Another big endurance race gets underway tomorrow, when the Western States 100 returns following a year off in 2008. The race is amongst the longest running ultramarathons in the world, and covers 100 miles through the mountains of California, kicking off from Squaw Valley and proceeding to Auburn, with some grueling altitude gains and leg straining descents along the way.
The race has been one of the premiere endurance challenges for long distance runners since it began back in 1977. Last year the race had to be cancelled due to fears over forest fires and smoke in the air. Naturally, the runners were very disappointed, as you can imagine the amount of time, effort, and discipline required to prepare for an event such as this one. You can bet that many of those same athletes are back this year, and ready to go.
Runners will set off tomorrow at 5 AM from the floor of Squaw Valley, which is located at 6200 feet. From there, they’ll go up to Emigrant Pass at 8750 feet, gaining 2550 feet in the first 4.5 miles of the race. The course then runs west along an old trail used by miners and prospectors back in the 1850’s that remains very remote and scenic. Along the way, they’ll climb another 15,540 feet and descent more than 22,970 feet before reaching the finish line. They’ll have until 11 AM on Sunday morning to finish to be considered on the official leaderboard and gain an award.
The Western States is one of the most legendary races amongst ultrarunners anywhere on the planet, and it’s good to see it back this year. Good luck to all the runners and enjoy the trail.
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