With three victories at the Western States and a recent triumph at the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc (UTMB), ultrarunner Jim Walmsley is eyeing a remarkable milestone: conquering both prestigious races in a single year.

Walmsley, an esteemed figure in American ultrarunning circles, dedicated extensive time to training in Arêches, France, ahead of his UTMB victory. Now residing in Flagstaff, Arizona, he prepares for the upcoming Western States 100 while keeping UTMB in his sights for later in the season.

The notion of pursuing the challenging Western States-UTMB double emerged immediately after Walmsley made history as the first U.S. male to clinch victory at UTMB last September. His recent win at the Nice Côte d’Azur by UTMB 100K, alongside French counterpart Simon Gosselin, secured Golden Ticket entries into Western States, laying the foundation for his ambitious endeavor.

Reflecting on his journey, Walmsley likens his pursuit to that of a championship-winning athlete eager to defend their title. While UTMB stands as a pinnacle achievement, he views Western States as a vital milestone in American ultrarunning. Juggling both races simultaneously allows him to strive for excellence on multiple fronts, embodying the spirit of competition and personal growth.

Photo © iRunFar/Meghan Hicks

Maintaining strong ties with his international community, Walmsley and his wife, Jess, returned to Arêches for a revitalizing visit with friends. Despite encountering minor setbacks in training due to injuries, Walmsley prioritized his physical and mental well-being, recognizing the importance of downtime in preparation for the rigorous summer season ahead.

As the Western States 100 draws near, Walmsley immerses himself in a rigorous training regimen, focusing on speed and endurance amidst the varied terrain of Flagstaff. Teaming up with Gosselin, he anticipates a fruitful partnership in the lead-up to States, fostering camaraderie and mutual motivation.

 

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Looking beyond States, Walmsley’s journey continues with plans to rendezvous in Colorado for the Hardrock 100 before returning to France for UTMB. Achieving victory in both races within a single year poses a monumental challenge, given the contrasting terrains and demands of each event.

 

While the feat has been accomplished by a select few, including American Nikki Kimball and Spain’s Kilian Jornet, Walmsley seeks to etch his name alongside these ultrarunning legends. Fueled by a relentless pursuit of excellence and a passion for pushing boundaries, he remains focused on the task at hand, propelled by determination and unwavering support from his global community. With each stride, he inches closer to solidifying his legacy in the sport he holds dear.