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Marla Hendricks’ Wedding-like Experience at Western States 100

“I had said Western States 100 is like a wedding . First you have to be asked.  Then you plan months in advance, invite people, book rooms, spend a ton of money . Then when the race starts it’s still something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue!” – Marla Hendricks

Marla at mile 62. (Photo: Courtesy Laura Yasso)

TALON (TX) trail runner, Marla Hendricks, finished the 2011 Western States 100 in 29:57:10! There are a few notable points of interest with respect to Marla’s finish:

  • The final TALON athlete to cross the finish line in Auburn.
  • The final official finisher of the Western States 100.
  • The wisest female finisher at age 56.

To cool!

Marla also showcased some amazing pacing as she negative split from Michigan Bluff (mile 55.7) by nearly two hours. And she had to, in order to finish within the 30 hour time limit. Nice work!

Marla put together a race report from her journey and included are some nice photos by friends/pacers/support.


2011 Western States 100 – From the Very Back of the Pack

When expected finish time is 29:59 on a good day there is not much room for strategy. It is more of a hope and pray situation.

I chose to visualize a successful finish and use a meditative style of walk/run for the first 55 miles. This worked well with the snow route and the generous time allowances in the snow. The high country was beautiful and traveling through the snow was just pure fun at least for me.

Enjoying the snow in the early miles. (Photo: Courtesy Gary Wang)

It was easy to stay hydrated and aid station food including grilled ham and cheese sandwiches were appealing.

I did not have split times for individual aid stations as I just had to go as quickly as reasonable at all times. I had a change of shoes at Mosquito Ridge [mile 31] and used no other drop bags. For slower runners there is no way to make up lost time so I have learned to minimize time spent in aid stations.

The Millers Defeat [mile 34.4] to Last Chance [mile 43.8] was a really nice section and very runnable.

The course seemed to get tougher from Last Chance [mile 43.8] to Devil’s Thumb [mile 47.8].  After the climb to Devil’s Thumb mild nausea set in.  Eating and drinking was challenging for the rest of the race. Trying the usual electrolytes, GU, and water in various combinations was entertaining.

Reaching Michigan Bluff [mile 55.7] and picking up pacer Laura Yasso really helped.

Pacers and Crew (L-to-R): Susan and Laura (Photo: Courtesy Laura Yasso)

The section from Michigan Bluff to Foresthill School [mile 62] went quickly. The scene at Foresthill is incredible and I got to visit with the crew as well. The stretch from Foresthill to Rucky Chucky Near Side [mile 78] has some challenging climbs even though it is downhill.

After the river crossing it was important to try to gain some cushion as I had always been close to absolute cutoffs. The miles from 80 to 90 have potential for running effectively on the flat sections.

Hwy 49 aid station (mile 93.5): In and out of the aid station quickly. Marla was ahead of absolute cutoff but behind pace to finish by 30 hours. Gotta believe! (Photo: Courtesy Laura Yasso)

With daylight [day 2], the temperatures increased and maintaining the pace was even harder. The section from No Hands Bridge [mile 96.8] to Robie Point [mile 98.9] was definitely the most challenging. Time was slipping away during the climb to Robie Point. Encouragement from the race volunteers definitely made a difference. Tim Tweitmeyer was even out on the course cheering the final finishers on.

At Robie Point I needed a miracle to get to the finish in time for the buckle award. Somehow it happened.

The final road climb after Robie Point. To the finish! (Photo: Courtesy Laura Yasso)

The cheering crowd along with my pacers and crew somehow brought me back from the running dead to a state where I could run the 10.5  minute mile needed for a 29:57:10 finish.

Post-race smile along with crew, pacers, and support! (Photo: Courtesy Laura Yasso)

I am incredibly grateful to have had the perfect day and wonderful support of so many. The take home message is that on the right day an extremely ordinary 56 year old female can finish this race.

Marla receiving her award for Wisest Female Finisher! (Photo: Courtesy Laura Yasso)

Marla did much more than hope and pray for this 100 mile finish, she actively engaged in the experience and made it happen! Congratulations!

Special thanks to Marla for sharing a glimpse of her 100 mile journey with us. Inspiring stuff!

Be active – Feel the buzz!

David –

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.

2 Responses to “Marla Hendricks’ Wedding-like Experience at Western States 100”

  1. on 01 Jul 2011 at 3:41 pm Laura Yasso

    Love the wedding analogy…too funny.

  2. on 05 Jul 2011 at 9:14 am David Hanenburg

    Laura – Completely agree! 🙂 Thanks for visiting.