10 Years Later: What Western States Means to Me

(Note:  This is the 10th anniversary of the synchroblog project.  Check out what Craig, Scott and Sean had to say about What Western States has meant to them)

Ten years ago, during the winter of 2008-09, after suffering through a summer which saw the cancellation of the Western States 100 for the first time in it's history, I was eagerly looking forward to beginning my training for what would turn out to be my 6th Western States Finish.

During that winter, Craig Thornley hatched the idea of a synchroblog and five bloggers (blogs were all the rage in ultrarunning back then!) Bryon Powell, Scott Dunlap, Sean Meissner, Craig Thornley, and myself all participated.  On this, the 10th anniversary of the synchroblog, a few of us have returned to where it all started to consider "What Western States means to me 10 years later."

I wrote my first Western States race report in my blog after the 2009 race.  It had been a brutally difficult day during which I barely slipped into the top-10.  A year later, in 2010, I gave my first pre-race interview on irunfar.  It was a new thing back then as you can see by these before and after glimpses into the race.  Of course, 2010 was also the year that filmmaker JB Benna chronicled the race and in 2011 debuted the film "Unbreakable" which, along with the publication of Chris McDougall's "Born to Run", is largely credited with starting the ultrarunning boom which we are in the midst of today.

I drew the ire of some in the ultrarunning community when I wrote this about "Unbreakable" back in the winter 2011.  My blog was often a place of constructive disagreement both in my ruminations about Western States and other topics about which I was passionate.  DNFs, for example, were a frequent topic and generated active conversation here and here.  After the 2011 race, my 8th finish and the last time I finished in the top-10, I wrote this report and also, when Scott Mills put me on the spot, I explained why I was so passionate about Western States in this rambling speech.

I would go on to finish the race two more times in 2013 and 2014 to complete my dream of getting a 10 day buckle and following that last finish I had one last interview with Bryon Powell of irunfar which I believe still holds the record for his longest interview.  In addition, I penned an emotional goodbye to the race in this column in AJWs Taproom.

Since that last run at Western States in 2014 I have been back every year and plan to continue to go back for as long as they'll have me.  I've served the race as a pacer and crew, volunteer, substitute race announcer, and reporter.  I think the best place to truly get an answer to the question, "What does Western States mean to me" can be found in this video that my good friend Billy Yang made in 2017.  In essence, Western States is so much more than a race, so much more than an event.  It is a celebration, a celebration not only of what it means to be a runner but also, and perhaps most importantly, what it means to be a person, actively living and engaged in the process of life.


  1. long live the blog. long live the harkenings and ruminations


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