Tribune News Service reports
A competitive field of more than 360 ultrarunners from a dozen nations is set to take on the 34th annual Western States 100-mile Endurance Run on Saturday.
So strong is this year's group, race organizers rank it as one of the elite fields in the history of the ultramarathon.
"On both the men's and the women's sides, it's a veritable who's who of trail running," Greg Soderlund, Western States race director, said in a release. "It's our deepest field for both races in many years."
Starting from the base of Squaw Valley at 5 a.m., the run follows the rugged Western States Trail - originally used by gold and silver miners in the 1850s - before spitting out participants on the Placer High School track in Auburn.
The final cutoff time is 11 a.m. on Sunday, or 30 hours after the start.
Those who pull off the feat in less than 30 hours receive a bronze buckle. Those who finish in less than 24 hours are awarded a silver buckle.
Such finishes are hard-earned.
Athletes get an immediate taste of the physically demanding nature of Western States with 2,550-foot climb in the first 4.5 miles to Emigrant Pass. From there, they continue west, climbing a total of 15,540 feet and descending 22,970 feet before reaching the Middle Fork of the American River and eventually Auburn - 100 miles from the start.
The two finished one-two a year ago before the Western States Board of Trustees officially disqualified Morrison for receiving assistance on the final stretch on the Placer High track. Cooper, who finished more than 10 minutes behind the physically exhausted Morrison, was thus awarded the Robie Cup for first place.
Erik Skaden of Folsom, who was bumped from third to second with the disqualification, also is returning for this year's run.
Women's champion Nikki Kimball of Bozeman, Mont., will try to defend her 2006 title while seeking her third win in the past four years.
Robert Kronkhyte, 51, of Tahoe City and 50-year-old George Ruiz of Carson City are the local entries.
As opposed to last year, when the temperature topped 100 degrees in the lower elevations, mild weather is expected for the weekend.
According to the National Weather Service, runners should be greeted by temperatures in the low 40s at Sqauw the morning of the race. The high in Auburn throughout the weekend should range between 83 and 93 degrees.
Of the 399 athletes who began last year's scorcher, only 211 - or 56 percent of the field - made it to the finish line in 30 hours, said John Trent, media relations coordinator for Western States. That's the lowest total since 1995, Trent said.
Top 11 finishers, 2006
Place Runner Time Bib S Age City/State
1. Graham Cooper, Oakland, 18:17:27
2. Erik Skaden, Folsom, 19:9:05
3. Nikki Kimball, Bozeman, Mont., 19:26:50
4. Tom Nielsen, Escondido, 19:41:40
5. Jim Huffman, Salt Lake City, 20:00:13
6. James Kerby, Carnation, Wash., 20:03:45
7. Andy Jones-Wilkins, Oakland, 20:05:01
8. Jon Olsen, Modesto, 20:07:36
9. Beverley Anderson-Abbs, Red Bluff, 20:10:35
10. Ian Torrence, Boulder City, 20:18:06
11 Twietmeyer, Tim 20:33:49 11 M 47 Auburn, Calif.
2004 Scott Jurek 15:36:27
1994 Ann Trason 17:37:51