Langley’s Matt Simms completed the Western States Endurance Run foot race Sunday morning with a time of 21 hours, 48.45 minutes, good for 38th place and the coveted silver belt buckle. All told, 270 runners finished the race.
“It’s been a dream of Matt’s for a long time,” Katy Gordon said.
His support crew consisted of his wife Erin, Frank Jacques, Curt Gordon and Katy Gordon.
After 62 miles, friends can run along as “pacers.” First Jacques and then the Gordons joined to help Simms keep up his spirit.
“We were at the start, then we drove along the route and I ran the last six miles with Matt,” Katy Gordon said. “By then he was going really slow, especially up the hills. It’s like no other racing event I’ve ever seen. He looked great but I don’t think he felt so hot.”
The Western States 100 is one of the oldest ultra trail events in the world and certainly one of the most challenging.
The run is conducted along the Western States Trail starting at Squaw Valley, Calif. and ending in Auburn, Calif., a total of 100 miles.
The trail ascends from the Squaw Valley floor (elevation 6,200 feet) to Emigrant Pass (elevation 8,750 feet), a climb of 2,550 vertical feet in the first 4½ miles. From the pass, following the original trails used by the gold and silver miners of the 1850s, runners travel west, climbing another 15,540 feet and descending 22,970 feet before reaching Auburn.
Most of the trail passes through remote and rugged territory, accessible only to hikers, horses and helicopters.
Due to the remoteness and inaccessibility of the trail, the race differs substantially from other organized runs.
Organizers stress the importance of adequate mental and physical preparation for the mountains, although beautiful, are relentless in their challenge and unforgiving to the ill-prepared.
Simms and his family took a few days off after the race in Lake Tahoe.