The community of Foresthill welcomed the runners of the Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run on June 30 with cheers, big smiles and lots of encouragement. The Western States Endurance Run is one of the most challenging events for long distance runners. The trail the runners follow is a portion of the Western States Trail, Squaw Valley to Auburn California, a total of100 Miles.
The 369 qualified runners all started their journey at Squaw Valley at 5:00 AM. The valley floor sits at an elevation 6,200 feet. The runners in completing their run must check in at 23 different stations along the 100-mile course and complete the course in less than 24 hours. The beginning trail rises 2,550 feet at the start of the run for four miles reaching Emigrant Pass at the elevation of 8,750 feet. The trail then proceeds to Granite Chief Wilderness Area, to Red Star Ridge to Duncan Canyon and on to Robinson Flat at 7,00 feet elevation. This year there was still snow on the ground and along the trails at the higher elevations.
After stopping at check in, aids station, and time with the runner’s crew in Robinsons Flat it is on to Miller’s Defeat. The trail now follows the fire roads past Dusty Corners, then continues past Last Chance. Then you enter “The Canyons”. The first canyon is Deadwood and it drops 2,000 feet, then it ascends a steep 1,500 feet to get to Devil’s Thumb. The next canyon, El Dorado descends 2,600 feet and then climbs up 1,800 feet to reach Michigan Bluff, an old historic mining town.
The next stop is downtown Foresthill and is the 62 mile check in point of the course. Each runner would check in, have a medical check-up and have their “crew” assistance with food, water, change of clothes, and lots of encouragement. Getting a short break and receiving a medical check verified that the runner’s physical condition would be suitable for the next leg of the journey. Cheers and good wishes were bestowed on the runners as they ran thru town. The runners knew they were now more than halfway to their goal. Foresthill has enjoyed seeing the runners for 46 years and will enjoy the event for many more.
Jim Walmsley was the first runner to enter the Foresthill check in station. Jim won the 2018 first place position in the 100 Mile Race. John Trent, aid station captain for the Foresthill check in said Jim came in at 1:42pm and Jim beat his time into Foresthill by seventeen minutes over last year. The first female to reach Foresthill was Courtney Dauwater at 3:04pm, trailing Jim by 1 hour 23 minutes.
Then, the runners where off again to continue their adventure. The next portion of the trail leads to the American River to conquer Dardanelles to Peachstone to Ford’s Bar. It can get extremely hot down in the canyons here. Its time to cross the American River at Rucky Chucky. This is an aid station, check in point and crews can bring runners items they may want. This year, crossing the river was extremely dangerous due to cold water and rapid currents, so boats took runner across for safety reasons.
From Rucky Chucky the trail goes up the canyon to Green Gate. Thankfully the trail to Auburn Lakes Trail is rather relaxing compared to the other trail portions. Advancing to Quarry Road entails dropping back down to the river, then you climb back up the canyon and this enables the runner to cross Highway 49 and be only seven miles from the finish line. Once across Highway 49 the trail takes you to Pointed Rocks Ranch. One more time down into the canyon and the trail bring runners to “No Hands” or Mountain Quarries Bridge. The runners cross the bridge and start to climb to Robie Point. Now only 1.3 miles to Placer High School in Auburn and the FINISH LINE.
Each runner successfully completing the run in less than 24 hours was awarded a sterling silver Western States Endurance Run “100 MILES – ONE DAY” buckle. Those runners successfully completing the course in 24 hours to 30 hours were presented a bronze “100 MILES – ONE DAY” buckle for their efforts.
Jim Walmsley continued his winning pace he had in Foresthill and came in first, for a second time in two years, with a time of 14 hours 9:28 minutes. Crossing the finish line at Auburn’s Placer High School stadium at 7:09pm, Jim completed the 2019 Western States 100 – Mile Endurance Run beating his winning time (and course record time) for 2018 by more than 20 minutes. What an accomplishment!
Jim is from Flagstaff, Arizona and is 29 years old. This is Jim’s 4th Western States 100 – Mile Endurance Run. At the age of 26 Jim completed his first run in 2016 with a time of 18 hours 45:36 minutes coming in 20th. The run in 2017 was not completed due to a river crossing difficulty. Jim came back in 2018 for the run and came in 1st with a time of 14 hours and 30:04 minutes. Congratulations Jim!
The first women to cross the finish line for the 2019 Western States 100 -Mile Endurance Run was Clare Gallagher, from Boulder Colorado, age 27. This is Clare’s first attempt at the Western States 100-Mile Run. The finish line was crossed at 10:23pm giving Clare the 17th place for the run. The total time for Clare was 17 hours and 23:25 minutes.
Jim Walmsley and Clare Gallagher received The Western States Endurance Run Cougar, a bronze statue that symbolizes strength, intensity, power and determination of those who meet the challenge of the rugged mountains and are the first man and woman to cross the finish line. The perpetual Wendell Robie Cup was also awarded to Jim and Clare.
A summary of the 2019 entrants:
Starters: 369 runners
Drop out of run: 50 runners (14%)
Finishers: 319 runner completed
Sterling silver 100-Mile Buckle for completing run in under 24 hours awarded to 130 runners
Bronze 100 – Mile Buckle for completing run in 24 hours to 30 hours awarded to 189 runners