News

3/28/2018
2018 WM100 Post-Race Story
Going into his first White Mountains 100 on foot, Nicholas Janssen lacked confidence.

He was stressed about a strained gluteal muscle caused a week earlier on a 36-mile mile skiing and running outing that limited him to a single training run thereafter.

He was wary of the possibility of hamstring cramps that have plagued him in marathons, which are barely one-fourth of the distance he was attempting on Sunday.

And the Fairbanks athlete was nervous about the competition, which included accomplished ultrarunner Ty Draney of Wyoming, two-time defending champion Christof Teuscher of Oregon and four-time defending women’s winner Teri Buck of Anchorage.

“I would have bet a thousand bucks against me,” Janssen said. “I thought I was going to get my ass handed to me.”

Despite his misgivings, Janssen — seemingly unfazed by wind-drifted snow and chilly overnight temperatures — completed his 100-mile journey in the White Mountains Recreation Area north of Fairbanks in 23 hours, 50 minutes, dominating the running division as Fairbanks athletes claimed four of six titles in the running, skiing, and fat-tire biking event.

“I’ve been training in drifting snow and unmaintained trails. It didn’t feel too bad to me,” Janssen said, adding that the Cache Mountain Divide about halfway through was so drifted in that he could barely discern the trail.

His competition didn’t fare as well.

Draney, who was still in striking distance upon arriving at the frigid Mile 80 Borealis checkpoint (where officials reported a temperature of 22 below), needed a long recovery there. He ultimately finished more than six hours behind Janssen.

Teuscher was runner-up among men in 27:12.

Buck would up convincingly winning the women’s foot division in 27:27, but it was far from easy as she dealt with a previously injured rib and a broken pinkie toe that was taped to an adjacent digit.

“I survived,” Buck said upon entering a finish line recovery trailer after traveling the full circuit without ever enjoying the company of another runner.

Buck’s friend and fellow Alaskan ultra legend Laura McDonough was second in 28:55.

The race claimed an unusually high 17 scratches that did not discriminate between veterans, rookies, men, women, Alaskans or Outside entrants.

Seven cyclists, eight runners and two skiers wound up dropping, with reasons that included fatigue, asthma, chest pain, a hydration pack that burst, missed cutoffs, bike mechanicals and a bike crash that resulted in an obliterated front rim.

That final mishap knocked out David Arteaga of Anchorage at Mile 58, who was frantically chasing eventual winner Tyson Flaharty of Fairbanks when he hit a water hole coming off a steep, short drop. Flaharty had pulled away from Arteaga and Soldotna’s Adam Reimer with a bold attack up Cache Mountain Divide followed by a skillful and aggressive descent.

The result was Flaharty’s first White Mountains overall victory — and first for a Fairbanks rider since Jeff Oatley in the inaugural 2010 race — in a relatively slow 10 hours, 32 minutes.

Flaharty was anything but slow at the checkpoints, grabbing just a handful of chips and a couple gulps of Coke before pressing on. The longest he stopped was perhaps five minutes at Windy Gap (Mile 60).

“I was trying to get out of there before the others showed up,” said Flaharty, who averaged 9.5 mph and sped up as the course conditions improved in the second half — thanks largely to the grooming efforts of the Bureau of Land Management.

Reimer, riding his first winter Ultra, placed second in 11:06 while Nicolas Baudin took third in 11:29.

The women’s winner, Amber Bethe of Anchorage, could have taken a lengthy nap and still stayed ahead. Bethe claimed her third White Mountains win in 13:33, good for ninth overall nearly 4 ½ hours ahead of Kim Riggs, her nearest pursuer.

Some participants reported a ground blizzard at the Cache Mountain Divide and a tailwind estimated at up to 40 mph. At least they didn’t have to contend with any overflow or open water, a rarity on the White Mountains course.

The cycling division also featured 17-year-old Sam Delamere, who became the event’s youngest-ever participant.

“I let him in with the contingency that he travel with his dad,” race director Joel Homan said.

Sam Delamere apparently followed that requirement until just before the finish, which he reached in 18:18, five minutes faster than his father, Peter.

The ski division saw repeat champions from Fairbanks, as Owen Hanley won in 14:54 (18th overall) and accomplished a rare feat for 2018: he was an hour faster than the year before.

In 2017, Hanley caught and passed Shalane Frost on the Wickersham Wall at Mile 93. This time Frost was a distant second in 17:48 after struggling with persistent headwinds. However, that was still quick enough for Frost to easily win the women’s division for the fourth straight time. She also placed runner-up overall for the fourth consecutive year, meaning her quest to finish as the top overall skier will have to wait at least another year.

Melissa Lewis (21:54) was the women’s runner-up and accomplished a rare double after placing third in the challenging Sonot Kkaazoot 50K ski race on Saturday.

Skiers Drew Harrington and Steve Taylor each finished their eighth White Mountains race, as did bikers Nancy Fresco and John Shook.

The ski division also produced the overall Red Lantern in 68th place, as Melanie Vriesman finished just over an hour ahead of the midnight Monday cutoff in 38:50.

Many of those who skied, ran, or biked through the night were treated to a Northern Lights show, a highlight that helped their spirits amid overnight temperatures that were much colder than forecasted.

 

- By Matias Saari


3/23/2018
2018 WM100 preview
Never before has the White Mountains 100 seen so much snow.

The big question is whether the trail for the 9th annual race will be soft, which would severely slow fat-tire bikers and foot travelers.

“It’s either going to be a soft push-and-slog for the bikers, or awesome,” race director Joel Homan said Friday. “The diurnal (temperature fluctuation) could make it bomber. It really depends on how (the trail) sets.”

Race officials have prepared for a slog by stocking checkpoint cabins on the looped course with extra food.

The race, with up to 88 entrants, starts at 8 a.m. Sunday at the Wickersham Dome Trailhead near Mile 28 of the Elliott Highway.

Temperatures in Fairbanks this week have ranged from around 0 overnight to 30 degrees and sunny during the day. The forecast for Sunday and Monday in the White Mountains calls for mostly sunny skies, with a high of 18 degrees, a low of 1 and light winds.

Skiers would be less impacted by a soft trail, although a narrower-than-usual course could make skate skiing more challenging and have skiers considering to classic ski instead.

“There’s lots and lots of snow,” Homan said. “If you stepped off the groomed part, it is waist-deep out there.”

A crew from the Bureau of Land Management was busy grooming the course in the recreation area just north of Fairbanks on Thursday and Friday and reported that the course is in “good shape.”

“The majority of the trail is 8+ feet wide,” the BLM report said. “(It) narrows up between Cache Mountain Cabin (Mile 40) and Windy Gap Cabin (Mile 60). Still — not too bad.”

Overflow water and slush that has wreaked havoc in some past races is non-existent this year.

“If you were a rookie going over the Ice Lakes (a several mile section of polished ice) you wouldn’t even know you’re on the Ice Lakes,” said Homan, who will be handing over the race directing job to Katharina Merchant after this season. “It’s all snow (covered).”

The pre-race outlook for racers varies depending on experience.

Tyson Flaharty of Fairbanks is among the favorites in the bike division and optimistic the trail will be in reasonable shape.

“I think it’s going to be decent the whole way,” said Flaharty, who placed second in 8 hours, 10 minutes in 2014, the year Josh Chelf set the still-standing record of 7:53.

Flaharty’s optimism comes in part because there’s been no fresh snow since Monday. Plus, the cold nighttime temperatures and sunny but below-freezing days should have helped the trail. He hopes the course can be completed in faster than 10 hours.

“Some of it is definitely going to be kind of slow,” said Flaharty while taking a short break Friday from work at Goldstream Sports, where he’s a bike mechanic. “But if 80 or 90 percent of the trail is good, it’s going to be fine.”

Meanwhile, Bryon Powell, a rookie in the foot division from Moab, Utah, is nervous that the trail will be too soft for consistent running. Wearing a pack, Powell did a short training run Thursday from the start of the course and was reduced to hiking at 3 miles per hour.

“It was so slow,” said Powell, who has gained a measure of notoriety in the ultra-running community for founding the popular website www.irunfar.com.

Powell has completed one of the world’s toughest and most famous 100-mile events, Colorado’s Hardrock 100, but finds himself more anxious attempting the White Mountains 100. With a mild winter in Utah, he hasn’t been able to train in snow or severe cold.

“It’s totally intimidating and humbling,” Powell said by phone on Friday. “I’ve dreamt of it for a couple years. … It represents a really new challenge to me.”

Powell didn’t think he’d get the chance this year after losing the lottery for a guaranteed spot and landing 55th on the waitlist.

He only recently secured a spot after many on the roster dropped out and others ahead of him on the waitlist declined invitations.

“I wrote off doing White Mountains,” said Powell. “I only bought a ticket last Wednesday (March 14).”

Powell does not expect to be competitive; his primary goal is to finish with all digits intact.

“There are 100 milers that I try to race. This is not one of them,” he said.

Foot travelers comprise the most diverse group of racers, with entrants coming from Utah, Colorado, Oregon, Illinois, Minnesota, Wyoming, Washington, Montana, Alaska, and three Canadian provinces.

Christof Teuscher of Portland, Ore., is gunning for a third straight men’s running title while Teri Buck of Anchorage seeks a fourth straight women’s win and could challenge for the overall victory.

The ski division features 14 entrants, all from Alaska. It could become another duel between Shalane Frost of Fairbanks, who is going for a fourth straight win and Owen Hanley (a recent addition who filled Beaver Sports’ sponsored slot). Hanley edged Frost by 18 minutes in 2017.

The favorite among women’s bikers is Amber Bethe, the 2014 and 2015 champ.

For the men, Anchorage’s David Arteaga and Soldotna’s Adam Reimer (Speedway Cycles’ sponsored rider) will likely challenge Flaharty.

Reimer broke Will Ross’ record at the 2017 Soggy Bottom on the Kenai Peninsula, finishing the 109-mile mountain bike event in 8 hours, 33 minutes.

“Adam is kind of a wildcard,” Flaharty said, adding that he doesn’t believe Reimer has ever raced a fat bike. “He’s probably going to be there, maybe to the end.”

Arteaga, a former professional road cyclist, won the Talkeetna Trio on March 10 and finished ahead of Flaharty at the WM100 in 2016.

“I’m hoping it’s cold,” Flaharty said. “I don’t know how (Reimer and Arteaga) do in the cold.”

- By Matias Saari


11/16/2017:
White Mountain roster story

The 9th White Mountains 100 will feature a new men’s bike champion in 2018.

That’s because none of the past champions of the highly competitive 100-mile race — Will Ross​, Tim Berntson​, Josh Chelf​, Greg Matyas​ or Jeff Oatley​ — are entered.

The only way that could change is if a to-be-determined sponsor slot selects one of the aforementioned quintet and they finish first.

Defending women’s champion and course record-holder Megan Chelf​ is also not returning, though Amber Bethe​ of Anchorage (winner in 2014 and 2015) is back.

The 2018 roster was released Thursday, Nov 16th and includes 81 entrants, with four sponsor slots still to be added. The breakdown features 46 bikers, 19 skiers and 16 runners. 

Men make up sixty-five percent of the roster while there is a nearly even ratio of veterans compared to rookies.

The race in the White Mountains Recreation Area just north of Fairbanks starts March 25.

Two women could make race history by winning their divisions for a fourth straight year. Skier Shalane Frost​ has dominated since 2015 while runner Teri Buck​ has done likewise and even twice won outright by beating all the guys.

With no past male ski champions returning, that division is up for grabs.

Christof Teuscher​ of Portland, Ore., will be seeking a third straight win in the men’s footrace.

A select number of 2017 champions, race record-holders, volunteers, invited entrants and sponsor selections were first granted entry, after which a random lottery filled out the 85-person roster. Another 97 race hopefuls were placed on a waitlist.

A record number of 177 applications were received this year, up substantially from 147 a year earlier.

The lottery for the highly coveted spots produced joy and disappointment.

Veteran Jill Homer​ of Boulder, Colo., was among the happy entrants.

“White Mountains 100, best race ever!,” Homer exclaimed on Facebook. “I’m in as a runner for 2018.”

Many others were relegated to the waitlist, which will produce additional entrants for those with patience and luck.

“65th on the waitlist,” Corrine Leistikow​ posted. “Not much hope for me but I might volunteer instead.”

- By Matias Saari​

10/30/2017:
Please note there will be NO Trail Shelter (aid station) this year. This was never a checkpoint and has been notoriously hard to find volunteers with snowmachines to support it.  
 
10/2/2017: 
  • Next year’s race will be held on March 25 & 26th, 2018.

  • Registration will begin on the 1st of November and will close November 15th. A lottery on November 16th will determine the roaster and waitlist for the race.

  • On November 16th, regardless of subdivision (Ski, Bike, Run) the lottery will be conducted using an automated Random Name Picker. The first 55 selected names will be put on the roster. The remaining names will be placed on the wait-list. Note: There will be only one wait-list for all three divisions.