Western States Endurance Run. This race is generally regarded as the first 100 miler and still carries a ton of prestige and receives major attention.
Not just anybody can show up in Squaw Valley on the last Saturday and June to run all 100.2 miles to Auburn High School. Unless you finished in the top ten the year before, you have to qualify just to be considered. Qualifying means finishing a designated 100 mile race or 50 mile race within a certain time. That gets you one ticket. One ticket out of what was about 3,000 this year. Most of the 388 runners allowed to start this race are selected out of this lottery where your odds are just simply not good. First year entrants get one ticket. For every year you don't get in you can re qualify and get an extra ticket, but only as many as four.
This year, I had one ticket. I earned that ticket by finishing the Rocky Raccoon 100 miler in February. The odds of my name being called were 7.6%. The long shot odds made it really easy for me to dismiss any real possibility of running in the 2013 race. My hopes weren't in check, they were pretty much nonexistent. There are people who have been trying to get into this race for years and have compiled some really impressive running resumes in the process. Clearly, I did not deserve a spot over so many others.
Very few people can pronounce my name the first time they see it. Watching a live over the internet broadcast, I suddenly hear my name being spelled out because my one little ticket has been drawn out of that big giant bucket. My heart raced. I tried feverishly to text my friends though my shaking fingers caused more wrong letters than right ones. My Facebook was already blowing up. My nonexistent expectations were now completely overwhelmed with the reality that I would be running in one of the most important trail races in the world. An hour later my checks were more sore than my quads have ever been.
I have come a long way in the last four years. I could barely run a 10k back then. I've grown a lot and done it with the help of great friends and the encouragement of a loving family. I sit back now and look at the last four years and it hits me... Damn am I lucky.
In June I will head out to California to run the Western States Endurance Run where I will need the help and encouragement of those friends. I know it will be hard. I know I will have fun. I know I will laugh and cry. I know I will do everything I can to finish and finish with a big smile because I am one lucky guy. I don't know what the future holds for me, but I know it will be spent with some of the greatest people on Earth.