Each year, hundreds of ultrarunners travel to Auburn for the unique experience of running the last 72 miles of the famous Western States 100 Mile course over a Memorial Day weekend. At 8am on Saturday morning, 5 large school busses loaded up runners from around the world. First timers as well as Grand Slammers shared their war stories as the hour long bus ride took them to what would be the most difficult day of the three day camp.
Prior to this weekend, temperatures were up in the 90s – perfect heat training for any aspiring Western States finisher. What greeted runners as they stepped off the bus were different conditions entirely. Scantily clad athletes were met with 44 degree temperatures, freezing rain and even hail, and deep mud for as far as the eye could see. “If I knew the busses were still back there, I would turn around right now!” one seasoned Western States runner exclaimed.
Runners began to DNF their training camp run around mile 14 at the top of Devil’s Thumb. Many did not return for the days following.
On both Sunday and Monday mornings, the weather finally smiled upon eager runners, rewarding them for their hard work on Saturday. Although no heat training was in sight, everyone was pleased with the well marked courses and gorgeous views that only Western States can provide. A big thank you goes out to Greg Soderlund, the incredible race director who can make a training run feel like the greatest race in town.
article by: Summer Wesson