Clare Gallagher was the first woman over the line at the Western States 100 (WSER 100, 161km) in 17 hours, 23 minutes and 24 seconds, the second fastest woman in the race’s history. She took the lead at 125km when last year’s winner Courtney Dauwalter dropped out.
“I was just quietly behind Courtney all day,” she said. “Someone has to be second [I thought], but Courtney, god bless her, I hope her hip is OK, something happened to her hip.”
Dauwalter was leading and running record pace, with Gallagher in tow, until Rucky Chucky aid station when she dropped out. Gallagher was made to work hard for her victory by Brittany Peterson, who finished in 17:34.29, the fourth fastest woman in the race’s history.
“The last 20 miles I was running very scared,” she said.
Peterson closed the gap and when they entered Pointed Rocks aid station, with just 10km to go, the pair were neck and neck. Gallagher regained a two-minute lead in the next 5km and eventually saw home the victory.
“She gave the best race ever. It was so epic,” Gallagher said about Peterson.
Clare Gallagher (@Patagonia) wins the 2019 Western States 100 in 17:23:24. The second fastest women’s time in race history. Our pre-race interview: https://t.co/4C0OtDdQvz #WS100 pic.twitter.com/jcPsFj6FUp— iRunFar (@iRunFar) June 30, 2019
Gallagher prepared for the race by spending time mountaineering in the Arctic. She used her finish line speech to implore fans to call their government representatives about an upcoming vote that would allow oil extractions in the Arctic Refuge.
Jim Walsmley won overall in a record time of 14 hours, nine minutes and 28 seconds, breaking his own course record by 20 minutes.
Gallagher, American, has only been a professional runner since 2016 after she won the Leadville 100 (161km). She has since claimed victories at the likes of the 100km CCC at the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc (UTMB) week.
Peterson booked her place at WSER 100 by winning the Bandera 100km in Texas. The race served as a “golden ticket” pathway, which guarantees a spot to the first placed runner.
The Western States is one the most prestigious 100 mile races in the world. It has been taking place since 1974, but is now so popular most runners have to enter via a lottery ballot system.