This weekend in Squaw Valley, California, runners will gather to participate in one of the most well-known and challenging ultramarathons in the world -- The Western States 100. Steeped in a rich history, Western States is often considered a "Who's Who" of the running community. Last year, The North Face athletes swept six of the top 10 podium spots and this year the prospects look great for the eight of our endurance athletes who are preparing to run this season, including 2011 Men's Endurance Challenge Championship winner and 2011 Western States second place finisher Mike Wolfe. Four-time Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc winner Lizzy Hawker will also be making her Western States 100 debut.
The course runs along the famed Western States Trail ascending from the Squaw Valley floor (elevation 6,200 feet) to Emigrant Pass (elevation 8,750 feet), a climb of 2,550 vertical feet in the first 4½ miles. From the pass, following the original trails used by the gold and silver miners of the 1850’s, runners travel west, climbing another 15,540 feet and descending 22,970 feet before reaching Auburn.
Most of the trail passes through remote and rugged territory, accessible only to hikers, horses and helicopters -- and of course, runners.
Check back this week and next for updates on all of our Western States athletes, race results and athlete race reports. Follow the conversation online with #WS100, and as always, check-in with our friend Bryon Powell and team at iRunFar for the most comprehensive, in-depth video and from-the-trail coverage.