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Western States 100 endurance race this weekend in Squaw Valley

Oldest 100-miler in the world features 15 Canadian runners

The oldest 100-mile race in the world, the Western States 100 is set for this weekend, June 29-30,  beginning in beautiful Squaw Valley, California near the site of the 1960 Winter Olympics. 

The race, first held in 1974, follows the Western States Trail as runners climb a whopping 18,000 feet and descend another 23,000 before the finish in Auburn, California. 

It ranks at the very top of most endurance runners’ must-do lists and there is a lottery as a result of the huge amount of entries received each year. In addition, eager endurance runners must compete in one of the qualifying runs before heading to the big show. 

This year, a seriously heavy snow season left some wondering about the impact on the historic race, but it seems as though all systems are a go. 

“There will be snow on the course, but the impact is going to be minimal compared to the way things looked during our Memorial Day Weekend training runs,” says race director Craig Thornley. “We’ve had years where the snow was continuous for the first 25 to 30 miles of the course. That definitely won’t be the case this year.”

According to Thornley, the men’s and women’s fields are knee deep in serious competitors and it is shaping up to be an epic weekend race. 

“Both fields are deep, talented and should be exciting to watch,” says Thornley.

On hand for the race will be defending champion Jim Walmsley of Flagstaff, Arizona and defending women’s champion, legendary Courtney Dauwalter of Golden, Colorado. 

“Jim and Courtney are running really well,” he says. “They are going to be challenged by a number of really talented runners from around the world. It should be a great race.”

There are more international competitors than usual in this year’s race, as well, including a whopping 15 Canucks from north of the border including Vancouver runner Kathryn Drew. 

Drew nailed down a golden ticket to the Western States 100 earlier this year by placing third at the Bandera 100K in Texas, in a field chockablock with top-notch trail runners. 

“Around 8 years ago I remember being in a half-marathon clinic, and Dave (Papineau, Broadway Run Club) came in with his shiny new Western States belt buckle. He talked about how he had run this 100-mile race and he got the silver buckle because he ran it in under 24 hours. I remember thinking “Yuck! How could anyone run that far and why on earth would anyone WANT to do that?!” said Drew, via a post on social media earlier this week. “At that time in my life, I couldn’t even fathom running a marathon let alone anything longer than that. Well, here I am just 1 week out from running the Western States and gunning for my own silver buckle. I’m SO excited to have the opportunity to run this iconic race and be a part of such a special event!”

What to follow along with the race? Here is what the Western States has for the endurance running fans:
 
  • Official splits and runner tracking are available here.
  • Runner tracking information will also be available in real time by voice using Google Assistant (Android/iOS) and with devices like Google Home or Amazon Alexa. For example, “Alexa, enable Western States.”
  • The Finish has a continuous live video feed on Facebook from the first finisher to the last here
  •  And a short clip of every 2019 finisher crossing the line will also be available here:
Good luck to all the competitors!


  

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