The Western States Endurance Run (WSER), taking place this Saturday June 24 is considered one of the most prestigious and historical events on the ultra running calendar. Every year it attracts a deep field of mainly local US runners with a smattering of international stars too and this year is no different.
The event is the world’s oldest 100 mile race and takes participants on a journey starting near the site of the 1960 Winter Olympics in Squaw Valley, California and finishing in Auburn, California. The point to point course includes more than 5,000 meters of ascent and around 7,000 meters of descent. The 2017 field is ridiculously deep and consists of many of last year’s top 10, plus a variety of other strong runners.
We start with the ladies preview today and tomorrow we’ll look at the men.
The women’s field this year is headed by Kaci Lickteig, Stephanie Howe Violett, Magdalena Boulet, Camille Herron and Andrea Huser.
Kaci is the defending champion after running the 4th fastest female time last year to win the event, and is very much at home with Western States having running it three times and finishing in the top 10 every time.
Since winning Western States last year she has won the Bear 100 Mile and has had a solid start to 2017 with 2nd (finishing together with Magdalena Boulet) at the Lake Sonoma 50 Mile and 2nd at the Quad Rock 50 Mile. Kaci has plenty of experience with the course and given her solid lead up means that she is ready to defend her title, however there will be plenty of strong competition pushing her the whole way.
Stephanie is a former Western States champion, winning the event in 2014 and then finishing 3rd in the 2015 event, however she missed the 2016 race with injury. Since her last appearance at Western States she backed up with an amazing 8th at UTMB 2015, but was then sidelined for most of 2016 before starting her comeback with a solid 9th at the North Face 50 Mile Championship last December. Since then she has been going from strength to strength, and earned her place atWestern States through winning a Golden Ticket race, the Bandera 100k outright.
Magdalena comes from a marathon running background and managed to transfer much of that success to her ultra trail running career since making the transition around four years ago. In 2015 she won the Chuckanut 50k, Western States and UROC 100k, and in 2016 she was 3rd at the Speedgoat 50k, 5th at UTMB and 2nd at The North Face 50 Mile Endurance Challenge Championship. So far in 2017 she has been 2nd at both the Tarawera Ultra 100k and Lake Sonoma 50 Mile (finishing together with Kaci Lickteig). Although Magdalena did not finish Western States last year, she still had a very successful 2016 season and it is important to bear in mind that she won Western States on her debut at the event (and distance) in 2015.
Camille is relatively new to ultra trail running and also comes from a strong marathon background and has already experienced success in the few ultra events she has done. In 2015 she won the Mad City 100k, World 100k Championships and World 50k Championships, and in 2016 she was 4th at the Lake Sonoma 50 Mile.So far in 2017 she has been 2nd at Bandera 100k, 1st at the Tarawera Ultra 100k, 4th at Chuckanut 50k and most recently just had a smashing win at the hugely competitive Comrades Marathon in South Africa. Although Camille has never done a 100 mile event and is still finding her feet on the trails, the Western States course should suit her and she certainly has the potential to do very well. Can she become the first woman since Ann Trason to do the Comrades / Western States double?
Andrea is one of strongest runners on the global ultra trail scene currently, and after a strong 2016 that included wins at Lavaredo Ultra Trail and Grand Raid Reunion she has continued that success into 2017. So far in 2017 she has been 1st at Ultra Trail Tai Mo Shan 100 Mile, 2nd at Transgrancanaria 125k, 1st at Madeira Island Ultra Trail 115k and 2nd at the Maxi Race. Andrea is certainly a strong mountain runner and has plenty of potential to do well at Western States, the only question might be how she will fare on a “flatter” and more runnable course compared to the more steep and technical courses of Europe. The final female podium positions will probably come from the above group of women, but there are plenty of other female contenders.
Other female contenders:
- Amy Sproston – 9th Ultra-Trail Mt. Fuji 2015, 2nd WSER 2016, 1st Silver State 50 Mile 2017
- Amanda Basham – 2nd Gorge Waterfalls 100k 2016, 4th WSER 2016, 6th Run Rabbit Run 2016
- Alissa St. Laurent – 1st Canadian Death Race 2015, 5th WSER 2016, 2nd Run Rabbit Run 2016
- Meghan Arbogast – 12th WSER 2015, 6th WSER 2016, 8th Lake Sonoma 50 Mile 2017
- Maggie Guterl – 6th Cayuga Trails 50 Mile 2015, 2nd Georgia Death Race 2016, 8th WSER 2016,
- Fiona Hayvice – 2nd Ultra-Trail Australia 100k 2016, 9th Eiger Ultra-Trail 101k 2016, 6th Tarawera Ultra 100k 2017
- Ildiko Wermescher – 9th Ultra-Trail Australia 100k 2016, 7th UTMB 2016, 5th Transgrancanaria 125k 2017
- Stephanie Case – 6th Vibram 100 2015, 5th Madeira Island Ultra-Trail 115k 2017, 5th Maxi Race 2017
- Emily Harrison – 3rd Massanutten Mountain Trails 100 Mile 2016, 1st Sean O’Brien 100k 2017
- Clare Gallagher – 1st Leadville Trail 100 Mile 2016, 2nd Black Canyon Trail 100k 2017
- Yiou Wang – 1st Lake Sonoma 50 Mile 2016, 13th WSER 2016, 1st Lake Sonoma 50 Mile 2017
- Nicole Kalogeropoulos – 13th UTMB 2015, 3rd Run Rabbit Run 2016, 1st Black Canyon Trail 100k 2017
- Bree Lambert – 5th Gorge Waterfalls 100k 2015, 2nd Miwok 100k 2016, 14th Lake Sonoma 50 Mile 2017
- Sabrina Stanley – 4th Leadville Trail 100 Mile 2016, 2nd Sean O’Brien 100k 2017
David’s podium picks
1st Magdalena Boulet, 2nd Kaci Lickteig, 3rd Stephanie Howe-Violett
Dan’s podium picks
1st Magdalena Boulet, 2nd Camille Herron, 3rd Kaci Lickteig
Feature image credit: Western States 100 website