Saying the words “Western States” will always show you the trail runner in the room. Western States is the oldest 100 mile trail race in the world. On top of that, it is also incredibly difficult to draw out with the lottery pick meaning it is also a very exclusive, competitive, and prestigious race. Most runners would bend over backwards for a spot which is why when you have one you make the most of it. Ian Sharman understands the value of making his appearances count.
If you’re not familiar with Ian, he has been racing around the world in all styles of event since 2005 and coaching since 2010, having run around 200 ultras and marathons (PR: 2:21) in every type of weather and on all terrain. Ian has won around 50 multi-day races, road marathons, trail ultras and adventure races with experience of running in many mountain ranges, including the Himalayas, Andes, Rockies and European Alps. He also holds the fastest time in a trail 100-mile race in the US (12h44m), the record for the Grand Slam of Ultrarunning (69h49m), has won the USATF 100-mile trail championship twice and is the 2013, 2015, 2016 and 2017 Leadville Trail 100 Champion. Ultra Running Magazine has voted him as high as 2nd in its annual Ultra Runner of the Year rankings.
The past 9 years consecutively, Ian has been to Western States and placed top 10. This year going into the race, he was on track to do 1,000 Western States miles in under 7 days total run time. Ian completed the race with a time of 16:54:14 making him the fastest decade long Western States competitor ever.
I sat down and spoke with Ian before his upcoming WS and what he said really showed his passion for the sport and character when it comes to his sportsmanship. “The competitive side of me wants to capitalize on these opportunities of course but ultimately I care about running a good race. Even if I didn’t finish in the top 10 this year but run what I consider to be a good manageable race I will feel accomplished.” Ian said regarding the upcoming endeavors.
Ian: Western States is a race where people show up from all over the world bringing all of their training and knowledge. It’s not a race people use to train or move to something else, it’s the real deal and that intrigues me every year. Being a fan of the sport, I love being a part of races where athletes do amazing things. I can watch the recaps and remember the feeling of going through the same terrain or battling the weather or conditions that they are speaking about. It’s the ultimate sport for fandom.”
An episode is live from our Inspired by Athletes Podcast on Ian’s Western States journey where you can listen to Ian talk about the full story behind his endurance sports career but more specifically his Western States history, desired goals, and upcoming races.
You can watch a recap of Ian’s Western States 2019 run and history making finish by clicking here.