It was third time lucky for Jim Walmsley (Hoka One One) this year as he finally won the Western States 100 Mile Endurance Race (160km) and broke the record with 14 hours 30 minutes.
He had said he would do it in 2016 and aimed for it again in 2017 but this year was finally his year and he got the win and the record with 16 minutes in hand.
The first woman over the line was Courtney Dauwalker, who ran in the second fastest women’s time ever in 17:27.
Second for the men was the fantastic Francois D’Haene, who is the current title holder for the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc (UTMB). He came in around an hour and a half after Jim.
It was also good to see Kaci Lickteig coming back from injury. There was a lot of love for her out on the course.
Jim’s story was, as ever, a dramatic one. He had gone out conservatively, determined to learn from last year, when he effectively blew up in the extreme heat. At 48km he was getting the splits he wanted but was off record pace.
In the canyons, he started to get into his rhythm and stride out. However, it wasn’t till really close to the end at around 144km that he worked out that if he kept going he could do it and really stepped on the gas.
He did meet a last minute hitch though – a family of bears on the track. A mother bear and her two cubs were just as surprised to see Jim on the track as he was to see them. The cubs fled but Mama Bear stayed put, eventually backing off enough for Jim to run past.
Clearly, the lure of that record was stronger than the fear of death by grizzly.
UTMB is back on the cards for Jim this year, with his confidence on a high after a great win.
Top 3 men
- Jim Walmsley 14:30:04
- Francois Dhaene 15:54:53
- Mark Hammond 16:08:59
Top 3 women
- Courtney Dauwalter 17:27:00
- Kaytlyn Gerbin 18:40:19
- Lucy Bartholomew 18:59:45