A lot more than training goes into a successful run at the Western States 100.
There were some jokes that Kilian Jornet’s looser, darker outfit at this year’s Western States 100 was a disappointment to some of the admirers of his apparel choice from last year: an all-white skin-tight compression suit designed by his sponsor, Salomon.
At this year’s race he wore a much cooler prototype that emphasized breathability and featured some mystery “inserts” that, according to Salomon’s Global Outdoor Brand Manager, Jean-Yves Couput, “helped Kilian with the effort in the changing and hot temperatures of that race.”
The two-piece kit proved effective, as Jornet reported to have no problems dealing with the varying temperatures and accompanying dehydration he faced in finishing third at last year’s Western States race.
On his feet, Jornet wore some very light prototype shoes that he has worked with Salomon to design, shoes that allowed him to seemingly dance over the varying terrain with plenty of agility and feel for his footing.
Because Western States is a less technical, more runable course, many of the racers wore racing flats. For a guy like Jornet, saving some weight is important when averaging close to 9:00 per mile for 100 miles of racing on a difficult course with varying conditions and terrain.
To combat the dehydration issues he faced in last year’s race, Jornet carried some prototype soft hydration packs that shrink in size as he drained them of an electrolyte mix, made by his nutrition sponsor Overstim. At the accessible aid stations, Jornet’s crew had a variety of food for him and he tended to take longer breaks from the action, at one point downing a banana shake.
Other runners fueled themselves with steady intake of gels and it is not uncommon for ultrarunners to consume as many as 30 packs over the course of 100 miles, sucking one every half hour as they go. At the 25 aid stations along the Western States course the runners have access to sweets, salty foods, potatoes, soup, water, sports drinks, and encouragement from enthusiastic ultra-volunteers, many of whom don’t sleep at all during long night shifts.
And while many of the men chose to carry hand-held bottles for hydration, most of the women wore lightweight packs, such as those from Nathan, Camelbak, The North Face, Ultimate Direction and Salomon. Head lamps are necessary for all but the fastest finishers who don’t mind running the first half mile in the relative pre-dawn darkness of the 5am start. Most of the field opted for lightweight LED headlamps.