Seven New England residents and two former Bay Staters took part in a wild weekend at the 46th annual Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run. The former residents had fine days – former Boston resident Kyle Pietari, 32, now of Edgewater, Colo., earned his fourth straight top-10 finish, placing 10th overall in 15:56:15, and former Hudson resident Liz Canty, 27, now of Huntsville, Ala., finished 13th in the women’s field in 20:55:49 – and many of the current residents had memorable weekends, too.
The men’s race saw defending champion and course record-holder Jim Walmsley knock 21 minutes off of last year’s winning time, setting a new course standard in 14:09:28, while upstart 24-year-old Jared Hazen finished second in 14:26:46, also going under Walmsley’s old course record. Meanwhile, women’s defending champion Courtney Dauwalter dropped after 79.8 miles and Clare Gallagher – who’d spent most of the day nine to 12 minutes back in second place – seized the opportunity and went on to post the second-fastest time by a woman in course history while winning in 17:23:25.
Pietari’s podium finish and Canty’s near-miss of the podium in a strong Western States debut marked the fastest performances by runners with New England ties. The top performer from the region was a regular face at Western States. Aliza Lapierre, 39, of Williston, Vt., entered with five previous finishes – all in the top 10 (6th in 2011; 3rd in 2012; 6th in 2013; 4th in 2015; 8th in 2018). She spent much of the day running in 18th to 20th place in the women’s field and ultimately finished 21st in 23:00:17.
A half-hour after Lapierre finished, Western States newcomer Chris Neoh appeared on the track at Placer High School and made his way toward the finish line. The 34-year-old from Pelham, Mass., had put together a pretty consistent performance as he made his way from the starting line in Squaw Valley, Calif., to the track in Auburn, Calif. Other than the notorious Canyons and a longer break at Green Gate after crossing the river at Rucky Chucky, Neoh’s pace rarely fluctuated by more than two or three minutes even as the terrain changed. Steady throughout, Neoh crossed the finish line in 23:31:45 and finished 109th overall.
There were 130 sub-24-hour finishers.
As the clock rolled past 24 hours three New England residents remained on the course pressing onward toward Auburn. Each still had a few hours to go, but they were racing the clock. Corey Barrett was in good shape. The 48-year-old from Waterbury Center, Vt., had less than 10 miles to go. Those miles were painfully slow after he’d pushed his body so hard, but he saw the sun rise as he closed in on Auburn. Barrett ultimately reached Robie Point at mile 98.9 shortly before 8 a.m., and then made the downhill run to Placer High School, onto the track and across the finish line where he ended his weekend in 189th place overall in 27:16:02.
Danielle Triffitt still had 14 miles to go at the 24-hour mark, and the 44-year-old from Topsham, Maine, continued the steady performance that she’d displayed throughout the race, knocking out 19- and 20-minute miles even as fatigue set in. Triffitt ultimately finished in 28:13:43, good for 229th overall and 44th in the women’s field.
The final New England resident still on the course needed until the final minutes to finish – but ultimately Oliver Truog got it done. The 46-year-old from Milton, Mass., was through 79.8 miles at the 24-hour mark. He’d endured some long sections that took a toll on his pace, but he continued to press onward. Truog had spent seven years in the Western States lottery trying to get into the race; he wasn’t going to back down when the clock was against him. He reached the Pointed Rocks aid station at mile 94.3 with just under two hours to go. A finish wasn’t yet certain, but Truog pushed onward. When he reached Robie Point and had 33 minutes to cover the final 1.3 miles, he was finally in position to breathe easier. He made the final downhill run, entered the track and skipped across the finish line with a smile on his face. Truog placed 308th overall in 29:46:34 – less than 14 minutes ahead of the finish-line cutoff.
For two Massachusetts residents, the race ended earlier than they’d hoped. Annette Florczak, 45, of Roslindale, Mass., made it through 38 miles before missing the cutoff after 11:05 on the course. Additionally, 43-year-old Kyle Robidoux of Roxbury was forced to withdraw from the race after 6:09 on the course when he missed the cutoff at mile 15.8. Robidoux, the first legally blind runner to start Western States, said on Twitter after the race that the “snow really slowed me down.”
Of the 369 runners who started the race, 319 ultimately finished. The final runner to cross the finish line, 47-year-old Lane Shimonishi of Honolulu, Hawaii, did so with just 22 seconds to spare in 29:59:38.