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On July 30th, the Western States Endurance Run updated its schedule and criteria for the 2021-2022 Golden Ticket races. For the first time, the line up will include three international races – including UTMB.
The Western States Endurance Run is the U.S.’s oldest and most competitive 100-mile race and has long depended on a lottery system to modulate the number of runners on the start line. Golden Ticket events give the top two runners automatic entry into the race, allowing them to bypass the competitive lottery. If the recipient of the Golden Ticket already has an entry (either through the lottery or another Golden Ticket event) the ticket rolls down to the next runner without entry. All runners who finish in the top ten at Western States also get automatic entry the next year.
The updates include three international races, Ultra Trail Mont Blanc (France, Italy and Switzerland), Tarawera Ultramarathon (New Zealand) and Endurance Trail des Templiers (France). This is the first time international races have been Golden Ticket events, which is sure to give runners around the world their shot at a Western States Start.
Now, there are only four Golden Ticket races in the U.S., and this move is sure to make them even more competitive. Historically, there have been five to six Golden Ticket events in the U.S. Notably, the Lake Sonoma 50 is no longer on the docket, which was the only sub-100k chance at a Golden Ticket. All the remaining events are now at least 100k, which is WSER’s current qualifying distance. There are now two 100-mile qualifiers, UTMB and Javelina Jundred (Arizona).
The other U.S. Golden Ticket races are the Bandera 100k in Texas (Jan 8), Black Canyon 100k in Arizona (February 12) and Canyons 100k in California (April 23).
This news is particularly interesting on the heels of UTMB’s partnership with Ironman, the global triathlon brand, which has complicated many runner’s attempts to run in the “Superbowl of trail running.”