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Charting a path after Western States drawing

By Henry Howard

I was eagerly anticipating the Dec. 3 drawing for next year’s Western States 100-miler. With three completed qualifying races, I had four tickets in the drawing.

And a 3.9% chance of getting selected for my big audacious goal race.

Given those odds, it came as no surprise that I was not drawn. And that is OK, more than OK, in fact. Watching the live broadcast brought me joy to see the selection of others who have been waiting much longer than me to get into the race. At the same time, it was awesome to see some runners with even lower odds (1 ticket had about a 1% chance) have their ticket punched.

One thing I love about the sport is the unity. Elites, age groupers and back of the packers all start together and run the same course.

Think about that in other sports. A pickup game with LeBron James? Not happening. Playing across the diamond against Bryce Harper? Nope. Catching a touchdown pass from Tom Brady? Zero chance.

In the Dec. 3 drawing, I was stoked to see some elites I’ve previously interviewed be selected. Among them: Coree Woltering (how he found ultra running and his epic FKT journey), Pam Reed (a prolific 100-mile runner who is one of at least four runners picked for both Western and Hardrock the same day) and Michael McKnight, who has fully recovered from a broken back to crush 200-mile races and is 69th on the wait list.

After the results were known, some of my running friends reached out to pass along their condolences. But this is not a time for feeling sorry.

As I thanked my friends, I also said that this means “I get to explore a new 100-mile race next year!”

With this year's opportunity in the rear-view mirror, it is a time to seek out new challenges, dream big and get another qualifier to once again double my odds for the drawing a year from now.



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