The Western States Endurance Run is only four days away. The world’s oldest endurance race has a killer 2019 lineup. Another exciting aspect of the 2019 edition– there will be tons of Canadians (14 to be exact) on the start line.
Returning for 2019 is the 2018 champion and course record-holder, Jim Walmsley. Walmsley stunned the running community last year by not only shattering the old course record at WSER but he also made an appearance on the roads, settling the age-old trail vs. road debate by crushing a half-marathon and qualifying for the Olympic trials. Walmsley finished 27th overall on January 20, 2019 at the Houston Half Marathon with a time of 1:04:00–the exact time for the “B” standard. Walmsley knows the WSER course well, and he’s shown he’s got extreme range and ability.
On the women’s side, Courtney Dauwalter is the defending champion who’s returning for a second year. She took the title during her WSER debut in 2018 and is coming back for more. In 2019 she’s already won the Tarawera Ultra and had the Hardrock 100 on the schedule but sadly it’s been cancelled, meaning she’s got even more time to recover between WSER and UTMB.
Francesca Canepa of Italy is running WSER for the first time. The 2018 UTMB winner is a huge addition to the lineup, and what she lacks in WSER experience, she makes up for in ability to run downhill.
South Africa’s Ryan Sandes is one of the more experienced and competitive WSER runners. Sandes was the 2017 champion and has two other top-five finishes to his name.
Canadians with a shot at the top 10
There are three Canadian women with a serious shot at a top finish: Alissa St Laurent, Kat Drew and Kim Magnus. Drew from Vancouver earned her Golden Ticket by winning Canyons 100K. She also just returned from representing Canada at the Trail World Championships this June in Portugal. She has had an incredible last few years, and is one to watch in the 2019 race.
Also from Vancouver, Magnus secured her Golden Ticket racing to second place at Canyons 100K behind Drew. She joined Drew at the World Championships earlier this month. Magnus is a killer on the mountains and will also be one to watch at the 2019 race.
St. Laurent, who was the first woman to win the Canadian Death Race outright in 2015, was the sixth-place female at UTMB in 2017. Before running UTMB that year she had DNF’d at Western States. It won’t be St. Laurent’s first day at WSER this year, as she finished in the top five in 2016 and has a real shot at an impressive run.