Friday, June 25, 2010

Western States 100!

This weekend is the running of the Western States Endurance Run.  For ultra/trail runners, this race is Mecca.  The race, a point-to-point trail run through the Sierra Nevadas, winds from Squaw Valley ski area to Auburn, California, up and down through canyons and tough trails.  It's tough to qualify for, tough to get in, and, of course, tough to finish.
I love the story of how this race started.  Starting in 1955, the Western States Trail Ride was started to show that horses could cover 100 miles in a day.  In 1974 Gordy Ainsleigh showed up for the ride.  Legend has it that his horse got sick, so he decided to run the course--on foot!  He finished in under 24 hours, a feat repeated by Ken "Cowman" Shirk two years later.  The first official Western States Endurance run was held in 1977 with 14 runners; three finished.

Today hundreds of runners from around the world compete in a lottery for a spot in this historic race, one of the oldest ultramarathons in the world.  All told, runners climb 18,000 feet and descend 22,000 feet.  Even though every runner in this race is a veteran trail runner, not all will finish.  But those who do will earn the coveted belt buckle!  (That's right, all that preparation, pain, and commitment for a belt buckle!)
One of these days, I'll get there.  I have a ways to go before I'm ready for a 100 miler, much less one as tough as Western States!  Today, a few runners from North Texas Trail Runners are running.  Drew Meyer, who was so encouraging as I tried to finish at Cross Timbers, will be there, as will 2 others from NTTR.  Here's to a strong finish for them!

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