Western States 100: Preview and Predictions

Western States has turned into March Madness for running nerds… which is awesome!! Pretty much everywhere you look, there are predictions about how this thing is going to go down (see links below). Well, guess what – here is one more!!

The Preview

Rob Krar 3:1

photo credit: iRunFar

photo credit: iRunFar

Rob Krar and his beard finished second at Western States last year – and it was Rob’s first 100. He has been focused on Western States this year and he has not been racing as much as some of his competitors. He did come in 2nd at Lake Sonoma to his nemesis, Zach Miller, but nobody else has been able to take Rob down as of late. He has ridiculous closing speed, so if you plan on beating Rob, you better amass a significant lead, and you better be really fast yourself.

Ryan Sandes 4:1

photo credit: Ian Corless

Ryan Sandes finished second at Western States in 2012. Ryan has been running a ton this year – he won Transgrancanaria and he was second at Mount Fuji. He also set a FKT on the Drakensberg Grand Traverse. Some previews have suggested that Ryan has too many hard miles in his legs already this year. I disagree. His hard running has been spaced out and he has been tuning up on the Western States course the last few weeks. I think he knows what he is doing and I think this is the race he’s had his eye on in 2014.

I think most of us would agree that win or lose, these are the two best-looking gents in the field.

Miguel Heras 6:1

Miguel Heras is said to be healthy and in great shape. That makes him extremely dangerous. He’s been there and done that in terms of racing, so if he is on, he will be very difficult to beat. With that being said, Rob and Ryan have each already collected a second place at W.S., so the experience factor could be an issue.

As iRunFar pointed out, there is a decent chance the winner will be one of these three. However, history (and Zach Miller and Meb) have taught us not to be presumptuous…

Ian Sharman 12:1

Ian was fourth last year and fifth in 2012. He finished about an hour back last year, but two of the guys who were ahead of him are not back (Timothy Olson and Mike Morton). With just a few slip-ups at the front of the field, Mr. Sharman could certainly find himself in front.

Matt Laye 20:1

Matt Laye ran 13:17 in his 100-mile debut earlier this year (Rocky Raccoon). He recently came in 5th at Ice Age. He’s a bit of a wild card because his resume is short, but I expect him to run near the front for as long as possible.

Max King 25:1

Max King is a swing-for-the-fences kind of guy. When he is on, he is SO good. When he is off – well, we all have those days. Max is a 2:14 marathoner and he will be making his 100-mile debut. While I think he’s a long shot, it is worth noting that he, along with Rob Krar and Michael Aish, probably have the best flat-out speed in the field.

Dylan Bowman 30:1

Dylan was 5th last year (about an hour and fifteen minutes back). He is a very consistent performer and he has lots of racing experience. He won the Sean O’Brien 50 Miler this year and he will be waiting in the wings if the lead group falters.

Michael Aish 35:1

Michael Aish is really fast. He has run 2:13 in the marathon, 27:46 over 10,000m and 13:22 over 5000m. However, Western States is not a track or a road, and taking it out too aggressively will lead to a meltdown in the canyons. Regardless, he will certainly be near the front early and he is one to watch.

Nick Clark 45:1

According to iRunFar, Nick Clark is interested in taking a shot at Mike Morton’s masters course record (15:45). That would certainly place him in the top five, even in this deep field. Nick will not go out with the leaders, and he will certainly find himself passing carnage throughout the day.

My Predictions:

1. Ryan Sandes
2. Miguel Heras
3. Rob Krar
4. Matt Laye Michael Aish
5. Ian Sharman
6. Nick Clark
7. Dylan Bowman
8. Paul Terranova
9. Max King
10. Vajin Armstrong