The Trail Running Film Festival - Online Watch Party Get your tickets.

The Trail Running Film Festival - Online Watch Party Get your tickets.

With the last Golden Tickets claimed at last weekend’s Black Canyons Western States has now posted the full entry list for 2024. (I guess there’s still the possibility of wait list movement as runners bow out between now and race day.) Among the many deserving things that makes Western States such an alluring story to cover is that the relatively small data set of runners each year is incredibly well displayed and documented. This event seems to be the gold standard when it comes to entry field documentation and presentation on their website. And while this might a lot harder to do for races with a much larger entry field, we in the media would love it if other events (hello UTMB!) would adopt some of these practices. Alright, with that, let’s dive into this much-praised data:


  • 100 (27%) women
  • 270 (73%) are men
  • 1 non-binary

Some historical comparison (and I did just pull a single year from the website, so I can’t model a direct graph here): In the 2013 running of Western States there where 80% men and 20% women at the starting line. So, this seems to be trending into the right direction: more diversity and equality.


Of the 371 total bibs assigned, 275 (74%) are going to runners from the United States and of those 88 (24%) to runners from California, the home state of Western States. 7 bibs go to German runners, which feels like an exceptional lucky year for Germans. In 2023 there was only a single runner (Janosch Kowalczyk from Stuttgart) at the starting line. A single bib, just like for the past two years, is going to a runner from Austria and again there’s no Swiss runners are at the starting line.

Some historical comparison:

  • In 2019 there were 369 tickets handed out and 287 (77%) were to US runners.
  • In 2013 there were 408 tickets handed out and 354 or (86%) were to US runners.

These data sets aren’t huge, the difference here is between a couple dozen runners, but nonetheless this would suggest that the Western States entry field is becoming more international, which is another way of expressing diversity.

A quick comparison to the 2024 UTMB Finals:

  • The gender split at the UTMB Finals in 2024: 20% women and 80% men.
  • Geography: 40% of participants are from France and 75% of all runners come from various European countries.

(These numbers are just for the lottery registration so far. Elites still have the ability to qualify via various races at the World Series.)

Alright, Back to Western States Data

Let’s look at the gender split of US runners vs. rest of the world:

  • US: 275 total – 77 (28%) women, 197 (72%) men, 1 non-binary.
  • Rest of world: 96 total – 23 (24%) women, 73 (76%) men.

I want to break this down a bit further as ‘elites’ make up a rather big percentage of the entry field at Western States.

Here’s the gender split between elites vs. regular lottery entries:

Of the 371 total entries there are 45 (12%) runners who got into Western States via a Golden Ticket, direct entry as a returning top ten runner or gunning for their tenth finish. For this exercise I call these runners the elites, which isn’t 100% complete but an easy way to separate the spreadsheet.

Of these 45 ‘elites’ there are:

  • 22 (49%) women, 22 (49%) men, and 1 (2%) non-binary runner.
  • 27 (60%) runners from the US, 18 (40%) from the rest of the world.
  • Gender split for the US: 14 (52%) women, 12 (44%) men, 1 (4%) non-binary.
  • Gender split for the rest of the world: 10 (56%) women, 8 (44%) men.

So, this of course checks out as in the way I pulled these numbers Western States offers an equal number of tickets for each gender.

Of the 326 runners who I would consider ‘non-elite’ there are:

  • 248 (76%) from the US, 78 (24%) from the rest of the world.

Of these ‘non-elite’ runners there are:

  • 78 (24%) women, 248 (76%) men.
  • Gender split for the US: 65 (26%) women, 183 (74%) men.
  • Gender split for the rest of the world: 13 (17%) women, 65 (83%) men.

So, the percentage of women runners slightly dips compared to the overall numbers due to the fact that the elite numbers are close to equal and the lottery pool still has a larger percentage of men then women.

I’m reminded of a comment Sarah Lavender Smith made a few weeks ago on the Midpacker Pod:

To summarize: the suggestion she made was that elites should to boycott UTMB events and Hardrock and Western States should drop the UTMB affiliate qualifiers due to her assertion that “European men are flooding the lotteries of popular US races”. Aside from the weird taste her statement left in my mouth I also don’t see these numbers I posted supporting her statement. Sure, we could go back to just regional running, but we already have this in the countless local community driven trail races put on each weekend at some trail head at the end of a dirt road. If some of our events celebrate the global trail running community, is that so bad?

I am reminded of a comment the race director of the Kullamannen by UTMB Per Sjögren made a couple of weeks ago, who suggested that one of the great things about running a big international race is getting to experience the global trail running community coming together. That’s what attracted me to trail racing. That’s my kind of adventure.