With only 18 days to go before the WS lottery on December 5, there are 1687 applicants.  1687!  With maybe 200 automatics and a total of about 400 selected, the odds of getting picked out of the GUBrew bucket (did you miss the memo that it’s not called GU2O anymore?) are about as good as AJW breaking five minutes in the mile next week.  Why are there so many applicants this year?

Is it because of the two recent best selling books about ultrarunning?  I can’t count how many people have asked me if I’ve read Born To Run – NO, I haven’t read it yet.

Are the entry requirements too easy?  11 hours for a 50 miler whether it is in the mountains or on the flat roads?  I bet KRW could walk 50 miles in 11 hours.

Is it because the two-time defending champion is just so good looking that people just want to be near him?

Is it because of the 2009 WS Synchroblog Project and all the attention it drew to the race?

Is it because people don’t realize that the two-time loser rule has been discontinued?  I know of at least one guy that just took his name out of the bucket yesterday when I told him it ended in 2008.  If there is anybody out there that thinks there is still a two-time lottery loser rule – WAKE UP – there isn’t.

Is it because the entry procedures were too easy?  No credit card, no proof of qualifications, no checking a box that you understand the requirements?   Any tire-kicker could put his or her name in the bucket without ever intending on paying the $307.  I know of at least one of the 72 Oregonians on the list that doesn’t have a qualifier (BTW, that is the most from any state save California).  Wonder how many folks will get selected in the lottery and then not register?  Should there be some sort of penalty if you get selected and then not register?  Maybe a ban from entering the lottery the next year?

What do you think?


  1. I think it’s because the entry procedures allowed people to check the box without putting up the money. At Boston you had to put up the money.

    Oh yeah, and they still don’t have the 100 miler prerequisite:)

        • @AJW, Did you want to make some kind of bet on this? That usually fires you up. How about something like this: for every tenth of a second you are under 5:00 I buy you a beer. So if you run 4:59.9 you get one beer, 4:59.1 you get nine beers. As a bonus, if you run under 4:59.0 I buy you and c jisl wisl all the beer you can drink next time we see each other. Now, if you fail to break 5:00 then for each second you are over you give me one hour of credit in the ten-year WS bet? That is, if you run 5:00 then there is no change in the ten-year bet, 5:01 and I’m only behind by three hours, 5:02 then two hours, 5:03 one hour, 5:04 and we’re even in the ten-year bet. What do you think?

          • @Craig, Nope, not takin’ that bet. I’ve spent a month getting ready for this five minute mile but I’ve spent a lifetime preparing for the 10-year bet. Those four hours are precious!

            And, I have no idea what all the fuss is about the lottery. The guys at WS are so nice that all you have to do is be one of the first ten guys to cross the finish line at the High School and they let you in the next year. It’s even OK if a woman beats you. It can’t be that hard, I’ve done that for the last five years:)

  2. Well, since I’m on the outside looking in, I’ll be more critical. First, you should have a qualifying 50 miler in the bank and I think everyone should mail in a check. I think all the looky loos (how the hell do you spell that anyway?) bog down the system. Its just going to take a while for them to sort all that out.
    On another note, yes, qualifying for WS is too easy. If this is our “Boston” than it should take some legs (and those are running legs) to get into the event. I think sub 10 hours on a 50 would be better. Running 11 hours at Helen Klein just should not get you in WS. If it really is our championship, we should have the best runners there. I think top 3 at the 10 biggest 100 milers would be pretty cool.
    For instance, look at Geoff Roes last year. How ridiculous was it that he did not get an auto entry?

  3. First off: AJW, I think when get down to sea level and above 15 degrees F, you’ll find some extra speed. Hope Mr. Meissner and his XC charges can toe the line with you.

    Second: With my name in the hat, and a couple 100s under my belt, I certainly wish the standards were a bit more stiff for WS. That said, having to pony up a credit card number alone would have filtered the field by a third at least. Even an application fee of $15 would have filtered out a certain percentage and could maybe, in turn, lessen the the tiple c-note registration fee.

    • @Hank Dart, Thanks for the props, Hank. And, I’m hoping that the additional 3000 ft and the warmer temps might make the 4:59 happen. And, Meissner and his boys, of course.

      Yup, couldn’t agree more on the stiffer entry requirements. That’s another vote for the 100 miler prerequisite!

  4. Why is everyone so worried about people that might be signing up that might not take an entry if they get in? They’re not going to affect your odds of gaining entry in the end, even if it does take a bit to sort through them, right? And since the “system” is just Mark sitting in front of his computer, if he’s willing to do it then what’s the big deal?


    P.S. The only ridiculous part about Geoff last year was the fact that plenty of other people that got in late didn’t meet the stated auto entry standards either (so why not him too, right?). But, don’t even get me started on the ridiculous things that have happened with WS entries over the years. At least the lottery is more transparent and open now. Not that you still won’t get people coming in through the back door at the last minute, I bet. It’s always happened, and it always will.

    P.P.S. I won’t take my auto entry if y’all buy me a beer. Of course, truth be told, I’m not taking it anyway, but I figure maybe I can get a few beers out of it…

    • @Jasper Halekas, As an RD, I know that figuring out the DNS rate is challenging. Accepting the right number of entries so you get exactly what you want on the starting line is not easy unless you have lots of years of data. But once you get it dialed you can get pretty damn close, and you’ll know what your income will be regardless of how many start. I think with the possibility of some number of people getting selected and then not registering (and thus not paying) because they decide not to or don’t have a qualifier there is now a new unknown variable that must be factored in. That is going to potentially leave open spots and reduce the income the race gets. As an RD, I see that as a new challenge. Either hopefully I’d guess correctly and over over select in the lottery, or perhaps have a second lottery? Yikes. It’s a changed game. No?

  5. @Jasper. Actually, I think its reasonably bad ass that you aren’t running it. You’ve let it be known that you definitely don’t have a love affair with that race so if all of a sudden you were running it every year that would look, well, kinda lame. So, cool. You went in, kicked ass, and are doing something else.
    I just need to get in and try and kick ass, avoid the hospital, barf a little less, and maybe I’ll feel the same.

      • @Jasper Halekas, I’m not sure we’re going to have the choice. If demand for ultras continues there will be business-minded people taking a look and moving in to make a buck. Maybe not specifically with WS since it has a Board of Directors and is a non-profit, but there are other 100 milers out there that are for-profit already. If demand continues it won’t be long before we see $500 or higher fees. Would WS fill to capacity at $500 or even $1000 a head? I imagine that it would.

  6. Seems to me the use of Ultra Sign Up has done nothing to improve the lottery system. As others have noted, there at least needs to be some kind of financial commitment (refundable or otherwise) at sign up to discourage the time-wasting ‘looky-loos.’

    So now they will institute a Hardrock-style wait list, which probably works in the race’s favor in terms of getting the optimal number of starters to the start line, but sucks for those serious about running the race who will now have to wait and see what the on-a-whim signer-uppers do with their lucky lottery pull. As a side note, at least Hardrock filters applicants by having serious qualification requirements.

    The lottery stats offered by UltraSignUp are all good and well, but some info on how the post-lottery selection procedure works would be appreciated. Do people have a period of time to claim their spot if drawn? What if they are drawn and don’t have a qualifier? How long do people on the wait list have to wait before finding out if they’re in or not? Too many variables when you consider that most who are serious about running the race will be centering their 2010 running plans around it.

    Would have been so much easier if they had taken people’s CC info at sign-up with the understanding that they would be immediately charged if drawn from the hat. If you don’t have a qualifier by the end of the lottery sign-up period, your name is purged. Why make it any more complex – or opaque – than it needs to be?

    On the $500 entry fee: I am sure they could charge that and still fill the race, but I am also sure the race would become considerably less competitive and full of runners who don’t have the time (or desire) to put in the necessary training to perform to their potential but have the extra disposable income to justify dropping $500 on one race. Think Badwater.

    • @Nick Clark, I think the cc up front would have been sufficient to keep the non-qualifiers out. Would somebody really donate $300 to WS by staying in the drawing without a qualifier?

      Interesting perspective on the increased fee. I wonder at what point the fees start affecting the competitiveness of the field. Has it already done it at $300? Sure doesn’t seem like it has. Will it at $500? Perhaps.

      • @Craig, I’m going to stop answering for Mark, because I don’t know exactly how he’s doing things. But, he told me that there are some technical/financial issues with storing everyone’s CC # for several months. Someone go tell Mark to read and respond to this if you all want the straight dope, though. I’ve reached the limit of what I know. I will say that I think Mark is very open and willing to engage folks about this – he’s not trying to hide anything or make this harder for people.

  7. @ Nick Clark,

    “Would have been so much easier if they had taken people’s CC info at sign-up with the understanding that they would be immediately charged if drawn from the hat. If you don’t have a qualifier by the end of the lottery sign-up period, your name is purged.”

    Your suggestion quoted above is such common sense. I hope the RDs adopt that.

    @ Craig,

    Thanks for this post. Lots of folks with great comments and suggestions above, but that $500 entry fee is nuts, Yes, think Badwater. I hope it never comes to that. Better make the qualifying times a little tougher.

    If this is going to become an elitist endeavor, please, let it be based on performance metrics, such as tougher qulaifying times or AJW’s 100 mile qualifier idea, and not on who can pay the highest outrageous entry fee. That would just change the whole core nature of this race and this sport. I hope it never happens. And that includes in the other 100s as well. I hope you are wrong on that point.

    I do not think many have responded to your point about it being a little off that the 50 mile qualifying time is 11 hours, whether it is a race in the mountains or on flat roads.

    Could they lower the qualifying time for a mountain 50 to under 10 hours, and for a road 50 to under 9 hours? Would that be unreasonable?

    With some deference given to runners in their 60s and 70s not having to qualify with times like that. Even Boston does that.

    Finally, I echo some of Nick Clark’s excellent questions:

    “Do people have a period of time to claim their spot if drawn? What if they are drawn and don not have a qualifier? How long do people on the wait list have to wait before finding out if they are in or not?”

    It would be great if the RD could address these and other questions on the WS website.

  8. @Craig. As 100-mile race fees go, $300 is not that much more than the average ($225 or thereabouts), and I’m fine with paying a premium for a premium product, but the cost has to be in the ball park. Seems to me that a hike to two times the going rate would cause considerable consternation. Although the race would probably still fill, don’t you think they would lose a little bit of that magic by pricing people out of the race and pissing off a whole bunch more?

    Personally, I think the race committee does a pretty good job of making the race competitive while also keeping it open to all. There will always be ways to improve the system, in addition to a range of views on how to do it. I just don’t think the new lottery has moved the ‘system’ forward, rather back a few notches. And I’m not squaring these thoughts at Mark (whoever he is), just putting them out there.

    Maybe the race will get the 400-runner increase on their permit that I’ve heard is closer to a reality for 2010 than it has been in the past. That would sure solve a whole bunch of problems, and probably cause a whole bunch more.

    This, by the way, is from a guy who has never run WS100 before, but hopes to in 2010, so maybe my opinions are not entirely objective.

    • @Nick Clark, we’re all just throwing out opinions and that is what I was soliciting. I appreciate you giving yours and I hope we hear from some of the slower runners, from people that think 11 hours at Helen Klein is a tough standard. So far, it’s been a pretty fast crowd commenting (except for Dan who can’t even finish the damn race).

      As for the fee, WS sets the standards for just about everything. It always has. If WS decides to go to $500 many races will follow suit. That will become the new gold standard. When the fee jumped from $195 to $295 that was a huge increase, people complained a bit, but as you said $200+ is now the norm.

      I think the race has done a very good job at allowing a wide range of runners to attempt the race, while also, thanks to the Montrail Ultra Cup, allowing for many fast folks to race their way in. Sure, there are always elites that think they should be let in, there probably always will be, but there is now a way for them to get in. And, hey, Where’s Waldo is now one of those races. I really like that.

      I know nothing about an increase in the permit size. That would take an act of congress again. Doubtful in my opinion.

  9. How each RD answers these questions is as important to the race image as the distance, course and time of year. (well, not quite but I’m trying to make a point) I don’t believe there is any right or wrong way to do it. I have no problem with races high entry fees that make a profit (might be harder to get volunteers however), races that cater to fast people, and even races that provide a small chance for a slow 50 miler, with little extra funds, and no 100 experience to give it a shot in the big dance his first time. Is it fair to those with limited funds that they can’t afford to run the Antarctica marathon? or that a slower guy can’t get to experience Boston?, or that a guy who is one of the country’s top ultra runners can’t get into Western States? The races are what they are, and we vote accordingly.

    If we are talking about how we should change Western to better fit our needs, then I say lets make it a 50K so I can do better (and finish) : )

  10. What a great post! So many interest comments it’s difficult to sort through them. Clearly, there is consensus on this blog that the new procedure that was designed to make things simpler has not and that, in fact, it has “muddied the waters” to such an extent that it will likely extend the period of time people will have to wait for confirmed entry. As Nick and others have pointed out, this is clearly troublesome as many runners will be waiting on WS to make the rest of their racing plans which thereby has a detrimental effect on other races who will have to wait longer to fill their fields. Maybe WS does not care about that but I doubt it. At least HRH tells you up front that they take people off the waitlist right up until race day and people prepare as such. Interestingly enough, one runner, who happens to be a WS Board Member, was one of the lucky ones pulled off the waitlist minutes before the start at HRH a couple years ago. So, all this is to say that, in this situation, we are learning the lesson of unintended consequences — something I try to teach my students all the time!

  11. Every year we go through this WS entry debate and it’s not getting any better, in fact its getting worse. It’s that time of year when a bunch of over trained 17-18 minute male 5K runner’s gather around and refer to themselves as “elite” runners and grump that they should be granted some magical pass into the big dance – Western States; because they can run a sub-something 100 mile run, whaa, whaa, cry me an American river of tears….. Actually, I agree with the weightless bastards. Even though I could whip ‘em in a fight – I can’t match the stealth like quality they posses on the trails at high altitude. Something has to change about the selection process for Western States. The drive through window approach of this year’s online entry with no commitment has made a bad problem even worse.
    I applaud the idea of making Western States accessible to the average Joe runner like myself. However, it’s too accessible – I’d rather see a full field of sub -22 mountain 100’s and sub-20 anywhere 100’s runners have a better shot at the big dance than the rest of the field. Leave that equality feel good stuff for the “Rock and Roll” marathons of wherever to the masses that wants to hop off the couch and run a 100. Western States should be reserved for fast or good ultra runners, or citizen ultra runners that have paid enough dues to become a two-three time loser — yes, I should be able to lose my way into States, I’d rather wait 3 years knowing I will get in rather than having a Shaq free throw chance of making it every year. I think at least 50-75 starting entries for men and 20-30 entries for women should be reserved for gravitationally less challenged competitive runners based on some age graded qualifying scale similar to Boston. Does that make it more difficult for the average Joe??? Yep, not anyone gets to run Boston. By making WS acessible to just about anyone to get in, we have made harder it for everyone.

  12. one might predict that within a few years the structure of the whole event will change, and WS100 will be the 100 mile world championship race, IAU sanctioned, with tough qualification standards, invitations to top athletes around the world, and the termination of a lottery system. one might predict that this happens once every 2 or 4 years (a la Olympics) and on non-championship years, revert back to standard entry and guidelines. one might also predict that the event and its directors, who yearn to make this a World Championship event, eventually get their act together and turn this into the elite competitive event that it’s on the verge of. there are plenty of other 100s out there for the non-competitive or up-and-coming endurance runners to pop their cherries on. why not have WS100 be the 100 miler that all 100 mile runners strive to get “invited” to, or strive to qualify for? one might predict….

  13. Some great comments. I love the idea by “runforfun”. Its sort of like debating the college football playoff scenario. Everyone knows it would be better/more competitive to have it but there is too much “old school” and red tape to make it actually happen. Its too bad. I would love there to be a true “throw down” in the 100 mile division.
    But, in the end, there are a lot of great 100’s and I’ll be stoked to be running any number of them if not WS. Great discussion on here though. Keep it up.

  14. I guess States has become the Boston Marathon of 100 Mile Ultrarunning. It was the first 100 and won by the only competitor. I think the race should try to be as competitive as possible. There should be qualifying times. Sub 8hr for 39 & Under, Sub 9hr for 40-49, 10hr for 50-59, and sub 11hr for 60 & over. I probably could never qualify. That’s OK! The Montrail Cup is a great idea! For the slower runners like me, there are lots of very scenic, great races out there. I think the entries should be mail in entries. I’ll be retiring early next year and will be searching for the few races where I can mail in an entry. What will I tell my 16 month old grand daughter, Madison, when someday, she asks me, “Grandpa, what is a mailman?”. I guess she’ll have to watch some reruns of Seinfeld and Cheers with me. 🙂 Start training! I’m going into hibernation, until Ground Hogs Day!

  15. I hope there’s some major shrinkage before lottery day. When race qualification filtration is complete we may have #’s more in line with recent years. Not great odds but certainly better than a bucket of 1687.

    Moreover, as easy as it was to add your name, it’s just as easy to withdraw it. Tell all your friends and spread the word. Save yourself from the Western States Barffest before it’s too late!

  16. The qualifying period for the 2010 race ended on November 7, 2009, so it’s not like someone can run a qualifier after they’ve been chosen in the lottery. You would think/hope that anyone who hasn’t qualified would take their names out of the hat/GUBrew bucket before the lottery.

    I have been saying long before AJW posted it on his blog that the qualifying standards should be to have completed a 100 miler.

    I actually am surprised that the number is not higher than 1686. I would guess that if the application process had been the way it was in the past, the number would be around 1,200, so going online with no money up front “only” increased the numbers by about 40%.

    I do wish Mark or someone from WS could answer some of the great questions that have been asked above. Will there be some sort of waiting list to sort through those people who applied and either haven’t qualified or decide not to pay the $295? Will this waiting list be published? How long will people have to officially enter once their name is drawn in the lottery?

  17. Wow, 50 comments in 24 hours. Oh, I see, WS is the subject.
    As someone ancient that watched Boston go from less than 5,000, with no limit due to pretty strict qualifying (sub 2:50 for 30-35 years old) to 3:15 now, and a limit of 20,000 I’m not sure what the answer is. I do know, every time I brag about Boston, I always mention the 2:50 qualifying time;-) I only wish everything was a bit more transparent regarding WS. All this talk about what Mark is going to do is third-hand information. Mark is taking his direction from the race director. The WS Board or someone should be providing the information for those of us who care. My guess is if we knew their thinking, we’d have not only a better understanding of what is going on, but an appreciation of why they are doing the things that they are.
    Next time I do a guest blog, I see I have to have Western States in the title.

    • @SLF, So what is your marathon PR? Obviously faster than 2:50. As for the comments, I think it’s pretty obvious by the response that lots of people care about WS (even though Western States is not in the title). And as I said yesterday to a friend, having 1687 applicants is a great problem to have. Imagine if there were only 200 applicants. What would this post be about? How many people would comment? Our sport and WS in particular, are thriving. That’s a good thing.

  18. What if you added the additional qualifying requirement of a 4:59.0 mile?
    At Hayward Field?
    Two days before Thanksgiving?

    Seems to me that it is not just a reasonable expectation, but damn near a moral imperative.

  19. Lots of good comments and suggestions. I, for one (maybe I’m alone), think it’s great that average Joes get to try their luck at one of the most prestigious and difficult trail runs in the country. This may keep a lot of elite runners from toeing the starting line, but there are still 369 VERY happy and enthusiastic runners come race day. I really hope the tradition of inclusiveness continues at WS.

    What about a two lottery system? Divvy up the available entries such that a certain percentage of entries go to competitive runners who have met stringent entry requirements and the remaining percentage of entries go to those who meet softer requirements. This would also allow WS the ability to stack the race however they saw fit in any given year.

    • @hairclub, You’re not alone in thinking it is great that WS is inclusive, although one might argue that you can’t be an Average Joe and finish a 100 miler. I think you gotta have some kind of mental tenacity (or problem?) to will your body to go way past where it knows it should go. But, it is a competitive race. The race that 100 mile runners want to run and see how they stack up against the current competition and all those than came before. If WS didn’t care about the competitive aspect they wouldn’t be in the MUC or have special considerations or invite back the top ten or write about the top runners in the race program or market the winners, etc. The race is not just about the average joe finishing, even though that is an important aspect of the race. It’s obvious WS wants a competitive field.

      The idea of two different lotteries is interesting. Are you imagining something like this: You gotta meet the A standard to get into the A lottery and the B standard for the B lottery – similar to the Olympic Trials the A standard is harder. The A lottery would happen first and X names (say 50 or 100 or whatever) are pulled from the “A” GUBrew bucket (please don’t get rid of the bucket, it’s tradition). All those left in the A bucket then get put in the B bucket with the B qualifiers. The second lottery then proceeds and the remaining 200 (or whatever) names are drawn. This would give the faster runners a better chance of being selected. Not very complicated. Might be worth fleshing out.

  20. Hi Craig:

    I did WS in ’93. Didn’t have a good year [28:40], but learned a lot out of it. Did better at AC 90 days later [27:10] and never looked back.

    I think the WS req’s are too easy. Times have changed, WS hasn’t. The talent pool in ’83 or ’93 was overall tougher than now. Maybe not faster, but tougher.

    Why’s that? As the sport increased in popularity, it reflects the society around it. And the society is increasingly suburbanized. And they expect certain things.


    Why the blister fetish at WS?
    Why the endless hoo-rah about how tough the race is?
    Why the Nurse Tents?

    I’m a cranky dick, and this was not my experience when I got into ultras in ’89. Things were leaner, tighter, and the runner was expected to step up. I came into the sport from ski-mountaineering, backcountry travel, and self-taught bodyboarding. You self-insert, and self-extract. Period.

    Now there’s a perception that somehow getting rhabdo is part of the magic. Like going to jail for a gangbanger — you get that teardrop tattooed on your cheek, Johnny Too-Bad.

    Bullshit! You get rhabdo because your training sucks; because you thought CrossFart or some other outre physical cult was gonna give you a pass; because you were not willing to do the biomechanical homework that will enlarge the probability that you will finish, finish well, and perhaps, if you aren’t a complete dipshit, recover well.

    –mr trail safety

  21. WS already has an A and B standard. You guys are suggesting an A, B, and C standard. The A standard is last years top ten and the MUC winners, plus one or two guys the race deems very special. As a slower runner, i.e. spectator and fan of the other posters here, my take is that the current system puts a premium on intense competition of the top elites (those who might finish in the top 5). Elites really don’t have much to complain about. Guys and gals can come run Waldo or the AR50 if they want to bust into the race and then secure a spot for the next year by finishing top 10. Beyond the elites, the current system is speed neutral for everyone fast or slow, competitive or indifferent. It selects at random among those who can at least meet the uniform race qualification standard which attempts to insure an ability just to finish the race. Hmm, how do I put this . . . I don’t like the A and B standard idea for the lotto unless I can meet the A standard. That’s just me. Regardless, I don’t think it’s the best way to go if a more competitive race is your sole objective.

    If a concern about enhancing the competitive aspects of the race were to be addressed, they might consider making changes with the current system: e.g. add to the list of MUC qualifiers (can’t they add some 100s to this?) and/or increase the automatics to last years top 15 or top 20. If a concern about enhancing the ability of providing a fair opportunity for all interested runners were to be addressed (and it should be), they might consider reinstating something similar to the two time loser rule. Without this or a drop in popularity, many of us may never get in again.

    • @Derek S, And what do you suggest for a two-time lottery rule replacement? A weighted lottery where you get an extra ticket for each year you were in the lottery but didn’t get picked? One problem I see with any of those types of lose and increase your chances schemes is they encourage people to put their names in the bucket even in years they don’t want to run.

    • @Derek S, Totally understand your point of view, but there is a 4th category, the guys running for M10. And, I gotta say, having been M2, M4, M6, and M8, the toughest thing to defend at this race is M10. But, I haven’t asked Hal about that:)

      • @AJW, You are in a small club of M10ers, my friend. Tom Lyons, M10 from 2002, told me when I was wearing M10 in 2005 that there is an M10 curse. He said both he and Sweeney had horrible races wearing the M10 bib (and maybe others but I can’t remember). I refused to believe there was such a curse. As the 2005 race proceeded I worked my way into M10 just before ALT. Things were going very well as I even got into M9 until right before Browns Bar Twiet comes by and doesn’t even say anything to me. We’re racing. I’m in M10, I’m still OK. Then the great Tommy Nielsen comes by with his pacer wearing a deceptive green headlamp on the quarry road. Sh$t, I’m in 11th at Highway 49. I run hard downhill to No Hands where right before the bridge I see lights. I think it is DK but when we catch them it is Twiet. I at least talk to him and apologize for passing him. I finished M10 with the M10 bib.

        I used to think you didn’t have what it took to finish M10. Of course, you had finished M2, M4, M6, and M8 so it was easy to say that. Then you held off the crazy 4-hour finish from the river by Victor to finish M10 last year. Awesome. Before Tom or Mike or anybody else tries to tell you there is an M10 curse, I want to tell you that there is no such thing. Run hard, my friend.

  22. Loved Mr. Trail Safety’s post, particularly his views on blisters, caps versus visors, baldderpacks, and rhabdo.

    That post is a genuine service.

    Mr. Trail Safety…a character, but a character with wisdom.

    This is probably old hat for the veterans, but I’m thinking maybe it’s time for me to get that fanny pack and third water bottle instead of thinking about wearing a 2L for those longer sections between aid stations in a 100.

    Thank you, Mr. Trail Safety.

  23. Based on the stats cited in the update, the odds of being pulled from the lottery will be approx 1 in 5.5 (18 percent): terrible, but not hopeless.

    Still no word on waiting lists post-lottery, so presumably there will be no such thing. 465 names drawn total, which means 100 extra – or 65 more than usual to account for post-lottery flakes. Should be about right.

  24. Interesting. Looks like things have changed a bit since the original plan that I heard. Sorry if I provided any misinformation previously. Given this new clarification, I agree with some of the concerns that others have stated.

    I predict that someone “deserving” will not get in, that someone else will get in at a much later date via some mechanism that is never explained to the public, and that lots of people everywhere will complain about whatever happens. In other words, business as usual for WS.


  25. Business as usual Jasper. RD called me a few years ago after we blogged about the WS entry process, then let me in. I didn’t go to them, they came to me. But nowadays I guess I don’t qualify, cuz’ I only run 100s. I think we should all run bandit. We’ll start an hour before the official start. Yah, some of us will get passed, but who cares….the trail is open. I’d be game if others were. It’s pretty easy to stash some gel in a tree and a float tube above the AR crossing. I’m in man, and it’ll be great, the course will be marked for us! 🙂

    Another classic WS post…..we’ll see who gets called this year. 🙂

    • @Speedgoatkarl, I know you don’t really intend to bandit because you know how irresponsible that would be. That said, how and who should the race let in outside of the lottery/sponsor/aid station/top ten/etc? The Montrail Ultra Cup, whether you agree with distances or specifics, is at least an objective way to allow the fast folks to earn a spot. But, that is not sustainable and in some respect, out of control of WS, long-term. If Montrail decides to pull the plug on the MUC or change it, the elite entry process for WS will have to change. How should they do it? If you declare yourself to be elite you should be let in? How would you do it if you were in charge, Karl?

      • @Craig, I hate to re-open this can of worms, but I can’t resist. The MUC is fine as long as it is the only way for elites to get in (though I think 100M’s would be better qualifiers). But, WS has always played fast and loose with the entry procedure, and let some people in pretty much whenever they felt like it. Karl got a back door entry two years ago. I got offered an entry last year well after any legitimate route was open for qualifying (long story, they screwed up and didn’t realize I was already in the race via the MUC). And I know Jurek and Moehl and others got in through the back door last year as well. All this despite the fact that the WS website states and has stated for the last few years that no one gets special consideration any more based on their speediness/eliteness.

        I don’t really care how WS does things, especially now that I’ve finally gotten to run the race, but I wish they could be transparent and open about it.

        When I pressed someone from WS about these issues last year, I was told that the WS board had to have the latitude to do whatever it wanted to, and that they couldn’t be transparent about everything because people would just complain. Maybe that’s the way they have to operate, but I’ll never think it’s right.


        • @Jasper, I think they are listening. But, offering sound criticism and concrete suggestions on how to improve will be much more effective than proposing banditing the race or offering refunds to any elites that will not start in protest (like Dewitt did last year). That’s juvenile. So are you of the opinion that people like Karl, Jurek, and Moehl should be let in, but only if the entry procedures explicitly state something like: “The WS board will let in whoever we damn well please for whatever reason we deem appropriate?” Or if they have entry procedures such as the MUC that is stated to be the only way elites can get in that they then make no exceptions? I agree that no matter what, people will bitch. But, perhaps they’d bitch less if the board was more transparent and honest. Yes?

          • @Craig, the WS board undeniably has a really hard job, because everyone in the known universe wants to run their race. I don’t envy them the responsibility one bit. Unfortunately, I worry that it all has given them a bit of an entitlement complex. Regardless of that little unfair dig, I do think people would complain less (okay, at least I would complain less) if there were clearly stated rules, and they were followed to the letter. The rule could be “we reserve the right to let anyone in at any time if we deem that is in the best interests of the race”, or it could be “we have strict entry procedures, and if you don’t get in through those, that’s the breaks”. I’m really okay either way, as long as it’s all clearly spelled out. I definitely prefer the latter, because I think it is more fair to all, including runners who are less well known. However, if the board wanted to adopt the former policy, but was completely upfront about it, I wouldn’t have a huge problem with it.

            Maybe it’s naive, but I do think if the race management laid out exactly what the rules were, spelled out exactly what the rationale for those rules was, and then followed their own rules to the letter, people would bitch less. Clearly, some people will always whine, but if the above was true, I don’t think they would have as much of a leg to stand on.

            I’ve been offering more or less this same criticism and pretty much the same suggestion for about three years now. No one has listened to me yet. 😉


  26. This is a really interesting discussion. In fact, it’s part of what makes life in this country so interesting. Those guys back in Philly over 200 years ago, they actually thought about this stuff.

    Let’s face it, Jasper’s a “letter of the law” guy and the WS Board are “spirit of the law guys.” All good in the end.


    • @AJW, you know I usually love your posts. But, seriously? Did you just compare the WS board to the framers? Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? Give me a break. All men are not created equal when it comes to WS entries, and you know it.


      • @Jasper, Of course all men aren’t created equal. And, the framers knew that. Remember how the original document said “life, liberty and property”? Then, they realized, uh oh, can’t do that and they changed it to the always ambiguous “pursuit of happiness”. It has kind of a “special consideration” ring to it.

        I think you may have misinterpreted my comment.

          • @Jasper, OK, I can understand that. So let me try it this way:

            Over the past few years you have been openly critical of the WS entry procedures. You have correctly pointed out inconsistencies with their procedures and called them out with some entries like Meltzer, Jurek and Mackey who just appeared on the list out of nowhere. I admire your courage in pointing out those inconsistencies and think you have done the right thing in those cases.

            My humorous attempt to link your strict constructionist position about WS entry procedures with the opponents of the Federalists during the founding of the US was simply that, a humorous attempt to make a somewhat interesting connection between two, obviously disparate, governing bodies.

            Clearly, the WS Board are not the founding fathers and they do not pretend to be thus. However, they have created and perpetuated a system which allows for flexibility and discretion, and, perhaps, a lack of fairness. In other words, they can change the rules as they go along to suit their needs, the race’s needs, or the changing times. To me, from my perspective, the Founders did the same thing when they wrote the Bill of Rights and the US Congress has subsequently done the same thing 17 more times in the intervening years. They have, essentially and for good reason, changed the rules as they’ve gone along.

            Now, on transparency, certainly the amendment process is far different than whatever process allows runners into the race. However, in principle, and again, from my perspective, it is on similar grounds. Clearly, you are calling for a process that is transparent to all and fairly administered in all cases. The WS Board seems to disagree. That, ultimately, was my point.

  27. I’m working on the list of applicants. I’m pushing people to get there name off the list prior to the drawing, if they don’t plan to run or they don’t have a qualifier. You’d be amazed at how many people are shocked that they can’t use marathons, 50k’s or sub-5 minute miles. Surprising too is the number of people who make the cutoff by only minutes. 1547 and falling….


  28. Yep, Mark booted me off the list. In truth, I’d only run Diablo and WSER during the qualifying period. I am not fast enough to qualify on Diablo and DNF’d at States. My injury was pretty severe so it’s meant I have not been able to get a qualifier these past few months. I had my name in the lottery in the hope I’d get a qualifier done by December – but it was not to be.

    All the best to everyone else whose names are in the bucket. I’d like to return to the US to take on the new Swancrest 100 in July.

    Cheers, Paul

  29. Hey folks, Mark has separated the qualified and the pending. Interesting list. There are still 204 entrants that are “pending” meaning they either have a qualifier but they aren’t in the self-proclaimed official database of all ultra results (a.k.a. ultrasignup) or they don’t have a qualifier. If you know somebody on that list please contact them. Rumor is there will be public evisceration and entrails fed to the cougars for anybody left in the lottery that doesn’t have a qualifier.

  30. Ken doesn’t equal Kenneth in the world of results matching. Eventually, I may have an alias cross reference table, but that too causes false positives and a new group of people will complain. I propose people choose their favorite name and use it on all race entry forms from this day forward.

    I have provided tools for people to consolidate their results into one name.

    Many of the Pending folks are the Internationals or ran timed events. Any takers on validating 50mile splits for 6 and 12 hour events? Not me.

    I will try to get the international events loaded by year end, but really don’t want to lower my score with my 32.5 hour mount blanc stink-fest result.

    • @Mark Gilligan, Yeah, merging different names and splitting up those with the same names is going to be a laborious and continuous task. Dave Terry wasn’t considered a 10-year WS finisher because he had signed up as Dave and David. It was sorted out at the ceremony when several of us brought it to their attention. Not sure there is an easy answer for this unless you can create a unique id (or use our social security # – yeah, right) that would be our ultrasignup id. But, expecting every user (and every race director must report the same name without typos) to use the same name is probably not realistic.

      There’s also the question of the primary source of data. If you grab the results of a race and then the RD changes them (DQ or time correction for example) will those changes be reflected in your database? Creating one giant comprehensive database with all official ultra results is an ambitious project.

      Thanks for separating the lottery list out for all of us to see and for being open with us on this blog.

  31. I vote for requiring a 100 miler qualifier. Here’s my chain of reasoning, from a back-of-the-pack runner.

    First, at the beginning you had to finish under 24 hours to be considered an official WS100 finisher. That was quickly dropped, and the 30 hour cutoff established to allow more runners to compete. I like this inclusiveness.

    Second, if the 30 hour standard is to be adhered to, then one should be required to demonstrate the potential to run WS under 30 hours. The current qualifying standards do not do this. I would not feel qualified as an 11 hour Helen Klein or Autumn Leaves runner. Running another hundred would be a better standard, and would separate out those truly dedicated to running Western.

    I would be terribly disappointed if WS100 became an elite-only event. If that’s needed, let’s establish a separate elites-only championship. Without Western States to dream about, I may have never gotten into the sport. — Dave

  32. I second the idea of a qualifying 100 for WS.

    The day has long gone by when pounding out a 50 means much. When I got into all this [1989, or was it 1689…fuck it!] there were SIX 100 mile races in the US. I will also argue that the overall fitness level of the entrants was higher. It was a way-smaller pool.

    As an ex RD it scares the shit out of me seeing what passes for fit at WS. Especially the Blister Frolics at the end, with people staggering in under the weight of too much dingleberry gear, and too little training.

    I could go on for another 2 or 3 seconds, but my espresso is ready.

    Bone Regardz
    “Mr Trail Safety”

  33. PS: on the subject of different names

    As the editor of the Angeles Crest 100 RaceBook, I’ve noticed this interesting trajectory. Witness the change of name as the years roll by.

    1ST YEAR
    Robert Joseph Wanker III.
    Real formal, the “Chariots of Fire” theme plays as his shaking hand fills out the form. Wife is either proud, or scared shitless.

    2ND YEAR
    Bobby Joe Wanker III
    Getting less formal, tiring of filling out race entry forms. Wife starting to get restless, disappearing on race weekends with the kids to see her mom.

    3-5th YEAR
    Brain death setting in, cap-locked, its a death march. Can’t remember how many buckles and dopey t-shirts he has. Wife divorced him, his ultra-girlfriends are long gone, he’s just another ultra-dork with no visible life, jabbering about his splits and obsessing over which gel has more methamphetamine.

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