Tuesday, December 8, 2015

A Ticket to Western States

On Saturday, my name was pulled in the Western States Endurance Run lottery. The invitation to run in the world's most prestigious 100-miler--the first 100-miler, the "Super Bowl of Ultrarunning," the "big dance"--is a dream come true. I have dreamt of running in Western States since I ran my first ultra a dozen years ago. It is honestly hard to believe this moment has finally come.

With a total of four tickets in the hopper on Saturday, I had a 14% chance of being selected. I had told my wife that, realistically, it would be 2019 or 2020 before I got in. By then, I'd have enough tickets to have a serious shot. But lady luck was on my side this year. When I saw my name pop up on the website, which was being updated real-time as entrants were selected on Saturday morning, I was in disbelief. It was a surreal moment. The first thing I did was call my wife. Was this really happening? Would I finally have my shot?

And to think that it almost didn't happen. I wasn't qualified for the 2016 running of the Western States Endurance Run until November 1, when I crossed the finish line at the Javelina Jundred. I went to Javelina with really one goal in mind: to stay qualified for Western States. In the process, I regained my confidence as a runner, after losing it at Bighorn, and now I've been handed the opportunity of a lifetime--a ticket to the "big dance."

Through all the growth ultrarunning has experienced in recent years, there have been a few constants. Among them: Western States remains THE iconic 100-miler in large part because it's set the standard. It is the gold standard, like Kona is for Ironman triathletes or Boston is for (us) marathoners. 

Western States will be my big goal race for 2016. I intend to give it my best. Although it's hard to train the way I used to (from a time standpoint), I will throw everything I can at Western States, because that race deserves nothing short of one's best. I will need to be ready for the 41,000 feet of combined elevation change and those sweltering hot canyons. One can run ultras for years--even decades--and never get a chance to line up for Western States. This could be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I intend to take full advantage of it. I will soak it all up and, when it really gets tough, think about how good it'll feel to run that last little bit of the race on the Placer High School track in Auburn.

With a very solid base in place, training will begin in earnest in mid-February. It will consist of a healthy dose of volume, lots of downhill running, weights, hill repeats, heat training, as much trail work as I can get in, and some tempo efforts. Ski season will still be in swing then so I'll train hard on weekends we're not skiing--basically I'll be opportunistic. Then in early April, when ski season is behind us, I'll really crank it up.

I also intend to line up for Leadville in August, assuming my name is drawn in that lottery, too. The challenge of two iconic hundreds in one summer practically intoxicates me with excitement. The two races are separated by about eight weeks. Recovery between the events will be critical.

In due time, the details will be worked out. For now, I'm just elated beyond belief to have a ticket to one seriously bad-ass 100-miler. And I'm hoping to get back to Leadville for what will be a summer I'll never forget. Let's get it on.


  1. Congrats my man, so fired up for you!!!!

  2. Congratulations! I have been following your blog for a while and it is really inspiring to see someone chasing their dream down.

  3. I am truly happy for you Wyatt. Enjoy the ride, it is awesome. My only advice -- particularly for a runner as good as experienced as you -- is don't get caught up in the hype. You know how to train, training doesn't change because it is WS100. Do your thing. And don't get caught in the hype on race day either. People there go out stupid fast and pay for it big time later. If you arrive up to Michigan Bluff in pretty good shape, then you have a great chance to reel people in by the handful. By the way, Michigan Bluff was the coolest aid station I've seen in ultrarunning....

    1. Great advice, AJ. I agree--don't get caught up in the hype and just run my own race. Thanks for the encouragement!