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Walmsley, Dauwalter conquer Western States 100

Walmsley finds redemption while newcomer Dauwalter establishes herself as ultramarathon queen

Western States 100

Jim Walmsley has finally done it–he won the Western States Endurance Run yesterday in 14:30:04, setting a 16-minute course record and proving his worth in the punishing heat of the iconic 100-mile race. (Times are unofficial.)

Walmsley gained notoriety by charging out fast in 2016 and 2017, only to come up short. He ended up in 20th place after a wrong turn in 2016 (but scored a sponsorship with Hoka anyway), and DNF’d last year due to stomach problems, at mile 78.

France’s Francois d’Haene was second, in 15:54:52. Mark Hammond of Salt Lake City, Utah, was third for the second year in a row, in 16:08:59.



RELATED: How to watch Western States Endurance Run 100-miler

In the women’s race, newcomer Courtney Dauwalter of Golden, CO was first (as predicted), in a time of 17:27:02, the second-fastest time for any woman in the history of the race. (Canada’s Ellie Greenwood holds the course record of 16:47:19, set in 2012.) Kaytlyn Gerbin of Seattle, WA was second, in 18:40:19, and Lucy Bartholomew of Australia third (in her debut 100-miler), in 18:59:46.

Western States honours the top 10 men and women with guaranteed entry into next year’s race. The remaining women in the top 10 are Amanda Basham, Cecilia Flori, Stephanie Violett, Camelia Mayfield, Aliza Lapierre, Corrine Malcolm, and Kate Elliott. 

The remaining seven men in the top 10 are Ian Sharman, Jeff Browning, Kyle Pietari, Cody Reed, Charlie Ware, Paul Giblin, and Kris Brown.

Dauwalter, a science teacher who grew up running and Nordic skiing in Minnesota, set the women’s 24-hour American record of 250.079K at the 2017 Riverbank One Day Classic in California last year. She also won the Moab 240-miler in Utah outright by more than 10 hours.

In a revealing profile of Walmsley earlier this month, Outside magazine describes a cocky young man who struggles to control his impulsiveness, but who is nonetheless the best ultrarunner in the the U.S. at distances under 100 miles, with numerous course records. Hedging its bets, the magazine predicted he would either smash the course record or have yet another breakdown. 

Near the end of the race Walmsley was apparently delayed when he encountered a bear with cubs on the trail.

Last year d’Haene beat both Walmsley and mountain running legend Kilian Jornet to win Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc (UTMB), as well as setting a new speed record at the John Muir Trail in California. This was his third crack at Western States.

Top Canadian results

Canadian Ailsa Macdonald, one of Canada’s top ultrarunners, finished in 45th position overall and 13th female, with a time of 20:59:06. 

Devin Featherstone of Calgary finished 55th, in a time of 22:55:03.

Richard Turgeon of Gatineau, Que. finished 68th, in 23:24:08.

Here’s what Ailsa Macdonald had to say about her first Western States experience: “It started off great, with cool temps and some uphills, but the steep downhills and soaring record high temps took their toll on me.” Referring to herself as “not a good downhill runner,” Macdonald goes on to say, “My quads were thrashed by mile 50 and the remaining 50 miles were a sufferfest, to say the least. It took everything I had mentally and physically to cross that finish line, but I was not giving up! I surprised myself by finishing in just under 21 hours.” 

Popular lore about the oldest 100-miler in the world acknowledges there are more difficult, more technical 100-milers than WSER, but attributes the race’s prestige to its unique combination of heat, altitude, punishing elevation changes, and the long history of the race itself.

Three hundred and sixty-nine people were entered into the race. There were 63 DNF’s.