Oregon man wins Western States 100
Hal Koerner of Ashland, Ore., outdistanced a deep and talented field of ultrarunners Saturday to win the 34th annual Western States 100-mile Endurance Run.
Koerner, 31, shaved more than two hours off the winning time set a year ago by Graham Cooper of Oakland, crossing the finish line at the Placer High School track in Auburn at 9:12 p.m., 16 hours, 12 minutes and 16 seconds after departing from the base of Squaw Valley at 5 a.m.
Cooper, 37, won last year’s Western States ” one of the hottest in the history of the event ” in 18:17:27. This year’s run featured mild temperatures and less snow at higher elevations, making for faster running conditions through the Sierra backcountry and foothills, said John Trent, media relations director for Western States.
Folsom’s Erik Skaden, who placed second to Cooper in 2006, again finished runner-up, this time in 16:36:49.
Cooper finished third in 17:11:41, followed by Andy Jones-Wilkins of Ketchum, Idaho, (17:20:29) and Seattle’s Phil Kochik (17:26:59).
On the women’s side, 36-year-old Nikki Kimball, of Bozeman, Mont., won her second straight title and third in four years in 18:12:38.
Trent said Kimball’s time was the fastest set by any woman outside of Ann Trason, who set the women’s record in 1994 with a time of 17:37:51. Koerner’s finishing time of just over 16 hours ranks among the top 10 finishes all-time, Trent said. Scott Jurek holds the record with a time of 15:36:27.
Brian Morrison, who crossed the finish line in first place last year before it was announced that he had been disqualified for receiving assistance on the Placer High track, dropped out of the run at the Dusty Corners Aid Station at mile 38.
Trent said Morrison was fighting a cold, and that he hopes to return next year to contend for a top spot.
Robert Kronkhyte of Tahoe City was the only local entry. Competing in his eighth Western States Endurance Run, the 51-year-old crossed the finish line in 28:02:10.
At age 70, Karsten Solheim of Glendale, Ariz. was the oldest runner to finish Western States within the 30-hour cutoff time, the Auburn Journal reported. He was also the final runner to cross the line in the allotted time, finishing in 29 hours and 57 minutes for his 13th completion of the ultramarathon.
In all, 270 of the 392 runners to begin the race finished within 30 hours, Trent said, while 100 finished within 24 hours.
“We had great numbers,” Trent said, adding that the course was in better shape than last year’s thanks to heavy trail work this past spring. The only complaint from runners, he said, was that the trail was dusty due to the dry winter.
“It was a lot better than last year,” Trent said. “We had great weather and no snow.”
Last year, when temperatures topped 100 degrees in the canyons, only 211 of the 399 runners to begin the run finished within the cutoff time.
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Students frustrated at the cancellation of sports waved signs and delivered speeches at a Truckee High School protest in an attempt to return to the field this year.