One Wrong Turn Ignited the Fire for Western States 2017
Imagine having a monumental lead at a race for almost its entirety and then making one wrong turn with only a few miles left to go. How would you feel? How would you continue? Would you? And, would you come back?
To have something, and more because the course record was also right there, and then suddenly gone. To fall from an astounding lead to finishing in 20th place overall. Would it be disheartening? Or encouraging?
This is the story of Jim Walmsley’s Western States 2016 race. Jim came out of “nowhere” in his first 100 Mile Ultramarathon attempt, leading by a long shot, then make that disastrous turn to finish in 20th place.
But first, what is Western States? Western States is a 100 mile race that goes from Squaw Valley to Auburn, California following a horse trail. Instead of me trying, this video explains the race so much better.
Doesn’t that race sound like fun? But alas, one simply does not just enter Western States 100, one must first qualify to enter the lottery. Western States provides a list of qualifying races and times to beat in order to enter the lottery. This lottery isn’t necessarily that easy to win. If your ticket is drawn, congrats, train hard, and pack your bags.
There is also another way to enter into the coveted Western States 100 and that is to win a “golden ticket”. That means to win one of the races on the list of qualifying races. Oh, top 10 finishers of Western States, do get an automatic return entry.
Back to Jim. So here he is with aftermath of having it, but then… Now what? I met Jim at Javelina Jundred last October at Fountain Hills, AZ when I was crewing my friend and Jim was there supporting the race. We got a chance to talk to Jim about his race and what he was going to do from there. Right there I became a fan of Jim not because of what he did or didn’t do, but his attitude towards the whole event, plus he’s a heck of a nice guy. And yes, he has a gorgeous running stride, and smile. All about the smile, until I see a stride I only dream of…
This weekend, as in tomorrow, is Western States 2017 and you bet Jim is there. He did win a “golden ticket” to the much coveted race of all time. The whole year has been electric with anticipation of how Jim is going to perform this year. Again instead of me talking, Ginger Runner does a much better job of interviewing Jim so give this video a watch.
The only thing I have to say is good luck to Jim and all of the runners at Western States 2017. Make it your best race ever.
Enjoy this recap of Jim Walmsley’s Western States 2016 with Gunhild Swanson doing the introductory voice over. (Gunhild is the 70 year old lady who finished with 6 seconds to spare last year.)
What was the race that was the cornerstone of your running career? Post in the comments below.