The Western States Endurance Run was this weekend and it was very exciting.
On the men’s side, eight of the top ten from 2014 were back (Ryan Sandes withdrew the day before due to illness and Max King took a pass).
At the front, the race was remarkably similar to the 2014 edition. Rob Krar started out conservatively with Seth Swanson following along. By the mid point of the race, it was Krar, Swanson, François D’Haene and Thomas Lorblanchet. It was clear that the winner would come from that group. On Cal Street, Rob Krar was Rob Krar, and he gapped the field. He powered along under course record pace with Swanson battling to stay close. Rob had a nice cushion at the river and the only question was whether or not he would break the course record. In the end, he didn’t get the record, but he took the win with another amazing performance. Swanson was second, just like last year, and Jared Hazen, only twenty years old, took third.
On the women’s side, this race was being billed as a battle between Stephanie Howe and Magdalena Boulet. It did not disappoint. Stephanie managed a lead for much of the first half of the race – bolstered by Magda running off course for a couple of miles. However, Magda was in charge by mile 62 and she surged to a first place finish in her first 100-miler. With that being said, she’s lucky it’s the Western States 100 and not the Western States 105. Kaci Lickteig went by Stephanie Howe late in the race and was taking chunks out of Magda’s lead. She ended up a mere 15 minutes behind her. Stephanie hung on for a strong third place.
Full results of the Western States 100 are available here.
With that being said, the highlight of the day was Gunhild Swanson. She was attempting to be the first woman to complete the race at age 70 (or older). Clearly, Gunhild has a flair for the dramatic.
After going off course late in the race, Gunhild was barely making cutoffs. She hit Robie Point – mile 98.9 – with 17 minutes to go. In other words, she needed to complete the final 1.3 miles in 17 minutes. She was greeted at Robie Point by Rob Krar, Tim Twietmeyer and others. That’s quite an entourage. Gunhild hit the Placer High School track a short while later with her finish still in doubt. As she hit the last straightaway, less than 100 meters from the finish, the crown was deafening.
In what may have been the most exciting Western States finish ever, Gunhild snuck under the 30-hour cutoff by a handful of seconds – and the crowd went wild!!
Check out Gunhild’s post-race interview here.
For more amazing race coverage, check out iRunFar.