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By Jenn Cleary
On Saturday, the Western States 100, the world’s oldest 100-mile trail race, will kick off in Squaw Valley, California, for the 43rd time. The fast, net-downhill course is always a showdown, with many of the sport’s top competitors facing off.
Of course, a stacked elite field isn’t the only reason that Western holds the appeal it does for so many ultrarunners. There’s also the race’s vibrant atmosphere, rich history and, of course, beautiful point-to-point course on the Western States Trail.
In the run-up to this year’s race, we rounded up a few videos that showcase the unique event. Happy procrastinating!
1. A Runner’s-Eye View of the Western States Course
Ever wonder what the Western States course actually looks like from a runner’s perspective? In this video, Tim Twietmeyer, who has run Western States 25 times and won five of those times, and Nate Dunn, an UltraSportsLive correspondent, lead us on a tour of the 100-mile course.
2. The “Track Meet” of 2010
In the documentary “Unbreakable: The Western States 100,” director JB Benna shadows four top male ultrarunners vying for the 2010 Western States title. From home life to pre-race prep, Benna brings in the backstories of Anton Krupicka, Kilian Jornet, Hal Koerner and Geoff Roes, who would participate in what turned out to be a famously competitive “track meet” of a race. This extended trailer for the documentary is a nice short film in its own right.
3. “This Is Your Day”
A trailer for “This Is Your Day,” a film by director Myles Smythe that follows three very different ultra athletes as they prepare for the 2015 Western States Endurance Run. The film highlights the sacrifice and commitment required by runners at different levels in the sport.
4. “Western Time”
In “Western Time,” director Billy Yang showcases the story of Sally McRae, a first-time competitor at Western States in 2014, and the battles she had to overcome to complete the race—a goal she once thought was “unattainable.” She not only finished, but placed 10th female.
5. Stephanie Howe, 2014 Champ: A Video Profile
In 2014 Stephanie Howe was the first female to cross the line at Western States with the fourth fastest women’s time in history (18:01:42). As a dietitian, coach and, at the time, Ph.D. candidate in Nutrition & Exercise Physiology, how does she balance it all in the midst of high-level training? This short film, by TRINE films, profiles her active life and schedule, combining it with footage of her Western States win.
6. Gunhild Swanson
To end on a truly inspirational note, watch (or rewatch; the footage went viral, after all) 70-year-old Gunhild Swanson crossing the Western States finish line in 2015 mere seconds before the 30-hour cutoff, setting a record as the oldest female finisher in the history of the race.