Western States Recap: Peterman’s Historic Rookie Victory & Croft’s Win Over A Tightly Contested Women’s Field

The 49th running of the Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run (WSER) took place this past weekend, and was an exciting competition among many of the world’s top trail runners. 380 participants toed the line to follow the historic 100-mile point-to-point course from Palisades Tahoe ski village in Olympic Valley, California to the finish on the Placer High School Track in Auburn, California.

Both the mens’ and women’s’ defending champions, Jim Walmsley (Western States 100 Mile course record holder and three-time champion of the event) and Beth Pascall (second fastest time on the course and seventh overall at the race last year in her 100-mile debut) did not return, creating opportunity for new champions to be crowned.

[PRO TIP: Check out our recap of last year’s race!]

Emily Hawgood on Escarpment. Photo: Peter Maksimow.

Recovering from injury, 2016 champion Kaci Lickteig was the only Western States winner in recent years on the start-line, which allowed many of the top elites the possibility for their first win at Western States. Both the 2021 mens’ and women’s’ runner-ups, Tyler Green and Ruth Croft, did return and many expected these athletes to be eagerly chasing their first wins.

[PRO TIP: Read more about Lickteig’s unique journey to the 2022 Western States 100 Mile and battle with injury.]

In addition to Lickteig and Croft, top athletes competing in the womens’ field were Camille Herron (World Record holder in the 12, 24 and 100-mile distances), Lucy Barthalomew (third place finisher at the 2018 Western States), Brittany Peterson (second place finisher at the 2019 Western States), Emily Hawgood (seventh place finisher at the 2021 Western States and tenth place finisher at the 2021 UTMB and first-time Western States runner Leah Yingling (second at the 2022 Canyons 100K).

In a pre race interview, we caught up with Herron who expressed how she felt going into this race. “I feel amazing. I’m healthy, prepared, and have attended both Western States training camps. I feel this is the year to make something special happen.”

The mens’ race was equally full of competition and included Jared Hazen (2019 Western States runner up and second fastest runner in race history behind Walmsley), Hayden Hawks (2017 CCC champion and eighth place finisher at the 2021 Western States), Tom Owens (fourth place finisher at the 2019 UTMB), Alex Nichols (2017 Western States 100 runner-up & 2021 tenth place finisher) and first-time Western States 100 Mile runner Adam Peterman (Speedgoat 50K course record holder, Chuckanut 50K course record holder and Canyons 100K course record holder).

Peterman’s incredible course records (all set in 2022 and 2021) left many wondering if he would continue his streak and set a course record in his 100-mile debut at Western States. Peterman shared his thoughts before the race, “I feel like the past year for me has led to the opportunity to run at Western States. This race has so much history and I can’t wait to give the course my best effort.”

[PRO TIP: Watch more pre-race interviews and read quotes from the pre-race favorites.]

Ludovic Pommeret. Photo: Peter Maksimow.

Countdown To Western States

The Western States pre race festivities began Thursday, June 23 with athlete interviews live streamed on YouTube from the Palisades Tahoe ski village. Athlete interviews began in the morning and continued throughout the day and Friday morning. The annual “Hike To High Camp,” where runners and crew have the opportunity to mingle and scout the first three miles of the course, was unfortunately canceled due to an impending storm that threatened ski tram operations, which typically shuttles participants back down from High Camp.

Although the hike was canceled, a handful of participants decided to hike up and down on their own and ATRA’s Peter Maksimow, interviewed these runners and crew on the hike about their reasons for being at Western States this year.

Also taking place on Thursday were the following three presentations and clinics:

  • Crewing a Western States Runner – (Assistant race director Bill Hambrick and Lon Monroe)
  • Ultrarunning Research and Performance – (Megan Roche, M.D. and Emily Krause, M.D.)
  • The Trail Sisters—The Women of WSER presented by Trail Sisters, which included a panel Q&A composed of seven runners with diverse backgrounds and experiences (Aneta Zeppettella, Brittany Peterson, Camille Herron, Erika Hoagland, Mayra Lopez, Meghan Canfield, Zoe Rom)

Friday’s pre race action kicked off at 9 A.M. with the race expo, registrations and drop bag delivery in the Palisades Tahoe ski village. The American Trail Running Association (ATRA) crew organized a tent at the expo overseen by ATRA event specialist, Robert “Sherbs” Sherburn. Other vendors at the expo included InsideTracker, GU Energy Labs, VESPA, HOKA ONE ONE and STRAVA among several others.

At 10 A.M. presenting race sponsor, HOKA ONE ONE organized a kids’ fun run and HOKA High Camp Challenge. The High Camp Challenge followed the first three miles of the Western States 100 Mile course from the base of the ski valley and climbed 2,500 feet to High Camp at the top of the ski resort tram. The race was free for all participants who also received a complimentary tram ride back down. The final event before the Saturday morning race start was the mandatory pre race meeting for all participants. Lottery winners for the 2023 Western States 100 Mile were drawn at the end of the meeting.

Hayden Hawks. Photo: Peter Maksimow.

Race Day Recap

In the first section of the race, known as the High Country, there were many surprises at the front of the field in both the mens’ and women’s’ races. This section took runners through the remote Granite Chief Wilderness above 7,000 feet and featured the race’s toughest climb, a 2,500 foot four mile climb from the base of the Palisades Tahoe ski valley to the top of the ski resort known as The Escarpment. Weather was a comfortable 40 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit and there was no snow for runners to navigate in the High Country, as in most previous years. Due to heavy snow melt in the past several weeks, streams and muddy terrain were the main challenges in the first section of the race.

In the mens’ race, many race favorites ran tactically to the top of the first climb to The Escarpment. Adam Kimble (Tahoe City, CA) local to the Tahoe area and Fastest Known Time (FKT) holder on the Tahoe Rim Trail, was first to the top, followed by Hayden Hawks and Frenchmen Pommeret Ludovic (UTMB and Grand Raid champion) and Sébastien Spehler (2019 North Face Endurance Challenge 50 Mile champion).

By the checkpoint at Red Star Aid Station (mile 15.8), the Frenchmen led the charge with Ludovic taking the lead by four minutes followed by Spehler and Kimble. Ludovic extended his lead to Duncan Canyon (24.4), which was the first aid station runners were allowed crew access. Spehler and a trio of American Hoka One One athletes, Tim Tollefson (fifth place finisher at the 2021 Western States 100 Mile), Hawks and Peterman followed closely behind.

Adam Peterman. Photo: Peter Maksimow.

Into the next aid station Robinson Flat (mile 30.3), Ludovic still led, but Hawks made a move to take second place just two minutes behind the Frenchman. Jared Hazen, the most experienced Western States 100 Mile runner in the mens’ field with five finishes (and a personal record on the course over 90 minutes faster than any other runner in the field), remained in contention in the top five. Robinson Flat marked the end of the High Country sections and the beginning of downhill running through extensive sections of hot, dry canyons. This change in terrain would be sure to shake up the field and allow downhill specialists and heat-tolerant athletes to make moves.

By Foresthill (mile 62), Hawks led the race followed by Peterman and Hazen, while the top Frenchmen Ludovic and Spahler who pushed the pace early on began to fall out of contention to win the race. Other top runners through Forest Hill included Arlen Glick (2021 Javelina Jundred champion), Green, and Ludovic.

The race for the win came down to a showdown before the Rucky Chucky river crossing (mile 78) between Hawks and Peterman. In this section, Peterman was able to make a gap on Hawks and ran solo for roughly the final third of the race to take the win in a time of 15:13:48. This was the first time since 1986 that a first-time 100-mile finisher had won the race.

Hawks described his battle with Peterman and this crucial moment in the race, “I felt super strong for most of the race until the miles on Cal Street just before the river crossing. Peterman ended up catching me on Cal Street and we ran a lot of that section together. He gapped me just before the river. At around 12 hours in I had a really low point and Peterman was able to gap me. He looked strong and I hoped that maybe he would fall back but he never did. That guy is a champ and also the nicest guy in the world and deserves all the credit. I couldn’t be happier for him.”

The top ten male finishers were:

  1. Adam Peterman (Missoula, MT) 15:13:48
  2. Hayden Hawks (Cedar City, UT) 15:47:27
  3. Arlin Glick (Massillon, OH) 15:56:17
  4. Tyler Green (Portland, OR) 15:57:10
  5. Drew Holmen (Boulder, CO) 16:09:00
  6. Pommeret Ludovic (Prevessin, France) 16:20:02
  7. Vincent Viet (Annecy, France)16:28:22
  8. Alex Nichols (Colorado Springs, CO) 16:28:34
  9. Cody Lind (Pocatello, ID) 16:29:38
  10. Scott Traer (Woburn, MA) 16:35:23

In women’s’ race, there were high expectations for another “Dream Team” field. In 2021, there were three women in the top ten and fifteen in the top thirty overall, one of the strongest women’s elite fields ever assembled. This year proved to be equally as competitive.

On the first climb, road ultrarunning legend Camille Herron led the charge to the top of the Escarpment. On the climb and through the High Country, international runners comprised much of the womens’ top ten, including Dominika Stelmach (Warszawa, Poland) on Herron’s heels, Marriane Hogan (Montreal, CA), Emily Hawgood (Beatrice, Zimbabwé), Ruth Croft (Stillwater Greymouth, New Zealand) and Luzia Buehler (Grusch, Switzerland). The Western States 100 Mile field was composed of thirty percent international runners.

By Duncan Canyon (mile 24.4), Hawgood took the lead, followed by Stelmach, and Keely Heninger (ninth place finisher at the 2021 Western States 100). Arriving into Dusty Corners aid Station (Mile 38), Croft, who had been calculating her way through the field, ran together for the lead with Hawgood, followed by Stelmach, Heninger and Alisa MacDonald (2020 Bandera 100K Champion).

Croft describes her experience sharing the lead with Hawgood, her adidasTERREX teammate, “It was awesome to share this section of the race with my teammate Hawgood and check in on each other, enjoy each other’s company, make sure each other is eating and drinking enough. It felt like a Sunday long run with your good mate.”

Emily Hawgood. Photo: Peter Maksimow.

At this point in the race, Heninger was the only American in the top five.

The Forest Hill aid station (mile 62), known for its extensive crowds and the first spot on the course where runners are allowed a pacer, was an exciting turning point in the race. Croft arrived first into Foresthill, three minutes ahead of Hawgood and eleven minutes in front of Herron, who had moved into third. The next few women through, Hogan, Buehler, Stelmach, and Asmuth, were all running within several minutes of each other.

Similar to the mens’ race, positions jostled and the race winner was crowned on the descents into the Rucky Chucky river crossing (mile 78). Into the river crossing, Croft continued to extend her lead, while MacDonald ran a tactical race moving into second.

MacDonald describes her strategy after the race, “My goal was to race a smarter race than I did in 2018 and I did, so I’m super happy. I knew I had to manage the heat better and pace myself right, rather than going out hard on the Escarpment and destroying myself on the first descent. I held back for a good part of the race and it paid off.”

Third to Rucky Chucky was Emily Hawgood, followed closely by Hogan, Buehler, Nowlin and Herron.

Photo: Peter Maksimow.

Arriving into the finish first was Croft in a time 17:21:30, the third fastest time in course history. This was Croft’s first victory at Western States after her incredible runner-up performance last year. MacDonald stayed strong from the river crossing to finish second in 17:46:46 and Hogan rounded out the podium position in third with a time of 18:05:48. Buehler was able to pass Hawgood, finishing fourth and fifth respectively.

Hawgood says about her race experience this year compared to last year, “This year I never went into the comfort zone and all the other incredible ladies pushed me. From the start, I was all in. All the special moments I got to share with Ruth Croft and all the other runners I ran with were super cool. I’d do it again!”

The women’s’ top ten were:

  1. Ruth Croft (Stillwater Greymouth, New Zealand) 17:21:30
  2. Alisa MacDonald (Cochrane, AB, Canada) 17:46:46
  3. Marianne Hogan (Montreal, QB, Canada) 18:05:48
  4. Luzia Buehler (Grusch, Switzerland) 18:08:32
  5. Emily Hawgood (Beatrice, Zimbabwe) 18:16:02
  6. Leah Yingling (Salt Lake City, UT) 18:32:31
  7. Taylor Nowlin (Spokane, WA) 18:46:42
  8. Camille Herron (Warr Acres, OK) 18:51:54
  9. Katie Asmuth (Mammoth Lakes, CA) 19:30:26
  10. Camille Bruyas (Leschaux, France) 19:34:24

Photo: Peter Maksimow.

The 2022 Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run went down as a historic race full of exciting upsets, newcomers and record-setting performances. Peterman overcame the odds to become the first rookie to win the race since 1986 and Croft lived up to expectations from her incredible performance last year to rise to the occasion and achieved her first Western States win over a strong field of female athletes. Eleven women ran under 20 hours, a feat which has never happened in race history. International runners, representing over thirty percent of the field, performed well in both the mens’ and women’s’ races, with six international runners in the women’s’ top ten and two in the mens’ top ten.

We at the American Trail Running Association (ATRA), were excited to bring you coverage from this year’s event and are already looking forward to next year’s “Statesmas.” See you in Olympic Valley!

See even more images from Western States by Peter Maksimow on Google Photos.

[PRO TIP: Can’t get enough Western States coverage? Check out our full playlist of #WS100 videos on YouTube.