Wow, I have wanted to used that hashtag for a long time. Western States 100, the oldest 100 mile race in the country, and probably the most prestigious. Kind of like the superbowl of US ultrarunning (although plenty of international folks come over too). Brings out some of the best competition, but really, just has such a rich history and electric vibe to it, that anyone would be grateful to run it. And I most certainly am.
I found out about this race years ago, early in my ultra running experience, and was taken by it after watching Unbreakable. I wanted that experience. It's a hard one to come by though simply because of supply and demand. A whole lot of people want to run it, thousands, and there are only about 300 spots. I put in for the lottery for years, no luck. Most people have to put in a lot longer though.
I spent 2014 and 2015 chasing it the hard way, the Montrail Ultra Cup. 5 or so 50m-100k races where the top 2 men and top 2 women are given slots (which can roll down to 5th if needed). I ran Lake Sonoma 50 in California in 2014 not really expecting to get in, but I was sure going to give it my best effort. I placed 8th and I believe the slot went down to 3rd or 4th. I raced Bandera 100k in
So the next month I went from cold and icy rocks and insanely sticky and heavy mud, to way more heat than my winter body was ready for at the Black Canyon 100k. Again I went in determined. I went alone, this was no family trip, not even a couple's trip. I was there to earn a spot. I ran in 3-5th place for the first 16 miles, with a wonderful pack of women, and it was surreal to be there and feel totally capable. Then the really heat of the day started, and it took a toll on me like I've never felt
I learned a little something from those MUC experiences of trying to get in. It burned me out a little. A) these races take place in the winter or spring and in warmer weather states and I live in a snow state. Despite my best efforts, I just don't know that I can acclimate well enough to place that high, and
B) the time and money it took to train for and travel to those races is more than I should take from my family right now. I don't mean to sound like those faster than I have it easy or don't train their butts off, in fact, they probably and most certainly train harder and more than I do. But many don't have 4 young kids and are going to school right now. I just simply don't have the time and resources ($) to train to the level it really takes to earn one of those spots. Nor should I personally put my family below my athletic goals to this extent. I committed to not enter the Ultra Cup races this year, but I would of course throw my name in the lottery since I had plenty of the qualifying racesFast forward a few months and Altra became the Western States 100 official shoe sponsor. Wow! I can't tell you how cool that moment was. My husband Jeremy and Golden and Brian were 3 20-something year old guys that had a dream to solve a problem and started a shoe company that incredibly spread across the whole world, in the 6 short years since conception. With that came a couple race entries. I wasn't sure initially how I felt about that and how I'd feel if I was offered one. I didn't want to feel like it was less of an entry and effort than any other method of entry. I didn't just want it 'given' to me (we're a weird breed eh?). I wanted to feel like I earned it. And somehow, even the lottery felt more like earning it to me. But I put my name in that hat hoping to be selected. And then the slots were offered to two other wonderful Endurance Team athletes of ours and I was pretty bummed. A lot actually especially after not getting into the WS or Hardrock lottery. I've been pretty unsure and lost as to what this year would hold despite so many other great races out there.
About a month later after a funny turn of events, I got a phone call wondering if I still wanted to run Western States. It surprised me and caught me off guard since I certainly wasn't planning on that race was planning on not training up to and racing a 100 until the fall, but um, YES, of course I want to race Western States!!
And I'm not going be anything but excited now.. I know there are so many people, so many of my friends who want to do this race and have worked hard to keep their qualifiers and enter the lottery or go to theses qualifying races. I have done those things too though, so I'm going to take this opportunity given to me as an Altra Endurance Team athlete to experience one of the most amazing races out there!