Run Spirited: Five things we learned at Western States Endurance Run. (In terms of predictions, Henry did a great job it. I’m notoriously awful at predicting winners at WS but did manage to get Beth’s spot right!)
Runner’s World: Mary Cain forms women’s running team with the athletes as employees. Very curious to see how this turns out…I love the idea.
iRunFar: Non-Western States results from ultramarathon, trail (and Olympic!) events. Two things I noticed…Looks like Andorra 100 is a new race and that’s great to see after the cancellation of Ultra Trail Andorra. That’s an incredible country with trails that stretch the limits of description. Also…so cool to see Grayson Murphy (URP interview) and Allie Ostrander in the 3000 steeple at the Olympic Trials. If Grayson wasn’t a big threat (edit: on the trails) before, watch out because she’ll be a major threat now.
Informative report about Bighorn 100 Trail Run. Looks like an incredible–and very runnable?–course.
Thames Ring 250: You know it was a good race when you write an apology to the RD for the way you acted during your hallucinations…hallucinations that included thinking you were at a German Covid quarantine camp.
I met Dave and Kevin, the owners of Speedland (linked to them last week about their $375 trail shoes) and checked out the product in person. Pretty awesome! I can’t stomach or justify the price, but if budget weren’t an option, I’d grab a pair for sure. I’m assuming their goal is to get bought by a larger company and would love to see some of their innovations (adjustable lugs!) hit a broader market.
Saucony sure slipped this one in at at the last minute! Katie finished fifth at Western States this weekend. Here’s an interview from Run Hard Mom Hard about this mom slash Nurse Practitioner slash ultrarunner.
Time to burn? Here’s a list of the best travel vloggers of 2021.
At dinner with friends on Friday and someone introduced Sunny to the idea of running Dipsea this year. Now she’s obsessed with getting in and using her 14 minute handicap. Registration is in August, race is in November. She’ll hopefully run the regular race this year in hopes for an invitational spot in ’22.
My hot takes on Western States 100:
- Holy sh*t that felt normal! Virtually no masks, no covid theatre, and plenty of hugs and high fives to go around. As someone said at dinner on Friday, it didn’t really matter that there was a race the next day. We were all there sharing our passion and having a good time and not on f’ing Zoom.
- Three women in the top ten overall is crazy. I haven’t dug in, but I’d guess the elite men’s DNF rate was significantly higher than the women’s. Nice job keeping it cool, ladies.
- Speaking of DNF, if you’d offered me 1,000,000:1 odds that both Jeff Browning and Mark Hammond would DNF in the same race, I wouldn’t have wanted to risk that dollar. Not sure what happened to Hammond, but it sounds like Jeff made the right decision in light of Hardrock coming up soon.
- Paddy O’Leary told me before the race to keep an eye on Drew Holmen who he called “the darrrkest of darrrk horses.” Good call, Paddy.
- Camille Herron totally blowing apart then dragging herself to the finish in 27:28 is a big deal. As someone who’s struggled with…shall we say modesty?…regarding her abilities, this experience will likely bode her well in the future. Anxious to see her give it another crack.
- And the fellas! Coming thru Foresthill, I figured both Hayden and Tim would call it quits. Neither were looking great and the day was only getting hotter. Nice job toughing it out.
- I think I saw more spectators wearing the rabbit High Country button down shirt (the blue version of this) than anything else, myself included.
- It’s a pointless exercise, but has anyone tabulated the top runners and their respective coaches? Curious to see which coaching teams had the best success.
- In terms of sponsors, I think many people were expecting a HOKA sweep that never came. What they lost out on at the podium, they made up for in the insane (and IMHO excessive) amount of branding at the start and finish.
- The Escarpment is the place to be! Happy to report the loud blaring boombox is no longer up there and is instead full of 100+ hard core fans cheering as the runners crest the ridge into the Desolation Wilderness.
- Rivs! Holy sh*t! I guess I hadn’t been paying enough attention to his recovery, so it was a major surprise to see Tommy “Rivers” Puzey at the pre race meeting on Friday. Yeah he’s lost a little bit of weight, but if you hadn’t known his story, there was no indication that the guy nearly died from cancer last year. Absolutely phenomenal work by his docs, his family, and his incredible strength to get to where he is now.
- Dylan Bowman and Corrine Malcolm were outstanding it on the “Western States TV Show.” Enthusiastic and knowledgeable, they did a great job keeping it exciting and informative. (“Ultimate Frisbee! So rad! Can someone confirm this? Yes! So Awesome! I love this guy!”) As someone who’s talked a lot, I can’t imagine how tired they were both physically and emotionally. Very well done to the entire team that made it happen.
- I’ve complained for years about the number of people running alongside the athletes as they come through aid stations…specifically Foresthill. In years past there have been numerous “media” people with iPhones, fans on bikes, film crews, etc running alongside the top runners (usually the men for some reason), but this year was different. Most runners, including Jim, had one or two people and that’s it. Nice to see.
- Re the live feed…if I were to offer one suggestion (paging Billy Yang, paging Billy Yang), it would be to also offer an audio-only feed next year. Not sure how to handle the tech, but it would be a huge help, especially in areas with sketchy signals.
- Final point on the live feed: I was scanning pictures from 2019 and came across this image (below) from 2019 when there was a google app for runner tracking. Yeah, it worked OK, but this year was far superior in both accuracy (still not perfect, but pretty good) and for the GUI experience. So what does it take to beat Google? Apparently a group of passionate runners intent on creating a better mouse trap.
- And probably my biggest takeaway…The infield at the finish line gives me immense hope for the future. While all the focus is on the runners coming in, the infield is full of dozens of kids running around and having a good time. These are kids of trail runners. This is the next next generation of trail and ultramarathon runners Most have been in the mountains all day and are dirty and happy and like mine, happy being dirty. They’ve got wild hair and dusty clothes and bolt off to the track to squeal and cheer whenever someone runs through the gate. There are no electronic devices…just balls, turf, and maybe a few bugs. (WTF is that thing Sunny found? Can anyone ID it?) All and all, the infield makes me feel like a normal parent surrounded by those who value similar experiences for our kids.
- For older kids, we had dinner with 15 year old Sebastian Salsbury and his dad on Friday and again, I feel good about the future. He’s passionate about the sport, enthusiastic about his own running and just a really cool kid to hang out with.
- Speaking of kids, Sunny spent the day cheering on Kaci at the Escarpment, practicing the unicycle at Foresthill (apparently in front of a live cam?) then babysitting Frosty’s daughter on the infield. She says it was the best day of her life.
- This was the first Western States that I DNFed. We’d made the goal of staying through the 24 hour runners, but decided to call it quits after the first few women came through the finish. It’d been a loooong day and I figure it was best to end it on a good note then amidst a tornado of caffeine-withdrawled hysteria.