Western States 100: 15 Ultra-Fun Facts About This Iconic Race

Chances are pretty good you've heard of Western States 100. It's like the Boston Marathon of ultras.
On Saturday, 376 runners will step up to the starting line at Western States 100 in California to go the distance: 100 miles from Olympic Valley to Auburn, Calif.

  • Some will make it.
  • Some will fight to the finish to make The Golden Hour cutoff. 
  • And for some runners, Western States 100 will win the fight.

Want to know more about one of the most iconic ultras in the world?
Check out these 15 ultra-fun facts about Western States 100...

Western States 100 runners can earn a silver buckle for finishing the race in under 24 hours or a bronze buckle for finishing within 30 hours.


1. First finishers

While most recognize Gordy Ainsleigh as the first to finish Western States 100 in 1974, he technically wasn't the first.

2. Oldest finishers

  • 🏃‍♂️Nick Bassett. In 2018, he finished Western States 100 in 29:09 at the age of 73.
  • 🏃‍♀️Gunhild Swanson. In 2015, she finished Western States 100 in 29:59:54 at the age of 70.

3. Course records

  • Jim Walmsley set the male Western States 100 course record in 2019, crossing the finish line in 14:09:28.
  • Courtney Dauwalter set the female Western States course record in 2023, finishing in 15:29:33.
This year runners will face 12 to 15 miles of snow and run a 16-mile section burned by wildfire.


4. Risks

Western States 100 warns runners of 16 risks and potential medical issues associated with running 100 miles, including...

  • Renal shutdown
  • Heat stroke & hyperthermia
  • Hyponatremia (low sodium levels)
  • Snow hazards
  • Wildlife hazards
  • Vehicle hazards
  • Injuries from falling
  • Altitude sickness
  • Rhabdomyolysis (muscle cell death)
  • Overuse injuries
  • Fatigue
  • Poison oak
  • Getting lost

5. Snow in 2023

About 12 to 15 miles of the Western States Trail were still covered in snow after a harsh winter.

6. Fire

About 16 miles of the Western States 100 course was burned in the Mosquito Fire, eliminating miles of shaded forest.

7. Elevation

  • Gain. Western States 100 runners will climb a total of 18,000 feet
  • Loss. Runners will descend about 23,000 feet over the 100-mile course
Western States 100 spectators fill the Placer High School stadium to cheer on runners during The Golden Hour, the final hour before the 30-hour cutoff.


8. Cutoff

  • 30 hours. Western States 100 runners must cross the finish line in Auburn, Calif., on the Placer High School Track by 10:59:59 a.m. on Sunday, June 30, based on a 30-hour cutoff.

9. The Golden Hour

  • The "Golden Hour" begins at 10 a.m. It's the final hour before the 30-hour cutoff time. 
  • Spectators fill the Placer High School Stadium to cheer on runners chasing the 30-hour cutoff.
  • Many inspiring finishes happen in this critical period, showcasing runners' determination and grit. 
Every year, Western States 100 collects survey data from runners to learn more about the brands, shoes and gear they're using.


Every year, Western States 100 surveys runners to learn more about the brands, shoes and gear participants use to take on this iconic race.
Ever wonder what Western States 100 runners are wearing or using to go the distance?
Here are a few of the highlights from the survey...

  • Hoka: 38.2%
  • Altra: 17.6% 
  • Salomon: 10.1% 
  • Saucony: 5.6% 
  • Topo: 4.6% 
  • Nike: 3.9%
  • North Face: 2.9% 
  • Brooks: 2.0% 
  • Other: 15.0%
  • Injinji: 26.2% 
  • Dry Max: 16.1% 
  • Balaega: 7.2% 
  • Smartwool: 7.2% 
  • Feetures: 4.3% 
  • Exxo: 3.6% 
  • Others: 35.2%
  • Petzl: 45.9% 
  • Black Diamond: 16.2% 
  • Fenix: 7.1% 
  • Kogalla: 2.0% 
  • Other: 22.2%
  • Salomon: 50.2% 
  • Ultimate Direction: 13.9% 
  • Nathan: 9.9% 
  • UltraSpire: 5.6% 
  • OrangeMud: 2.0% 
  • Amphipod: 1.3% 
  • Other: 17.2%
  • Garmin: 59.7% 
  • Coros: 29.5% 
  • Suunto: 7.2% 
  • Other: 2.3%
Western States 100 runner Marianna Grudziak shared her training strategy with WeeViews on The Hobby Jogger podcast.

One of the 376 participants toeing the line at Western States 100 this year is ultrarunner Marianna Grudziak.

Are you running, crewing or cheering someone on at Western States 100 this year?

Tell us all about it in the comments. Or create a WeeView and give us the scoop on your Western States 100 experience.

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I help RUNNERS reduce injuries, fix running form, run longer & faster by strength training without running ragged. I'm a NASM...


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