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Home - Running Articles - Walmsley Blows Up Again | Western States 100 2017

Walmsley Blows Up Again | Western States 100 2017

I’m not sure why it annoys me so much that Jim Walmsley dropped out of Western States at 78 miles, but it does. Perhaps it’s because he is an elite athlete and I don’t expect him to make the same type of rookie mistakes the rest of us do.

Jim Walmsley Western States 2017If you’re unfamiliar with Jim’s recent history, let me explain. Jim is a superb ultra runner. I mean, really good. In 2016 Jim created a bit of a buzz by announcing prior to Western States 100, that he felt he was in with a shot of breaking the course record in his first ever 100 mile race. Sure enough, for much of the race, he was almost 30 minutes ahead of the CR. At 90 miles, although he had slowed, he was still 15 minutes ahead of CR pace and way ahead of Andrew Miller, in second place. But, for whatever reason, at around 93 miles, Jim missed a left turn and ended up on Highway 49. It is now an infamous and legendary fuck up on a par with Gary Robbins’ non-finish at the Barkley Marathons this year.

He had only run 2 miles off course though, and still had a shot at winning the race. But instead of gritting his teeth and getting back on it, he folded. He was so mentally demoralised, that he simply gave up. Once his mind had gone, his body gave up too and he walked it in, finishing in 20th place.

In 2017, having qualified with a golden ticket win at the Gorge Waterfalls 100k, Jim was again in bullish mood suggesting that, if he was on his game, there were few that could beat him and the course record was definitely on. Without question, Jim has become one of the best ultra runners in the world and he has many years of good running ahead of him. I’ve nothing against confidence and self-belief and although Jim’s comments make him seem like a swaggering, arrogant yank, he comes across as a very likeable guy in interviews and in the documentaries I’ve watched. Also, given his race results this past year, it certainly looked like Jim was perfectly capable of ‘putting his legs where his mouth is’.

Jim Walmsley Western States 2017So it was, that I spent much of Saturday June 24th refreshing my browser on live updates from WS100. As expected, Jim was in the lead from the start, almost an hour up on Ryan Sandes at one point, and on course record pace. I went to bed, with Jim having passed the 62 mile checkpoint at Foresthill, still leading and still on pace. All looking good, thought I.

When I woke, the first thing I did was to check what time Jim finished in. He’s sure to have won, but did he break the course record? As the text came up, I did one of those comedy actor double takes, when I saw that Ryan Sandes had won Western States 2017 and Jim’s name was nowhere to be seen. A quick check of social media confirmed that he had dropped from the race at 78 miles, the Rucky Chucky river crossing.

Initially, I felt gutted for him. Oh no, poor guy. But then I began to get annoyed. What was he playing at? Last year, even though he took a wrong turn, he effectively blew up before the end of the race. Now he’s blown up again! He’s only entered two 100 milers and both have effectively ended with him running out of mental and physical energy before the finish. Ok, so you’re going to tell me he had gut issues and that you can’t legislate for that. But you know what, gastric problems are indicative of poor race management, beyond just good nutrition. You are far more likely to suffer from gastric issues if you’re going too fast.

Jim Walmsley Western States 2017My reaction is interesting given that I recently pulled out of a 100 mile race partly because I went off too fast. It’s often true that the things which annoy us about other people are the things we hate about ourselves. I know that if I go off too fast at the outset of a race then it will directly impact my pace towards the end of the race and that includes suffering with stomach problems. To be fair, ‘don’t go off too fast’, is pretty much running rule number one for any race distance. He didn’t need to be 20 minutes ahead of CR pace.

You cannot go into a 100 mile race without respecting the distance. Especially if it’s your first. No matter how elite you are, you have to learn the distance. You just don’t know how you’re going to cope or what’s going to happen. I understand that Jim felt he could give the course record a go, but having failed twice he has to look at things and approach the race differently next time. If he comes back in 2018, which I’m pretty sure he will, he simply must not start faster than CR pace. First and foremost, get the race finished and won. Don’t fly off into the lead. Sit comfortably with the lead pack and make a break for it a 60 miles if you have to, but win the goddam race. Once you’ve won Western States and you have acquired that extra mental strength that comes from knowing you’ve done it, THEN come back and go for the course record.

What do I know? I’m just some dumbass, mid-pack, ultra runner, who’s entered a mere three 100 mile races and only finished two of those. Sure, shit happens and what are you gonna do, but this stuff is manageable! He reminds me of a kid in a sweet shop racing away with excitement in his eyes. “I’m running, I’m running and I LOVE it!!! haha!” as he skips down the hill waving his arms in the air. Marathon, no problem, 50k, yawn, 50 miles, is that all? 100k, easy. This. Is. Easy. I can do this. 100 miles……..oh shit. Houston we have a problem. In Jim’s own words, “Sometimes when you’re not careful trying to set off fireworks you light yourself on fire”. So, for the love of God Jim, just set off one firework at a time. The show will still be awesome and it might last a little longer too.

Finally, a huge well done to Ryan Sandes and Cat Bradley for their wins. I really want Jim to come back and crush it next year. He can do it, I’m sure. Feel free to comment below with your own thoughts on Jim’s Western States career so far. What’s the internet for if it’s not to allow idiots like us to spout our opinions to the world despite being entirely unqualified so to do. Hit ‘like’ and share this with others who might be interested. If you like running films, I make a lot of them. Click the link above or search ‘Film My Run’ on YouTube.

Photo Credit – Myke Hermsmeyer

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  1. I did exactly the same as you on Sunday morning, surprised to see that the lessons of last year maybe hadn’t been learnt. Whilst I feel a degree of disappointment for him, I can’t help think that he just has an innate disposition for making poor decisions; just look at his USAF career. Will be interesting to see what he has to say in the following weeks. The guy is still young compared to you and I Stephen, so perhaps his attitude to racing will change as he matures?

  2. I think there’s another possibility: He may just not be a very good 100 miler. Not every great 800 meter runner makes a great 1500 meter runner and not every great 10k specialist makes a great marathoner. Yes, he’s too ambitious and your advice to him is sound. BUT: I knew plenty of guys who were decent 50 milers (sub 7 JFK) who tried and failed to finish 100 milers many many times, despite being very creative in race strategy.

    We fans of Walmsley might just have to be content with him re-writing the record books at shorter distance. I guess we’ll see.

  3. Fuck you Stephen Cousins. Felt necessary since that’s the language you use to get attention to your trash, gossip article. Walmsley operates on a level of his own. His goals are his alone. Bashing someone with that flash media crap title deserves no attention. These experiences of his are only going to make this young man tougher and harder to chase.

    • haha, bless. Are you feeling annoyed with yourself for clicking the link?!! Look, if you read it the article is clearly not trash gossip at all. I make a serious point albeit in a lighthearted way. I am annoyed at the way Jim fucked up the race. Yes, his goals are his own but he’s made them pretty public. Win WS100 in a CR time. Fairly plain I’d say. I really hope he does it one day, but I’m entitled to call him out on his strategy. And I’m not the only one. You argue that my article deserves no attention yet even after clicking the link and reading the trash, you still felt the need to comment!

  4. Jim’s pre-race interview in iRunfar was a disgrace. Obviously tipsy (which also calls into question the good judgement of the interview itself), saying things like “heat gives me an astronomical advantage”, “nobody can hang with me”, “I’m sure some people will try to run with me even for a few miles to be able to say they did run with me”, replying to Bryon’s observation that last year the race was won through a more conservative and smart approach, “you’re welcome”, as if dismissing Andrew Miller’s achievement.

    In Jim’s world, everything revolves around Jim. It doesn’t help him having so many people acting like sycophants, including some of the so-called ultrarunning media who decided to let people forget Andrew Miller’s name and instead make Jim Walmsley’s fuck up the biggest story at Western States 2016. Andrew Jones Wilkins even had the balls to say this week that several elite ultrarunners are now walking-in races they would otherwise have dnf’d because of the example Jim set last year. Ridiculous. Top men and women have walked for hours to disappointing finish times before Jim entered the scene, and will still do after he leaves, while others dropped or will drop to save their legs for the next race. To each their own.

    After being crowned American Male Ultrarunner of the Year, he predicted he’d be unbeatable this year at States, that now it was his backyard, and people coming would have to run his race. Well, the winner, and the guys who joined him at the podium, didn’t give two fucks for running Jim’s race, and instead judged the heat and the pace according to their abilities, and succeeded. Jim run a fool’s race, and blew up.

    And again, like last year, once things got tough, he quit, whether refusing to run a race he could still have won or dropping out like this year. Zach Miller also run a fool’s race last year at UTMB, but the kid had the guts to toughen it out and finish 6th. As I’ve said, nothing wrong with dropping from a race that’s not going well, but after all the outrageous claims he made before the race, it would have showed some humility to finish it. You know, like Sage Canaday did last year, who by the way had way worse stomach issues than Jim did this year. But where both Miller and Canaday have showed they have the mental toughness to deal with setbacks, Walmsley has shown several times he will crumble under pressure.

    In the recent URP interview Walmsley also said he’ll take control of the race early at UTMB, and won’t allow for a slow start, which shows how little he knows about UTMB (where most people start too fast) and how little he thinks of his competition there. You know, probably the deepest field ever put together for a trail hundred miler. Care to bet on another fool’s race by Jim?

    Although I’m sure some people will call me a hater, I don’t hate the guy. I admire his talent and speed. But the way he constantly disrespects other runners, the repeated attention-seeking stunts, the outrageous claims, I just don’t like that sort of crap. The dude needs to stop believing his own publicity and acting like a jackass when he’s in front of a camera.

    And don’t get me started on those pretentious Stop Jim t-shirts…

    He needs to start lining up against the Killians, Zachs, Luis Albertos, and beating them before he thinks to wear some sort of crown. Let’s see how he measures up.

    Hell, Rob Krar’s two victories at States were way more impressive than anything Walmsley has done there.

    • It is a shame that Andrew Miller’s name is brushed aside when talking about WS100 2016 in the same way that John Kelly’s victory almost got forgotten by the media at Barkley this year. It was party due to the magnanimous efforts of Gary Robbins that made sure he got the plaudits he deserved. Zach Miller does have a habit of going out hard too. I remember he was leading Transvulcania in 2015 because he went out like a crazy man, but he got to the finish and crossed the line in 5th.

      • I believe this is the real shame in the last two years at WS. There were two guys who assessed the conditions, ran hard but within themselves, and waited for their moment. Their names are brushed aside, as you say, because an immensely talented but impulsive runner unable to govern himself was ahead of them for a while before blowing up.

        He deserves the accolades for his success at shorter distances, but he has not earned his bones at 100 miles, and his profile should not be greater than the people who won the race.

        Also, how about Kaci Lickteig? Last year’s winner, but too small to get any kind of foothold in the high country snow this year. Finishes two tragic minutes behind a silver buckle. Did she quit? No. THAT is a champion.

        • Lickteig is just in a different league. After all she’s won and how she dominated all through 2016, there can’t be a humbler, more down to earth person. Small wonder everyone loves her so much.

      • It’s a good thing Andrew doesn’t care about hype and recognition. The kid seems to have his priorities straight.

    • I agree completely. It was simply not smart of Walmsley not to consider this years adversities in the first phase of the race. He ran with testosterone and not with brain. And he has not the guts to tough it out if something goes wrong. Kacy Lickteigs race this year was a good example of an elite runner not giving up when more than one thing goes wrong.
      But what I dislike most are his arrogant announcements regarding the WS course record, the way how to run UTMB etc. And even worse is his disrespect for other runners who have achieved way more than he has. The way he talked about Rob Krar in his recent URP podcast really rubbed me the wrong way.
      In summary: I like most ultra runners, because of their respect for the course, the conditions and the achievements of other runners. Jim Walmsley is not one of them. He should learn respect, then he could be really successful – as his talent in running is undoubted.

      • Agree completely. Krar’s 2nd place (to Olson’s CR that year) and then back to back 1st place finishes put him MILES ahead of Walmsley. Leg speed is one thing. Mental fortitude, judgement, and humbleness are what make winners.

    • Amen! Agree completely

    • This comment is on point and so is the article. I thought the probability of him winning and breaking the record were as good as him crashing and burning. What’s been driving me nuts the last few weeks is people wanting to see a head to head between him and Killian. The implication being that somehow they both operate in the same universe.

  5. I don’t know anything about this guy, but it seems he’s OK with swinging for a home run every time. Most of the time it’s going to get you struck out, but when it works, it gets you a homer.

  6. I totally agree. It’s fine to smack-talk about thinking you can set a CR and all, but it carries more weight if you’ve actually accomplished what you’re smack-talking about…otherwise you look like a fool…just smack-talking. Sure he’s a great runner, but that’s it. He hasn’t won WS or any other 100m miler ever so to me it’s like the local half marathon champ talking about how he’s going to dominate Boston…umm sure buddy…let’s just see you finish it first ummK?

  7. I too followed the updates via irunfar and was very interested in how he’d do. I’ve been following him on strava for some time and so have seen the very significant investment he’s put into training so was diapointed to see he’d dropped out. I think ‘ll wait for the post race analysis rather than cast stones as there’s no real first hand info yet as to why he bombed. I think it does illustrate though the danger when you’re very outspoken about your goals and you don’t then pull it off. Personally I’d rather someone let their performance speak for them. It also demonstrates the very real complexity of running 100 miles which is what attracts me to it. There’s far more to it than simply gunning it hard for as long as possible.

  8. check out his record at ultrasignup:

    The most I can say is that he is a top tier runner who wins most of the races he is in and maybe, only maybe he’s adjusting to the 100 mile distance. Alot of runners front, middle and back of pack blowup around 75-85 miles.
    He’s only 27, plenty of time to disprove his dis-tractors. Arrogant? All trail runners are neurotic, selfish, and arrogant. He just makes it easy for the rest of us to look like saints.

  9. He’s just another millennial without the determination to see anything through to the finish..

    I’m 52 and would kick his ass everyday because regardless of the time, i’d be at the finish line while he’s making excuses for his most recent failure…

    Suck it up, stop speed training and work on putting one foot in front of the other when it gets hard and maintaining the will to push through your fears and discomfort.. Or ask your mommy for a blankie….

  10. I agree and at the same time totally disagree. Everything you state is true.
    On the other side of the coin ultrarunning is not about “smart racing.” If you are choosing to throw your body and soul into a 100 mile vortex, you and you alone make your rules. Granted you you will, just like in life, live or die by those rules. Jim could have jogged a 16 hour finish/win, gotten a pat on the back for running a smart, mature race, and had his finishing time listed next to legends like Jurek, Twet, Morton, etc.
    That is not what he wanted so he chose to take a different approach. This approach, while irratating veterans (just like jurek did when he predicted his first win) endures him to fans of ultraunning who got into the sport not to win, BUT TO SEE WHAT WE ARE MADE OF. And such an attempt is beautiful to watch, whether successful or not.

    • Exactly. His goals are different than others. He also is as humble as a guy can be while maintaining confidence. He helps crew mid packers and volunteers at aid stations. He helped me when I had to DNF at a race due to vision problems. The kid is a total class act and will be back to take another crack at setting some records. I for one will be cheering him on and will never bet against him.

  11. He absolutely ran a horrible race. He complained about how slow the race started last year, but he was still under CR pace much of the way, so it’s pretty clear the first half wasn’t the problem. Makes me wonder if any of his more experienced friends tried to talk him out of his plan for an aggressive start.

    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with him bailing, though. Once his goal became impossible, it didn’t make sense to continue on. He already has a finish, and continuing on can only negatively affect his UTMB race.

    • Well, we’ll see in August: Kaci Lickteig, who showed courage and perseverance despite all adversity is also registered for UTMB. She has not only a WS finish under her belt, but a win, a 2nd and a 6th place. And she decided not to give up but to finish. What a role model!

      If Jim doesn’t learn from this one, we will see him blowing up again in the French Alps, whereas I predict that Kaci has a shot for the podium.

  12. Somewhat related — does anybody know what’s Western States policy about pacers muling for their runners? Because there were several images in a road stretch (before Forrest Hill?) of runners whose pacers were running with two handhelds while the runner in question had none. Maybe there’s some leniency re: fluids when approaching an aid station. I’ve seen similar images in other editions, and even in Unbreakable one can see Anton ask his pacer (Jenn Shelton) for water.

    I personally prefer the European approach: no pacers. And I’d add to that no crews either, to make sure nobody had a competitive advantage. Compare the runner who has to go into an aid station, stop to refill his bottles/bladder and get some food, with another who has his crew give him full bottles and a waistpack full of gels without him/her needing to stop running. There doesn’t seem to be a debate about his, though, so I guess most people think it’s fair.

    • +1 on no pacers, no crew. Mostly because that’s the way I do it

    • I’ve seen it too, and it’s against the rules. No muling at WS:
      “9. Pacers must enter and leave each aid station WITH their runners. They may assist with the re-filling of water bottles or replenishment of supplies while in the station but may not come into the checkpoint ahead of their runners, or depart after their runners, in order to speed up the re-fueling process.
      10. Pacers may not carry water, food, flashlights, shoes, clothing or other supplies for anyone other than themselves. “Muling” is expressly forbidden.
      11. No mechanical or physical assistance may be given by the pacer to the runner at any time.”

      The rules are clear and apply to everyone in the race. When the rules are properly enforced, no one is at an unfair disadvantage for choosing on principle not to use a crew or pacer.

      • Crew/pacers are allowed in the section you’re referring to.
        4. Crews must stay within a 200-yard radius of the aid station while attending to their runners. Exceptions: Crews may assist runners: 1) from bottom of Bath Road to the intersection of Foresthill Road and California Street; 2) from the Rucky Chucky far side to Green Gate; 3) from Robie Point to the finish line. Crews may assist runners in designated areas located on both sides of the Rucky Chucky river crossing.

  13. Totally agree! Thanks for having the balls to say this. Think there are a lot in the ultra community that feel the same way.

  14. Take out the fact that Jim is a super nice guy and very well liked by those who really know him. Look at everything objectively with training, eating, and racing strategy. Training: 2015, 16 and 17 saw a lot of training and racing, with seemingly no major breaks. Major marathoners focus on one or two big races per year and take significant amounts of time off, and his history on Strava and his racing don’t indicate much of a break. And he’s doing ultras at a very high level, which is far more stressful on the body than a marathon. Also, his training didn’t indicate much of a taper for WSER, and some running in 117 degree heat very close to the race, which is quite debilitating and maybe affected him. Eating: pizza, beer, soda, anything your body craves. Ok for a 20 something in the short haul…maybe. Eat like that and eventually you see the ramifications. Racing: he didn’t adjust for the conditions. He’s got the balls to go all out and go for CR, but the heat doesn’t care who you are, and he paid. No disrespect to the guy on a personal level, but maybe a reconsideration of any or all of the above may help him achieve his goals better.

  15. I was watching too, mostly in disbelief as Jim got up to a 54 min. or so lead on 2nd place. I was also saddened to see that he didn’t finish. Not my running style, but I don’t think there are any rules for how you run your race. If someone wants to go full throttle and see what happens, that’s entirely up to them in my opinion, I for one enjoyed the show.

    On another subject, the women’s race seemed pretty tight. My money was on Kacie, but was ever impressed by #11 finisher Mallory Richard. Rock solid race from the 120th or so position starting out. Way to go Mallory!

  16. Jim has all of my respect. Y’all are completely missing the point. You don’t understand the depths of what fuels his running. If Jim merely wanted to win Western States he could of done that these last two years- no doubt-however that was not his goal. I consider him like a Prefontaine of Ultra-Running. He is testing the limits of human body, and even though he has bonked twice- he has already shown that Ultra-Runners are capable of much more than just surviving 100 miles. He is racing 100 miles from mile 1 and truly believing that he will race all the way to the finish. That is the new standard in Ultra-Running now.

    • exactly pre got dropped like a bad habit running at the front in the olympics and we all buy his tshirts 40 years later

  17. Sorry this is somewhat lengthy, but there’s a few things I think are being ignored here.

    Many of the comments that Walmsley ought to slow down and just concentrate on finishing a 100-mile race first before attempting record runs presuppose his goals are (or should be) the same as the posters’. But if you have followed Walmsley closely over the past few years, it’s very obvious he isn’t interested in simply finishing races, whether that’s 50K, 50 miles, 100K or 100 miles. That isn’t what motivates him. Why should he have to abide by someone else’s value system for running and competing?

    He could obviously finish 100 miles if he wanted by slowing down some. But he’d rather go for broke and try to rewrite course records, as he’s been doing at all distances, and on nearly all the courses he has run shorter than 100 miles so far. His attitude is quite clearly: If I go down in flames from time to time, so be it. No risk, no record.

    Also, Walmsley’s problem at the 2017 Western States wasn’t some nonspecific running aground that did him in, or even necessarily “should have known better” bad judgement. Yes, maybe, but then again maybe not. There is a first time for everything, and for Walmsley it was stomach problems this time. Sure, when you run overly fast in the heat, more blood gets shunted from the stomach to the skin to release the heat, which can cause digestive distress.

    However, Walmsley did not have a big reason to expect that would befall him this year, because last year’s weather at Western States was very close to as hot as this year, and he ran virtually identical pace to this year, with no stomach issues then. This year’s event was apparently his first-ever bout with stomach distress in a race. Perhaps he will learn from it. Saying that he should have avoided going so fast, though, ignores his experience of more or less clear sailing last year in similar temps at a similar pace until going off-course just 7 miles from the finish.

    Another point: Someone above said Walmsley should avoid speedwork — which presumably implies emphasizing mileage instead — and just focus on putting one foot in front of another and finish a 100-miler first before attempting to break records. But his training already easily can support that objective, *if he wanted.* That obviously doesn’t interest him. He is already running more mileage than most elites in the ultra community at the peak of his training cycles. Take a look at his Strava logs. A typical 8 or 10-week buildup and taper cycle before big races like Western States or Tarawera is something like weeks of 80-100-120-140-140-140, and then tapering back down the last few weeks before the race with 120-100-60 miles or similar. With very few doubles, and lots of longer 20 to 30-mile runs and some longer. And it appears he’s doing it in a sustainable way, with a number of very low-mileage weeks after big race efforts before thinking about pursuing another buildup.

    There is no hiding from speed regardless of length of the race, as people like Tim Noakes have been noting for some years now. Ultrarunning has been a backwater for many years, but that’s changing. Speedsters have been infiltrating the ranks for a few years now. If it isn’t Walmsley who rewrites the 100-mile course records, someone else with a similar background and training incorporating speed will. Most of those faster at shorter distances and who do speedwork will be faster at longer distances also if/when they add sufficient mileage. Walmsley is just one of the first.

    Criticizing the approach someone like him takes is not going to stop him or others like him from eventually rewriting the record books, as the rest of the troops busy themselves being content to focus on finishing prudently while resenting those who don’t think that way. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. But there’s nothing wrong with what Walmsley’s doing either. It’s just different.

    • I agree that it may be Jim is not interested in actually winning, although who doesn’t like to win? If you said, here’s two choices, you can’t break the record but you can win, OR you can DNF. Which would anyone take, let alone Jim? But that aside, say his goal is to break the course record. I want him to do that and I think what a lot of people are saying is that they want him to do it too. But in order to do it, he needs to learn the distance, slow down and be smart. So, we’re trying to help him achieve his goal by offering advice. Remember, he’s still very young and inexperienced. A lot of us are very experienced and perhaps a bit wiser. Not suggesting I am per se, but I do feel if he just thinks a little bit more smartly, he’ll break the record. There was no need to be so far up on CR time so early in the run. This is why I think if he just gets the race finished and won first then he can come back with that knowledge and really go for it next time. I don’t want to take away his zest for speed and his all out, go for it, approach, but sometimes you just have to take a step back and having failed twice, perhaps it’s time to do that at WS100.

      • I believe, Jim exactly knows what he is doing. Winning is not that he wants at this point & its clear from Jim’s approaches to ultras. He wants to check the limit. He wants to soar in sky from first wing span in morning. He wants to live his life like there is no tomorrow. He does not want to follow the crowd. Jim is new breeze in ultra running. I am sure he would ask for help/suggestion if he feels the need of it, but currently all of us should just support & encourage him in whatever he is trying to do… break the limit(record).

        • I have literally just had this conversation today with one of Jim’s pacers. Of course he can do whatever he wants and if that’s what he wants to do right now then good for him. But it’s a high risk strategy that will fail most of the time. I guess it only needs to happen once to get the course record, but I do hope he doesn’t live to regret it.

    • Interesting Jack.

      The problem is that Jim Walmsley is not fast. With a recorded 7:05 h over 100k on roads he was 49th in the world in 2015. Some of the top 24 hour racers had PR’s of 6:45.

      Jim won JFK 50 3 times. Great achievement but this is a 50 miler not a 100 miler. Big difference. A lot more can go wrong in a longer race and you have to know how to fuel yourself.

      Jim’s achievements got overrated by the internet writers. His FKT at the Grand Canyon is the fastest known time. That’s it. This is not a race just a FKT. But a lot of people do not understand the difference.

      If you run a 100k road race for example, your result can be measured against thousands of other results. The rim to rim to rim run favors people who live close by like Krar and Walmsley in Flagstaff, who can go there and train and wait for the best day for a shot at the record. A good runner from Europe could not do that.

      At the end what matters are results not big record announcements.

      • Not fast? All the psychoanalysis going on is ridiculous enough, but this is the most insane thing I’ve read so far.

        You’re basing it off of one data point that was recorded two years ago, and you’re measuring him against people who focus on roads. Western States, last time I checked, is a trail race, and being fast on roads does not necessarily translate to being fast on trails.

        Maybe his 7:05 road 100k was not fast by road standards, but his 7:23 trail 100k was really damn fast by trail standards, and that wasn’t even a focus race for him.

        The dude probably has an incredibly efficient stride. He just needs to figure out how to pace himself in a 100 miler. The problem is not that he isn’t fast.

  18. Jim reminds me of Gert Thys a 2:06 South African marathon runner who for many years tried to break the Comrades record…he never finished usually stopping at 60km. If you don’t respect the course or your fellow runners it will always end in tears. To be called a great you have to win major races and by this I mean Western States, UTMB, Comrades, World 100k etc not just small field events in the USA. Jim will come up against the big boys in UTMB and he will not compete with them. He is a big talent but so far a bit flawed.

  19. Agree with everything said and the rightly earned criticisms of an entitled millenial with poor decision making skills and an inability to adequately address a low self esteem. But let me add a perspective that might allow you to feel compassion for him. A lot of his arrogance comes from a place of poor self esteem and this is why it is bad that he has a goal of CR or even winning a race he’s yet to adequately finish. He places so much value and so much of his own identity into his perceived success in ultrarunning when he shouldn’t. And the entire world enables this unhealthy thought pattern because in his eyes, he’s getting all of this attention and admiration from people because of his success in ultra. The point of saying he should adjust his goals to just finishing is to get him to realize that he will be just as awesome without the CR but everyone seems to like him as the “firework setter” and so he will likely continue to get 3rd degree burns because of the attention it brings. We need to stop glorifying this unhealthy thought pattern!!! Otherwise he’s going to be on suicide watch because he thinks his only value is his running abilities. We can all imagine how his recent failure us eating him up as we speak. His mental illness is not the depression he talks about in the documentaries, it’s narcissism caused by low self esteem, depression is only a symptom. I mean, think about how much being discharged from the AF affected him, probably because of how he felt it made him look to others. We need to understand these layers to understand 1) him and his arrogance better 2) why going for broke is not something that should be encouraged for Jim, again because of his motivations for doing so. When you approach something with any kind of negativity within your motivations (low self esteem, leading to pride and lack of humility) you create a resistance against yourself that makes it impossible to achieve your goal. I’ll end with a quote by Yogi Berra: “It ain’t the heat, it’s the humility.”

    • Unless you are a doctor, spare us the diagnosis. I don’t need thought police trying to enforce ideas of social norms through passive aggressive language. He’s an adult. We all make choices and live with them.

      • “Thought police trying to enforce ideas of social norms through passive aggressive language”!! You do realise you just said that, yes? You don’t want to change it and just say something that actually means something? Especially seeing as the sentence exactly before that one is a passive aggressive sentence. Hahhahaha yu actually just said “Thought police trying to enforce ideas of social norms through passive aggressive language”….really. Read it back to yourself. Sounds daft, doesn’t it?

        • And yes, I’m aware that was a passive aggressive reply too. Sorry. I’ve calmed down now.

        • So, do you condone this type of attack?

          • You’ll need to be more specific about which attack! I’m not sure anyone is seriously attacking anyone here.

            My initial article was supposed to be constructive criticism but some see it as an attack.

            Phillip is actually trying to defend Jim in his post above asking us to find compassion for him because he has suffered personal difficulties in the past.

            Your attack on Phillip was just funny and my return shot to you was obviously hilarious also.

            I’m don’t condone violence but I’m all for debate. It’s just stuff isn’t it? Who cares? Go run.

    • Welll said Phillip.

  20. Thanks Stephen for this nice provocative article.
    I was annoyed too. As a mid pack runner you like to see the top runners doing their best. Jim Walmsley was far from that. Instead of going for plan B or C when he had to realize that the snow pack was slowing him down or the heat which would hit them in the canyons later that day, Jim pushed on as hard as he could. Nothing new, people do that all the time in ultrarunning, these are also the runners you will never hear of again.
    Ultrarunners need a great deal of patience in the first part of the race. Something Ryan Sandes did for example.
    According to irunfar Jim had to take already a couple minutes break at mile 38. That was already a sign that he had pushed to hard that day.

    In the last 10 years ultrarunning got very popular and together with social media it has been a weird ride. Runners are praised as the best ever and a couple years later they are gone. Rob Krar and Geoff Roes are two of them. Anton Krupicka was the first. Their egos got pumped up with articles from ill informed writers, they overtrain and over race and next you know they are gone.

    Now the average ultrarunning superstar has a lifespan of 3-5 years.

    Jim Walmsley won 3 times JFK 50. Which is a great achievement. But he will be remembered as the guy with a big mouth who thought he could run Western States under 14 hours and all he did was 18+.

  21. Interesting to read all the comments here. Just one thing I want to add that hasn’t been said.

    Some folks are taking a position that “Jim has been quite clear that he wanted to take down the CR, and that was his goal – so you can’t judge it in the context of finishing or winning”. This is in defense of his DNF and also to a certain extent, his arrogance.

    Unfortunately I don’t have the reference (there are so many podcasts and interviews these days in our sport – which is a great thing! but it also means I can’t remember exactly where he said it…) but … and I am paraphrasing here… let’s not forget that a few months ago (before he even had a golden ticket :rolleyes:) Jim was CALLING OUT the elites in our sport, basically telling them to show up at Western States this year for a throwdown.

  22. TAKE EASY guys! We all in ultra family, please be nice to each other like Jim~ I’m just an average runner like most of you. I ran 80 ultra races (including 2015 and 2016 WS100) and finish all 80. Elite runner is very smart but they MUST take risk and push every second to reach their goal, unlike most of us can take long break during race. I also suffering same stomach problems like Jim in most of my 24x 100miler race which force me to slow down or stop till stomach recover and back to game. But many super elite runner does not have that spare time to waste…


    Podcast interview with Jim prior to Western States.

    Make of it what you will.

  24. Jim’s raw speed makes him best suited to 50M/100K IMHO, nothing wrong with that(same applies to Sage Canaday for example). He needs a different approach (and stronger mindset) for longer distances, sorry to say but i predict an even bigger fail at UTMB…
    Also it seems that inhuman training blocks does not always make you win.. see the excellent performance by Alex Nichols despite a recent injury and on the other end the awful race by Mocko…

  25. I’m a fan of Jim’s. He goes out hard and I find his interviews enjoyable to watch – as well as watching him run – he is fast. If I had his ability and gift I’d be trying to set records too. He’s young and has time to set records. I wish him all the best.

  26. I like your style and honesty.


    Lot of trash talk here. Where were all you heroes a year later?

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