The World’s Oldest Endurance Race | Western States 100

The World’s Oldest Endurance Race | Western States 100


The Western States Endurance run is one of the oldest and most legendary races in the world. Anything can happen: from 1st place to ‘did not fisnish’, it’s all possible. Total distance is 100 miles with 5000m uphill and 8000m downhill. My name is Florian Neuschwander. I am 37 years old and I’m an ultra marathon runner. Why do I run? It’s a passion of mine, ever since I was struck with the running bug I have always needed it. It’s part of my life. Without running, nothing would work for me. I realised early on that long distance running was right for me. I have done a few ultras in the past notably the Wings for Life World Run which I won twice in Germany; one in Darmstadt and then Munich. I also won the Sean O’Brian100k in Malibu in February. It was fun. The Western States is definitely the next level. It’s a whole new challenge for me. I see myself as a rookie, I have zero experience in attempting my first 100 miler. Of course, these are super experienced 100-mile runners who have 10 or more races in their legs So I have no idea what to expect. The guys know what they are doing, as they are the elite in the world and it will not be easy for me to keep up with them. I’m curious to see how it goes. Western States ist das Epizentrum des Ultrarunnings It´s just such a unique event and the community is such a part of the event, like you do Western States once and it´s in your blood, you just want to keep coming back. And on top of it, it´s one of the most competitive ultra-trail races in the world. There are different challenges on the way, early it’s altitude and the rocky trail and the steepness, in the middle it´s really steep and then in the end it´s a little flatter, but that´s when everyone is the most tiered. It really forces people to push their body well beyond what they generally think is possible. I was in first place at the top of Escarpment. I did not plan on leading, but I can’t do powerhiking, so my only choice was to jog up. I just did my thing and it felt good. At the top I felt relaxed and then Jim Walmsley, Erik Clavery and Francoise D’Haene overtook me, we high-fived, I said “Go for it guys!”. I then settled into my rhythm. Western States kind of started out as my first big ultra that I want to take a swing at, especially at the 100-Mile distance and so far it´s just still on the bucket list. Waiting to finish even well I would say. If just one of these magical days is happening. I feel as ready as I have ever been. So, I think it will be a good day today. I fell twice… that was shit At Duncan Canyon Stop everything was ok. After 40km it all felt good, then the shit hit the fan! I started to stumble where it started to get more technical. This is not my strongest area. At KM 50 the first thought it was all over. But somehow with the help of my crew and thinking of the family back home I thought: “hey, you’ve not come all this way to give up, that’s not me. I have to go on!” Between Duncan Canyon and Robinson Flat the going was tough, I just hiked and then crashed five times. The battery seemed to be flat but now it’s back again… keep going, KEEP GOING FLO! Yeah, I have a lot of experience in ultra-trail. But here it´s totally different. That´s why I am here. That´s why it´s the biggest challenge for me and I think there are some other runners are really well-prepared, they know how to run in the heat. They know how to run in this kind of trail and not me. For your first 100-miler, I think the biggest challenge is to achieve it and to finish it. I keep going. I just cried between Robinson Flat and here. You don’t even know how fast you can catch up again. Sun Screen on the arms please Ahh cold – you need to be cold! I am now 9 hours and 40 minutes in. The longest I have ever done was 9 hours and 15 minutes. I have never been running for this long. Neuschwander is biting the dust. I am so done. YES! Preparation for the Western States actually began in October, November with a lot of altitude and long winter runs which I don’t normally do. Here I am on the Feldberg and my face is frozen. Man it’s cold! I can’t feel my right butt cheek anymore. I can barely talk. What is going on here? The Taunus is where I do most of my running, but the Alps are very different to the Western States. To finish a 100 mile race you need to go out and train a lot but it must still be fun. A combination of hard training and fun is important. Faster faster faster faster… duck your head Downhill Baby The Loon It’s not the heat that really bothers me, it’s actually ok. The brutal part are the downhills in the canyons. Man, that destroys your thighs and they hurt so much! I hate f**king downhills! Flo, I’m telling you the guys up at the front don’t look any better I’m still going.. saving energy man, it’s so tough. You can’t even imagine. I don’t even remember what I’m doing here, I got paranoid. I even thought a Quokka would come and attack me from behind. I got really scared. Reaching my pacesetter Mo at about 100km was great. We high-fived and then he got me motivated again. You made up time. Even though you feel like you’re slowing down, you can still catch up. Do you want a Red Bull? Ice under the cap is good. Got that already. Im still here. I think I have enough. Hey, what are you doing? We still have 60km to go with a 1,500m climb. The terrain will favour Flo and he can make up some places. We are currently in 25th place but if he continues to run hard and I continue to push him I think we could make the top 10. The toughest part of Western States is definitely the heat. It´s just brutal. It gets so hot in the canyon. The best way to describe it, is kind of turn your oven on and go and sit in your oven for a couple of hours. That´s what it´s like and you have to try and run and run 100 Miles. It´s really tough. I told you we were going to come back and get you. Let´s go get that German! This is where a lot of people meet and it feels quite familiar. You meet people on track that you know somehow and talk briefly, if you manage to past someone it also motivates you. This is what makes ultrarunning special. Jim Walmsley is the absolute best here. It’s amazing how he can just fly over the whole trail. It was definitely a bit of magic out there. As I was going I just felt momentum kind of building and I was clipping a couple of minutes here and there off of every split. And they start adding up eventually and before, you know it, I gave myself a shot and was able to bring it home in close. No one else can run this time. Only Jim himself can improve on it. It´s a super special moment and I feel like it gives me a little peace with the race right now. I cried and cried. I stopped five times. Mo helped pushed me on. My kneecaps feel like they are going to pop out. This has been the longest hiking day of my life. The hardest thing I’ve ever done. Man, I’m going to push through! I never thought a race as long as this would come down to mental strength. In the end, it’s the head that decides. I wanted to look good in those last 300 metres. It’s been the toughest run I have ever done. Just finishing has been a success for me. Even Jim Walmsley who just destroyed the course on his third attempt had two really tough races here. For Flo to come out here and start of strong and have the race that he did.
He had a really hard time out there, that´s where we really grow as human beings. You can see that in people’s eyes when they cross the line. You know, that they know something about themselves that the rest of us might not, or we haven´t really explored.

89 Replies to “The World’s Oldest Endurance Race | Western States 100”

  1. Wooooow wooooww wooowww einfach nur Krrassse Scheibe was du da aufgelegt hast FLOw. Voll Gänsehaut bekommen beim zuschauen. Was für eine Leistung, was für eine Kampfbereitschaft, Hammer Video. Dieser Jim Walmsley, wie schnell der ist. Ist der noch zu retten ?? LG @orient_express81

  2. Es ist so krass zu sehen, mit welchen Höhen und Tiefen man zurecht kommen muss um das Ziel zu erreichen…

    Absolut krass…

  3. Du beeindruckst mich seit Jahren. Es ist einfach schön zu sehen, wie weit man gehen kann und das unser Kopf den limitierender Faktor darstellt. Immer weiter, immer weiter Flo! Liebe Grüße!!!

  4. I was in WS 2018 as crew. And every new video I watch thrills me. Congratulations! inspiring and motivating. I'm still running this race. Impossible not to want after being part of that experience.

  5. Brutal geiles Video! Es macht einfach Spaß es zu gucken! Bleib so wie du bist, ich freu mich auf ein Treffen 2019. PS. Gute Besserung!

  6. Geil gemacht Flo! Was würd ich mich freuen dich mal auf dem Feldberg auf ein Bierchen zu treffen… nach dem laufen versteht sich 😉

  7. Wunderbar ehrliches Video und so extrem nah dran, als wäre man direkt mittendrin. Super geil! Und am Schluss nochmal richtig #ballern!

  8. Sehr geiles WS-Video, endlich auch mal mit einem deutschen, dazu noch sympathischen Ultraläufer. Bitte mehr davon Flo. Und Gratulation zu der Leistung. Respekt

  9. Wie auch schon mal auf deiner Seite kommentiert, war es sicher nicht der Ausgang wie du oder deine Fans es sich gewünscht haben. Aber: Auch wenn du sehr gelitten hast, wirst du auch sicherlich enorm von diesem Lauf profitiert haben und ganz richtig festgestellt, hat auch Jim ein paar Anläufe gebraucht um das Ding so zu meistern.

    Meinen größten Respekt – ich freue mich auch in Zukunft weiterhin dich zu verfolgen, ganz gleich ob Platz 35 oder 1.

  10. Hardly the world's oldest. It is celebrated as the world's oldest 100 mile trail race. 100 miles had been raced long before Western States, and ultra endurance events from 50 mile to 24 hours, to six days, were competed at high levels decades before WS.

  11. This is not The World’s Oldest Endurance Race! It has only been run since 1974. The first that comes to mind is the Comrades Marathon. It's not 100 miles but it's still an ultramarathon that has been going since 1921 – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comrades_Marathon

  12. Ich frag mich bei diesen Distanzen immer: Warum nicht nochmal das Doppelte drauflegen. Oder das Dreifache? So richtig geil wird es aber erst nach der 4- oder 5-fachen Distanz. Gruß von einem ehemaligen Marathonläufer.

  13. Ich bin auch 2x 100meilen gelaufen und beide gefinisht!!!Ganz was anderes und als Frau mit eine familie und kids ist des hammer hart!!!Du inspiriest mich… Respekt zeit 24.04

  14. This isn't the world's oldest ultramarathon. Not even oldest in the US. The JFK 50 miler in Boonsboro, Maryland has been run every year since 1963, and is the oldest ultra marathon in the US. Comrades Marathon (55 miles) in South Africa is the world's oldest, starting in 1921. Western States didn't start until 1974. WS100 is the world's oldest 100 miler though.

    Not to take away from everyone's accomplishments though. I just noticed that it's mentioned more than once here and wanted to correct the record.

  15. 'The World's Oldest Endurance Race'… I guess it depends on how you define 'endurance'. The oldest ultra-marathon by far is The Comrades Marathon in South Africa, which was established in 1921. It's also the biggest with 25k entries sweeped up in days for the 2019 edition. The number of entrants are capped, otherwise it would have been even bigger.

    Having said that, if I can ever afford the expense I'd love to do the Western States I'd love to do it. It's definitely a 'bucket-list' race which is rightly held in high regard.

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