Trickling in for a 100-mile challenge | SierraSun.com

Trickling in for a 100-mile challenge

Sylas Wright
Sierra Sun

Every summer around this time a unique breed of athletes begins flowing into town. They come from all over the globe, ultra fit and prepared for the infamous challenge that is the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run.

This year’s field of ultraunners, chopped down from 1,355 applicants to 357 by way of a lottery drawing, is as strong as it’s ever been in the 35-year history of the event, according to race organizers.

“Depth-wise, it’s probably the best field we’ve ever had,” said Tim Twietmeyer of Auburn, a longtime participant who now serves as Western States president. “The men’s side is stacked and the women’s side really filled up fast.”

Included in that talented field of men is defending champ Hal Koerner of Ashland, Ore., who won last year’s race with a time of 16 hours, 12 minutes and 16 seconds. The previous year’s champ, Graham Cooper of Oakland, also is slated to compete, as well as Folsom’s Erik Skaden, who finished runner-up the past two years.

Then there’s first-year Western States runner Anton Krupicka, a 24-year-old from Colorado Springs, Colo., who has quickly made a name for himself in the ultrarunning community.

“He’s supposed to be an amazing runner,” said John Trent, media relations director for Western States. “The volume of miles he runs (in training) is incredible, something like 200 miles a week. A lot of people are saying that, in his first time out of the chute, he could win it.”

Twietmeyer ” who has completed the Western States run 25 times himself, all in less than 24 hours ” said Krupicka dominated the American River 50-mile race in April, winning with a time of 5:42:37. Skaden finished second in that race in 5:57.

“He’s a burner,” Twietmeyer said of Krupicka, who also won Colorado’s Leadville Trail 100 in 2007. “Everybody will be watching him.”

But, Trent said, they’d better not look past Karl Meltzer of Sandy, Utah, winner of both the Wasatch Front 100-Mile Endurance Run and the Hardrock 100 Endurance Run.

“(The competition) should be really good,” Trent said. “Last year we had an outstanding field, but this year’s might be just as good.”

The course record, set in 2004 by Scott Jurek of Seattle, stands at 15:36:27. Saturday should be a good day to topple the mark.

“There’s going to be little to no (snow). It should be a pretty dry course, which translates into a pretty fast year,” Trent said.

On the women’s side, Nikki Kimball of Bozeman, Mont., is back to defend her title for the third consecutive year. She won last year with a time of 18:12:37 and also took the top spot among women in 2004.

Beverley Anderson-Abbs of Red Bluff also is returning after placing second in the women’s division last year.

1. * Hal Koerner, Ashland, Ore., 16:12:16

2. * Erik Skaden, Folsom, Calif., 16:36:49

3. * Graham Cooper, Oakland, Calif., 17:11:41

4. Andy Jones-Wilkens, Ketchum, Idaho, 17:20:29

5. Phil Kochik, Seattle, Wash., 17:26:59

6. * Glen Redpath, Brooklyn, N.Y., 18:05:32

7. * Tracy Vincent Moore, El Cajon, Calif., 18:09:05

8. * Nikki Kimball, Bozeman, Mont., 18:12:37

9. * Hiroki Ishikawa, Kanagawa, Japan, 18:14:16

10. * Jeff Riley, Coburg, Ore., 18:22:12

* returning racers