Western States 100

Greenwood takes States with surprise sprint

By: Sara Seyydin Journal Staff Writer
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Ellie Greenwood wasn’t even on Kami Semick’s radar when she surged ahead of her in the last six miles to win the Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run Saturday. Moments later, Semick and the rest of the top women contenders were met by a bear near No-Hands Bridge, while Scottish-native Greenwood was the lone runner to pass scot-free. “I tried to keep to her for about ten feet. She was fast,” Semick said. “At about mile 98 there was a bear and a cub hanging over in a tree. The bear jumped down out of the tree and started hissing at us.” Semick and her pacer, afraid for their safety, dropped back and began screaming for help towards Robie Point. Canadian Tracy Garneau, who won Western States last year, was the next runner to arrive on the scene. Garneau has encountered plenty of wild animals in her training in Jasper, Alberta, but realized quickly that the bear was angry. Semick said that as another runner from the men’s field approached, the group decided to make their way around the bear together slowly and hope for the best. While they made it unscathed, Semick, of Bend, Ore., said the whole ordeal cost her finishing under 18 hours by minutes. Meanwhile, Greenwood, 32, who now lives in Banff, Alberta, Canada, had already gained a considerable lead with her sprinting and was just that much further ahead. Although she was considered a favorite to win the race, Greenwood said early on she wasn’t feeling well. “My hamstring and legs were feeling very tight early on,” Greenwood said. “I was in third place at about 6 miles to go. I just thought, ‘I can’t let up.’” That persistence paid off for Greenwood. She came in under the 18-hour mark at 17 hours and 55 minutes. “I’m so happy. Obviously I was in hopes I may be out to win. I knew it was going to be tough,” Greenwood said. With one of the deepest women’s fields in Western States history, the other women’s contenders grinded it out for top spots. Nikki Kimball, of Bozeman, Mont., sped up to Semick to give her a run for second-place. The two old friends came in within seconds of one another. Kimball, a three-time Western States winner, said Semick’s road-running abilities were a key factor in her second-place finish. After a major accident in 2007 where a rock fell on her, Kimball said she has finally been able to run without pain during the past few months. She credits physical therapy and the sport of Randonee skiing for her recovery. “I had slowed down by two minutes a mile,” Kimball said. “I am most proud of keeping in the sport when I had been winning everything and then running very poorly. The one thing is through it all, I love to run.” Kimball said she is finally feeling healthy enough to hope to break her personal best in the future. As far as the future of Western States goes, Kimball said Rory Bosio, 26 of Soda Springs, is an ultrarunner to watch. Bosio took fifth place Saturday. Meghan Arbogast, 50, of Corvallis, Ore. set a new record time for women over 50, smoking the previous record by three-hours. Kimball said the course this year lent itself more to road-runners rather than trails runners and was about thirty minutes faster than the previous course. Semick said the snow was a challenge, but nice weather coming into the canyon accounted for the faster times. “The canyons were warm, not hot,” Semick said. “There was a cool breeze hitting us at Michigan Bluff. It was a very pretty day.” Reach Sara Seyydin at