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The second Western States Golden Ticket on our North American UltraRunning Calendar hits Arizona on Saturday, February 18. Other highlights include a Team USA-qualifying event in Auburn, California, a notoriously competitive 50/50 in Moab, Utah, and more.
We are kicking it off in Mayer, Arizona, with the Black Canyon 100k on Saturday and accompanying 60k on Sunday, February 19. Here are a few runners expected to push the pace in the hunt for a Western States Golden Ticket:
Ida Nilsson, coming all the way from Kalmar, Sweden, said, “I’m very grateful and happy to be here and to be running for a Golden Ticket on Saturday. I don’t have the right running legs yet for a 100k, but I hope that I get through the race with my ski legs and excitement.”
Sarah Biehl of Columbus, Ohio, who is still rather fresh off her 2022 JFK 50-Miler course record in November, said, “I’m excited for another opportunity to race against a talented women’s field at Black Canyon. Can’t think of a better way to kick start this year’s racing season with big goals for 2023.”
En route to moving to Boise, Idaho, Lotti Brinks recently took second at the 2023 Bandera 50k and said, “I can’t wait to race on the beautiful BCT (Black Canyon Trail) again. Training has been excellent, and I feel fit and ready to compete on Saturday. Above all, I’m hungry to race and go to the well again. Very excited to mix it up with so many amazing runners.”
Portland-based Keely Henninger, the 2022 Gorge Waterfalls 50k champ, said, “I’m really excited to kick off my 2023 season by returning to the super speedy and beautiful Black Canyon trails that I raced at the beginning of my ultrarunning career. I’m so excited to race against other stellar women through the desert and try to snag a Golden Ticket to go back to Western States.”
Hannah Allgood out of Colorado Springs, Colorado, won the 2022 Gorge Waterfalls 100k and said, “I’m feeling excited about heading into this week. The weather looks like it is going to be perfect for a solid day of racing. I’m ready to execute my race plan and leave it all out there.”
There are too many to list, but other runners in the women’s race to watch out for include Ailsa Macdonald, Kaci Lickteig, Shea Aquilano, Anna Kacius, Heather Jackson and Alexi Pappas.
On the men’s side, former UltraRunning columnist Eric Senseman of Flagstaff, Arizona, has landed on the podium at Black Canyon three times and snagged two Golden Tickets. This is his fifth time racing the point-to-point 100k and he simply said, “I’m feeling good and excited to race Black Canyon for the fifth time this Saturday. Not too much else to report.”
After two straight years finishing in the top ten at Western States, Flagstaff-based Stephen Kersh turned down his automatic entry in 2022, but decided he wants back in. He said, “The training build towards Black Canyon was incredibly enjoyable and fulfilling. I love being in Flagstaff and having the opportunity to train so specifically for this race. I’m feeling fit and prepared to go after a Golden Ticket on Saturday.”
Salt Lake City-based Anthony Costales took fifth at last year’s Black Canyon and is modest with his expectations. “I guess I’m thankful to have a desert so close. It’s been a long, slow taper but I’m excited to get to Arizona feeling as prepared as I can.”
California-based Cole Watson was third at the 2021 Javelina Jundred. “I’m looking forward to racing down in the desert. My new coach has helped me work on some of my weaknesses deep into these ultra distances. I feel like I have as good a shot as anyone going for a ticket right now.”
Keep your eyes on Ryan Miller, Tom Evans, Elliot Cardin, Tim Freriks, David Laney, Nick Coury and Reid Burrows just to name a few more of the deep men’s field.
The top two men’s and women’s finishers at Saturday’s Fourmidable 50k in Auburn, California, will make the American squad headed to Austria for June’s World Championships. Additional races of note include the Hagg Lake Mud Runs 50k in Forest Grove, Oregon, the Farmdaze 6/12/24-hour races in Brooklet, Georgia, the Holiday Lake 50k in Appomattox, Virginia, the Sylamore Trail 50k in Allison, Arkansas, and the Jackalope Jam 12/24/48/72/100-hour races in Cat Springs, Texas, all kicking off on Saturday, February 18. UPDATE: Red Hot Ultra 55k/50-miler in Moab, Utah, also scheduled for Saturday, has been canceled due to treacherous conditions on the course.
Let us know What’s Up in Ultra in your world this weekend by leaving a comment below. Come back on Sunday for the Ultra Weekend Recap and subscribe to our UltraRunning Magazine newsletter for all things from the “voice of the sport.”