Pam Smith 4:1
I think the returning champ has to be the favorite. However, it is a very balanced field and I think there will be some surprises in the women’s race. Pam has been running well this year – an unreal 7:47:51 at the Mad City 100k and a first place at the Beacon Rock 25k. Her winning time last year was 18:37 – I think she will need to go faster this year to be back on top of the podium.
Stephanie Howe 5:1
Stephanie doesn’t race a ton so it is a little difficult to gauge her fitness level. Not only that, she has never raced one hundred miles. With that being said, she won the Mesquite Canyon 50k back in March and she was second at Lake Sonoma in April in a speedy time of 7:33:24. She has been training on the W.S. course and I think she has a good chance to take the win.
Emily Harrison 7:1
Emily was 7th last year in 20:28 – this shows that she is potentially vulnerable over the one hundred mile distance. However, she has crushed every other distance. She won Lake Sonoma this year in 7:26:15 and she won the Caumsett 50k in a blazing fast 3:15 – the second fastest 50k by a North American woman ever! Of course, W.S. is a completely different animal, but if Emily can figure it out, she won’t be beat.
Kaci Lickteig 8:1
So far this year, Kaci was second at Rocky Raccoon, third at Lake Sonoma and first at Ice Age – she certainly doesn’t shy away from competition! She is really good and she is a patient runner. With that being said, I think W.S. is well-suited for her. At the very least, I expect a podium finish. The question is, where will she be standing on it.
Nikki Kimball 10:1
Aside from Gordy, Nikki probably knows the Western States course as well as anyone. She has won the race three times and she was second last year (she has eight total finishes at Western States). Obviously, the experience factor is huge. With that being said, I think she’ll have her hands full with this year’s field.
Meghan Arbogast 18:1
Speaking of experience… Meghan was 4th last year and she has seven total finishes at Western States. She races often and always seems to do well. I expect her in the top ten but I think she’d need several people in front of her to falter in order to make the podium.
Sally McRae 30:1
Sally recently placed 6th at Lake Sonom,a and back in February, she was second at Sean O’ Brien. She will definitely have her hands full with this field. I expect her to run her own race, and I think her finish will be dictated by how things play out with the women in front of her.
Keila Merino 40:1
Keila is my sleeper pick – I haven’t seen her mentioned anywhere else. With that being said, I love that I was able to sneak a New Yorker into my preview! Her resume includes a third place at the Javelina Jundred (2012) and a third place at Leadville (2013). She was 7th at the Cayuga Trails 50 earlier this month and she took home a 50k win at the Long Island Greenbelt Trail 50k back in May. She is one of the better hundred mile women you have never heard of (until now) and she is flying under the radar at W.S. with a lottery entry.
1. Emily Harrison
2. Kaci Lickteig
3. Stephanie Howe
4. Pam Smith
5. Larisa Dannis
6. Nikki Kimball
7. Keila Merino
8. Shaheen Sattar
9. Meghan Arbogast
10. Sally McRae
Ian Corless (host of Talk Ultra)
Who do you think will win Western States?
Will you be following this year’s race?