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2010 Western States 100 – Our Oklahoma Trail Runner

Hard to believe, but there is only one trail runner representing the state of Oklahoma at the upcoming Western States 100 trail run. Henry Bickerstaff is that runner.

Henry was kind enough to share a bit about himself so we can get to know a little bit about or fellow TALON athlete.

Enjoy some music (with a running vibe) to go along with the profile.

(If you can’t see the video, click here.)

Our Oklahoma Trail Runner Heading to the Western States 100

Henry Bickerstaff – Bib # 156

How many years have you been playing in this goofy sport of trail/ultra running?

I did my first marathon at age 50 and my first 50K at age 51.  It has been down hill from there.  I will turn 56 the week after WS.  But to put things in perspective I have been running for over 20 years.

Have you run Western States in previous years? If so, how many runs on the historic course?

NO, this will be my first 100 I have completed.  I had a DNF at Ozark Trail 100 last November.

My only runs on the course were the Memorial Day Training runs.  Not only did I get to run much of the course and all that I will run at night but I got to talk to numerous people who have run WS before, been on the safety patrol, been a pacer or live in the area and have a tremendous knowledge of the course.  My wife, Harriet, was a volunteer aid station worker and brought me many ideas and suggestions from people who have been involved with WS for over 20 years.  Some of these guys were around pre water bottles when clean detergent bottles were used.

Western States puts your downhill running skills to the test. What specific training (if any) have you done to prepare yourself for this unique challenge?

My specific downhill training has been mostly weight training and running the 4 block long (not very steep) downhill we have in town.  I know how sore my quads have felt after most trail runs and I can honestly say my quads are only a little sore after three days of trail running on the WS course.  The weight training must work.

Besides the finish, what specific section of the course are you most looking forward to running or experiencing?

I am really looking forward to the run up Devil’s Thumb and the run up Michigan Bluff.  When I ran (actually walked) these sections during the first training run I thought to myself how I will feel doing this with 30 more miles in my legs.  Although we have no hills in my area of Oklahoma, I use the treadmill at 15% grade and walk for an hour working up to a 20 minute per mile pace.  I have learned to power walk hills which in my opinion on the WS course is as important as downhill running technique.

Fun bonus question: Which animal best characterizes that way you plan on running Western States?

I would say a turtle, very tenacious and methodical going up hill with the ability to tuck into my shell and slide down the downhill sections.


When Henry sent me his profile response, he mentioned that the photo wasn’t a very good picture of himself but he really liked it because “every time I look at it I am reminded that no matter how bad you feel or look you can get to the finish.”

I think he’s ready for Western States!

Finally, I am grateful for the creation of the sports bottle. Detergent bottles? I had no idea.

A special thanks to Henry for sharing with us. We wish him luck and enjoyment during his Western States experience…and long may he run.

To see the complete list of athletes profiled so far, check out the 2010 Western States TALON Athletes article.

Be active – Feel the buzz!

David – EnduranceBuzz.com

(Photos: Courtesy of Henry Bickerstaff and audreyjm529.)

About the author

David Hanenburg David Hanenburg is the passionate dirt-lovin' creator of Endurance Buzz and has been playing in the endurance sports world since 2000 after knockin' the dust off of his Trek 950 hardtail thanks to a friend asking to go ride some local dirt. In 2007 he ran his first ultra on the trails and fell in love with the sport and its people. For more information on David's endurance sports journey, check out the About page.

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