The New Year is coming big on our UltraRunning calendar with the first of three Western States Golden Ticket 2022 races. The Tejas Trails Bandera 100k will take place on Saturday January 8, along with an accompanying 50k on Sunday. Unsurprisingly, the fields are loaded to the gills and the four automatic entries into the Western States Endurance Run in June are expected to be hotly contested.
We were able to catch up with a few of the expected athletes ahead of the women’s and men’s races earlier in the week to get a feel for how they expect the race to go:
Sarah Biehl of Columbus, OH, was the most recent runner-up at the JFK 50-miler last November and is ready to build on that momentum in her second year of ultrarunning. “My first full year of ultrarunning in 2021 has been fun and exciting.” She continued: âI can’t wait to start 2022 at Bandera for what will be my longest race yet. I am delighted to have the chance to run after a first place in a competitive women’s field.
With eighth place in the 100km of the 2021 Canyons, Taylor Nowlin of Spokane, WA, feels ready to put it all together in Texas. âWith this field stacked up, I’m just planning to get on the bus and go to class,â she joked. “I’ve struggled with distance a bit in the past, but I feel great in my training block and ready to put in a big effort, so we’ll see what happens!”
Leah Yingling of Salt Lake City, UT, was sixth in that same Canyons race as Nowlin, and also won or placed second in six other ultras last year. She is really excited to face a dynamic field on Saturday. “Bandera’s women’s field is shaping up to be a great representation of the diversity of ultrarunning right now – a few athletes from the west of the mountain, several from the east coast, some with super-fast 50 mile PRs. , others with strong mountain performances, some beginners and other veterans of the sport. Yingling feels his training this winter might allow him to be successful. “My training in this build-up has been quite different from my approach. normal; lots of fast paced races, long, flat, fast runs, short rib intervals and even a 5k PR! I can’t wait to see how it all plays out on Saturday.
Your 2021 Quad Dipsea champion from Calgary, Alberta, Canada, Arden Young admits training for a long ultra winter can be tough, but he’s up for the challenge. âDecember in Canada has its training challenges, especially for a 100 km in the desert, but it builds mental toughness. She, like Yingling, is thrilled to be racing against so many talented women. “The field in Bandera is absolutely filled with women who I really admire, so while it’s super intimidating to stand in line with them, I’m also excited to see if I can take the challenge.”
Addie Bracy of Denver, CO, 2021 100 mile Run Rabbit Run champion, and Michelle Magagna of Portage, MI, 2020 Bandera 100 km finalist are also expected at the start line. Megan Roche and Devon Yanko are on the start list but have been notified UltraRunning Magazine, they don’t plan to be there.
On the men’s side, recent URM podcast guest Adam Merry from Golden, CO, who recently won the Run the Rock 50-miler last November is set to be redeemed in the Lone Star State.
âI feel super composed and excited to go out there. My recent run at Run the Rock 50 really boosted my confidence and I feel really prepared for whatever this trail will bring.
2021 Quad Dipsea men’s champion, who clocked the second fastest time in course history, Rod Farvard of Mammoth Lakes, Calif., Feels the typical temper tantrums. “I’m feeling a little poo, I’m not going to lie, but it will. I’m so paranoid I’m about to get sick, but the fitness is there.
Hometown favorite in neighboring San Antonio, TX, Ryan Miller, who won last year’s edition in his debut ultra said, âI’m delighted to be back on the line. departure to Bandera. After winning the race last January, the rest of 2021 left me with a bitter taste in my mouth with a DNF in Western States and DNS at JFK 50 both due to illness unrelated to COVID. This build has been consistent and I’m happy with the changes we’ve made compared to last year. His intentions are clear. “I want redemption in the United States in 2022 and can’t wait to try my luck at the Golden Ticket again.”
Missing just two spots in the final Golden Ticket race at the Javelina Jundred last October, Joe McConaughy of Seattle, WA, is hoping for his chances. âI’m feeling good about the race and can’t wait to take on some tough competition. The 100 km is a nice distance – short enough to roll, but long enough to crash. I hope I can ride during the first half and not break down! I had a short block of training before Javelina so hopefully I had a little more time to develop my fitness to really mix it up.
David Hedges of Itacha, NY, won the Ultra-Trail Harricana 125km and Ultra Race of Champions 100km last year. âI’ve had a really good year of racing and training in 2021 so I’m hoping to build on that momentum at Bandera. I can’t wait to mix it up with some quick guys and give it my all in Texas.
Other top entrants include Jimmy Elam from Big Cottonwood, UT, who won the River of No Return Endurance Runs 108k in 2021, Austin Horn from Flagstaff, AZ, who finished third in the last Quad Dipsea, Miguel Medina from Conroe, TX, fourth finisher in the 2021 Bandera 100k, and Tyler Fox of Lander, WY, who finished fourth in the 2021 Black Canyon Golden Ticket race.
Also on the schedule this weekend are the Frozen Gnome 50k in Crystal Lake, IL, the Sean O’Brien 50k in Malibu, CA, the Salem Lakeshore Frosty Fifty in Winston-Salem, NC, and the Bridle Trails Winter Trail Running Festival 50k in Bellevue, WA, on Saturday, January 8.
Who are your picks for the Golden Ticket Saturday winners? Drop them in the comments below and be sure to let us know. What’s new in Ultra in your state that we missed this week.