Yesterday I watched the live feed of the Western States 100 Lottery. I have never had luck in lotteries, mostly because I don’t buy lottery tickets, but for the past 5 years I have bought a ticket, in the form of running an ultramarathon that met the requirements to qualify for a chance to enter into the big dance, Western States 100. When I first started running ultras in 2012, it was possible to qualify by running selected 50 milers. After a few years of that, the Western States Board upped the qualifying ante to mostly 100 milers with a few 100k runs thrown in for good measure. I believe the theory was that the number of entrants into the lottery would decrease, wrong. This year there were 4248 entries in the lottery for the coveted 250 spots. I was one of these, and because I have been diligent in my purchases (i.e. running at least one 50 mile or 100 mile race for the past 5 years), I had 16 tickets in my favor. After entrant 250 was drawn, plus the 50 waitlist names, I was in the same situation I had been for the past lotteries, empty handed. No date in June for me. Later in the day, I kept checking the Hardrock Lottery Twitter feed, again Lady Luck did not shine down on me.
What’s next? Well, I entered The Canyons Endurance Run 100K scheduled for April 29th. When I registered I had assigned two possible purposes for the race. One purpose would be a good training run for Western States and the other would be to obtain my qualifier for the next Western States Lottery. Both purposes would allow me to run on a portion of the Western States trail.
So, come April I will be in Foresthill ready to race. Mind you, I won’t be challenging for anything near the podium, but racing nonetheless. I have been running for a long time. I love to race and I want to lay it out there in the Canyons. My racing now is mostly against myself, trying to rise to the challenges I put out there.
I love the trails and the camaraderie I have found in ultra running. The effort of each entrant is celebrated. Although there were over 4,000 people in the most recent lottery for Western States, we are still a small group in the big picture. A group that supports and cheers for one another. A group in which the winner has as much appreciation for the back of the pack as the back of the pack has for the winner. We all suffer out there during those long days. No pity is given or asked for, because we choose to suffer. We have asked for this and the trail is happy to give.
I raise my glass to all those lucky enough to share the Western States trail on June 24th. Good luck, keep moving, and I will see you out there next year.