Sunday, June 17, 2018

My Training For The Western States 100

The Western States 100 is coming up in Squaw Valley, California on Saturday! I'm more nervous than a pig in a bacon factory. I've applied for the lottery for many years but hadn't gotten in. Then in October I received an email from Karl Hoagland and Cory Smith at UltraRunning Magazine offering a spot to run as part of their sponsorship of the race. When I read their email, I screamed. I am so thankful for this opportunity. 

I've tried to do everything I can to be prepared for this race. In February I ran 130 miles at the Jackpot Ultra Running Festival. In March I ran 100 miles on the deck of a cruise ship. (Proof that I sometimes make poor life choices.) And in April I ran the Zion 100. While those races got some miles on my legs, the difficulty of those courses was nothing compared to what I'll face at Western States. In my training, I've tried to do as much climbing and descending as possible. (The race has 18,090 feet of climbing, and 22,970 feet of descent. O U C H. 

I've worked on squeezing miles in between releasing my new book Into The Furnace: How a 135 mile run across Death Valley set my soul on fire. I'm completely honored that Oprah Winfrey ranked it as her third favorite book of all time, right behind The Da Vinci Code and Goodnight Moon. Thanks O! The book was just released on Amazon, Kindle, and Audible. You can find it HERE.

Western States is notoriously hot. So I've tried to get my body ready for the heat by running in the heat of the day (around 100 degrees in southern Utah right now). I sometimes wear a sweatshirt and wool hat. Unfortunately the trailhead where I often run is a mile from my house. When neighbors see me in this apparel, they just stare in pity thinking I'm as smart as a bowl of Jell-O.

I start whining when there are clouds that tone down the heat.

I've been able to do some running in some of the most beautiful places on the planet.

I've also been able to share some awesome adventures with my family.

A week or so ago I spent a few days with renowned photographer and videographer Derrick Lytle who is working on a project with Altra Running. I'm not sure what he has up his sleeve but I think the video will come out sometime after the race. I had fun hanging out with him on some of my local trails.

My best training for the race happened a few weeks ago at the Western States Training Camp. Over the three days of the camp, we ran the last 70 miles of the course. I was amazed by two things: 1) The beautiful scenery, and 2) How freaking hard the course is. It's one thing to see numbers like 18k feet climbing and 23k feet descent on paper. But to actually go up and down those mountains was, well, a little intimidating.

There is a section of the course called "The Canyons" where the trail is SO steep and SO hot. I was melting and bonked so hard. The canyon heat was around 7,425 degrees. The forecast for race day says it will be around 8,425 degrees. Here is an embarrassing picture of what that epic bonk looked like. (I was pouring sweat and trying my hardest to not barf. It's one of my greatest life achievements that I finished the training camp without vomit on my shoes.)

I had so, so much fun at the training camp. We ran during the day, then did the things that normal runners do in the evenings. We hung out and talked, went to a film festival, and ate Taco Bell at 9:30pm. The last day of the training camp finished at the high school track in Auburn, CA where the finish line will be on race day. We were then treated to a meal that tasted like it had been prepared at the hands of angels.

A huge part of what made the weekend so fun was going with my friend and Taco Bell accomplice Jared Thorley. We ran into a bit of a dilemma on the last day of the training camp. After the run we needed to head to the airport. But it would be considered an act of terrorism to get on an airplane without showering considering how we smelled. So we found a hose near the finish line and made ourselves less like terrorists.

I'm excited that Jared will be coming to crew/pace at Western States. We've shared many absolutely miserable miles with each other over the years. Chances are we'll find a miserable mile or two (or 70) at the race this weekend. My friends Steve and Kendra Hooper from St. George Running Center are also coming to join in the crewing/pacing extravaganza. Steve has talked about Western States as long as I've known him. I'm so glad they are coming.

And crew chief extraordinaire will be Mel. We just celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary and there is nobody I'd rather share the adventure with.

If you're bored this weekend, there is race tracking at I'm bib # 316. The race starts at 5:00am Pacific on Saturday and the cutoff is 30 hours later at 11:00am on Sunday. You never know what will happen in 100 miles. But I'm hoping that despite the challenging course and oppressive heat, I'll be able to make it to the finish line before that 30 hour cutoff.

HUGE thanks to UltraRunning Magazine, Altra Running, Tailwind Nutrition, St. George Running Center, Injinji, and UltrAspire for their support of my running nonsense.

See you in Squaw! 


  1. Can't wait to see you at Last Chance - I'll be with the Car Wash Ladies, where you must get soaked and iced down before the canyons. It's so cool you finally got in to this race and it will be fun seeing you finish!

  2. I'll be at Net Control did bib number data entry for ultralive so I'll be sure to keep track of #316 as you make your way to the finish!

  3. Go Cory! Love following your accomplishments! Know this race will be another one that you add to that long list! Best wishes and good luck this weekend! Jeff Jones

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