Ultra Trail Runners call the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run as “The Big Dance”. It is considered by many as “the most prestigious 100-Mile trail run” in the world. It is due to the fact that it has challenging qualification requirements for each applicant to meet. If ever one is qualified on these requirements, then you have to go through a lottery process where only about 400+ will be finally chosen to join the race.
Finishing this race in 30 hours, which is the race cut-off time, is already a good performance. But the stronger and faster runners are awarded with the Silver Belt Buckle if they finish the race below 24 hours. And the elite trail runners in the world would always dare to break the existing course record of 15:07:04 hours set by Geoff Roes in the 2010 edition.
For me and to the rest of the local Pinoy Ultra Runners, this a “dream race”. At my age, I could hardly finish a sub-11 hours for a qualifying 50-mile race; sub-15 hours for a qualifying 100K race; and never experienced finishing a qualifying 100-mile race. I tried to make an attempt two years ago to qualify by joining a trail running event and the training was so hard but I fell short of the WS100 qualifying standards. From there, I was contented to just read about the stories related to the Western States 100 and have a look on the Finish Line which I did last year.
Not to mention the resources needed to train, travel, and qualify for this race, one’s preparation for this race is simply very challenging! If you are a local Pinoy runner intending to join this race, you must be focused to your training, have the resources (time and money) at your disposal, and be able to acclimate to the conditions of the route before race day, which means that you should have trained and be familiar with the route weeks and months before the event.
For this year’s edition which will be held this coming Saturday, June 23, 2012, we are fortunate enough to have a local Pinoy Ultrarunner toeing the starting line in Squaw Valley, California. Attorney Jonnifer Lacanlale, the Course Record holder and Champion of the 2012 Bataan Death March 102K Ultra Marathon Race will be one among the 419 runners in this edition. Atty Lacanlale was picked in the lottery as he qualified for finishing the toughest trail races in the world—The Great North Walk of Australia and the Ultra Trail Mont Blanc (UTMB) in Europe. Consistently being the First “local” Pinoy Finisher in The Great North Walk and the Ultra Trail Mont Blanc (UTMB), he is now considered as the First “local” Pinoy to represent the country in the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run. And hopefully, the first local Pinoy Ultrarunner to finish the prestigious trail running event.
I give also the credit to a friend of mine, Rick Gaston, whom I consider to be the First Pinoy “non-local” Finisher of the Western States 100, not once but twice! He finished in the 2006 and 2011 editions. I consider him as the fastest and strongest Pinoy “non-local” Ultra Trail Runner in North America today!
It is worthy to note also that there is another Pinoy in the list of starters this coming Saturday. He is Joselito San Gabriel of California. This is a “redemption” run for Joselito as he declared himself as DNFed after finishing more than one-half of the course in last year’s edition.
I wish the best and pray hard for the success and strong finish of Atty Jonnifer Lacanlale and Joselito San Gabriel.
On the elite runners of this race, I happened to meet, talk, and see (in the past) on how the following perform in races: Killian Jornet, Mike Wolfe, Dave Mackey, Ian Sharman, Ryan Sandes, and Jorge Maravilla. But Killian is no longer joining the race due to the untimely death of his running partner, Stephane Brosse, last week during their skiing adventure in Mont Blanc. So, this race will be interesting to the remaining runners that I’ve mentioned above.
I saw how Ryan Sandes ran in some portions of this year’s Vibram Hongkong 100K Trail Run and was able to have a brief talk and photo-ops with him at the Finish Line. The Nepalese runners were running ahead of him about 3/4 of the course but he ran faster on the last 1/4 of the course to finally win and register a course record for the race. He also won the TNF 100K in Australia few weeks ago. Being the course record holder of the Leadville 100-Mile Endurance Trail Run and familiar with races that have “heat conditions”, he could be a strong contender as the Champion in this year’s WS100.
Mike Wolfe, WS100 1st Runner-Up last year, has also a good chance to get the Championship Trophy, to include Dave Mackey, winner of this year’s Miwok 100; and Ian Sharman. But I personally believe that the heat condition on race day will greatly affect their performance.
I happened to meet and talk for a longer time with Jorge Maravilla in last year’s Miwok 100 where we were both served as volunteers. Since that meeting, I have followed his running career as he won as Champion in trail races in California and breaking some course records in the process. Due to his performance, he became as one of the members of the elite Team Salomon. Even if he would be joining this race for the first time, I could see and predict a “top 10″ finish for him in this year’s edition.
How I wish I could be at the Finish Line this coming Saturday or Sunday but my personal schedule won’t allow me. I will just be contented to follow the Live Update through the Internet and hope to relay such information via Facebook and/or Twitter to my Pinoy Ultrarunner friends.
All the best to Atty Jon Lacanlale and to the rest of my friends who will be part of this race on Saturday. Bring home the “Buckle”!