Nuns, Scorpions, and the Western States 100

Last year on the run from Squaw Valley to Auburn I discovered that literally any part of the Western States 100 Course can take 6 hours (or more).  My roommate and crew boss Hayden Teachout didn’t let me forget this fact in the weeks leading up to States.  I can’t tell you how many times I heard, “Dude, just remember at any point it could take you six hours to get to the next aid station, so just think about that…”

After last year’s epic blow up and swamp foot episode I decided to make some changes to the training and racing plan.  I worked out a way to keep my feet drier, dialed in my nutrition and got to the starting line fairly fresh.

Things got underway at 5:00 AM under the lights at Squaw Valley.  The first 10 miles or so were pretty relaxed, cool, and comfortable. By mile 20 I was starting to get warm and by the time I saw Ryan and Eric Ghelfi at mile 23 things were starting to heat up.  At Robinson Flat I felt hot. Luckily I had packed arm sleeves and after stuffing them with ice I felt significantly better.  The climbs up Devil’s Thumb and Michigan Bluff were very hard with an intermittent breeze blasting hot air up the canyons.  It was the only time in my life that I actually felt like I was in a sauna, outdoors.

Photo Cred at IrunFar

After picking up Nike Trail teammate Tim Tollefson in Foresthill, I felt pretty good most of the way down to the Rucky Chucky River crossing.  I had a few short rough patches during this descent but nothing major.  I took about 30 seconds to cool off in the river then started the big climb up to Green Gate.  At Green Gate (Mile 80) I picked up shoe genius and pacing extraordinaire Brett Hornig.  At this point things were starting to get a little fuzzy.  We were moving well but I felt a bonk coming on and unfortunately I couldn’t eat.  Any food made me feel like I was near death.  The last solid food I’d had was a bite of a waffle at Foresthill; before that an Oreo at Devil’s Thumb. Everything else had been just coke…

Photo Cred @IrunFar

Though we were moving really well I was not thinking too well.  Coming around a corner I saw a Catholic Nun standing on the trail, and I was really impressed that she was wearing her full habit when it had to be at least 90 degrees. As we got a few feet from her she transformed back into a tree…  I decided I’d better try to take a gel at the next aid station.

By the time we got to mile 85 I was starting to feel the pull of Auburn. I filled water and ice sleeves at the Auburn Lakes Trails aid station and headed out.  Within a few minutes I saw a large camera laying in the middle of the trail. As I had no need for a camera at this point in my journey I decided not to pick it up. I stepped around it just as it morphed into a pile of cow…well, yeah. Needless to say I’m quite happy I didn’t see the value in a “camera” at mile 86.

Brett calmly kept my head in the game and we kept moving to Brown’s Bar where I got to experience the hospitality of the great folks of my town, Ashland Oregon. The Rogue Valley Runners Crew was out in full force and it was really motivating to see familiar faces.  We iced down, drank a dixie cup of Mt.Dew and started rolling again.  We hammered into the Highway 49 crossing, and headed into the final stretch.  My legs felt great bad, but we were still running pretty well. My brain on the other hand ran poorly.  You can ask Brett, but I’m pretty sure I asked him about 300 times if there was any one close behind.  As the sky got darker so did my mind.  At mile 94 I believed I saw a scorpion about the size of a shoe. As Brett was in front, I was confused why he didn’t alert me to this abnormally large arthropod in the trail…  As we got closer it didn’t disappear… I suspiciously said, “Brrrreeeeeeettttttt?”  He responded, “Yeah, whats up?” I decided to not mention the massive scorpion I had just vaporized with blue lazer beams out of my eyes that we had just stepped over.

No Hands Bridge, steep climb, glow sticks, right turn, Robie Point, little climb, left turn, Placer High lights, track, running hand shake from my Dad. 100 meters to go. M8.

Photo Cred @IRunFar

On Saturday morning before the race I woke up to an email with the words, “We improve ourselves by victory over our self.  There must be contests, and you must win.” -Edward Gibbon.

The Western States 100 is an opportunity. An opportunity to put yourself in a world of hurt and to come out the other side better.

Gear List                                                                                                                              –Nike Zoom Terra Kiger 3 (these will be available July 6 at                         –Nike Lunar Tempo                                                                                                           -Nike Kiger Running Pack                                                                                                  –Simple Bottle X8 (These bottles are amazing.  If you want 35% off shoot me an email at davidlaney12 at and I will send you the promo code)                                   -UGO Bars- Perfect for before, during and after running.  Check them out at                                                                                                                       –Trail Butter, Coke, Sport Beans.

Big Thanks to Hayden Teachout, Brett Horning, The Ghelfi’s, The Nike Trail Crew, All the smiling volunteers, medical professionals, the Western States Board, Race Director Craig Thornley, my Mom and Dad, and all the sponsors and folks working behind the scenes. You have created an experience for us all to improve ourselves by destroying ourselves, and then hopefully being built back up again, better than ever.

June 25th 2016. See you in Squaw.


3 thoughts on “Nuns, Scorpions, and the Western States 100

  1. Congratulations David! Awesome…is what you are! Thanks for an exciting event and great article! I saw your finish and you looked fantastic!

  2. Well done out on the trial! Now that you have completed States, how are you going to prepare for the US trail champs next week and then ramp it up again for France in August? Are you going to be focusing on recovery or try to improve speed? strength?

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