It took seven years of trying, but Oliver Truog finally had his name drawn in the lottery for the Western States Endurance Run.
Of the 5,862 runners whose names were in the lottery on Saturday, Dec. 1, Truog was one of just 30 who had 64 tickets, the allotment for those who were in for the seventh consecutive year. That gave him a 67-percent chance of having his name selected, the best odds of any of the hopefuls. Fortunately for Truog, he didn’t have to wait too long to hear his name called once the lottery began. Of the 262 runners who were selected, the 46-year-old resident of Milton, Mass., was the 48th runner selected to take part in ultrarunning’s original 100-mile footrace. Finally, after years of waiting, he’ll get his chance to toe the starting line in Squaw Valley, Calif., and race the 100.2 miles to Auburn, Calif., on June 29-30, 2019.
While the odds were in Truog’s favor this year—in fact, 19 of the 30 seventh-year applicants had their names drawn to be starters—there was no guarantee that luck would be on his side. Fellow Massachusetts resident Tom Morton of Chicopee was one of the 11 seventh-year hopefuls left to run another qualifier and try again next year.
Truog was one of three Massachusetts residents and five total New England residents whose names were selected on Saturday to start Western States. Chris Neoh of Pelham, Mass., was in the lottery for the fifth year in a row, and the 34-year-old was the 18thname selected. Additionally, 45-year-old Annette Florczak of Roslindale, Mass., was the 86th name drawn in her fourth year of trying. Maine will be represented by one runner as second-year applicant Danielle Triffitt, 44, of Topsham, was the 83rd name selected. Vermont’s Corey Barrett rounded out the New England contingent when the 48-year-old first-year applicant from Waterbury Center was the 121st name drawn.
In addition to the lottery selections, an additional 50 names were drawn for a Wait List in the event that some of the lottery winners are unable to start the race. A fifth-year applicant, Jack Bailey of Medway, Mass., was the lone New Englander to be selected for the Wait List. His was the 46th name pulled, meaning his chances of ultimately getting in are slim.
New England had 145 lottery applicants this year, giving the region a 3.4-percent success rate. Fifty-four of those applicants hailed from Massachusetts. Vermont had 21 hopefuls, and Maine had 18. Connecticut (30 applicants), New Hampshire (18 applicants) and Rhode Island (four applicants) were shut out from this year’s lottery.
In addition to the five lucky lottery winners, two more New Englanders will also be in the starting field. Kyle Robidoux of Roxbury, Mass., and Aliza Lapierre of Williston, Vt., were already in the field prior to the lottery as Lapierre received an automatic entry for her top-10 finish in 2018 and Robidoux was awarded a sponsor’s bib. He completed qualifying races in both 2017 and both 2018.