Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Western States 100 Film Trailer

Geoff (on the ground) and me on the Western States 100 finish line, 2010. Photo: Jenny Uehisa.
Last year's Western States 100 ended up being a bit of a paradigm shift for the top levels of mountain ultra racing.  Western States was the first official 100 mile foot race and continues to be the ultramarathon race with the richest history, deepest competitive fields, and highest media profile of any in North America, so when many of the top runners held on to finish strong (100 miles is such a long ways with so much time for so many different things to go wrong that it is rare for so many contenders to make it to the finish relatively hitch-free) and compete very closely all the way to the finish--with two of us substantially under the previous course record--it was arguably a milestone race in the history of the sport.  While others will surely one day run Western States much faster than Geoff and I did in 2010 (that will probably even happen this year!), last year's event was one where it seems the 100 mile distance transitioned into truly becoming a race and not just an en masse jogging/hiking/survival contest.

I'm aware that all of that might sound nauseatingly self-serving, considering I was one of the prominent actors at the front of last year's race, but as a semi-obsessed fan of mountain racing--both contemporary and historically--I am highly aware that:

A) people raced really hard back in the earlier days of the sport as well, and
B) there have been plenty of other defining moments in the recent history of ultra distance mountain racing (Matt's 2005 Leadville, Kyle's 2008 Hardrock, Kilian's 2008 UTMB and Geoff's 2009 Wasatch, just to name a few, all stand out in my mind).

However, what made WS 2010 a little different was that, while all of those performances were notable for their singularity and sheer domination over history and the competition, at WS last year there was true head-to-head racing right up until the very end, in addition to a shattering of previous-fastest times.

Luckily for fans of the sport everywhere, ultrarunner and filmmaker JB Benna had the ambition, vision, enthusiasm and know-how to scrape together the resources and actually document the race last year through incisive pre- and post-race interviews with the top contenders and exclusive inside-the-lead-pack race footage.  Fun stuff if you're a geek like me.  The film's website is here.

And if you haven't yet seen this elsewhere, here is the excellent trailer:



As great as last year's race was, this year's event--in a little more then three weeks--is shaping up to be every bit as exciting, and probably even more so.

The high country snow is even deeper and more lingering than last year.

Two-time winner Hal Koerner is back healthy (he was injured last year, and had to depart the race at 80 miles) and racing better than ever.

Geoff and Kilian are returning for a reprisal of last year's battle.

There is maybe even more top-level depth with the likes of last year's 4th place break-out performer Nick Clark clearly in the best shape of his life, veteran Dave Mackey lacing together an undefeated season at top races on the circuit, WS rookie Mike Wolfe running well, foreigners Jez Bragg and Tsuyoshi Kaburaki back after podium finishes in 2009, and a whole slew of other notables that will pounce if any of these guys falter.

Sadly, I am probably the only podium-threat who won't be back at the race this year, my running continuing to be drastically hampered by tibial tendonitis ever since the Rocky Raccoon 100 way back in February.  But I'll definitely be scouring the internet all day on June 25th hanging on every update just as every other fan who can't make it out to California should be.

41 comments:

Alex Gillespie said...

Eloquent post yet again. Sad to see you won't be there at WS100 as everyone was looking forwards to last years top 4 plus the other names you mentioned having a mega race. Goodluck with the recovery.

Alex

Saad Bhamla said...

Awesome.
My goal is to run this before I graduate.

Brandon Fuller said...

That was an epic day. I am sure there are more to come in your future. Possibly in August in a little mountain town?

Adam said...

Anton, any chance you'll be running the Pikes Peak Marathon this year?

narendra said...

I don't know. 1983 with Howard beating King approaching the track is pretty legit. And King probably ran several extra miles on the snow.

Wyatt Hornsby said...

Anton:

Wishing you a speedy recovery. Every great athlete at some point endures a serious injury and then returns to form. You will too--maybe better than ever before. Hang in there!

Wyatt

Brandon said...

Too bad you won't be there this year Tony, but good luck with the tibial tendon issues. I have similar issues with my PT tendon that I've been fighting for over a year now.

Also, is it just me or does the guy in the Tamalpa white tanktop in the beginning look like Dean Karnazes? I don't believe he ran Western States last year, so I'm probably just seeing things :-)

Anton said...

narendra-definitely. :56 split in from the highway and passing king on the streets of auburn...pretty goose-bump raising stuff if you ask me. but, they were an hour slower than last year on a course that was 7 miles shorter. king and howard are absolutely timeless heroes of the sport, though.

GZ said...

Silly as it is, I remember running the skyline traverse that evening, night and we heard Roes won as we headed out. On top of Bear peak, in the dark, Jim P was getting results on his cell phone ... then I talked to Nick Clark on the way home. It was an epic day and night of racing for sure.

Buzz said...

I strongly agree. A "race is supposed to be a race, not a see-if-you-can-finish, not really a PR, not even a time trial. It's been a long time coming, but maybe a few of the top 100's will sometimes be actual races. Good call.

Fat and Slow said...

Don't forget about Graham Cooper...

Hoppy said...

Anton ,you have the ability to inspire! ,injured or not,your passion shines right through in your posts ,wishing you a smooth and speedy recovery back to full health. Damn! i was going to take it easy tomorrow too : ) alohas .

gon4run said...

Thanks for sharing, Tony....Missing your posting but not nearly as much as you are missing your running! Hope the recovery goes well...you will be kicking some butt in no time!!

Footfeathers said...

I've been thinking about ws a lot in my own runs lately, trying to put together possible scenarios and outcomes based on all sorts of data and current nuances of the contenders. I felt the lack of writing on your part was a bad sign and now, based on your absence, I have to reevaluate my prognostication. Sorry you won't be there and hopefully see you at Leadville.
Tim

Barry Bliss said...

One reason your running is not a selfish persuit:
I ran 9 miles to work 4 days in a row recently.
Until I read about you and Geoff I thought that was too far to do consistently.
You have helped me put mileage in it's proper perspective.
We gotta get off of fossil fuels, and the more folks that realize they can go 9 miles on foot the better.

Bedrock said...

Not self serving at all. You have a great perspective as being one of the top contenders. Hate that you will miss this year. Hope you heal soon.

tmurray said...

Amazing, awe inspiring film! I will never do the WS100 but my legs were definitely twitching watching that. Wonderful.

sharmanian said...

Sorry to hear you won't be racing this one, and best wishes getting back to full fitness. You made last year's race very exciting but until this video I could only picture it from the race reports.

If only they had a chopper to cover the race...

JessiePants said...

This gave me chills, thanks for sharing (post and trailer).

kdahiya said...

Recover well Tony, You are incredible, awesome, freaking human goat and bhalla bhalla...you already get that so often. So, missing WS-2011 due to obvious reasons doesn't mean you wont be cruising any other 100s? Is Hardrock or UTMB in your mind? And BTW good post!

Mike Alfred said...

First year in 3 that I won't be on the course at Western States. I'll be following this year's race on Twitter from Paris. I'm turning 30 on June 21 and felt like I had to do something different to mark the occasion. Still wishing you a speedy recovery, sir.

Agiofws said...

A pitty we won't be seing you in the ws 100 miler. But a wise decision taken... I think i'lljust hold onto "what my body" is feeling like, and carry on from there...

Hope to see you in the UTMB race...

Paul said...

Thumbs down to injuries! Heal well Anton.

Brandon, I thought the same thing, but it's not Dean, it's Victor Ballesteros.

Andy said...

I work the aid station at Robinson Flat every year and am always happy to see every runner, first and last, come through the aid station. Most likely I'll be running WS next year, a grand birthday celebration (amazingly WS always falls on my birthday weekend - June 26). It was fantastic to see you, Geoff and Kilian run through al together last year. Speedy recovery to you. This year will be tough out there, a deep snow year, but we'll be out there supporting everyone and cheering them all on. Our sport is full of the nicest people!

david said...

Anton, thanks for posting. i really enjoyed the video and hope to see you running soon again! in the meantime, i would really appreciate if you could explain from a pro runner view how you face the recovering of this tibial problem since some amateurs like myself have the same injury and few ideas to get out of the tunnel.

Thank you.

Craig Thornley said...

Sorry about your injury, Anton. Last year's race was incredible. With this new film a whole new crop of runners in 10 or 20 years will be quoting you guys and talking about how exciting the 2010 race was. Can't wait to add it to my collection.

“They say there are three types of runners at Western States: the survivors, the runners, and the racers. Of that group I’d say that I’m one of the racers.“ - Jim King 1983 pre-race interview sportin' an awesome mullet.

David said...

The race will certainly lose something with you not being there, in saying that it still has everything to be another epic. The most important thing is for you to recover and I wish you a fast and good recovery because you deserve to do the thing you you love and are so talented at! I will still have eyes on WS this year...maybe god speed your recovery chief because you get me damn excited when you race...

arareko said...

Anton, are you going to UTMB this year? You are listed as having completed the registration. It would be great to see you there.

Cheers!
Mauricio

Joseph said...

Tony,
You deserve to be at the race, even if just as a spectator or volunteer. If it's $ preventing you from watching the race live, send me an email at schwartzrun@gmail.com (a temporary email address) and I'll sponsor your expenses to be there.
Best -
A 2010 WS Runner.

Rick said...

I think Anne T's 2nd OA as she was closing in on the leader was a great day in WS/Ultra history. Can't remember the year, 199? perhaps?
Hope you heal quickly Tony, looking forward to you racing again.

Scott said...

To this day your words stick with me, dating back to that race last year;
"And some other dude still beat me by six minutes. That's how it goes some times." In a way, I wanted to feel bad for you, but it was clear then, and now how satisfied you are to have been part of that experience. Its a great perspective not to hang on too tight. Thanks for sharing the film link. For an east coaster, I am looking forward to seeing what I have only imagined happened.

Michael said...

Anton, I too, PTT. Any suggestions you might have would be so gratefully appreciated.

Michael

Jame said...

Good to see you out on Viewpoint today! I hope the tendonitis is getting better.

fellpoet1 said...

I can hardly wait for the dvd it will be great. Any updates on what races you will be fit for ?. Really like the 101 as well. It maybe that you do this already but anytime you do an interview in a magazine or audio or video it would be great to get the link {As i say you might do this already and i apologise if you do} as we have very little in the way of reports etc here in England. That also goes for all your peers too.

Holler said...

I gather from your blog that you're still running some. If possible, it would be great to see you at WS pacing someone else for a few miles, as Joe and Jen did for you last year. Any thoughts on doing that?

Barry Bliss said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Barry Bliss said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bipolar Boy said...

Hi Tony,

Would it be possible to ask for a signed photo or poster as i am a long time fan and follower of your running and would find it most inspirational. If you are able to send one i can give you my details.

Thanks for your time,

Matt.

Gordon said...

Sorry to hear about the leg. It, like all things was meant to be and will heal (as you know) leaving you to come back to your next adventure stronger than ever. UTMB? Anyway, for some weird(?) reason you continue to inspire me more than any other of the elite runners even though I can only hope to "finish" races that you win. Thanks for your words of amazement and encouragement for me at mile 80 as you relaxed with gang. Without them I would have stopped right there. LT100 next mission for me. Thanks. Let it heal. GM.

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