Boulder’s Clare Gallagher Wins Western States, Trained in the Arctic

By Martin Fritz Huber, Outside Online

Over the weekend, Jim Walmsley and Clare Gallagher took advantage of unusually cool conditions to win the men and women’s races in the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run. Walmsley improved his own course record from last year by more than 20 minutes, finishing in 14:09:28. Meanwhile, Gallagher completed the trek from Squaw Valley to Auburn, California in 17:23:25—the second-fastest time ever in the women’s race—after fending off a late challenge from Brittany Peterson. The two women and their pacers were actually running in a small pack with less than ten miles to go before Gallagher put in a crucial surge after the Pointed Rocks aid station at mile 94. (Astonishingly, this effort garnered her a Strava CR for the climb after Robie Point, which comes roughly 98 miles into the race.) In the end, Peterson came in second by eleven minutes—a photo finish by ultrarunning standards. It was Gallagher’s first Western States win, and a fight right up to the end. 

“When Brittany caught up to me, I didn’t think about the 94 miles I’d just run. All I thought about was that this had just turned into a six-mile race,” Gallagher says. “I redlined harder than I’ve ever redlined in my entire life for six miles.”

As if her push to the finish line weren’t remarkable enough in and of itself, Gallagher had also just returned from a two-week trip to Alaska. In early June, Gallagher, who is as dedicated to her environmental activism as she is about running ludicrous distances over gnarly terrain, got a call from world-renowned climber Tommy Caldwell. Was she interested in coming on a Patagonia-sponsored expedition to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR)? It was too good an opportunity to pass up. As a consequence, Gallagher’s Western States taper included her first foray into alpinism—an ascent of Mount Hubley in the Brooks Range.  

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