For the second year in a row, The North Face athlete Timothy Olson beat out some of the fastest ultrarunners in the world to earn first place at the renowned Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run Saturday, completing the course in 15:17:27. Runners faced stiff competition, 40,000 feet of elevation change and blistering heat on what turned out to be the second hottest day in race history with an official recorded temperature of 102 degrees Fahrenheit.
As the world’s oldest 100-mile trail race, the Western States 100 has reached iconic status as one of the most challenging, competitive and prestigious 100-mile races in the country. More than 385 runners began the race at 5 a.m. Saturday in Squaw Valley, Calif., ascending more than 18,000 feet and descending nearly 23,000 feet through high country wilderness and steamy canyons, before reaching the finish line in Auburn, Calif.
“The competition here this year was really strong,” said Olson. “When we hit the Rucky Chucky River crossing at 78 miles and I heard that second and third place were only a few minutes behind me, that was the turning point in my race. That is when I kicked it into high gear.”
Olson’s win gave him back-to-back top finishes after he won last year’s Western States 100 and set the course record with a time of 14:46:44. The 29-year-old from Ashland, Ore. broke away from the pack and assumed the lead nearly 50 miles into the race, maintaining his standing throughout the second half. Rob Krar, 36 of Flagstaff, Ariz., placed second with a time of 15:22:05, and Western States veteran Mike Morton, 41 of Lithia, Fla., came in third with a time of 15:45:21 setting a new masters course record.
Nikki Kimball, 42 of Bozeman, Mont. and Olson’s teammate on The North Face endurance team, was the second woman to cross the finish line in 19:21:43, making this her ninth finish at Western States and also her ninth finish in the women’s top five.
“Coming off of two recent surgeries and a fractured patella I knew I had to run the smartest race of my life if I was going to do well,” said three-time Western States Champion Kimball.
Kimball, who was not phased by the extreme heat conditions, edged out Amy Sproston, 39 of Portland, Ore. who finished as the third woman in 19:25:11, and was bested only by Pam Smith, 38 of Salem, Ore., who finished first with a time of 18:37:21.