Kaci Lickteig | Western Grit

Kaci Lickteig has a solid history at Western States, winning the storied trek from Squaw Valley to Auburn last year, and starting the race this year in tip top shape and ready to race hard.

Considered one of the best trail ultramarathon runners in the country, Kaci was odds on favorite to stand atop the podium on Sunday, and that all seemed to go as planned for the first 30 miles. She went into the race in perfect shape physically and had her regular crew to help her along the way, no sign of impending problems.

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Magda and Kaci making their way towards the Escarpment in first few miles of race. Pic: Jenelle Potvin

But then, somewhere in the Canyons section of the course, Kaci fell apart. Anxiety, heat, headache, fears of passing out…all symptoms she was experiencing when there were still 60 miles to race. Rally? Lay down on the trail? Take a DNF?

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Kaci Lickteig, Stephanie Howe, and Magda Boulet (tucked behind Steph) coming into Lyon’s Ridge Aid Station (mile 10.) Pic used w permission from Peter Fish.

Encouraged by her crew and eventual pacer/friend Miguel, Kaci walked and cried most of the way to the river crossing at mile 74.  There, she sat down for an hour, threw an epic pitty party, and tried to quit. Broken. Defeated. Stubborn and done for the day, Kaci said she didn’t want to go on.

That’s when her crew (including AJW), coach Koop, and friend and competitor Stephanie Case stepped in and got Kaci back on the trail where she walked, prayed, ran, cried, and eventually sprinted to a 24:02 finish, just outside the clock for a silver buckle.

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AJW tending to Kaci Lickteig at Devil’s Thumb.

Kaci’s got a great story of determination, perseverance, and grit that we can all relate to, and I’m thankful she shared it with URP.


Kaci Lickteig Episode Notes

Here’s Anna Frost’s book I was talking about.

Here’s the Stephanie Case interview. Definitely give it a listen, if not just for the first 22 seconds.

Outro music by David Stango. We interviewed David about Eastern States right here.

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Kaci and Stephanie Case right after finish. Miguel in green on left. Larry Gassan on right. Pic by Krissi Polentz.

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