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How to Crush the Western States Endurance Run: Course Tips & Race Strategy with Andy Jones-Wilkins

Whether you prefer roads or trails, 5Ks or ultras, there are some races that simply have a special mystique surrounding them. Andy Jones-Wilkins is a font of knowledge about one of these unique events: the Western States Endurance Run.

The Western States Endurance Run (WSER) is an iconic fixture in the world of ultrarunning. As the world’s oldest 100 miler, it has become a symbolic representation of the ultimate endurance challenge. Each year it draws the world’s top ultrarunners, along with those who have earned their way into the race via a lottery system and qualifying “tickets” earned at other races.

Much like Boston is seen as the iconic road marathon, Western States holds similar stature in the ultra world. At times runners work for years trying to get into the race to experience the beautiful (and unforgiving) course alongside an incredible race environment. Given the popularity of Western States and the difficulty getting into the race, it is often a once in a lifetime event.

Few people have as much knowledge about Western States as my guest today, Andy Jones-Wilkins. Andy has completed Western States an incredible 10 times, along with other 100 milers such as Hardrock, Leadville, Wasatch and Vermont.

Andy Jones- Wilkins on the Western States Endurance Run

As an ultra-runner and a coach, Andy focuses on helping runners excel at long distance races.  He also hosts the popular Crack a Brew with AJW podcast, and writes a regular column on iRunFar called AJW’s Taproom.

Even if you never plan on running an ultra, you can learn from Andy’s knowledge and insights about the sport. His energy and enthusiasm is contagious, and he may just convince you to contemplate a 100 miler in the future!

Andy’s love for the Western States Endurance Run (WSER) is undeniable, but as a coach his understanding of training and racing applies to all areas of the sport. We discuss a variety of topics today, including:

  • Andy’s detailed knowledge of the WSER history and course
  • How Western States compares to other challenging 100 mile courses
  • Andy’s two prerequisites for running a 100 miler
  • Run workouts that are specific to long ultras and the Western States course
  • All the logistics that surround racing the 100 mile distance
  • How to determine your “all day pace” that is essential to long events

With Western States rapidly approaching, Andy’s stories about the race are bound to make you intrigued by this fantastic event. Enjoy!

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