WS Historical Temperature and Snow Data

Updated June 27, 2012

Here are some numbers for you to geek out on while you work and re-work your splits for this coming WS 100 in 17 days.   Below is historical weather data for all WS races since Gordy first ran with the horses in 1974.  Recall that there have been several different courses that ranged in distance from 89, 93.5, to the current 100.2 miles.  I described those in my Ten Best WS Races post, and I’ve separated them by color in this post.  In the big snow years of 1983, 1995, 1998, and 2011 an alternate snow route was used, bypassing Duncan Creek and Robinson Flat. In 2010 a newer alternate Snow Route was used for the first time.  This route avoided Lyons and Red Star Ridge aid stations by coming down and running along French Meadows Reservoir and then over to Duncan Canyon.  In addition to those five big snow years, boats have been used to cross the American River (mile 78) four additional moderate snow years: 1980, 1993, 2005, 2006.  Finish percentage is based on 30 hour absolute cut-off with the exception of 1995 and 1998 when the cut-off was extended to 32 hours (don’t expect this to happen again).  Temperatures are from Auburn, CA thanks to research by John Medinger.

So what do we make of all these numbers?  Clearly, hot weather and big snow combined make for the slowest winning times and the lowest finishing rates.


Date High F Low F Finish % 1st place Distance Snow River Crossing
June 23, 2012 71 51 82% 14:46 100.2
June 25, 2011 82 60 82% 15:34 100.2 Snow Route boats
June 26, 2010 91 66 77.5% 15:07 100.2 Snow Route boats
June 27, 2009 99 61 59.6% 16:24 100.2
June 23, 2007 87 53 68.9% 16:12 100.2
June 24, 2006 101 60 52.6% 18:17 100.2 moderate boats
June 25, 2005 78 51 79.3% 16:40 100.2 moderate boats
June 26, 2004 87 57 76.0% 15:36 100.2
June 28, 2003 98 60 67.2% 16:01 100.2
June 29, 2002 89 58 68.5% 16:19 100.2
June 23, 2001 84 51 67.4% 16:38 100.2
June 24, 2000 89 53 57.7% 17:15 100.2
June 26, 1999 88 52 63.9% 17:34 100.2
June 27, 1998 87 50 67.7% 17:51 ? Snow Route boats
June 28, 1997 82 54 69.6% 15:40 100.2
June 29, 1996 90 54 60.9% 17:42 100.2
June 24, 1995 104 68 53.4% 18:34 ? Snow Route boats
June 25, 1994 91 58 65.7% 16:51 100.2
June 26, 1993 101 65 54.0% 17:08 100.2 moderate boats
June 27, 1992 82 57 61.5% 16:54 100.2
June 29, 1991 66 52 65.8% 15:54 100.2
June 23, 1990 87 52 59.3% 16:38 100.2
June 24, 1989 84 58 66.1% 16:53 100.2
June 25, 1988 88 61 73.3% 16:24 100.2
June 27, 1987 98 54 51.8% 17:41 100.2
June 28, 1986 88 60 50.6% 16:37 100.2
July 6, 1985 98 73 55.4% 16:02 100.2
July 7, 1984 101 68 67.8% 14:54 93.5
June 25, 1983 89 54 69.5% 16:07 ? Snow Route boats
June 26, 1982 84 57 63.3% 16:17 93.5
June 27, 1981 97 58 58.2% 16:02 93.5
June 28, 1980 94 57 49.4% 18:35 93.5 moderate boats
July 7, 1979 85 55 67.1% 16:11 89
June 24, 1978 80 54 47.6% 18:50 89
July 30, 1977 102 60 18.8% 22:57 89
July 10, 1976 90 58 100.0% 24:30 89
July 26, 1975 99 60 0.0% 89
August 3, 1974 92 61 100.0% 23:42 89
2006-2012 Millers Defeat Course
2002-2005 Star Fire Course
1986-2001 Duncan and Deep Canyons Course
1985 Wide World of Sports Course
1980-1984 93.5 Mile Course
1974-1979 89 Mile Course


  1. Anybody remember how to do a multivariable regression analysis? it would be cool to predict the winning time, but I don’t think any amount of math would explain the 110.2 mile course in 2000. Do you get a platinum buckle for winning that one?

  2. Couple things: First, I couldn’t help but notice that our best years (place wise) were years when it was the coolest (2005, 2007). Maybe the fast guys up front beat each other up regardless of heat?

    And, do you have any idea how much pavement is on the Snow Route? I seem to recall in one of the videos they said it was eight miles.

    • @AJW, Here’s hoping for a cool year!

      As for the alternate snow route, what they’ve got figured out now is different from the other snow routes used in 83, 95, 98 and it will be little or no pavement. WS just posted a map of the alternate route. This still goes through Duncan Canyon to Robinson Flat. If the Duncan Creek crossing is ever too dangerous or we can’t get the aid into Robinson Flat then there is another trail paralleling Mosquito Ridge Rd which will also avoid the pavement of the past and rejoin the course at N43. But, that isn’t looking like it is needed this year so just the first reroute avoiding Lyons and Red Star is all that we might see.

  3. Sweet post Craig. Interesting to see this particular combination of stats side by side for comparison. Gotta say I’m REALLY surprised that out of 35 years only 15 years were 90 or higher in Auburn(18 if you count the 89s as well) and only 4 times hitting 100+(6 if you throw in the 99s). I know I might regret saying this(maybe it’s my new love of S!Caps talking) but that is not particularly impressive for a race in which heat gets talked about with a frequency probably only 2nd to Badwater. And, yes, I know “they” record these temps in the shade and that the “perceived” temp in direct sunlight in a convective-oven-like canyon is probably the more relevant thing to discuss. Anyone know what the hottest temp ever recorded on race day in a canyon bottom is, or put another way, how does a 90 in Auburn correlate to recorded temps in the canyons? Happy heat training! Has it hit 70 in Eugene yet?

    • @The Seed, It’s still raining in Eugene. We’re getting zero heat. I’m going to Phoenix next week to get some.

      The average high in Auburn for the last weekend in June is right around 89 degrees which is nothing like Badwater. And, heck, so much of the WS course is in the shade so it really shouldn’t feel that hot, right? I’ve heard of temps in El Dorado of 114 but what does a thermometer sitting in the sun mean? Running fast, staying hydrated and cool, and digesting food is not easy at 90 degrees. Take it serious.

  4. Jeff,

    I can promise you that 99 in Auburn feels like about 170 in Volcano Canyon and on Cal Street. Have fun.

    I do have to say that it makes me feel a bit better to see that last year was one of the hotter years on record. The veterans were talking like it wasn’t all that hot, but I sure suffered plenty.


  5. Craig-
    Trust me I’m taking the heat factor serious! Although I refuse to drive around with the windows rolled up and the heater on while wearing 3 sweatsuits I have yet to turn my swamp cooler on. My previous comment was really just my sheer surprise talking; never having seen the stats,I truly thought the race day highs in Auburn would have been consistently much higher over the years and that the average high for that date would be above 90 for sure. I do think the recorded temp of a thermometer in the sun is relevant because the race doesn’t take place in a white box in the shade on the north side of a tree 3′ above the ground or whatever criteria it is they use for “official” temps. Besides, I’ve noticed that my yellow buckle gets much hotter than my silver one when left out in the sun. Enjoy the heat in Phoenix:)

    Jasper- if I had your performance from last year on the books I wouldn’t be needing anything to make me feel better about it! you have any intentions of returning to the Dance Floor some day?

    AJW- It must have been easier to keep your finish line beer stash colder in ’09 than ’06, eh? Speaking of beer, how close do I have to be to you at the track to be able to raid your cooler and not find it empty?…3 hours…2…1?

    • @The Seed, Seed, I usually go to the convenient store right around the corner from the High School for beer. So, you can come in as late as you want and I will still have some. Unless, of course, you get there after the awards ceremony’s over because at that time I’ll be taking a nap to get ready for my 1600 meter race with Craig on Monday:)

      • @SLF, SLF…your comment got me curious so I broke out the yardstick…3′ registers just above the waistline, near where the love trail begins to thicken into double-track. Is this a critical area to keep cool? Don’t be withholding valuable info on me, I’ll need all the help I can get on race day. My plan includes ice under the hat, ice in a bandana around the neck, keeping Moeben sleeves wet, etc…but am I focusing on the wrong body parts? Should I wear a huge fanny pack loaded with ice for the midsection? Or could I maybe get one of those mirdles I saw on the RVR website awhile back and load it with ice…you didn’t buy the last one did you? Not that you have anything to worry about cinching up. Inquiring minds want to know…

        • @The Seed, Damnit The Seed. You’re just too darn quick. Half the stuff you post I don’t even know what you’re talking about. Love trail, double track? I’m sorry, but I guess I’m too old. I’ll have to get Craig to ‘splain it to me. Now, regarding mirdles, you’re talking to the right guy. I’d suggest you get a black one. Hal only carries the white ones so you’ll need to find them on the internets. A black, XS might be difficult, even for Google. Now you can either get a body suit, or one with a jock strap. I’d suggest the jock strap–one because it’s cheaper, and two who can’t use another jock strap. I think you’ll find the jock strap particularly useful for carrying ice when you’re flyin’ down Cal Street. That being said, you need to be careful that you don’t get the SCaps that you’ve recently fallen in love with wet. I must admit I’m still a bit shocked, yes shocked, that a runner of your caliber is just now finding out about the superior sodium levels of SCaps versus the other impostors. With the vivid testimony I’ve been reading on FB, are you on the SCap team yet?

          • @SLF, Just ask Craig to tell you the one about the guy commenting on his love trail(or maybe it was his “runner’s body”?) in the steam room in Eugene. I’m guessing that’s why he split to Arizona to get in the rest of his heat training.
            As for the recent switch to S!Caps and its apparant shock value, well, all I can say is…getting Endurolytes at cost had me with blinders on, old habits die hard/I can be a creature of habit, I thought they worked, you can’t teach a Californian new tricks and/or sometimes the info doesn’t trickle back to us yellow bucklers quite as quickly. Choose 1, 2, or all of the above for your explanation.

  6. @SLF Please save yourself the legal fees and DO NOT ASK Craig to explain anything to you! or at least don`t repeat it.
    I have made this mistake …..OK more than once and every time I get a visit from the Chief and an enrollment into a sensitivety class,the last one was “Transgenders in the Workplace” not that there`s anything wrong with that,but what the heck does that have to do with guys painting toe nails before a hundred miler? TICER

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