HISTORY – HOW IT ALL STARTED
Gordy Ainsleigh participated several times in the annual Western States Trail Ride (also known as the Tevis Cup “100 Miles – One Day” Ride), until in 1973 his horse was lame.
The next year he decided to give it a try without a horse.
Twenty-three hours and forty-two minutes later Gordy arrived in Auburn, proving that a runner could indeed traverse the rugged 100 miles in one day, thereby planting the seed for today’s most extreme trail ultramarathons and, more specifically, the Western States 100.
THE FIRST OFFICIAL WSER
In 1977 Gordy Ainsleigh announced the first official Western States Endurance Run with just the following text:
“THE ULTIMATE CHALLENGE:
100 MILES OF CROSS COUNTRY RUNNING THROUGH THE HIGH MOUNTAINS AND DEEP CANYONS OF NORTHERN CALIFORNIA SIERRA NEVADA MOUNTAINS.
RIGHT WESTERN STATES TRAIL FOUNDATION NORTHERN CALIFORNIA”
In 1978 WSER became an independent race, starting one month earlier than the Tevis Cup horse ride.
WHAT MAKES THIS RACE SO SPECIAL?
Mo Livermore, Western States Endurance Run co-founder, director and trustee for nearly four decades:
“I believe in the gift of the Western States Trail, and I think people really grow when they challenge themselves on that beautiful trail. I wanted to share that. I also felt that when you challenge yourself and pull out all the stops physically and emotionally and spiritually, you learn things that then you take into other parts of your life and are better for it.We want to preserve and protect the trail, and we want to protect our fundamental values, including our belief that the race should be open to athletes of all skill levels, not just the elites.”
MORE THAN JUST A RACE
Mo Livermore: “Western States is more than just a race. It’s a multifaceted organization with a mission that strives to make a difference in many areas of life—to the sport of ultrarunning and beyond.”
The Western States 100mile Endurance Run is the oldest and most legendary 100 mile trail race in the world. First used by the Paiute and Washoe Indians, later as the most direct route between the gold camps of California and the silver mines of Nevada.
It starts in Squaw Valley, near the site of the 1960 Winter Olympics and finishes in Auburn.
Due to the remoteness and inaccessibility of the trail, the Western States Endurance Run differs substantially from other organized runs. Adequate mental and physical preparation are of utmost importance to each runner, for the high mountains and deep canyons, although beautiful, are relentless in their challenge and unforgiving to the ill-prepared.
The trail knows a limb of 18’000 feet (5’486 m), descent of 23’000 feet (7’000 m).
The (flex) start time is 5:00 on Saturday of the last full weekend in June and may take you at the most 30 hours to get an award.
Sub 24-hours finishers receive a silver Western States Endurance Run belt buckle; finishers between 24 and 30 hours receive a bronze belt buckle.
HOW TO GET IN
Every year the number of applications greatly exceeds the number that can be accepted, so a lottery is held to select the participants.
In 2015 388 participants are registered.
You can also buy tickets to win an automatic entry, while supporting the WSER Foundation including Medical Research, Trail Preservation, Education and Community Service.
Apart from the entry process, you got to qualify by running one of the listed 100K or 100 Mile trail races worldwide.
See the resources below to find out more about the entry process and qualification:
Western States 100 mission
Interview Mo Livermore
Western States 100 entry process
Western States 100 qualifying races
Western States 100 performance rules
Western States 100 participant guide