You’ve seen it right? Five minutes that will change your life.
The Western States 100 is a cross
-country mountain range running race that starts at the base of Squaw Valley USA, rushes up a giant granite rock face and then ambles 97 more miles of dirt and stream and loose rock and mule ear 18,000 feet toward the heavens and 23,000 back down to earth to end with one, glorious, victorious lap around the Placer High School track in Auburn.
It started out as a horse race till the first finisher on foot approached the start on world’s smartest horse—one that said “no way” when the gun went off.
Finish under 30 hours, get a bronze belt buckle.
…Under 24, earn a silver.
Wear that silver belt buckle out and you’ll never pay for a drink again.
It’s the original endurance run. It’s the greatest test of man vs. not altitude or heat or dust or exhaustion or hunger—but himself.
On Saturday, Rob Krar won it in 14:48, less time than it takes most to get from LAX to pretty much anywhere that’s not Vegas. Western States first-timer Magdalena Boulet was the first female finisher in 19:05 (Boulet was born in Poland and became a US citizen on 9/11/2001—I dunno why, but that seemed worth pointing out).
And for their effort, they got—you guessed it—first-place belt buckles.
See where this is going folks? Sport for the love of sport. Running because you’re simply effing alive and it’s sunny and dammit you can. Family and friends and strangers sponging you down, sometimes physically pushing you one more step, sometimes doing it with a hug or a grin. GI Joe perma-kung-fu-grip hands from holding your hydration. Springy legs and broad smiles turned to rusty hinges and broken spirits.
And yet, they keep going.
Are they better than you and me reading this on the couch? Patting ourselves on the back because stand-up desks? Sandwiched between a guy swiping Tinder and a…girl swiping Tinder next to him—neither looking up to see what’s right there beside them on the N-Judah?
In a word, fuckyeah.
But don’t take my word. Grab a handful of Kleenex and watch this glorious 300 seconds unfold in HD. From sun-up in front of the Chammy to the bottomless cavern of night crossing black-water streams in the banjo-dueling hinterlands of Placer County to the sunny mid-morning, joy-runneth-over greeting of 70-year-old Gunhild Swanson who crosses the line just six seconds shy of thirty hours to dozens of kindred spirits who…
…Nevermind, just blot your eyes and be sure to pause at 4:30.