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What’s Up in Ultra This Weekend — June 29

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In this week’s What’s Up in Ultra, we head to California for the 51st Western States Endurance Run and check in on races in South Dakota, Washington and Vermont. Let’s jump right in.

Western States 

Not much can be said about the Western States Endurance Run that hasn’t already been said. It’s the country’s oldest 100-mile race and one of the most sought-after endurance events, with nearly 9,400 runners applying in the 2023 lottery. For a quick refresher, here are the numbers: 375 athletes will be toeing the line this year in Olympic Valley, California. They’ll have 30 hours to make it to Auburn, California, and the famous Placer High track to earn an official finish and a bronze buckle, while sub-24 hour finishers will earn a silver buckle. Along the way, runners will travel east to west on the Western States Trail, gaining around 18,000 feet and descending close to 23,000 feet. Main challenges include the potential for trashed quads on the net downhill course and the extreme heat, with temperatures frequently hitting triple digits in the canyons.

This year’s field includes some of the top endurance athletes in the world, with course-record holder Jim Walmsley returning after a hiatus last year to headline the men’s field, and a stacked women’s group led by Katie Schide, who finished runner-up in 2023 while running the second-fastest time in course history. This should be an exciting and competitive year, with dozens of elite runners having a shot to take home the coveted Western States cougar trophy. Last but not least, a huge shoutout goes to the more than 1,500 volunteers who make this event possible year after year. You can follow all the live race day action here on the live stream.

The Yeti Washington

Next, we head to North Bend, Washington, for the fourth running of the Yeti 100 Mile Endurance Run-Washington (100-mile, 100k and 50-mile races). Inspired by the popularity of the East Coast Yeti 100, the West Coast version is also becoming a favorite with 112 participants currently signed up for the 100-mile distance. This is an ideal course for runners looking to tackle their first 100-miler or set a PR, with the entire course being run on crushed limestone rails-to-trails paths with no grade greater than 5%. Along the way, runners will get to experience the beautiful views of the North Cascade Mountains and run through a 2.3-mile-long tunnel. The 100-mile entrants have 30 hours to complete the course for an official finish.

Black Hills 100

Our next stop is in Sturgis, South Dakota, for the Black Hills 100 (100-mile, 50-mile and 50k distances). First run in 2011, the 100-miler is an out-and-back race held on the Centennial Trail in the scenic Black Hills. Known for being a relentless course with the potential for extreme weather and close to 17,000 feet of elevation gain spread out over multiple climbs and descents for the entirety of the race, the average finish rate is only around 35-40%. The 100-mile runners will have 34 hours to complete the course for an official finish. Participants in the 50-mile and 50k races will run point-to-point courses, with the 50-miler featuring 6,700 feet of climbing, and the 50k near 3,900 feet.

Wild Card: Catamount Ultra

For this week’s Wild Card Race (where we feature an event you may not be familiar with), we travel to New England and the charming town of Stowe, Vermont, for the Catamount Ultra (50k). Starting and finishing at the Trapp Family Lodge at the foot of Mount Mansfield, Vermont’s highest peak, runners will tackle two 25k loops through lush green pastures and dense hardwood forests (known for producing Vermont’s famous maple syrup). Runners will have 9 hours to complete 5,000 feet of climbing across 31 miles.

Other great ultramarathons this weekend include: Finger Lakes 50s (Hector, NY), Dawg Gone Long Run (Waynesville, OH), Methodist Mountain Ultra (Salida, CO), Sharp Top 50k (Masten, PA), Toxic Trail 37 (Port Mayaca, FL), Golden State 50k (Salinas, CA) and Night Hawk (Lawrence, KS).

Check out the full list of events on the UltraRunning Magazine race calendar, and good luck to everyone racing this weekend!