The 2019 Western States Endurance Run is shaping up to deliver another exciting year. The roster is stacked deep with competitive athletes and the snow is still stacked on the mountains. Eleven rabbit athletes are putting in their last runs and are beginning the meticulous preparations needed to toe the starting line, ready for the long day ahead. With race day tomorrow, we wanted to introduce the athletes that will be representing rabbit over the 100.2 miles that travel from Squaw Valley to the Placer High School track in Auburn. Put your hands together for Tyler Clemens, Kent Green, Sean Nakamura, Mike McKnight, Eric Senseman, Kris Brown, Laurel DeVore, Nicole Ederle, Rachel Kelley, and Liz Canty!
Eric Senseman (rabbitPRO) – Flagstaff, AZ - #28
Eric Senseman is always a fun racer to watch and this year’s performance is sure to satisfy his fans’ expectations. Eric lives and trains in Flagstaff, AZ, which sits at an elevation of 7,000 feet above sea level, making it an ideal place to train for Western States. Eric’s impressive third place finish at the Black Canyon 100K made this his second year in a row winning his entry to this race via a Golden Ticket. The 2018 Western States was Eric’s first 100 mile race and the day didn’t go quite as expected. After holding a strong third place through the first half of the race, the heat, hills, and miles got the best of him and he crossed the finish line in 23 hours, “good for 78thplace” he jokingly writes. However, Eric is confident this year will be different, stating “I’ve accrued a lot more vertical gain and loss in training this year, and I’ve spent much more time heat training. As such, I think I’m much better prepared for the climbs and heat this year.” Though he didn’t give away too many race expectations, he recommends that we all “watch out for the Coconino Cowboys, ft. Jim Walmsley, Jared Hazen, Stephen Kersh, and me” and that he’s “definitely going to beat Kris Brown this year”. We’ll get Kris’s opinion on this next. If you, the reader, are a big fan of Eric’s, which you certainly are, and have been wondering where you can get the sweet Senseman shirt in the above photo, click on over to our “shop” tab and show him some love.
Kris Brown (rabbitPRO) – Santa Barbara, CA - #M10
Last year, Kris Brown crossed the finish line at the Placer High School Track in 17:20, rounding out the top ten in his Western States debut. Last year’s performance was a long awaited dream-come-true for Kris. He explained, “top ten was a dream of mine, and I trained specifically for that race for more than a full year. I called my shot as top ten, put in the work, and pulled it off on race day. Normally I'm a ‘run hard and be happy with whatever happens’ sort of runner, but to commit to a plan and have it work out like that was pretty cool. Having done that, I'm certainly driven to repeat that accomplishment and improve upon it, but more than ever I'm interested in running my own race, feeling strong out there, and enjoying the day.” Kris has repeatedly proven himself as a smart and tactical racer and he’s expecting this to play to his advantage with the heavy snow fall on the course this year. One thing that may not play to his advantage is the fact that he opened a restaurant in March, which has been “extremely detrimental to training”. He claims, “by sheer numbers, my mileage has been laughable compared to last year, and I've genuinely done much less work, but I still feel fit, I have had some key indicator workouts that seem to show that I'm on par with where I was last year, and importantly, I feel really fresh compared to June of 2018.” Even with all the stresses of owning a new restaurant, Kris declares, “my biggest worry is being able to stay awake long enough to watch Eric Senseman finish”. That’s another thing we love about Kris, he cares about his friends. We’re certainly looking forward to what both of these athletes can do now that they have one Western States under their belts and we’ll be waiting at the finish line to cheer them in.
Elizabeth Canty (rabbit ELITEtrail) – Huntsville, AL - #30
Elizabeth Canty starts off the list of rabbit ELITEtrail athletes coming to Western States this year from flat hometowns, offering little elevation gain during training. Elizabeth didn’t let Huntsville’s lack of hills keep her finishing 2ndat the Georgia Death Race this year, winning herself a Golden Ticket to Western States. Some of her other most notable races include winning the Pinhoti 100, the Santa Fe 50 Mile Endurance Race, the Beaverhead 100K, and finishing 3rdat the Bear 100. Elizabeth’s strength is certainly her ability to suffer, which has likely been developed through her countless hours training in muddy Alabama winters and triple-digit summers. Ewlizabeth is sponsored by rabbit, Suunto, and Tailwind Nutrition and this is her first year being coached by David Roche. This is her second year racing competitively and she has been loving the process saying, “learning the ropes of competitive trail racing and training has been amazing and beneficial. I have the most supportive husband and poodle at my back as well, who have gotten me to this starting line in June positive and healthy!”
Rachel Kelly (rabbit ELITEtrail) – Chapel Hill, NC - #255
The tallest “mountain” in Chapel Hill has a whopping elevation gain of 400ft. So, Rachel frequently spends the weekends driving 3 hours each way to get some elevation training in and it shows. She finished sub 30 hours at Run Rabbit Run, which gains over 17,000 ft in elevation and stays 10,000 ft above sea level for more than 30 miles, an impressive finish for anyone but even more so considering the sea-level dwelling. This will be Rachel’s sixth 100 mile finish and her second year in a row at Western States. After finishing a strong race last year in 22:58, Rachel commented that, “running States is an amazing honor, the event is like no other in North America. The aid stations are amazing, the crowd excitement is infectious, and as a person who loves the mountains, that area of CA is one of my favorite places to visit”. Rachel is also sponsored by Lily Trotters compression socks and “feel(s) strongly about supporting female owned and operated companies, like rabbit and LT.” If you’re loving getting to know Rachel and want to read more about her running adventure click here.
Nicole Ederle– (rabbit ELITEtrail) – Houston, TX - #166
Nicole describes her hometown of Houston as “FLAT. I mean, not an inch of elevation gain. Not an inch. I frequently run with ZERO elevation gain on my regular runs.” Nicole Ederle, Rachel Kelly, and Elizabeth Canty share many things in common. They’re all rabbit ELITEtrail team members, they’ll all be toeing the line at Western States this year, and none of them let their environment dictate how far, or how high, they can go. Nicole’s luck in the lottery will make Western States her third 100 mile race, after the Javelina Jundred and Rio del Lago. Nicole’s goal to run Western States formed differently than most racers. As a child, Nicole’s dream was to ride in the Tevis Cup horse race, the race from which Western States was born. Her experience as a horse-packer and mountain guide have given her lots of experience on trails, traveling at night, and being alone in the middle of nowhere: traits that certainly come in handy at a race like Western States. Nicole runs with Houston Harriers and is couched by Emily Torrence of Sundog Running. Nicole hopes that her 100 mile journey at Western States will be an example for her three children that “no matter your circumstances, never give up on your dreams”.
Kent Green – (RADrabbit) - San Tan Valley, AZ - #189
This year’s Western States will be Kent’s second 100 mile race after finishing 6thoverall at the Kettle Moraine 100 in 2017. Kent’s strengths on the trails are found in uphill climbing and hiking, which can be attributed to his rocky, hilly, and hot home terrain in San Tan Valley, AZ. Racing Western States has been a life goal of Kent’s since he started running ultras in 2007. He attributes the pull of the race to “the history, prestige, climate challenges, and the current difficulty of ‘simply’ getting into the race, mak[ing] this a once in a lifetime opportunity. Representing rabbit through RAD and the Aravaipa Racing Team makes it that much
better.” Kent is dedicating this race to his mother in law and lifelong friend, Kathy. Kent and his wife, Jen Zak, watched the lottery while in the hospital with Kathy as she was ending her battle with cancer. She passed away a few days later. Kent, his wife, and his “rock star pacer” Tomio will carry her memory with them from Squaw to Auburn.
Sean Nakamura – (rabbit ELITEtrail) – San Diego, CA - #200
This will be Sean’s first time running Western States, which is actually quite surprising considering he’s run 40 hundred(+) milers (8 of which were 200 milers) in the time span of just under 6 years. Some of his more notable performances are overall wins at Run 4 Kids 100 (2019), Tahoe 200 (2017), and Nanny Goat 100 (2016). Even with Sean’s heavy mileage he’s coming into States “feeling as close to 100% healthy as [he] can recall in the last few years”. However, he also admitted the heavy race load may put him at a disadvantage, stating: “my biggest weakness is just that I’m racing 15 hundreds+ this year, so while I want to run fast at WS, I also need to consider The Great Eight project (8 original hundred milers) I’m working on this year and will need to bounce back for about a 100+ miler every two weeks through October. Because of this big race workload, I have also designed my training to be more about recovery than performance for a single event, and I hope to be in peak fitness for Tahoe 200 and Big’s Backyard (last man standing) in the Fall.” Sean has certainly set himself up for an interesting year and we’re so excited to follow as his miles roll out! In addition to running for the rabbit ELITEtrail team he also runs for Team Altra, Pro Compression, Muir Energy, Carbo Pro, Run Gum, and is a member of SURF (San Diego UltraRunning Friends).
Laurel Devore – (RADrabbit) – Golden, CO - #61
This year’s Western States will be Laurel’s fourth 100-mile race. Her previous 100 finishes include the Bear 100, Zion 100, and Brazos Bend 100. Laurel is also a stud at the 100k distance as showcased in her bronze medal finish at the USATF Utah State 100k Championship - Kat’cina Mosa 100k. When asked what running Western States means to her, Lauren responds: “This is so hard to put into words. I’ve dreamt about this race for years, volunteered/worked/paced the past 2 years and never imagined I’d be toeing the line this year. When I found out that I had a spot, the tears of joy ran strong and it took a while to sink in (it still hasn’t quite sunk in, in fact!). For me, a chance to run this historic course will be such an incredible privilege and also a test, not just of endurance but of my mind, body and soul. I want to see how far I can push myself in every way and I want to go to places of hurt and suffering I’ve never been before. I want to truly know myself. Running Western States doesn’t mean the world to me, it means the entire universe and beyond to me. It is quite literally my biggest dream come true. I am ready for the ultimate fight.” We’re so excited to hear that Laurel has been feeling stronger than ever, both physically and mentally, and can’t wait to see her crush some trails!
Mike McKnight– (rabbit ELITEtrail) – Cache Valley, UT - #43
After four years of entering the lottery without any luck of the draw, Mikewas gifted an entry from the Presenting Sponsor, Altra. Not only has Mike finished nine 100-milers, he’s also completed the Triple Crown of 200’s, that’s three 200-miler’s folks! Mike is the kind of guy to never back down from a challenge. This was made abundantly clear when he finished his first ultra, the El Vaquero Loco 50k, just over a year after breaking his back in a skiing accident. His doctor told him that he would barely be running a year out from surgery, but like we said, Mike doesn’t back down from a challenge. Mike is yet another athlete performing well on a low carb/high fat diet. He claims, “my energy levels during ultras have been so consistent.” So, if you see him out on the trails, send him some avocado love. Mike has been coached by Jeff Browning during the lead up to Western States. He’s commented, “I’mvery confident in where I’m at right now, and am truly thankful for all that [Jeff] has done to help me get here.
Tyler Clemens– (RADrabbit) – Denver, CO - #113
If you don’t know Tyler yet, you’ll likely recognize his wild hair and warm smile, which can frequently be found around the starting line of trail races. He’s the Co-founder of Dirtbag Runners and a very nice guy, so introduce yourself and tell him rabbit sends love. After 5 years of putting his name in the lottery and crossing his fingers, Tyler’sname was finally pulled and the grueling training started, or in Tyler’s case, continued. Tyler has completed six 100-mile races: Burning River, Rio Del Lago, Javalina Jundred, Angeles Crest, The Bear, and Pine to Palm. Even with all these lengthy races, Tyler says the race he is most proud of is his 100k finish at Black Canyons this year. He explains, “not necessarily because of my race, but because I ran and finished with my friend Sebastian Salsbury, who is just 13 years old! He became the youngest known person to finish a Western States qualifier and it was really amazing to be a part of his journey and help him realize his goals!” Unfortunately, Sebastian will have to wait a few more year, until he’s 18 to be exact, to be able to put his name in the lottery. Tyler has been putting in plenty of high elevation training while living in Denver, CO and we’re expecting that that, in combination with his mental grit and previous 100-mile experience, will set him up for quite a spectacular race.
We want to wish everyone racing Western States good luck. We can’t wait to follow along with what promises to be an amazing year!