Coronavirus threat halts 2020 Western States 100 Endurance Run

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The Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run, the renowned rugged trek from Squaw Valley to Auburn, California, has canceled this year because of the continuing threat of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

The event, which began in 1974 and had only been canceled once previously, was scheduled to begin June 27 at the base of the site of the 1960 Summer Olympics. The 30-hour time limit event finishes on the track at Placer High School in Auburn.

A finisher's gold buckle (under 24 hours) from the 2005 Western States 100
A finisher’s gold buckle (under 24 hours) from the 2005 Western States 100.

“We have made the decision to cancel after careful deliberation, knowing that our foremost responsibility is to ensure the health, safety, and well-being of our 2020 entrants, our volunteers, our broader running community, and society at large,” said race president Diana Fitzpatrick on the event’s website in a post also “signed” by race director Craig Thornley and the remainder of the organization’s board of trustees.

In addition to the race, all official training runs have been canceled.

“The current situation in the United States and throughout the world is one of disruption and uncertainty. We feel that moving forward with plans for a race in June is not aligned with what our government, medical experts, and society is asking us to do,” organizers said.

The mountain run includes about 375 athletes from many countries, and several thousand volunteers, crew members and spectators.

The WS100 was also canceled in 2008 because of bad air quality and smoke from an unprecedented number of Northern California wildfires.

Although several runners completed the route unofficially in the early 1970s, the event officially debuted in 1977.

American Jim Walmsley established men’s course record on 14 hours, 9 minutes and 28 seconds in 2019. He also won the event in 2018. Great Britain’s Ellie Greenwood established the women’s course record of 16:47:19 in 2012. Clare Gallagher of the United State won the last year’s women’s division in 17:23:24.

Run organizers detailed all runners entered this year will be offering an entry spot for the 2021 event. A wait list spot for 2021 will be offered to entrants who were on this year’s wait list.

“While painful to do knowing the hopes and dreams that surround this event, we feel it is the responsible action to take in light of what is going on in the world around us,” organizers said. “We considered our social responsibility in this global crisis to not continue to foster an environment where the training needs of our entrants are in direct conflict with current shelter in place rules in the U.S. and abroad.”

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