd at Overlook 50k, and 2 victories at Berkley Trail 50k and Door Country Fall 50 but what about results in 2015? I can’t find any which leaves me with a question mark.

However, expect curve balls from Magdalena Boulet and Michele Yates. Stephanie Howe may well be the defending champion and Larisa Dannis may well have placed 2nd in 2014 but I see the Boulet/ Yates duo rocking the front of the field and potentially winning and taking 2 of the top 3 podium places. In particular I see Yates as a hot favourite for the win!

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Emma Roca from Spain is an interesting inclusion to the race with an entry via the UTWT. Emma is an all round tough lady from an adventure racing background who has excelled at mountain races, I wonder if WSER will be too much of a running race?

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One lady who has to be watched even though she openly admitted to me that her form is not 100% is Nikki Kimball. Nikki has won the race 3 times, placed top 5 another 6 times and this year returns for her 10th race. Irrespective of the finish time or position, it’s going to be a special year for Nikki.

Aliza Lapierre was 3rd in 2012, 6th in 2013 and in 2014 won Bandera 100k. A fast lady, if she is on form. I certainly expect her to make her presence known amongst the top 5 but no results for 2015?

2009 winner, Anita Ortiz is returning after extensive injury and although 5 years have passed since the golden feeling of a WSER victory, one has to assume that if Anita is toeing the line, then she feels ready to race.

Pam Smith was 4th last year and won WSER in 2013. It certainly seems that Pam can blow hot or cold. Ask Speedgoat Karl, he dismissed her in ‘13’ and she smoked him on the course. If she is feeling good and not too tired from training, she may well win again. However, she could quite easily just scrape in under 24 hours?

My last shout goes to Kaci Lickteig, who placed 6th last year. She had a win at Javelina Jundred (100 mile) in late 2014 and a 2nd and 5th over the 50-mile distance in 2015. I think this year we will see a different run from Kaci

Ones to watch:

Denise Bourassa 7th last year

Meghan Arbogast 8th in 2014

Nicole Struder Rocky Raccoon win

Joelle Vaught 8th at Tarawera

Claire Price UTWT entrant

 

The men’s race to coin a phrase is stacked! It’s an interesting mix of talent with a couple or maybe even a triple of potential winners but also several runners who have all the potential to shake things up and mess the podium party.

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It may come as no surprise that Rob Krar is the out-and-out favourite. Rob has become one of the most impressive runners to watch and follow in the past couple of years and his rise has been incredible. 100-mile wins in 2014 at WSER, Leadville and Run Rabbit Run absolutely make him the man to beat.

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Francois d’Haene like Krar was unbeatable in 2014. He too had 3 100-mile victories but on completely different courses to Krar: UTMF, UTMB and Raid de la Reunion (Diagonale des Fous). Notice the difference? Mountain races! Francois can run but I just don’t think WSER will be lumpy or hard enough for the Frenchman.

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Ryan Sandes by contrast has placed 2nd at WSER before and although he does well on tough, challenging and mountainous courses, he can also run fast with the best of them. He told me in the latter half of 2014 that WSER would be a priority this year and he has spent a month in the area preparing. We must point out that it has been a rocky road for him recently and dropping at Transvulcania was not ideal preparation. However, we can all have bad days!

Dylan Bowman placed 3rd last year and I have to say has been on fire recently. He is the man in form and may well be the one who pushes Krar and possibly passes him? However, Dylan has already got plenty of racing and victories in his legs whereas Krar is fresh. It may well be the difference between 1st and 2nd.

Seth Swanson placed 2nd last year and won Cascade Crest 100. In 2015, he was 2nd at Sean O’Brien and 6th at Sonoma. I have to be honest, I know little about him and just he surprised others and me in 2014, he may well do the same again!

Ian Sharman is rock solid at WSER. Over the years he improved year-on-year with 2014 being an exception. He has been quiet recently which is a great sign. It almost certainly means that he has been preparing meticulously, I really hope that he makes the podium.

Okay, now it gets tricky.

Brendan Davies had a great run last year, he is a runner and as such, WSER suits him and he should do well.

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Julien Chorier is meticulous, an incredible runner and if this race was full of mountains he’d be my top tip along with Francois. However, the course is not lumpy and as such I don’t think it’s a race for Julien to shine. I still expect a top 10 from him though.

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Gediminas Grinius is a new star with an incredible history. Like Francois and Julien I think he needs mountains to excel. One plus for him is the distance, he certainly likes to run longer and his recent victory at Transgrancanaria is proof that if he is feeling good in the latter stages, you better watch out!

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Sondre Amdahl is another newbie revelation. An incredibly nice guy, he moved out to the US to prepare meticulously for WSER. He did the same for Transgrancanaria and although he had a great result, I do wonder if he wanted the win too much! This may apply at WSER but I have a feeling that we will see Sondre shine. I expect good things from him.

Ones to watch:

Alex Varner 7th in 2014 and recent victory at Lake Sonoma 50

Andrew Tuckey 6th at UTMB and 3rd at TNF 100. I can’t help but think that Andrew may well be a surprise package and a dark horse in this race.

Thomas Lorblanchet Leadville winner 2012

David Laney 19th in 2014 and 2 victories in 2015 at Bandera 100k and Chuckanut 50k

Joe Grant

“Last year was a pretty remarkable day – we had temperatures that weren’t bad (89 degrees was the high), Rob and Stephanie ran remarkably strong races, and we had 296 finishers, including 129 silver buckles (for sub-24-hour finishes),” – race director Craig Thornley said. “This year has the potential to be even better. The men’s race will be exciting with Rob and a host of talented runners running to beat him. And our women’s race may very well go into the books as our deepest and most competitive field ever.” – ©wser website

Race day is Saturday June 27th

Race website HERE

2015 entry list HERE

Latest news HERE

Western States changes entry criteria

WSER logo ©westernstatesendurancerun

WSER logo ©westernstatesendurancerun

Keep it fair. Keep it Simple. Raise the Bar.

….the Board also realizes that something needs to change to alleviate the increasing pressure on our lottery. Thus, the qualifying standards for entering the WS lottery beginning with the 2015 race are:

  • 100K finish in under 16 hours or
  • 100M finish in time allowed by race.

We have limited the number of qualifying races to the largest trail 100 milers domestically, and the largest 100Ks that are also of significant difficulty. The 100K distance aligns better internationally. Worldwide, we’ve included the largest races but also have the goal of geographic diversity so runners from anywhere in the world have an opportunity to run a qualifying race. There are 63 races on the 2015 qualifying races list.

The 2015 qualifying run must be run from Monday, November 11, 2013 through Sunday, November 14, 2014.

You can read the full post on the WSER website HERE

Call for comments:

  1. What do you think about the qualifying races?
  2. What are your thoughts on the criteria for entry, 100km in sub 16-hours or a 100-mile finish within the cut-off?
  3. How will this impact on those who wish to race in UTWT (Ultra Trail World Tour)?
  4. Any other thoughts or concerns?

On a personal note, Western States ultimately have no choice (in my opinion) to make entry more difficult. If they are not able to increase the field and allow more runners, then they need to ensure that those who run, ‘earn’ the place. However, I do agree with the comments in regard to Gordy running the race way back in the early 70’s with no experience and completing the task… such a difficult balance act to get right. Western States needs to progress with the times and we can look at TNFUTMB as an example of how a race changed criteria to balance supply and demand.

Welcome your thoughts!

 

Western States Endurance Run Preview

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In a recent interview with Rob Krar about his incredible ‘FKT’ (fastest known time) on the Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim we discussed the up and coming Western States. Humble and respectful he called it the Super Bowl of ultra running. You have to agree, Western States is the Super Bowl of 100-mile events.

 

June 29th in Squaw Valley, once again an incredibly talented male field will toe the line to do battle over probably the most iconic 100-mile race on the calendar. It may not be the hardest but it has history. Way back in ‘73’ when Gordy Ainsleigh’s horse went lame, he had two choices; not to take part in the iconic 100-mile horse race called the Tevis Cup or run it… now of course, way back then running the course was the most ridiculous idea ever. But Gordy, ever the maverick, brushed caution aside and tackled the heat to arrive in Auburn. The stage was set and the 100-mile Western States Endurance Run was created.

 

The race – Male

 

So, Ryan Sandes wont join the party due to injury, shame! However, the men’s field has enough quality names to make the 2013 edition of the race an exciting one. We have a champ and previous course record holder returning after a 16 year gap, we have last years champ and course record holder, we have the new and the old. This year could be an exciting race because of the variables and unpredictability of those involved.

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Timothy Olson as the remaining champion and course record holder, of course gets top billing. His recent 4th place at Transvulcania La Palma was a real indicator that his form was coming. I went out for a run with him just days after the race and he was moving fast and effortless, no sign of a tough 80km race in his legs. He said, “I could have done with the finish line being a little farther away, I was just getting warmed up”.  Early 2013 season form wasn’t too shabby either with win at Bandera 50k, 2nd Ray Miller, and 2nd at Tarawera behind Sage Canaday in New Zealand. His relative silence post Transvulcania should worry the competition; he has been training and training hard. Can he go faster than his incredible 14:46:44 set in 2013?

 

Brit, Nick Clark in a recent interview with me ahead of this year’s race said, “I am running to win, I feel good this year. I have started my three week taper and I don’t know, maybe this could be my year!” Nick is super consistent over the 100-mile distance and demands respect from his peers. He ran 15:44 last year for 3rd place and almost certainly he is going to need to run that quick, if not quicker if he wants to be in contention for a podium place. Even more impressive is that Nick is taking on the Grand Slam. However, it’s one race at a time and he plans to run all of them as hard as he can. A win at Fuego Y Agua he says was so long ago that it has no real meaning for Western States but his 10th at Lake Sonoma recently was a little disappointing by his standards. However, as we keep saying, 100 miles is a different race altogether.

 

Sixteen years ago, Mike Morton set a course record at Western States and then disappeared into running wilderness. A combination of injury and work commitments took him away from the sport. However, just a couple of years ago he came back on the scene with a comeback not dissimilar to that of Robert Redford playing Roy Hobbs in the film, ‘The Natural’. Mike seems to be able to churn out 100-mile races in 13:11 and win them. He had an incredible 2012 with multiple 100-mile wins, a win and missing the CR at Badwater 135 and then setting an American 24-hour record of 172+ miles. He has been relatively quiet lately which can only mean one thing, he is preparing! You would say that age may well be against him, but this is Mike Morton… will 2013 have one of the greatest comebacks in sport ever, a win for Mike Morton? It is a distinct possibility!

 

Hal Koerner has been quiet recently and it is impossible to gauge what his form is like. Having said that, his reputation precedes him and his list of palmares confirms that he will always be in the mix. His win at the 2012 Hardrock 100 confirms that he can always pull something special out of the bag when required.

 

Ian Sharman has consistently improved at WSER and last year placed 5th with a great run. However, by Ian’s standards he has been very quiet lately. He pushed himself a little too hard in the latter stages of 2012, basically, one race too many and he has had some niggling knee issues. He went to Fuego Y Agua but didn’t run. He has had a couple of top 5 placing’s in recent months and most recently he raced a multi-stage race in the rainforests of Peru. Although lying in 2nd place overall he didn’t finish the last stage as he felt niggling pain in his troublesome knee. So, the jury is out. In addition, like Nick Clark, Ian will run the Grand Slam. His original intention was to run each race to the best of his ability and see what happens. He prepares well and understands the demands of each race so you can’t rule him out of the top 10.

 

Dave Mackey 4th in 2012 and in doing so broke Tsuyoshi Kaburaki’s ‘Masters’ time with 15:53:36. He has always raced consistently over the 100km distance but has never had quite the luck over the 100-mile distance. In early 2012 he was second at Bandera 100k behind a storming Sage Canaday but a great indicator of form is the recent San Diego 100. Dave was blazing a trail at the front of the race until he went of course at around the 60-mile mark. Although initially disappointing, this may actually be a blessing in disguise for WSER. He definitely has podium potential if his day goes well.

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Cameron Clayton young, brash and bold has laid it all on the line and said he plans to just run! No caution for the demands of 100 miles, he will go for glory. Cameron, like Sage Canaday is new to ultra running, he has enthusiasm to take on the best and see what happens. I have to say I like his approach. In an interview with him post Transvulcania (he placed 7th) he said then that his intentions for Western States would be to go for glory, “I may not get the chance to run at Western States again so I need to run for the win. If I don’t top the podium, that is fine, at least I will have tried”. So there you have it, WSER will be Cameron’s first 100 outing, it’s a fair prediction to say that we will see him at the head of the race in the early stages, question is, will he pull along some others or will they allow him to head on up the trail on his own?

 

Rob Krar like Cameron is new to the 100-mile distance but he is giving it 100% respect. He is a little daunted by the distance and as he said in my interview with him, “I just don’t know what to expect, my rim-t0-rim-to-rim is my longest ever run at just over 40 miles, Western States is a completely different experience”. Rob, like Mike Morton is also a come back story, originally a track and field athlete he ran 1500m and holds an impressive 1:06 for a half marathon. He has only ever run one road marathon and that was around 2:30, so, he has speed. His win and CR at Leona Divide 50 turned heads but his Grand Canyon double crossing time took breaths away… if he brings that speed to WSER anything is possible. He is a real unknown but I can’t help but think we will see a surprise!

 

Karl Meltzer needs no introduction! He has wanted to run at WSER for years and now he finally he has the chance, however, his build up has not been ideal with a problematic calf. Last week he told me that he is pretty sure it is all cleared up now and that he had just had 10 days of consecutive running. Karl said, “I finally feel that a top 10 place is now possible, we will have to see”. With over 30 wins at the 100-mile distance, Karl brings experience to the race. Just like Run Rabbit Run last year, he will allow the main contenders to head off up the trail and as he gets warm (around 60 miles) he will then slowly but surely start to pick them off. A podium place is unlikely but a top 10 is a distinct possibility. I certainly hope so! Top 10 will give him a guaranteed slot for 2014 and then he can run the Grand Slam.

 

Dylan Bowman placed 7th at 2012 WSER and has had a couple of great performances at Ray Miller 50 and Miwok 60k. Considering the depth of the 2013 field a top 10 placing is highly likely, the question is, can he embrace early season form and move into the top 5.

 

Jorge Maravilla and Joe Uhan placed 8th and 9th respectively at the 2012 race but both runners have had relatively quiet times lately. Jorge placed 3rd at UROC in late 2012 and recently was joint winner at the Great Wall Marathon in China with his Salomon teammates, but it’s difficult to predict what form Jorge and Joe will bring to this years race. It is fair to assume that no news is good news and that they will arrive on the start line ready to push hard.

 

The list could go on but here is a selection of other notable names that will almost certainly drift into the top 20 and of course, on a good day, they may even make top 10.

 

Yassine Diboun, Trent Briney, Andy Jones Wilkins, Gustavo Reyes, Nick Pedatella (also going for Gran Slam), Paul Terranova (ran the Grand Slam last year) and finally, Jacob Rydman.

 

Notable non-starters for the 2013 are as follows:

 

Ryan Sandes who pushed the pace at the front last year, placed 2nd overall and in doing so, also broke Geoff Roes old course record. Needless to say, we are all disappointed that Ryan can’t make it. He unfortunately twisted his ankle on a training run and needs to allow for recovery. Fellow South Africa, the Comrades King, Bruce Fordyce is also a no show due to injury. Bruce would not have contested the overall placing but to have 9x Comrades Marathon winner on the WSER course would have been special. He told me via email that he has carried over his place for 2014.

 

 

Notable no-racers:

The 2013 race has a quality field, however, we have notable omissions: Kilian Jornet, Anton Krupicka, Dakota Jones, Geoff Roes, Sage Canaday, Julien Chorier, Max King, Mike Wolfe, Mike Foote, Joe Grant and so on.

 

The race – Female

 

With no Ellie Greenwood, no Lizzy Hawker, no Kami Semick, and no Krissy Moehl I have to say I can’t help but feel a little cheated with the ladies field. Don’t get me wrong, we have some great talent ready to toe the line but I do feel as though it’s about who is not here than who is…

 

Having said that, Rory Bosio was 2nd in 2012 and she returns this year as odds on favorite. At 28 years old she manages to go about her run life with very little fuss or exposure. She keeps herself to herself but she has some impressive results that we should all be shouting about. She has run WSER three times; 4th in 2010, 5th in 2011 and of course, 2nd in 2012. Do you see the progression! 2013 may very well be the year the she has a 1st next to her name. She placed 4th at Lake Sonoma recently and was 2nd at Way to cool earlier in 2013, not results that you would predict a WSER win on, but she knows how to run this race!

 

I am going to stick my neck out here and say that Cassie Scallon has every possibility of not only making the podium or winning the race! The only question mark comes from a fall she took at Cayuga Trails a couple of weeks ago. Had she not pulled out of that race and been in tip top form she would have been my prediction for the win. She earned her WSER slot at Lake Sonoma and after missing the race last year; I can’t help but feel that she will be fired up for this edition. Of course, she hasn’t run this race before and experience counts for a great deal!

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Talking of experience, Nikki Kimball has plenty. Nikki placed 5th in 2012 but look at her history; she won the race in 2004, 2006 and 2007 and she was 4th in 2009, 3rd in 2010 and 2011. That his some history! Now in her early 40’s you may well say that age is against her but you just can’t rule her out. She has been troubled with injuries but without doubt the 2012 Transvulcania La Palma was a turning point for her, she finished that race in tears. Not because of pain but joy that things had gone well. Her recent form is difficult to predict as she too pulled out of Cayuga Trails.

 

Another newbie, Emily Harrison brings speed to the WSER arena. She has a marathon PB of 2:32 and although that may not be a prediction of a good Western States performance, it does show that the speed is available if needed. She earned her place at JFK50 when she placed 2nd behind Ellie Greenwood and recently she has had a win at Moab Red Hot 55k. Emily has the potential to pull something out of the back and may very well make the podium.

 

Aliza Lapierre was 3rd last year and it almost feels disrespectful to wait this long before mentioning her but she has had surgery and only returned to running in late April, early March of this year. Her form for WSER is an unknown but if one thing in her favor is that she will be fresh and keen to perform. That counts for a great deal when it gets hard.

 

Tina Lewis, Amy Sproston, Ashley Nordell and Meghan Arbogast all return after placing 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th respectively in 2012.

 

Certainly I see Ashley Nordell moving to a higher place for 2013 and she has the potential to make top 5 should all go well.

 

Tina Lewis placed best of the bunch in 2012 and although injury has caused serious issues in the build up to this years race, her win at Leadville in the latter half of last year has to mean that, if fit, she will improve on her 7th.

 

Amy Sproston won Ray Miller 50, Iznik Ultra 80k and was 3rd at Lake Sonoma all in the first half of 2013. A 100km champion she has speed and although 100 miles may not be her distance you have to say that in this ladies field, should things go right, a placing higher than 8th awaits.

 

Meghan Arbogast may well be a dark horse of the race… you just can’t rule her out! She proved this by beating Rory Bosio to the top slot at Way to Cool 50k. Last year she ran just under 20 hours (19:54) and I think she will need an ‘18’ time to contest the front of the race but she can do it, don’t rule her out.

Joelle Vaught has been top 10 at WSER before in 2010 when she ran 20:19. Certainly if she wants to place top 10 in 2013 she needs to be looking at sub 20. Her win at Pocatello 50 (to put things in perspective, she beat her own course record by just over 20 minutes) recently would suggest that a surprise may well come from Joelle.

 

Jennifer Benna recently turned up at Transvulcania La Palma and dropped early on saying that it just didn’t feel right. To travel that far and drop so early shows some real commitment to the bigger picture, that being WSER. She has already won a 100 this year at Zion 100 way back in April (probably why she didn’t feel great in May) I think Jennifer has the potential to make the top 10 but she will need a good day.

 

My final tip is Pam Smith, she has run WSER before and has placed 10th in 2010 and 2011. She hasn’t run under 20 hours but if she managed to match her previous best of 20:40, another top 10 may well just be hers, just!

 

Ones to watch:

 

Kerrie Bruxvoort, Denise Bourassa and Rhonda Claridge.

 

Provide us with your feedback:

  • What are your predictions for the men’s and ladies races?
  • Who will surprise us this year?
  • Will the course record go in either race?
  • Who isn’t racing that you had hoped would be?

LINKS:

WSER website HERE

Western States 2012

A smack down was predicted and a smack down happened.

The 2012 Western States will go down in history as a most remarkable race.

Firstly, we had the initial disappointment of a no show by Kilian Jornet. Please don’t get me wrong; his decision to pull out after the sudden death of his friend and ski mountain partner, Stephane Brosse was completely understandable considering the proximity to the race. However, not to have Kilian toe the line did mean that the main contender for the title would not be mixing it up at the front.

This though did not dent what was a class male field. In many respects it was a who’s who of current ultra running…. Having said that it did also miss two other key protagonists, current Western States record holder, Geoff Roes and Anton Krupicka. Roes has had a recent spell of poor performances and was lined up to run Hardrock but has decoded to go back to the drawing board and re build over the coming months. Krupicka has been out of racing for over a year after a series of problems, he too had targeted Hardrock but has now delayed his comeback saying that he hopes to be on the Leadville start line.

So, pre race who was in with a shout at taking the win. From a Talk Ultra poll the outright public favorite was Ryan Sandes, closely followed by last years second place, Mike Wolfe. I could completely understand tipping Wolfeman, a great competitor, plenty of speed, good in the mountains and I guess with no Kilian he was potentially lined up to move one place forward and take the win. Ryan Sandes ‘Sandman’ as he affectionately is known of course is super talented… just a few weeks earlier he had won The North Face 100 in Australia, He had won Leadville in 2011 and of course his record in multistage races was without question. However, despite that win at Leadville, this was his first race against a stacked field. How would he fair?

Timothy Olson was my pre race favorite. This is a super talented runner who has found a new lease of life. He has a great story… almost a film script. An ex drug addict turned ultra runner. You couldn’t make the story up! My other tip was ‘warrior’ Nick Clark. Nick did a great double last year placing 3rd at Western States and then two weeks later getting 3rd place at Hardrock. Other contenders included Jez Bragg, 3rd and 4th previously, could he move up. Dave Mackey, 2011 ultra runner of the year, super quick and last years 8th place Ian Sharman, Dave Riddle, Mike Wardian and I could go on…

The ladies race was equally stacked but contenders seemed to be much tighter. Last years winner, Ellie Greenwood was coming from a 2nd place at Comrades just three week earlier. Nobody doubted Ellie’s ability, the question was the damage that a super hard Comrades may have had on her body and what effects this would have over 100 miles. Lizzy Hawker was returning from injury but over this distance and terrain she is unstoppable. Kami Semick was also returning from injury, she had purposely missed Comrades to prepare for Western States. The ever present Nikki Kimball was firing on all cylinders again in 2012 and after a couple of great runs at Transvulcania and Zegama, she too could put pressure on at the front. Meghan Arbogast, Krissy Moehl, Rory Bosio, Aliza Lapierre and a whole host of others would be in contention.

Key elements for 2012 would be a lack of snow and a return to the ‘proper’ course. In addition to this, it turned out that temperatures on race day would be uncharacteristically chilly. Many of the runners complained about the cold over the first 30-40 miles. But of course these cooler temperatures are really advantageous over the 100-mile distance when trying to manage hydration, food and pacing. Not necessarily good weather but fast weather…

As expected, the men’s race was quick with Wolfe and Olson dictating the early pace with Clark, Bowman, Sandes, Mackey and Sharman all in contention. Sandes in particular seemed to be running a smart ace holding back in about 6th place and controlling his effort.

In the ladies race, Hawker ran hard and put 14 minutes into Greenwood who was chasing. Greenwood didn’t seem too worried though, she had commented at around the 30-mile mark that she was happy with her pace and this was a 100-mile race… wise words!

What happened over the 100 miles of Western States will go down in history. Olson pushed at the front as Sandes moved up through the field. Clark went through a bad patch but rallied to move up into 3rd place while Wolfe who had either been in 1st or 2nd place for much of the race faded and moved back… Mackey moved to 4th closely followed by Sharman and this made the top 5 men. But what was key was how Olson and Sandes pushed each other… Olson finally moving away and boy how did he move away. He crossed the finish line in 14:46 knocking nearly 20 mins of Roes previous course record! As a testament to both Sandes and Olson, the pace that they had made during the event also gave Sandes the second fastest time ever with a 15:03 just dipping under Roes CR time. Mackey who placed 4th also broke Kaburaki’s masters course record with a time of 15:53:36.

Image by Bryon Powell iRunFar.com

In the ladies race, just after Devils Thumb Greenwood had suddenly pulled back 12 mins on Hawker and was just 2 mins behind. Then she was 14 mins ahead. Not only did she completely annihilate the women’s field she started to wipe out the men’s field ‘chicking’ some top quality runners. The question marks on if Greenwood would be recovered from Comrades now seemed crazy. She became the Terminator, focused on one goal, the finish line. When she entered the stadium at the finish she had blown Ann Trason’s long-standing Western States record out of the atmosphere by some 50 minutes setting a time of 16:47:19. Arguably creating one of the most outstanding ultra running performances ever. It’s too early to call her the ‘new’ Ann Trason and to be honest it would be unfair to do so. Ultra Running now is a much bigger sport than when Ann ran, the fields are more competitive, the competition is greater and to dominate as Greenwood did at Comrades and then Western States for me puts her on a pedestal so high that it is going to take someone remarkable to come and knock her off it. In addition to this, Greenwood is the most smiley, happy and generous of runners. She has it all.

Image by Bryon Powell iRunFar.com

Greenwoods performance was also followed by some other wonderful female performances from Rory Bosio proving that she is no ‘fluke’ at Western States. She has placed 4th and 5th in the past and now placing 2nd with 18:08:06 (1h 20m behind Greenwood), Aliza Lapiere who placed 6th last year now placed 3rd with 18:18:29, Krissy Moehl ran a smart race and moved through the field to 4th in 18:29:15 and Nikki Kimball proving that her form is good 5th with 18:3:39. Lizzy Hawker fought hard after a fast start and one can only assume that her injury meant thet she wasn’t quite in fighting form for Western states but one can’t help but think that this will just be the start for her, she came in 6th with 18:31:39.

When all is said and done, 2012 was the year that records tumbled. Olson set a new benchmark for the men’s race and Greenwood set a record that will stand the test of time. So much so, I think only she could beat it!

One key feature of the race was the weather. No snow, great trail conditions and cool temperatures all came together to make 2012 a fast year. This doesn’t happen often. So, these records may very well be around for some time and if they do I don’t think anyone will be disappointed. In Olson and Greenwood we have two worthy winners who have illuminated the ultra world with two remarkable performances.

Talk Ultra will be interviewing Ellie Greenwood on Tuesday 26th June and Nick Clark 27th/28th June for the next edition of the show. Of course, Ian Sharman will also be discussing the ‘news’ and giving us an insight into his 5th place. The next episode will be released on Friday 29th June so please tune in