If you didn’t know, an ultramarathon is a race run at any distance longer than a marathon (26.2 miles). And people actually run that distance. One such crazed runner is 28-year-old Jim Walmsley.
Jim stepped onto the ultrarunning stage in 2016 with an almost win at Western States 100 mile, one of the most prestigious and difficult ultra events in the world. A wrong turn ruined his
chances at the course record and the win that year. (He tried again in 2017 and had to drop out due to heat stroke.)
He’s since gained sponsors and momentum in the ultra running world. He’s beaten the fastest known time for the rim-to-rim-to-rim at the Grand Canyon. He’s placed in the top ten at the UTMB in the French Alps. Jim Walmsley is a rising star.
But Western States is still the beast that’s beat him twice. And this year he’s due for another try. First, he had to beat the course record at Lake Sonoma and win an Altra Golden Ticket to Western States.
1. Walmsley’s Been Here Before
The Lake Sonoma 50 Mile is death by 1000 ten-foot hills as some runners put it. It includes over 10,000 feet of elevation gain over the course of the race, but that’s an accumulation of small hills. It’s in beautiful and lush California wine country and it attracts the best of the best each year.
In 2016, Walmsley created a new course record at Lake Sonoma with a time of 6 hours and 52 seconds. This secured his Western States bid and put him on the path to fame in the ultra running circuit.
He’s since tried for Western States twice, gone to UTMB and run in several other high profile events. Walmsley also began his own brand, the Coconino Cowboys, a group of ultra runners from Arizona who train together.
The guy routinely trains at the Grand Canyon and around Flagstaff adding vertical miles to his routine every day.
2. The Lineup at Lake Sonoma 2018 and Walmsley’s Win
The competition at Lake Sonoma was fierce this year. Some of the top ultra runners in the world were there. Keely Henninger from Portland, Oregon won the Women’s lineup. Jared Hazen took second. But the race also included UTMB third-place finisher, David Laney.
But Walmsley was a world apart from these runners in the race. His goal this year was to beat his last record and get an under-six-hour finish. He came in at 5:51:16. That’s more than a ten-minute shave on his last record entry.
Now, Walmsley holds a Golden Ticket and sets his sights on a course record and win at Western States. If he can hold his lunch and not get heat stroke this year, there’s a good chance we’ll see him blow away any contender on those California mountains.