This is the weekend on our UltraRunning Calendar that many have been waiting for: the 20th annual Javelina Jundred trail and ultrarunning extravaganza in Fountain Hills, Arizona, on Saturday, October 29. Featuring the first of four 2023 Western States Golden Ticket races in North America as well as two other race distances, this Halloween party in the Southwest is the place to be this weekend.
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The Golden Ticket 100-mile race features an astounding 705 entrants, and as we do for all of these automatic entry races into Western States next June, we spoke with some of the key contenders to get their hot takes on how they’re feeling and what they’re most excited about going into the big race that starts at 6 a.m. on Saturday.
Kicking it off with the women, Kaci Lickteig of Omaha, Nebraska, who was 18th at June’s Western States told us, “Going into Javelina I am feeling both excited and hopeful. I am grateful to have my body feeling strong and my heart full, thinking of spending a day running with my friends in the desert. I’m looking forward to competing with some of the most talented women in our sport. It will be fun to see all my friends and make new ones along the way. I love that this race’s atmosphere is full of fun, wild costumes and that you get to see and cheer on runners all the time. There is a big goal that is on the line, and that is the coveted Golden Ticket to Western States. I hope to earn one, and I know with this amazing field of women we will help push each other to run to the best of our abilities. It will be one wild and incredible journey, and I am so blessed to be a part of it. Here’s to the Jalloween party of the year!”
Brittany Peterson out of Pocatello, Idaho, was 16th at Western States this year, and second at this race in 2021. She said, “I’ve had a pretty non-traditional buildup for this year’s race, as I just recently decided to run it. With that, though, I’m looking forward to going into this race with less pressure on myself, a good headspace and an opportunity to go run hard and use my fitness. I’m really excited to learn from this training/race experience, as my training has been primarily focused on enjoyment and being present with myself, which is different from where I’ve been during previous buildups. This approach has also been fruitful for pushing hard and running well in my training, which is why I felt inclined to take on Javelina and see what my body and heart can do on race day.”
Hailing from the high-altitude Leadville, Colorado, Annie Hughes has won five 100-mile races in a row, and two, 200-mile races in the last 12 months. She exclaimed, “I’m excited for Javelina. I feel like I’m just now fully recovered from Run Rabbit Run 100, which I ran just last month. I was able to put in a couple good long runs and some speedwork this last week. I’m definitely the least prepared for this race out of all the other five 100+ milers I’ve run this year. All of the other races I’ve run have been absurdly long or very mountainous, technical 100-milers. Javelina is pretty much the exact opposite from the other races I’ve run this year… hot, flat and fast. However, I think this will still be a fun challenge and experience. I’m most looking forward to the atmosphere at Javelina. I was here to pace a friend last year, and it felt like a giant Halloween party. I think it will be a really fun way to celebrate an end to my huge 2022 racing season.”
The 2021 Javelina Jundred champion and holder of the third-fastest time in course history Nicole Bitter out of Austin, Texas, kept her answer short and sweet. “Javelina is one of my favorite courses, with so many good memories during my time living in Phoenix. I am excited to toe the line again and try to better my 2020 race.”
Stefanie Flippin from Evergreen, Colorado, the 2021 USATF 100-mile champion said, “I’m feeling strong and confident heading into Javelina after putting in a really specific training block over the summer. Each build is different and I’m always grateful for lessons learned from each one. I was able to put together a really solid 10 weeks at high volume and intensity specific to a course such as Javelina, and I’m thrilled my body and mind gifted me those weeks. I’m most looking forward to being surrounded by my wonderful crew next weekend at the race and sharing the whole experience with my best friend, coach and mentor, Pat Reagan. I feel incredibly fortunate to have friends and family from all over the country traveling out to support us and I know the love and good vibes are going to go a long way. I am very much looking forward to getting the best out of myself in one of the deepest fields I’ve seen on US soil, and I will be running with gratitude for the entire journey, not taking any step for granted.”
Coming down from Calgary, Canada, Arden Young finished in seventh at the Bandera 100k in January and told us, “This race is so different than anything I’ve done, and I’m both excited and intimidated by the fast course, heat and incredible competition. It’s going to be spicy. I’m also planning to dress up as Harry Potter…though this might just be a post-race outfit.”
Also from Canada, more specifically, North Vancouver, British Columbia, is Kat Drew who was 19th at Western States in June and said, “I’m really looking forward to Javelina next weekend. It has been on my list for a while now. I’m mostly excited for the race vibes—it looks like a ton of fun and I think there will be a lot of great vibes out on course. I get a lot of energy from people, so I think that will be really helpful—just as long as I don’t get distracted by the dance floor. My training block went really well with some targeted efforts, so I’m feeling ready to rip around the desert for 100 miles next week.”
Caitlin Jacobsen out of Issaquah, Washington, is excited to have her kids in tow to help support her. “I am feeling full of gratitude and joy going into race week—for the training process, staying healthy and being given this opportunity to do what I love. Working full-time with athletes in higher levels of care, eating disorders and as a mother of three children (who will double as race crew), I’m very aware every single day of the privilege and gift it is to be able to run and race ultramarathons. This build has me really excited to test my potential in my second 100-miler after finishing third at IMTUF last year.”
Traveling south from Colorado Springs, Colorado, Lauren Puretz who was seventh at the 2022 Black Canyon 100k told us, “After a pretty disappointing Canyons, I’ve had to take some time to refocus, figure out some life/ work stuff and find the joy in running long distances again. Having never done 100 miles I’m nervous but ready, even excited to see what I can do. And hopefully have some fun in the process.”
Other runners to watch out for include, but are not limited to Riley Brady, Heather Jackson, Anne-Marie Madden, Michelle Magagna, Manuela Soccol and Devon Yanko.
For the men, we start off with defending champion and the third-place finisher at Western States Arlen Glick from Massillon, Ohio. “I am super excited to be back. Definitely had fun playing in the mountains this summer but really wanted to hit some familiar territory before the season is over. (I’m) happy with where I’m at physically. Strange enough, looking back on my career, my best performances were back-to-back efforts, so at just six weeks post RRR (Run Rabbit Run), I am eager to see what the trail gives me. I definitely am enjoying the “no pressure” of not having a Golden Ticket on the line and ready to take the “just have fun” approach. This year’s race is going to be very interesting with a ton of studs out there, so it’s definitely the year for fast times and I can’t wait to be in the mix. Of course, my “A” goal is to be able to run the entire course without getting tangled in the cactuses like last year at mile 65, other than that, I’m not after anything specific other than just having fun watching the jaw-dropping battle for those precious Golden Tickets.”
Three-time champion and owner of the two fastest times in the course’s 19 year history, Patrick Reagan hailing from Savannah, Georgia, said, “I’m stoked to be coming back for my fourth Javelina Jundred to expand on all the great memories of my favorite race. This build has been my best since 2019, getting in 12 high volume weeks of training with focused mobility and strength training work to supplement the running volume. I’ve been fortunate to have some great quality sessions this build, and applied consistent efficiency and economy work with regular strides. My build has been quite specific to the course, with tons of long-range, exposed heat training throughout the summer at 100-115 (degrees) heat index. I’ve been dialing topical cooling and race day nutrition the entire block. More importantly, I’m coming in with a process-oriented mindset, stepping away from my results-oriented approach in the past. I’m grateful to be healthy and excited to celebrate a great run out on the course.”
Jonathan Rea of Boulder, Colorado, was 16th at Western States and the Bandera 100k champion earlier this year. He said, “I’ll be following my high school basketball coach Ferolino’s advice, ‘Don’t get too high, don’t get too low.’ I’m looking forward to getting into a groove of calm internal focus, sprinkled with smiles and laughs when I see all the outlandish costumes and parties happening around the course.”
Christian Stern (no known relation) is traveling a long way from Neustift, Austria, and finished in second place at the Innsbruck Alpine Trailrun Festival 100k in May. He’s told us he’s looking for redemption at the distance, “I think the Javelina Jundred will be very different from the ultra races I’ve run so far. The heat and the few meters of altitude are the biggest differences. I combined the race with a vacation trip to the western United States and I didn’t really prepare for it in particular. I see the race as a great adventure, and I don’t have too many expectations of my performance. After my failure at the UTMB, I hope to finish my first 100-miler.”
The seventh-place finisher from last year, coming down from Invermere, British Columbia, Jacob Puzey said, “I’m feeling pretty good. I’m healthy and relatively fit. I really like the format of Javelina because it plays to my strengths. It’s runnable. It’s hot. It’s not very technical and it’s looped which makes gear, nutrition and crew logistics easier and more enjoyable for everyone. Last year was my first 100 and my goal was simply to finish. This year, I’m looking forward to racing and hopefully mixing it up a bit more up front.”
Previously profiled Keith Laverty of Bainbridge Island, Washington, was sixth at the Gorge Waterfalls 100k in April and has been dreaming of this race for quite some time. “The seed was planted in my mind seven years ago when I first learned about the event through the Trail Running Film Festival in a documentary by Matt Cecill covering the 2014 event. I then signed up in February 2020 shortly before the world shut down, deferring to 2022, so I’ve been highly anticipating this storied desert ultra event for a long time, along with a chance to see how I stack up with many of the most accomplished and experienced ultrarunners. My training buildup has been far from ideal from several personal life challenges to catching a bug from my son, but a perfect buildup is rare for any athlete. However, my long runs and races have all felt really good. I spent some time in the sauna, and my stoke for the sport is still as high as ever.”
More men to watch include Nick Coury, Matt Daniels, Patrick Gomez, Mark Hammond and Dakota Jones.
There’s an accompanying Javelina Jundred 100k race starting at 7 am on Saturday, too. Other races happening on Saturday, October 29 on our UltraRunning Calendar include the Triple Lakes Trail Race 40-miler in Greensboro, North Carolina, the Chicago Lakefront: Fall Version 50k/50m, Ozark Trail 100 Mile Endurance Run in Steelville, Missouri, the Patapsco Valley 50k in Baltimore, Maryland, and the San Jacinto 50k in Idyllwild, California. On Sunday, October 30, check out the Hixon 50k in La Crosse, Wisconsin.
What’s Up in Ultra in your world this Halloween weekend? Who did we miss mentioning in our Javelina Jundred preview that we should keep an eye out for? As always, look for results on Sunday evening in our Ultra Weekend Recap.