When she took to the starting line of the Western States 100-mile Endurance Run on Saturday morning in California, Salomon ultra-trail running athlete Courtney Dauwalter was already considered by most to be the greatest female ultra-runner in history.
Fifteen hours, 29 minutes and 33 seconds later, the American had removed all doubt, smashing the women’s course record by 78 minutes on the way to her second Western States 100 win.
Running in her trademark long Salomon shorts—now affectionately known as “Shortneys”—the Colorado-based runner and Minnesota native led from the start and ran with a smile on her face for all 161 kilometers. She topped 2nd place finisher Katie Schide (USA) by 1 hour and 13 minutes. Schide was also under the previous course record set in 2012 by Ellie Greenwood. The usual scorching weather of Western States stayed away this year, making for ideal running conditions in the Sierra Mountains and surrounding lower canyons, where temperatures have crept to 100 degrees Fahrenheit during the race in years past.
Running without a pacer, Dauwalter’s winning time of 15 hours, 29 minutes and 33 seconds made her the 6th place overall finisher, topping some of the sport’s elite male runners. Her winning time would have given her 2nd place overall a year ago and was faster than two of the last seven winning times on the men’s side. The staggering win at Western States makes Dauwalter the current women’s course record holder at the sport’s three most iconic races: Western States 100, UTMB®, and the clockwise course at Hardrock 100.
“The day was so fun,” Dauwalter said at the finish line. “I’m so thankful for all the volunteers on course today and all the people who got the trails ready. It was beautiful and also very difficult, so I’m happy to be here at the track with all of you.”
Dauwalter used the Salomon S/LAB Genesis shoes, as well as the S/LAB Pulsar hydration vest (along with a Salomon handheld hydration system). She wore the Salomon Shortneys as well as the Shortney T-shirt (both now available as an in-range women’s product).
The Western States 100 Endurance run features more than 18,000-feet (5,500 meters) of elevation gain. It begins in Olympic Valley, California near Lake Tahoe and ends on the Placer High School track in Auburn. Dauwalter won the race in 2018 but was forced to retire from the race in 2019. Since then, she has been a machine, winning UTMB® in 2019 and 2021, and the Hardrock 100 in 2022, among a host of others. She will turn her attention to the Hardrock 100 in Colorado on July 14, attempting to win the two races that are just three weeks apart. On Saturday, her overall performance, and especially her split times over the back half of the race, left veterans of the sport shaking their heads in disbelief.
“It was cool to be back here and to make it to the finish line after dropping out in 2019,” added Dauwalter. “The gear was all top-notch. I was wearing the new Shortney shorts and the Genesis shoes were perfect through the snow and through all the trail sections. I didn’t need to rely much on the ice gear because it was cooler than normal.”
Header image: Courtney Dauwalter crosses the finish line at the Western States 100 to smash the women’s course record. Credit: Oliver Denton for Salomon