Ultramarathon runner Courtney Dauwalter crushed the women’s course record at the Western States 100-mile race in California, taking more than an hour off the previous best time.
Dauwalter finished the Western States 100 – the world’s oldest 100-mile race – in 15 hours, 29 minutes and 34 seconds, almost 80 minutes faster than Ellie Greenwood’s record set in 2012. The race was first run in 1974.
“I just kept asking [my legs] to do one more mile for me and they kept responding, so I was very thankful for that,” Dauwalter told iRunFar about the last 20 miles of the race.
“I was definitely, though, deep in the pain cave and really focused on every single step, every single second.”
Cooler weather contributed to faster times at this year’s Western States 100, which started in the early hours of Saturday morning in Olympic Valley, California.
Snow covered much of the initial stages of the course before runners descended into a recently unshaded section scorched by last year’s Mosquito Fire.
After running with fellow American Katie Schide, Dauwalter started pulling away around the 30-mile mark, steadily eating away at Greenwood’s course record.
Covering 18,000 feet of climbing and almost 23,000 feet of descent across Californian trails, the race finishes on a high school running track in the city of Auburn in Placer County.
“I couldn’t believe when the track suddenly showed up and you make that turn, I was like: We did it! We’re here!” Dauwalter told iRunFar.
“Because that was the moment where I let myself actually believe that we had finished and we were about to be able to stop moving.”
Dauwalter, who is set to defend her title at the Hardrock 100 in Colorado in three weeks’ time, also won the Western States 100 in 2018, though her time this year was nearly two hours faster.
Schide finished in second on Saturday in 16 hours, 43 minutes and 45 seconds, which was also quicker than Greenwood’s previous course record.
In the men’s event, the United Kingdom’s Tom Evans won in 14 hours, 40 minutes and 22 seconds – the fourth-fastest time in the history of the race.