America's only certified Skyrace course. Race Beast of Big Creek on Mt. Ellinor in Hoodsport, WA on Aug 3rd, 2024.

America's only certified Skyrace course. Race Beast of Big Creek on Mt. Ellinor in Hoodsport, WA on Aug 3rd, 2024.

America’s race: the ‘Western States Endurance Run’ had it’s 51st running this weekend in California and I don’t need to add too much to this as it is clearly the most covered race (outside of the UTMB Finals in Chamonix).
It’s still somewhat peculiar how the partnership with UTMB really works, this race is part of the UTMB World Series and folks finishing get a their Index, Stones and direct Finals Entry for podium finishers, but it is also completely standing on its own.

This event is straigthforward to recap as there’s only one distance, lots and lots of media coverage, super tight official race press releases, and a fairly small and manageable entry field.

Here are the winners (as if you needed me to list those, you’ve seen it everywhere already):

100M – 100M 4 Stones


  1. Katie Schide – USA – 15:46:57
  2. Fuzhao Xiang – China – 16:20:03
  3. Eszter Csillag – Hong Kong – 16:42:17


  1. Jim Walmsley – USA – 14:13:45
  2. Rod Farvard – USA – 14:24:15
  3. Hayden Hawks – USA – 14:24:31

Overall the 100 mile race had 375 starters – DNF: 89 – Finishers: 286 – Women: 62 (22%) Men: 224 (78%)

I won’t dive too deep into these numbers, there are “baseball fans out there (folks who loves the sports for every little statistic) and they will find the stories these numbers tell. But two things I want to point out that I found fascinating:

  • Tarawera had a higher finisher percentage for women in their 100M race. (Also the only other UTMB 100M distance with a higher women finisher percentage.)
  • It feels that at Western States American men have dominated, yet struggled (until recently) at UTMB. And at Western States we have lots of non-US athletes on the podium – and even top 10, while at UMTB the American women have dominated. No idea if this idea is supportable by numbers, but this somewhat stuck out to me this year.

A couple more observations:

Clearly Western States, as an organization (and nonprofit on top of it) is incredibly dialed. The right people do the right things to deliver a world class event for racers and spectators alike. The event is without question the top trail race in the United States and represents and celebrates American trail culture like no other. The organizations knows what it has and what it needs to preserve.

The partnerships with brands works (for now). The interplay between the appeal of being “just a charming nonprofit” while partnering with massive global brands like UTMB and Hoka works if the power dynamic is understood and preserved. I don’t see this being challenged, but as Western States renewed their partnership with Hoka just last week this is something worth pointing out. Who gains more in this relationship, and further: who makes who.

The Inspiration:

The Western States course is classic, many of the locations are legendary due to the history of the race and the competition that has found their way to California. For many runners, even many international runners, this race is the pinnacle of their racing dreams. And for many many reasons it deserves all the desire.
I ran Canyon’s 50K last year – for stones, and definitely felt the magic of the Western States Trail, bnut for me personally seeing runners running down Cal Street on the livestream just doesn’t hit quite like seeing trail running happening in the mountains, with glaciers as backdrops and ridges in the distance. It’s a personal thing and I don’t want to diminish or take away anything from it. But I still after many years don’t have the bug of wanting to run this race. Or maybe I just believe that I would suck dealing with the heat in the canyons?