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The Canyons Endurance Runs by UTMB will take place this weekend, April 28-29, in Auburn, California.
After historic snowfall forced a major re-route, the final Golden Ticket race will offer the top two male and female podium finishers of the 100K a chance to compete at the 2023 edition of the Western States Endurance Run (WSER). This event is the North American World Series Major, and qualifies finishers for the World Series Finals in Chamonix, in August 2023.
The races will start and finish in historic downtown Auburn, dubbed “The Endurance Capital of the World” for its hosting of the Western States Endurance Run and Tevis Cup 100 mile horseback ride.
2023 Course Description
The Canyons 100K course and 100-mile course will look a lot different than intended. Record snowfall (specifically 651 inches on Donner Pass) has forced race organizers to pivot. What that means is the usual point-to-point course will now be a mountainous labyrinth around Auburn, which will host the start and finish of all the races. It will follow the same route as the 100K but add an out-and-back from Drivers Flat to Foresthill (about 17 miles, one way). For WSER fans, that’s the Cal Street section.
Organizers appear to have referenced other races to create the improvised 100K. The first half consists of most of the Way Too Cool 50K, which boasts mostly singletrack and includes a few thousand feet of elevation gain. The second half then runs on the Canyons 50K course, which is also singletrack most of the way up and down.
The 100K and 100-mile courses are quite a bit flatter than the original routes, but the 100-mile race still includes 17,000 feet of vert, while the new 100K has 10,500 feet of elevation gain. The race cutoffs are 32 hours for the 100-mile run and 19 hours for the 100K run. Meanwhile, the 25K (2,800 feet of vert) and 50K (5,600 feet of vert) courses, which start and finish in Auburn, remain unchanged.
“I actually like the course they changed it to,” said 100-mile competitor David Laney. “You know, finishing at China Wall was gonna be great and getting a little bit more vert, but having it out and back essentially on the Western States course, getting to run down Cal Street from Forest Hill is always fun. So I like the update actually quite a bit.”
With all races starting and ending there, organizers have said that they plan to produce a race-festival atmosphere for runners and spectators.
Where to Stay & What to Know
Since the races start and end in Auburn, the best place to stay is right in the old gold mining town. There are several places to stay but it does fill up fast. Don’t fret. There are many accommodations in and around Placer County like hotels, motels, short-term rentals, and campgrounds. Dispersed camping is offered in both Tahoe National Forest and Eldorado National Forest, but it’s important to check conditions and alerts ahead of time. For those willing to travel a bit farther on race morning, Sacramento is about 45 minutes away, northern Lake Tahoe is about 90 minutes away, and San Francisco is about two hours away.
Before, during, and after the race, race organizers highly recommend exploring Auburn’s bars, shops, and coffee joints. They recommend Pour Choice, a craft coffee bar and tap room; Crooked Lane Brewing Co., and Ikeda’s for pizza. If you have down time, they recommend one of the many day hikes along the American River, visiting The Gold Rush Museum, and taking a tour of the old mine.
Who to Watch
100-Mile Race, April 28, 9 A.M.
The top women contenders in the 100-miler are Oregon’s Alex Borsuk, who is back to fast running after being injured in 2022, North Carolina’s Maria Romeo, who has numerous top finishers throughout the Southeastern U.S. since 2019, and two-time UTMB top-10 finisher Manuela Vilaseca of Brazil, among others.
Notable runners in the men’s 100-mile field include David Laney (Portland, Oregon), Mario Mendoza (Bend, Oregon), Adam Kimble (Tahoe, City, California), Erik SorensonSoreonson (Ridgway, Colorado), and international runners Canhua Luo (China), Mathieu Clément (Switzerland), and Gerard Morales (Spain).
“Getting back to Chamonix is the goal,” said Laney, a three-time top-15 finisher at UTMB. “It’s pretty hard not to want to go to that unbelievable place, and the race speaks for itself.”
100K Race, April 29, 5 A.M.
The women’s 100K will perhaps be the most competitive race of the weekend, as top Americans Amanada Basham (Boulder, Colorado), Addie Bracy (Denver), and Darcy Wade (Louisville, Colorado) will square off with Ida Nilsson (Sweden), Yuri Yoshizumi (Japan), Naomi Brand (New Zealand), Priscilla Forgie (Canada), Aroa Sio (Spain), and Anna McKenna (Australia), among others. Also of note, Amy Palmiero-Winters, a 50-year-old below-the-knee amputee and accomplished endurance athlete from Hicksville, New York, will also be running the 100K.
In the men’s 100K, Matt Daniels (Boulder, Colorado), Adam Merry (Golden, Colorado), Eric LiPuma (Richmond, Vermont), Bryan Kerl (Salida, Colorado), Drew Miller (Brooklyn, New York), David Roche (Boulder, Colorado), Cole Watson (Rancho Cordova, California), Justin Grunewald (Boulder, Colorado), Simon Donato (Canada), Sebastien Spehler (France), and Italian stalwarts Roberto Mastrotto and Alessio Zambon.
50K Race, April 29, 6 A.M.
Hayden Hawks (Boulder, Colorado), Tom Evans (United Kingdom), Ryan Becker (Telluride, Colorado), Jeshrun Small (Golden, Colorado), and Rod Farvard (Mammoth Lakes, California) headline the men’s 50K field, while Kimber Mattox (Fort Collins, Colorado), Leah Yingling (Salt Lake City), and EmKay Sullivan (Reno, Nevada) are among the top runners in the women’s field.
25K Race, April 29, 7 A.M.
Rachel Drake (Portland, Oregon), Dani Moreno (Mammoth Lakes, California), Kaytlyn Gerbin (Issaquah, Washington), and Ashley Hawks (Boulder, Colorado) are among the top women in the 25K race, while Pedro Gomes (Portugal) and Ezequiel Alexis Pauluzak (Argentina) lead the men’s field.