Tahoe Arts and Mountain Culture
Tahoe Arts and Mountain Culture

Western States Endurance Run June 24-25

Posted on June 10, 2017
Filed Under North Tahoe Events

One of the oldest ultra trail running events in the world, and certainly one of the most challenging. The annual Western States Endurance Run starts at Squaw Valley and ends in Auburn 100.2 miles later. The famous trail travels through remote and rugged territory accessible only to hikers, horses and helicopters.

Taking over 24 hours, the race begins at 5am Saturday, June 24, 2017 at Squaw Valley with hundreds of the most fit runners across the nation participating.

Following the historic Western States Trail, runners climb more than 18,000 feet and descend nearly 23,000 feet before they reach the finish line at Placer High School in Auburn. The Western States Trail ascends from the Squaw Valley floor (elevation 6,200 feet) to Emigrant Pass (elevation 8,750 feet), a climb of 2,550 vertical feet in the first 4½ miles. From the pass, following the original trails used by the gold and silver miners of the 1850’s, runners travel west, climbing another 15,540 feet and descending 22,970 feet before reaching Auburn.

Most of the trail passes through remote and rugged territory. People who are unfamiliar with the area should use caution when planning training runs, especially in the high country. Before leaving, let someone know where you will be running and when you will return. 

In 1974, with the inspiration and encouragement of Drucilla Barner, 1st woman to win the Tevis Cup and Secretary of the WSTF, Tevis veteran Gordy Ainsleigh joined the horses of the Western States Trail Ride to see if he could complete the course on foot. Twenty-three hours and forty-two minutes later Gordy arrived in Auburn, proving that a runner could indeed traverse the rugged 100 miles in one day. 

Following is Gordy’s own account:

Inventing 100-Mile Trail Racing By Gordy Ainsleigh

There are defining moments in every person’s life when he or she must decide either to be sensible and do the reasonable thing or to embark on a perilous journey through a fog of uncertainties and attractive unknowns that cannot possibly be estimated for their risk potential. Faced with such a choice, we make our best guess and then either turn back or press forward.

Those who go forward and make it through the fog-shrouded unknown to the far shore often partake of great adventures–and possibly even become famous in the doing. Those who don’t make it through in one piece often end up devastated or dead–and possibly famous, also.

For me, the afternoon of August 3, 1974, was one of those defining moments.

To read rest, click here.

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