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Trail runner on track: Jim Walmsley’s Olympic Qualifying workout

Western States 100-mile course record-holder heads to Houston this weekend for the half-marathon

Jim Walmsley

The Western States 100 course record-holder Jim Walmsley is headed to Houston, Texas this weekend for the Houston Half Marathon. The word on the track is the Hoka-sponsored trail and ultrarunner is aiming to race 1:04:00 in order to qualify for Olympic Trials. Considering the Western States 100 finishes at Auburn High School on a track, Walmsley is no stranger to training in circles. 

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Walmsley was recently ranked 23rd male on Sports Illustrated’s Fittest 50 athletes (marathon world record-holder Eliud Kipchoge ranked 21st). How does a 100-mile (160K) specialist train for 13.1? Walmsley is known for running over 160K weeks while training for ultra trail races. However, while training for the Houston Half, his average has dropped to 145K per week. This season he has been hitting the Horizon High School track in Scottsdale, Arizona with his buddies (also known as the Coconino Cowboys). 

Walmsley on the Horizon High School Track in Arizona. Photo: Strava

Walmsley’s tune-up track workout on January 1 included a total of 24.5K at an average of 3:45 per kilometre. The sponsored Hoka runner warmed up with three miles (5K) before going hard. His workout consisted of four times two-mile (3.22K) repeats, each with alternating rests of one and two minutes. Then he cooled off with another three miles (5K). Speculating from his Strava, one could assume Walmsley felt confident after this workout, giving it a thumbs up. 

Photo: Strava

Walmsley fans will have to wait until Sunday’s Houston Half Marathon to see whether he was in fact in the right ballpark. According to the Houston Marathon website, Walmsley is not listed on the elite list of runners. Not only could Walmsley qualify for Olympic Trials with the half marathon, he could shock the masses and win, walking away with a prize of $20,000.