With virtually all races canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we organized – okay, “organized” is probably too strong of a word – a FatAss 50K for runners to celebrate on the day that Western States would have been run. Completely tongue-in-cheek, we called it the “Not Exactly Western States FatAss 50K,” (or NEWS 50K) run entirely on the Arizona Trail just north of Flagstaff, Arizona. The course was moderately difficult, with about 3,000 feet of climb at elevations ranging from 7,200 feet to 9,000 feet.

Of the 28 runners (and Michael Cady’s dog, Bear) who completed the entire route, two of them – Jeff Thompson and Kimberly Swearingen – completed their first ultra. Several other runners took advantage of the aid and ran part of the route. The first to finish included Drew Frehs, who came in at 3:55:52. Janet Bain was the first female finisher in 5:29:56.



About Author

John Medinger is the former publisher of UltraRunning magazine and continues as correspondent at large. A retired investment banker, he had previously worked as a business development manager and as a chemical engineer. He holds degrees from Oregon State University and MIT. John took up running in 1974 and ran his first ultra in 1980. He has now completed more than 130 ultras – most of them in California, but also in places as diverse as New Zealand and Scotland. Never an elite runner, he was somewhat faster than average early in his career but now finds himself materially closer to the back of the pack. He is the founder of the Quad Dipsea, and also founded and continues to direct the Lake Sonoma 50. He has served on the Board of Trustees of the Western States 100 since 1992. (Photo by akabill).

1 Comment

  1. I’m bummed I didn’t hear about this race in my back yard ultimately, I would have loved to join! I’m happy to hear peeps are still getting out and racing amongst each other such beautiful weather here in Northern Arizona! 😊

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