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Ten takeaways from the 2024 Western States

By Henry Howard


Another epic Western States is in the books and it did not disappoint whatsoever. In fact, in a lot of ways, it signified the dawning of a new era among the elites in the women’s field. Yes, we are indeed here for the women’s race.


Here are my top 10 takeaways from the 2024 Western States:


1. What’s next for Walmsley? Jim Walmsley’s victory in 14:13:45 at Western, the first since his threepeat wins in 2018, 2019 and 2021 (no race in 2020 due to COVID), was the second fastest ever behind his 14:09:28, five years earlier. All four of his victories are in the top eight times ever at Western. What’s next for the top male ultra runner of today? An attempt at wins at Western and UTMB in the same calendar year, whether it is 2024 or later?

2. An all-time great. Katie Schide proves she’s among the all-time performers at Western States. Entering the 2023 race, Ellie Greenwood had the course record with a 16:47:19 in 2012. Her mark is now fourth overall, behind Schide’s 15:46:57 and 16:43:45 the past two years and, of course, Courtney Dauwalter’s blistering 15:29:33 a year ago.  

3. Rewriting history, again. In the history of the race, three women finished under 17 hours, including Dauwalter and Schide last year. Six women finished under 17 hours this weekend, meaning eight of the best nine finishing times ever occurred in the past two races. Take it a step further and 13 of the 14 top times in the women’s race have occurred since the canceled 2020 event.

4. A sprint finish for second place. Rod Farvard and Hayden Hawks battled it out on the track for second place, with Farvard finishing just 16 seconds faster. Their performances are the third and fourth fastest times in race history, 14:24:15 and 14:24:31 respectively. It’s easily the fastest podium in the race’s half-century history. Can you imagine a race next year with this year’s podium, and potentially two-time runner-up Tyler Green and 2022 champion Adam Peterman leading an incredibly competitive field?  

5. Masters of their domains. Tyler Green nailed his fourth top 10 finish, with a time of 15:05:39, which also set a new men’s masters course record, breaking Mike Morton’s mark of 15:45:21 from 2013. In the women’s race, sixth-place finisher Ida Nilsson obliterated the masters course record with a 16:56:52. The previous best was held by Ragna Debats, who ran a 17:41:13 three years ago.

6. Double trouble: Is there a better two-sport athlete in the world today than Heather Jackson? Following her fifth-place finish at Unbound, the world’s largest gravel bike race, she took seventh place at Western in 17:16:43. That’s two top incredible finishes in the same calendar month among elite fields in two different sports.

7. Women rule. I loved the “Here for the women’s race” T-shirts. I’m looking forward to getting one, once those go on sale, and hoping that proceeds go toward programs that support girls and women in sports.  

8. Excellent live coverage: As good as the men’s and women’s races were, the live coverage was even better than in years past. I was traveling home from work on Saturday and was able to keep tabs on the race, thanks to the studio hosts via YouTube and reports via Twitter. An amazing job and much appreciated.  

9. From the wait list Friday to the Golden Hour Sunday. This year the final wait list spot to get into the race was number 35, Greg Bergeron, who found out the day before the start that he’d be racing. That comes a year after the 56th runner on the wait list was able to enter. Congratulations to Bergeron, who finished in the Golden Hour.  

10. The Golden Hour is still the best hour. This year, Iris Cooper was the last of the official 286 finishers, crossing the line in 29:56:10. There were 61 finishers in the final hour. William Barkan, the race’s first legally blind runner, entered the track in a sprint but fell a little short. He finished the distance but about 30 seconds too late for an official finish.


I can’t wait until the last weekend in June next year! See you at States? I hope so.

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