Western States called the “World Championships” 59

Special considerations are considered to those who…and I quote from the website…”greatly enhance the competitive aspect of the race”.

For all those fast guys that didn’t get in to what MUC calls the World Championship then what is it really?

It’s the end of a series of races to win a Schwag Bag, (my simple opinion). Yes it is the most competitive 100 in the US…no doubt, but only because it is one of the originals and has a great history. I certainly deserves to be listed as a great race, but not a “World Championship” if all runners who have a legitimate chance of running top 10 can’t run it. And where is the prize money for the “World Championship”?

Prize money is not a Schwag Bag!

This has certainly shifted my plans for 2008. I was hoping to run it once this year to challenge the over 40 record, as I will be “Over the Hill” in a few days…making Western a downhill race for me. This post might ban me from the race, and I don’t want that. We have to wonder where Ultrarunning is going with so-called Championships, with only a handful of the best runners allowed to race for it. Come on Forest Service, let the runners run! And thanks to he who inspired me to write this.


Karl Meltzer


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59 thoughts on “Western States called the “World Championships”

  • Chris Russell

    I’m not sure what the ultralist response is to John Medinger’s post (I get the digest 4 days after the fact) and while I understand the point he is making the problem with the races that MUC has chosen is they are not a good predictor for WS success. Some of the guys who qualified like Crowther, DNF’d at WS. I think Freeman DNF’d as well. Converesly, a guy like Jurek or Karl doesn’t perform near as well at 50 miles as they do in 100 mile races and may not necessarily qualify via a MUC race even if they could be a threat to win WS. To me its like running a half-marathon to determine who the marathon Olympic team would be.

  • Karl

    Chris Russell makes the best point of all at the end. Some of us are better at the 100 mile distance, some of us best at 50Km. But more often than not, the 100 miles specialist should be able to qualify for 100 by running 100. No short qualifiers. All have to say now, is I hope this opens up the eyes of some RD’s and the Ultrarunning world in general. “Ultrarunning is for everyone, and everyone likes to watch (or hear about) the fast guy’s run. Let’m in. And don’t go hiking on you’re ATV

  • Ant

    Regarding the earlier posts about a backwards WS100. There are ultrarunners from the Sacramento, and Bay area putting together a backwards run this year. It will be supoprted through friends, etc. If you check the trail running fourm on the runnersworld.com site you’ll find out more.

  • average Jane

    You are right on “Ultra running is for everyone”. Everyone loves a heroic feat, and to follow their heros…. but you can’t have heros without the average Joe who strives to run like a hero. For the love of the trails we all (both those who are fast and those just under the cut off) want to run desired courses. Hmmm, more races. WS elite, WS regular?
    I agree with an elite class championship, anything in Canada? Shake off WS “world championships” Speed Goat….. not worth the fuss. I hate to compare, but, the Super Bowl claims to be a “world championship” however they do not invite the world.
    Prior posts referenced the Tour de France……… who would want trail running to be plagued with steroids and controversy? Look to the future, use your WS frustration to improve the sport of trail running.

  • Karl

    Average Jane. I really don’t care where there is a “World Championship” or even if there is one. I tend to do things I want to and not worry about others. As far as getting in WS, I am not all that upset about it. It’s all about it being called the World Championships. That was very much a Montrail mistake calling it that. It was NOT the RD. Montrail thinks they are the shit in this sport, but in reality they are on a downslide. They started the whole sponsor thing, and it was great for the sport.
    You are very right with the NFL calling it the World Championship, we all know it is not. Only (and others) with Futbol (soccer) could there actually be a World Championship, all teams come from around the world. That would be the definition. A “World Championship” for Ultrarunning would have to be a race with everyone (at least most) from around the Globe.
    In reference to the Tour De France. Mt. Blanc is the Tour de France of Ultrarunning, it is NOT plagued with drugs, nor did last year’s top 3 use performing enhancing drugs…yes they were drug-tested afterward, they all passed. If you ever get a chance to run this race, you will see what I mean when I say Tour De France. Running a killer mountain section, then dropping into a quant little town to see 2000 people cheering for you is intense. They hang out for the whole field, not just the elites. These fans look at the front of the pack like the back, we are all in this together. It is highly unlikely this sport will ever see steroids or performing enhancing drugs. Siimply because there is no money. Wouldn’t it be stupid to spend all this cash on EPO, or blood doping to win a Cowbell, or a Buckle, or a trophy? The TDF is 100 years old and they are racing for milions, not cowbells. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t support performance enhancing drugs, but c’mon this sport will not go there in my lifetime, nor your’s. US Championship would be a better definition, that is where Montrail screwed up. -Wahsatchspeedgoat

  • Jon

    Average Jane, what do you mean by “Prior posts referenced the Tour de France……… who would want trail running to be plagued with steroids and controversy?”

  • Jon

    Sorry Avg. Jane, I read your comment as you were referring to Tour du Mont Blanc so, but you weren´t so no need to clarify for me what you meant 🙂 Agree with Karl, Tour du Mont Blance is awesome.

    P.s. Regarding the World Championship, I think it should be held one year in Europe and the next in USA for few years and then it can move to other continents when this has been done for some time. Europe and USA account for 90% of ultra runners. So who is going to take care of this Championship on an International level, IAU? http://iau.org.tw/

    Maybe, what is needed for 2008 is an All-Star race, a race that would guarantee a spot for all those who finish in the top 5 (or 10-15) places in all the 100´s in USA, Europe + plus some places for average Joe´s. It would then be followed by a World Championship race in 2009 either in Europe or USA. It´s hard to set up a WC race in 2008 with such a short notice (set up rules, select race et.c). Montrails WS100 World Championship was maybe just a decision to start this somewhere, someplace.

  • average Jane

    Completely agree with you on the US vs WC…. and I understand current trail running isn’t plagued with performance enhancing drugs…just hope to stay that way
    As for the Tour du Mont Blanc, that was super cool. I hope you get those crafty Euros next year.

  • Slow Tom

    There has to room for all of us, fast and slow, on the incredible Western States trail, which is in my back yard, and I’m on those trails a lot, but I’d like to do it in a race setting once, and I finally got in, and am going to make the very best of it, because apparently it’s my time. But I could not agree more that the the WS system has to change to bring in more fast runners. The current system encourages people to do whatever it takes to squeak a sub-11 50 just to get the name in the hat. People who have done 50s before but are completely out of training can still do that. And then maybe they barely train for WS. That’s wrong. But they can’t put their name in the hat unless they keep doing the 50s and they can’t minimize the odds of the lottery without putting their name in the hat every year.

    So one idea is just to bag the multiple-time loser idea altogether. I met a guy who got his named pulled five years in a row. There are probably more extreme cases. And there would be people who would never get their names pulled. Maybe just let the luck fall where it may. OK, that’s too rough? Then scale it back a bit. What about different lottery formats in different years? For example, only 50 lottery slots (or even fewer) one year and more the next year then back to 50. Or what about having a lottery only every other or third year and having age-based qualifying standards during the non-lottery years? There doesn’t have to be a lottery every year.

    One thing seems very clear to me: There should be automatics based on finishing times at other races. Have different qualifying times for different distances, and give the most challenging times to the shortest distances (for example, your 50 would have to be 10 or 15 percent faster than your 100 in your age group on the same course). It wouldn’t be easy to set up these standards, but it would not be impossible.

    I have done some fairly deep statistical analysis of finishing and split times at Western States. Numbers are just a hobby and it helps me prepare. One thing quite clear and interesting: it is not at all a Bell Curve out there. The peak of the curve is way toward the right (slower runners) and the right side of the curve never does flatten out to the axis. Translation: the fastest runners are much, much faster than the slower runners are slow, which is maybe another way of saying that the current entry formula permits too many slow runners (like me) to be out there at one time. There race has lost its balance point (peak of the curve in the middle). I don’t want to do WS every year. I don’t even want to do a 100 every year. I have lots of other things going on in my life that excite me. But there should be opportunity to do it occasionally (every few or five years, maybe) for the slower runners.

    So my support is with finding a way to get more fast runners and fewer slow runners into the race at one time. And you elite cats should know that there are slow dogs who really support you. And we can do things before we come to boycotting. I really like the post about placing pressure on the RDs and the Boards.