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Garneau finds early groove

Rookie from British Columbia makes impressive race debut
By: Eric J. Gourley, Journal Sports Writer
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Tracy Garneau didn’t want to know how large of a lead she had built over Meghan Arbogast with 10 miles to go in Saturday’s Western States Endurance Run. “I never asked where she was,” Garneau said. “I just did what I could do. I didn’t want to know, because it wouldn’t have changed anything. You just gotta race smart and then finish. I knew I wanted it, but I wasn’t sure how it was going to go.” Running her fourth 100-mile event, Garneau surged to an early cushion in the first few hours and never looked back, winning the women’s race in 19 hours, 1 minute, 55 seconds just after midnight at Placer High. It was the third major victory already this year for the Western States rookie. She was the top woman at the Hawaiian H.U.R.T. 100-miler in January, where she placed third overall. Three months later, she cruised to victory in the American River 50 to qualify for Western States. On Saturday, Garneau overcame an early foot issue to lead Joelle Vaught by 10 minutes at the halfway mark. Vaught, who eventually finished eighth, couldn’t keep up with Garneau’s pace as she increased her lead over second-place Arbogast to almost 40 minutes with 20 miles to go. “It was fantastic,” said Garneau, who had previously raced only twice in California. “It’s been four years in the making for me to get here, so I was really happy, from start to finish. I’d been picturing it for a long time. I wanted this buckle, because it’s hard. One hundred miles is so long and anything can go wrong. It brings top runners down all the time.” Leaving the snow after Robinson Flat, Garneau couldn’t put any pressure on her left foot for almost 20 miles. “I had to run on my tippy-toes,” the 41-year-old British Columbia resident said. “I just worked through it.” Arbogast, a 49-year-old from Corvallis, Ore. running Western States for the fourth time, fought nausea for most of the day and finished second in 19 hours, 15 minutes, 58 seconds. “I came to win,” said Arbogast, who finished seven minutes ahead of third-place Nikki Kimball. “I wanted to shoot for 18:30 but I’d never even broken 20 hours, so I was pretty jazzed with 19:15.” Arbogast did take home an oversized check for $2,500 for winning the women’s Montrail Ultra Cup. Western States was the culmination of an 11-race schedule. Glen Redpath, who finished seventh overall in 17 hours, 10 minutes, 6 seconds, won the men’s Ultra Cup prize. A record 328 of the 426 runners who started the race in Squaw Valley crossed the line at Le Febvre Stadium in under 30 hours to record an official finish. More than a third of those finished in under 24 hours, also a record, with 35 finishing under 20 hours. New York’s Amy Palmiero-Winters became the first amputee to finish Western States when she crossed the finish line at 8:43 a.m. Sunday. Palmiero-Winters and Arizona’s Amy Dodson, both left leg amputees, set out from Squaw Valley before dawn Saturday. Dodson dropped out at the Miller’s Defeat aid station 34.4 miles into the race, but Palmiero-Winters maintained a steady pace to make history.