No Record Safe at Western States

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At many ultras lately—too often, according to some people—the field of competitors will be heralded as the fastest, or deepest, ever.  …

Photo by Bryon Powell of

At many ultras lately it seems as though the field of competitors is heralded as the fastest and the deepest, ever. And the 2012 Western States Endurance Run that runs from Squaw Valley to Auburn, California, was no exception. Records were shattered with the onset of cool weather and a talent-loaded field Saturday.

Timothy Olson, 28, of Ashland, Oregon, became the first runner to ever break 15 hours on the current course from Squaw Valley to Auburn, California (Jim King ran a 14:54:00 at Western States in 1984 before the course was changed), clocking a 14:46:44 to smash Geoff Roes’ course record of 15:07:04, set in 2010. South Africa’s Ryan Sandes also dipped under Roes’ record in his Western States debut, finishing second in 15:03:56.

“I did not think of the record until the Highway 49 aid station (at mile 93.5),” says Olson. “My pacer, Hal [Koerner], told me I could break it, and I said, ‘Oh, cool,’ then just focused on putting one foot in front of the other.”

Olson says he ran conservatively despite feeling good in the early stages, and that it paid off later. “Ryan was really cranking out fast miles on the Cal streets and I did all I could to hold on,” he says. “Before the river I was feeling good, so I gave my all up to Green Gate (mile 80). After I had a little bit of a lead I had the mental intention of not letting up and giving everything I had for the rest of the race.”

In the women’s race, Ellie Greenwood of Banff, Alberta, defended her title and demolished Ann Trason’s 18-year-old course record of 17:37:51, in the process becoming the first female ever to run under 17 hours with a 16:47:19. She finished 14th overall and was well ahead of runner-up Rory Bosio of Soda Springs, California, who still ran the fourth-fastest time in Western States history with an 18:08:06, good for second and 21st overall.

“The race  went really well. I had no significant lows,” says Greenwood, who did not keep track of her splits and only heard she was ahead of her pace from last year (when she ran 17:55:29) at the Rucky Chucky river crossing, at mile 79. “Just after Forest Hill [60 miles], I was concerned I might have gone too hard too soon, but by Rucky Chucky I knew I could hold on and despite the fact that my quads were beginning to feel pretty beat I was still moving at a good pace.”

Dave Mackey of Boulder, Colorado, broke the master’s record with a 15:53:56, placing fourth. Nick Clark of Fort Collins, Colorado, finished third for the second consecutive year in 15:44:09. Last year’s runner-up Mike Wolfe of Missoula, Montana, finished 18th among men (19th overall) in 17:50:09 after falling off due to sickness near mile 75.

Aliza Lapierre of Williston, Vermont, finished third among women (23rd overall) in 18:18:29. Krissy Moehl of Boulder, Colorado, finished fourth (26th overall) in 18:29:15 (her 100-mile PR), while Bozeman, Montana’s Nikki Kimball and Scuol, Switzerland’s Lizzy Hawker came in behind her in fifth and sixth (27th and 28th overall), respectively. Kimball finished in 18:31:39 and Hawker clocked an 18:32:20.

Complete results can be found here.
For iRunFar’s Western States coverage, visit

Black Hills 100 Mile, 100K and 50 Mile

The directors of the Black Hills races, which start in Sturgis, South Dakota, the same day as Western States, bill their 100-mile event as an alternative to the storied, and more exclusive, competition in California. They even mimic Western States’ finish, which takes place on a track.

Denver’s Jeremy Bradford won the 100-mile in 20:50:11, surviving a late charge by Edina, Minnesota’s John Horns (who was within 15 minutes with 17 miles to go) to win by nearly 35 minutes. Horns finished second in 21:25:46. Naoki Ouchi of Azumino City, Japan, finished third in 21:52:09.

All three times were faster than Adam Schwartz-Lowe’s course record 23:01:42, set at the inaugural race, though the course had been adjusted this year and was shorter as a result.

Olga Varlamova-King of Austin, Texas, was the first woman in the 100-mile, crossing the line in 26:11:43. Andrea Risi finished second in 27:08:49 and Chicago’s Beth Simpson-Hall finished third in 30:27:08.

Complete results, as well as results from the 100K and 50-mile can be found (when available) here.

Double Dipsea

The Double Dipsea is a chance to run the Dipsea race (see our coverage of Dipsea from earlier this month here) in Marin County, California, twice—once backwards, from Stinson Beach to downtown Mill Valley, and once in the direction of the “single” Dipsea, from Mill Valley to the beach, 7.5 miles each way.

Runners descend 688 stairs, then ascend them on the return; they will also navigate the 1300-foot Cardiac Hill and lots of wet, technical footing in the Muir Woods—all twice. And like the Dipsea, racers are given head starts, with the oldest runners receiving the largest handicap (and women receiving a head start over men in every age group).

The handicapping made no difference, though, for Alex Varner of San Rafael, California. His time of 1:36:31.3 was the fastest overall—even with handicaps factored in—even though Varner, a 26-year-old male, did not get a head start.

Varner recorded the fastest overall time at the Dipsea earlier in June, but finished fourth overall.

Fifty-five-year-old Roy Rivers of Mill Valley, California, finished second in age-graded results with the 11th fastest time overall (1:58:00) and a 20-minute handicap. Lisbet Sunshine, 48, of Larkspur, California, was the first overall female and ninth overall, with the 44th-fastest time (2:16:37) and 27-minute handicap. She was followed by 31-year-old Caitlin Smith of Oakland, California, who ran the 17th fastest time (2:04:01) and had a 14-minute handicap, good for tenth overall.

Full handicapped results can be found here.

And results without handicapping can be found here.

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