Cooling trend to help Western States field |

Cooling trend to help Western States field

Steve Yingling

The running gods certainly are accommodating the 369 entrants for Saturday’s Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run.

Considering temperatures have been known to soar to 115 degrees in the inland valleys of the rugged run from Squaw Valley to Auburn, Calif., the 80-degree forecast for Saturday may make the heat-trained runners reach for their long johns.

“It’s forecast for breezes to come in and to be cooler this year. But we have fast runners no matter what the conditions are,” said race organizer Helen Klein.

Moreover, the trails are nearly clear of snow, making for a fast track and possibly record-setting performances. In 1995, a record winter snowfall required the ultrarunners to start out in waist-deep snow.

“Major construction has been done on the trails because of the (January) flooding near the Rucky Chucky River and from Forest Hill down to the Rucky Chucky,” said Klein, a four-time finisher.

Paul Rork is the lone South Lake Tahoe entrant.

Chris Strohm is the last South Shore runner to complete the course pioneered by former endurance horse rider Gordon Ainsleigh of Auburn, slipping in under the 30-hour cutoff mark with a time 28 hours, 52 minutes and 47 seconds in 1994.

Three-time winner Tom Johnson of Loomis, Calif., owns the men’s course record at 15:54:05. Ann Trason of Kensington, Calif., has won the women’s title the past eight years and possesses the women’s course record at 17:37:51.

Trason and three-time defending champion Tim Twietmeyer are expected to dominate again Saturday.

“There are a lot of good runners, but these two know the course so well and train here, so they have to be the favorites. But anything can happen,”Klein said.

Trason may be a little run down since she recently won the 55.7-mile Comrades Marathon in South Africa. She finished third overall at Western States last year after winning Comrades.

Prior to that, Trason threatened to become the first Western States woman to cross the finish line first, coming in second twice.

“If Ann won, that would be fantastic. I hope someday that happens,” Klein said.

Anyone finishing the demanding run in under 24 hours receives a silver belt buckle and those eclipsing the 30-hour barrier earn a bronze belt buckle.

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