The New Era - All about Sweet Home since 1929

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By Scott Swanson
Of The New Era 

SH alum 4th in major 100-mile race

 

June 28, 2016

AMANDA BASHAM crosses the finish line in Auburn, Calif. with a fourth-place finish in the Western States 100. Below, she runs along the trail during the race.

Former Sweet Home runner Amanda Basham finished fourth in the prestigious Western States Endurance Run 100-mile ultramarathon early Sunday, June 26, in 20 hours, 11 minutes and 39 seconds.

The race was her first 100-miler for Basham, who started her distance running career as a senior at Sweet Home High School and has recently turned heads as an up-and-coming star in long-distance trail running.

The Western States 100 is considered one of the toughest century races in the United States, with a course running through Northern California’s Sierra Nevada mountains from Squaw Valley to Auburn.

A field of 353 runners started at 5 a.m. Saturday, June 25, and climbed from the valley floor (elevation 6,200 feet) to Emigrant Pass (elevation 8,750 feet) – 2,550 vertical feet in the first 4½ miles. They then followed old gold miners’ trails west, climbing another 15,540 feet and descending 22,970 feet before reaching Auburn; 280 finished, 63 of them women.

It was brutal, particularly in the summer heat, said Basham, 26.

“I hurt so bad. I don’t think I’ve ever done anyhing that bad,” she said Monday. After the race she and some of the other finishers spent an hour soaking their legs in a cold mountain river, she said.

“I’m feeling better now,” she said, Monday evening.

Basham is a relative newcomer to long-distance trail running, but has been rising steadily through the ranks, garnering a sponsorship from the Nike Professional Trail Team last year. She now lives and trains in Manitou Springs, Colo.

She qualified for the Western States 100 by placing second in the Gorge Waterfalls 100K April 2 in Cascade Locks. Everybody in the Western States race is a qualifier, either by lottery or by placing high in a qualifying race.

The women’s winner, Kaci Lickteig of West Omaha, Neb., ad raced the event twice before, finishing second in 2015 ( 19:20) and sixth in 2104 (20:07).

Behind her was Amy Sproston of Bend (second, 18:54:44) and Devon Yanko of San Anselmo, Calif., third in 19:10.08.

Andrew Miller, a 20-year-old sophomore-to-be at Northern Arizona University, was the men’s winner, in 15 hours, 39 minutes. Early leader Jim Warmsley of Flagstaff, Ariz., missed a turn and ran an extra four miles, which gave Miller the opportunity to move into first for good.

Didrik Hermansen of Norway was second in 16:16, and Jeff Browning of Bend finished third, in 16:30.

Basham said she deliberately did not go all-out at the start, hovering just behind the top-10 women for the first half of the race, before she started moving steadily up, picking off her competitors.

“I think I just ran it really smart,” she said. “I tried not to get caught up in the mess at the beginning.”

She took it easy, so to speak, on the initial 4½-mile-long, half-mile high climb out of Squaw Valley to the “Escarpment,” the highest point in the race, at an altitude of 8,713 feet.

“We were going to run 100 miles, so I told myself I was not going to go out fast. I hiked the first four or five miles while other people ran really fast, like usual.”

Basham said her strategy was to run “real conservative” and basically to stay with the top 10 women until Mile 62.

At mile 62 the competitors were allowed to join a pace runner. Basham’s was Zach Miller, an accomplished trail runner who also lives in Manitou Springs and frequently trains with her.

“My whole goal the whole time was just to get to my pacer,” she said. “I knew he would push me because he’s a lot stronger than me. I just let him lead and I put my head down and ground it out.”

The heat, hovering around 100 degrees in the lower levels of the race, made things really difficult. Pre-race women’s favorite Magdalena Boulet dropped out at 16 miles due to illness, and so did other competitors.

“People get sick,” she said. “Your body can’t aborb food when it’s so hot. I had a plan. Pretty much from when it warmed up to the end, I never felt so hot that I couldn’t handle it.”

The terrain was another problem.

“It’s really deceiving, the amount of downhill is so ridiculous,” she said. “It beats up your legs. Up and down, up and down. Your quads are just shot.”

Once she joined Miller, she said, she was in eighth place.

“We just picked people off, one at a time,” she said. “In the last six miles I went from sixth to fourth. We were hauling.”

Miles 97 through 99 were another, final uphill climb, but Basham said they were “springing up it,” averaging, former Sweet Home coach Billy Snow calculated, about 8:00 per mile.

“I don’t know how I was moving,” Basham said. “I don’t know how I was able to do that. I think I passed the girl who ended up getting fifth, Alissa (St. Laurent of Canada). I went as hard as I could at that point.”

The whole race, she said, was a little iffy for her because she’d sprained her ankle badly in the Cascade Gorge race and had to cut back significantly on her training.

“I was worried because I’d lost a good chunk of training time. The field is so competitive, I just went in hoping the top 10 was manageable. I didn’t even know if that was feasible.”

AMANDA BASHAM, with pacer Zach Miller, shows off her fourth-place belt buckle award.

After just two years of long-distance trails racing, she’s looking to get a little more serious about preparing for competitions, she said.

She said she might apply to get on the team for the world championships in Portugal in October and she plans to run the North Face 50 Miler Endurance Challenge in San Francisco in early December.

“I’ve run it twice before, but each year it’s been at the end of the year,” she said. “I was really burned out. So I would love to get top-five in that one.

“I’m trying to do fewer races, but better quality of races. It’s worked out good so far.”

 
 

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