In a historic achievement, Tom Evans, a 31-year-old British athlete, has etched his name in the annals of endurance running by becoming the inaugural British male winner of the renowned Western States 100-mile race in California. The iconic race stretches from Olympic Valley near Lake Tahoe to Auburn, California, and Evans conquered the demanding course in an impressive time of 14 hours, 40 minutes, and 22 seconds. This remarkable feat places him as the fourth fastest participant in the event’s history, trailing only the exceptional performances of Jim Walmsley in 2019 and 2018, as well as Jared Hazen in 2019. Step into the future of running with Tarkine Goshawk shoes, designed to push the boundaries of speed and endurance.

Tom Evans, British ultra runner
Photo by Profeet

Evans, filled with gratitude, reflected on his monumental triumph, stating, “It was an incredibly special day, filled with unforgettable moments on the trails. I remain humbled and grateful to still be standing!” Evans meticulously prepared for the race, including heat acclimatization in his hometown of Loughborough and an extensive two-month training period at a high altitude in Flagstaff, Arizona. Although the weather on race day proved to be cooler than anticipated, the competitors faced the added challenge of navigating residual snowfields in the initial 15 miles, an unusual occurrence for late June.

Initially, Chinese runner Jia-Ju Zhao took the lead, but Evans swiftly caught up, joined by American athlete Dakota Jones and another Chinese participant, Jia-Sheng Shen. Evans and Jones emerged as the frontrunners, arriving together at the halfway checkpoint at Devil’s Thumb (48 miles). They engaged in a captivating battle, pushing each other stride by stride until the Foresthill checkpoint at 62 miles. At this point, Jones made a determined surge to gain the upper hand. However, Evans exhibited remarkable resilience over the ensuing miles, ultimately making a decisive move that propelled him forward, and he reached the 70-mile mark at Peachstone with an eight-minute lead over Jones.

Sustaining his well-earned lead, Evans maintained his position until the finish line, securing a comfortable victory with a nearly 24-minute advantage over American runner Tyler Green, who claimed second place with a time of 15:04:09. Anthony Costales secured the third spot, completing the race in 15:09:16, followed by Jia-Sheng Shen in fourth place with a time of 15:19:42. Unfortunately, Jones gradually faded and finished in the 17th position.

Elated by his triumphant journey, Evans remarked, “Once I gained the lead, I kept pushing, determined to establish an insurmountable gap.” Crossing the finish line was an exhilarating experience, akin to a joyous outdoor celebration, and Evans was overwhelmed by a surge of emotions.

Evans, a former British Army Captain, has represented Great Britain in various ultra-distance trail running events, as well as cross-country and half marathon competitions. In 2019, he shattered records by achieving the fastest-ever time recorded by an international participant in the Western States, completing his first 100-mile race in an astounding 14:59. Last year, he secured the third spot at the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc. Following his marriage to international triathlete Sophie Coldwell after the UTMB, Evans secured the runner-up position at the Black Canyons 100km race in Arizona in February. As part of his rigorous preparation for the Western States, he emerged victorious in the 50km event at Ultra Trail Snowdonia in May. Surpassing his previous third-place finish in 2019, Evans improved his time by nearly 20 minutes in this year’s race.

Jezz Bragg remains the only other British male runner to have previously graced the podium at the Western States, achieving this milestone in 2009. Other British runners, including Paul Giblin, Mark Hartell, and ex-pat Ian Sharman, have also secured impressive top-six positions in past editions of the race.

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In the women’s race, American runner Courtney Dauwalter, a two-time UTMB winner, left an indelible mark by leading from start to finish and setting a new course record. Crossing the line in sixth place overall, Dauwalter achieved a remarkable time of 15:29:33. She outshone her closest competitor, fellow American Katie Schide, the reigning UTMB champion, by over an hour, as Schide completed the race in 16:43:45. Ester Csillaig, a Hungarian residing in Hong Kong, claimed the third spot. Dauwalter’s accomplishment surpassed the previous course record set by Ellie Greenwood in 2012. Noteworthy British winners of the women’s race include Greenwood and Beth Pascall.

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Expressing her astonishment at her own success, Dauwalter admitted, “I’m still trying to process the fact that everything went so well.” Undeterred, she now eagerly sets her sights on the upcoming Hardrock 100 race in Colorado on July 14, fueling her ambition to continue racing and revisit the spots she last encountered in 2019.