Leadville’s Courtney Dauwalter smashes Western States 100 record
38-year-old will try for demanding double at the Hardrock 100 in Silverton on July 14
Courtney Dauwalter’s resume didn’t need another historic performance on her decorated resume to convince anyone she just might be the sport’s all-time greatest. On June 24, however, she added one transcendent effort which cemented the legacy for good. The 38-year-old Leadville runner demolished Ellie Greenwood’s Western States Endurance Run record by 78 minutes, completing the 100-mile run in a once-unthinkable 15 hours, 29 minutes and 34 seconds.
“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.”
Dauwalter has won Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc — seen as the most competitive trail ultramarathon in the world — twice (2019, 2021) and holds the course record there. Though she had won at Western States in 2018, her time that year was ‘just’ 17:27:00, and she suffered a late drop in 2019.
Cooler weather aided runners throughout this year’s Western States race, which departs from Olympic Valley in the early-morning hours but regularly sees 100-degree highs later on. Snow covering much of the initial stages, however, would slow Dauwalter, who was 12 minutes behind record pace a quarter of the way through. When asked if living in Leadville helped with the high-elevation, snow-filled climbs, Dauwalter chuckled.
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“It wasn’t easy,” she said. “But I thought the snow ran OK. It was firm. You could glissade little bits. And then if you punched through, it wasn’t too bad.”
Throughout the first 30 miles of the race, Dauwalter ran with 2022 UTMB champion Katie Schide.
“We were chatting quite a bit about all sorts of things, from food, to the Tour de France show, everything in between,” Dauwalter continued to iRunFar, adding that she felt some pressure later on in the race knowing the Gardiner, Maine, native was tracking her from behind.
“I was like, Katie can close. Katie’s got wheels. Katie’s got like, 100-mile experience,” Dauwalter said. “Like, she can crush this last half of the race and so, I was just trying to keep my forward momentum going.”
The record-chase gained steam around mile 34, as Dauwalter pulled away from Schide, who would finish in 16:43:45. Dauwalter ran the split from mile 62 to 78 faster than all but the men’s winner, eating up the course’s 18,000 feet of climb and 23,000 feet of descent to the finish line at the Placer High School track in Auburn, California. She would finish first for women and sixth overall.
“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.”
Tom Evans won the men’s race in 14:40:22; the men’s record is 14:09:28, set by American Jim Walmsley. Dauwalter is scheduled to race the Hardrock 100, which contains 33,000 feet of climb, in Silverton, Colorado, on July 14. It will be a demanding double for the Salomon-sponsored athlete, who holds the Hardrock course record, too.
“When I signed up to do this double, I wanted to leave myself all the way on the Western States course, and then figure out how to leave myself all the way on the Hardrock course,” she told iRunFar.
“So, we did step one.”