Records fall at Western States

Runners await the start of the 2019 Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run.
Justin Scacco /

One of endurance running’s most prestigious events was held last weekend, bringing 379 runners to the start line in Olympic Valley for a 100-mile race to Auburn.

The annual Western States Endurance Run got underway early Saturday morning as runners made their way up and over Emigrant Pass, and then followed trails used by miners during the 1800s. Athletes had to negotiate snow on the course for the first 20 miles. From Emigrant Pass, the route has more than 15,500 feet of climbing and  22,970 feet of descent before reaching the finish line in Auburn.

Courtney Dauwalter, 38, of Leadville, Colorado, won the women’s race in record-setting fashion, shattering the 11-year-old course record by more than an hour with a time of 15 hours, 29 minutes and 33 seconds. The previous record set in 2012 was 16:47.

“The day was so fun,” said Dauwalter following the race. “I’m so thankful for all of the volunteers who were out on the course … it was absolutely beautiful out there. … it was very difficult and I’m happy to be here at the track with all of you.”

Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc champion Katie Schide, 31, of Gardiner, Maine, took second with a time of 16:43:45 to also break the previous course record. Eszter Csillag, 38, a Hungarian living in Hong Kong, finished third in 17:07:55. The top nine women’s finishers all broke the 18-hour mark —  a first in Western States history.

Truckee’s Jaclyn Foroughi, 43, took 78th overall, reaching Auburn in 23:09:32 to lead all local women. She was paced by 2015 Western States winner and Olympian Magdalena Boulet as well as two-time, top-10 finisher Erika Hoagland. Foroughi was crewed by 10-time Western States finisher Karl Hoagland.

South Lake Tahoe’s Caroline Barichievich, 51, finished in 29:11:48 to take 272nd

On the men’s side, Tom Evans, 31, of Loughborough, Great Britain, won his first Western States title. Evans, who placed third in 2019, shared the lead throughout much of the early going, and entered the Foresthill aid station at mile 62 in a tie for first. From there, Evans would run a 2:07 split to the river crossing to take a commanding 16-minute lead over Tyler Green, 39, of Portland, Oregon. Evans would finish in 14:40:22 to claim the fourth-fastest men’s time in Western States history. Green finished second in 15:04:09. Anthony Costales, 34, of Salt Lake City, Utah, took third in 15:09:16.

“I think for me, this year, I put all my eggs in one basket to come to Western States and have my best possible day,” Evans said in a post-race interview. “And yeah, I still can’t believe it myself. … This is my favorite race in the world.”

 Truckee’s David Wilkins, 38, took 48th with a time of 21:20:59 to lead all local runners. Denver Armstrong, 42, of Kings Beach, took 51st with a time of 21:46:22.

In all, the 328 runners reached the finish line, tying 2010 for the most finishers in races 50-year history. This year’s 86.5% finish rate is the highest in race history. 

Last fall’s Mosquito Fire, charred about 16 miles of the Western States Trail. Since October, crews from Western States, in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service and the Auburn State Recreation Area, have worked to bring the trail back in time for this year’s event.

This year, participants, organizers and fans celebrated the 50th Western States. In August 1974, Meadow Vista, California woodcutter Gordy Ainsleigh joined the horses of the Tevis Cup and covered the distance from Olympic Valley to Auburn entirely on foot in 23 hours and 42 minutes. Since then, more than 6,000 individuals have finished Western States.

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