Elite athletes impress in Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run | SierraSun.com

Elite athletes impress in Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run

Sylas Wright
swright@sierrasun.com

With every 100-mile course crushed, the ultrarunning world becomes better acquainted with Rob Krar and his beard.

Krar, a 38-year-old, long-bearded Canadian native from Flagstaff, Ariz., defended his 2014 title while flirting with the event record in the 42nd Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run on Saturday.

Krar covered the 100.2-mile course between Squaw Valley and Auburn in 14 hours, 48 minutes, 59 seconds. The time was about two minutes off Timothy Olsen's record of 14:46:44, which he set on an unseasonably cool day in 2012.

"Rob came close. I think he was hoping for the course record, but it was a little hotter than folks would have liked," said Western States President John Trent, adding that Auburn reached a high of 92 degrees on Saturday, with above-average humidity.

"It was a lot warmer than when Timothy set the record. Rob had a tremendous run. I think people are going to remember it for quite a number of years."

Krar won last year's Western States Endurance Run — one of the oldest and most competitive 100-mile races in the world — with a time of 14:53:22. He placed second in 2013. He's also a three-time TransRockies champion and owns the fastest known time for both the single and double crossing of the Grand Canyon.

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"Over the 100-mile distance, in my opinion, he's probably the most complete runner in the world right now," Trent said. "He comes into these races with a mental mindset that is completely focused. His tactics and the way he approaches a race are very impressive."

Seth Swanson, 36, of Missoula, Mont., finished runner-up for the second straight year with a time of 15:17:28. Jared Hazen, a 20-year-old from Colorado Springs, Colo., picked off runners throughout the day en route to a third-place finish in 15:37:55.

They were followed by Gediminas Grinius of Lithuania (15:40:55) and Thomas Lorblanchet of France (15:56:32) rounding out the top five.

Boulet tops women's field

In the women's field, former U.S. Olympic marathon runner Magdalena Boulet, 41, of Oakland raced to victory despite going off course early in the race. Trent said Boulet and then-leader Joelle Vaught took a wrong turn somewhere in the high country and ran for about a mile before turning back.

Boulet more than made up for the mistake. In what was her first 100-mile race, she tracked down 2014 women's champion Stephanie Howe, who had built a 20-minute lead, around Foresthill and proceeded to extend her lead to the finish line. Even after running two additional miles, she placed 20th overall with a time of 19:05:21.

Kaci Lickteig, 28, of Omaha, Neb., was the second women's finisher and 24th overall in 19:20:31. Howe, a 31-year-old from Bend, Ore., was the third woman and 25th overall, in 19:32:58.

"Magdalena, even with her impressive athletic portfolio, ran a very impressive race," Trent said. "It can be soul-crushing to go off course like that. So it's impressive what she did."

Locally, 57-year-old Jackie Clark of Tahoma recorded a time of 28:50:09 in her first 100-mile race. Veteran Truckee ultrarunner Paul Sweeney, who also will race the Hardrock 100 in Colorado in two weeks, dropped at mile 38.

"Jackie just did a tremendous job. She's had this calf injury and she didn't let it bother her at all. She really just ran under control and had good spirits the whole way. I'm so happy for her," Trent said. "And Paul is such a good runner and such a nice guy. Even though he didn't finish, he was still the positive force that he always is. He said he was just fatigued and didn't have the normal snap that you need."

South Shore athletes Ryan Weibel and Alan Barichievich also competed. Weibel, 42, posted an impressive time of 20:13:17, which was good enough for 30th place overall. Barichievich, 48, finished in 28:13:57.

In all, 254 of the roughly 375 starters reached the finish line within the 30-hour cutoff, and 96 runners posted sub-24-hour finishes. Both numbers were down from last year's run, which was slightly cooler and less humid, Trent said.

The last runner to make the cutoff was 70-year-old Gunhild Swanson of Spokane Valley, Wash., who crossed the line with six seconds to spare. The feat earned her the title as the oldest-ever Western States 100 finisher. According to media reports, Krar joined Swanson during the final mile, running along her side in flip-flops.

The 42nd edition of the run featured perhaps the most competitive field in event history, Trent added, with all 10 of the top women from 2014 returning, and nine of the top 10 men.

The run begins at the base of Squaw Valley and climbs more than 18,000 feet and descends nearly 23,000 along the historic Western States Trail. It finishes on the Placer High School track in Auburn.

Find complete results at http://www.wser.org.

42nd Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run results

Top 10 overall

1. Rob Krar, Flagstaff, Ariz., 14:48:59

2. Seth Swanson, Missoula, Mont., 15:17:28

3. Jared Hazen, Colorado Springs, Colo., 15:37:55

4. Gediminas Grinius, Lithuania, 15:40:55

5. Thomas Lorblanchet, France, 15:56:32

6. Julien Chorier, France, 16:34:43

7. Ian Sharman, Walnut Creek, Calif., 16:44:27

8. David Laney, Ashland, Ore., 17:01:37

9. Andrew Tuckey, Australia, 17:19:17

10. Paul Terranova, Austin, Texas, 17:43:17

Top 10 women

1. Magdalena Boulet, Oakland, Calif., 19:05:21

2. Kaci Lickteig, Omaha, Neb., 19:20:31

3. Stephanie Howe, Bend, Ore., 19:32:58

4. Aliza Lapierre, Williston, Vt., 19:43:22

5. Emma Roca, Spain, 20:12:00

6. Nicole Studer, Dallas, Texas, 20:19:56

7. Sally Mcrae, Huntington Beach, Calif., 20:27:33

8. Caroline Boller, Temecula, Calif., 21:44:11

9. Erika Lindland, Fairfax, Calif., 21:47:25

10. Nikki Kimball, Bozeman, Mont., 22:01:55

— Complete results at http://www.wser.org