There’s no doubting that the Western States 100 still rules the roost when it comes to the classic 100 miler distance. Although the field was slightly depleted this year, that didn’t stop two of the best performances ever seen in the 100 mile distance.
First up, Tim Olsen took apart the men’s course record by 21 minutes, a record that many thought would stand the test of time.
And perhaps the performance of the day goes to back to back winner Ellie Greenwood for her effort in destroying Ann Trason’s long-standing record from 1994 by 50 minutes. Many again thought that record would take years before it was beaten.
Ryan Sandes also made a huge point with his debut time of 15:03, which also ran under the old course record previously held by Geoff Roes. Ryan has come a long way since his days of multi-stage racing. His win at Leadville last year put him on the map, and now this performance shows that he is very much regarded as a future winner of this race.
To put Tim’s run in context, last year’s course (changed due to weather conditions) was regarded as around 20 minutes faster, with Kilian the eventual winner in 15:34. Admittedly the weather Gods were on the side of the competitors today, but to take as much time off the old record as Tim has done is truly an outstanding effort. In total, there were 35 runners under the 19 hour mark!
For the Aussies, Mike Le Roux (who is contesting the Grand Slam) broke the fastest time by an Aussie with a stellar performance of 19:55, beating Ultra168 member, Andrew Vize’s time by 16 minutes. Top draw Mike, and well-deserved after months of hard training.
Much discussion will take place this week about just how much the weather played its part in the phenomenal times at this years race. The “Canyons” section of the course is usually a truly hellish 30km section stretching from Last Chance to the 100km point at Foresthill. It comprises 3 massive ascents and descents which blow your quads on the downs and are usually a matter of just one foot in front of the other on the way up.
Competitors are usually seen dipping anything and everything in ice buckets, sitting in streams before starting to ascend and doing anything they can to stay in the race before running on through into the cool of the evening on the flatter sections of the course seeking to make up time.
With the second coolest day ever in the race’s 39 year history the course lost some its bite, its key defences against speedy runners were laid bare and it was vulnerable to a full frontal attack by the world-class runners seeking revenge while the trail was “open for business”. No longer were runners asking whether they would make it up out of the stifling sauna like conditions of Eldorado Creek to Devils thumb or how they could even think about the climb out of Volcano Canyon, nope, this year it was attack at will and stake your claim in the history books of ultra running, and attack they did.