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2014 Western States 100 TALON Tribe Wrap-up and Reflections

It was a memory collecting Western States 100 weekend for our 17 TALON (TX, AR, LA, OK, NM) athletes as they traversed along this historic 100.2 mile course from Squaw Valley to Auburn, California. Our tribe covered the ages between 30 to 55 with all regional states but Louisiana represented. Texan, Paul Terranova, led our group to the Auburn track in 17:26:00 and Texan, Rob Ham was our final finisher to persevere and sneak under the 30 hour cut-off with a time of 29:54:47.

This year also witnessed Shaheen Sattar of Texas earn a highly-coveted top 10 female finish in her first Western States start. Shaheen’s training partner, crew, pacer, and boyfriend, Steve Henderson, shared a great Western States 100 report here on EB about their adventure. You can check it out here.

TALON Results

  • Paul Terranova (TX) – 17:26:00 (*13th Overall)
  • Shaheen Sattar (TX) – 21:20:49 (*9th female)
  • Ryan Holler (AR) – 23:24:42
  • Eric Zipfel (TX) – 23:25:49
  • Shannon McFarland (AR) – 25:49:13
  • Donald Zoch (TX) – 25:49:58
  • Matthew Searfus (TX) – 25:52:28
  • Brian Hill (TX) – 26:05:04 (*slammer)
  • Larry Pearson (TX) – 27:15:18
  • Daniel Murphy (TX) – 27:20:16
  • Amanda Alvarado (TX) – 27:25:43
  • Danny Ponder (OK) – 28:39:17
  • Steven Grossman (NM) – 28:56:28
  • Jennifer Kimble (TX) – 29:42:28 (race report)
  • Rob Ham (TX) – 29:54:47
  • Juan Escobar (TX) – mile 89.9
  • Jeremy Day (AR) – mile 62

Race Reflections

Enjoy as some of the tribe shares their strongest memories from the adventure.

Brian Hill of Texas


My question before the race was “does it live up to the hype?”

My answer post race is – “Yes it does and it needs to be on your bucket list!”

Western States lives up to the billing – the history, the race organization, the volunteers, the mixture of elite runners and “recreational” runners, the pre-race panels and festivities – it really has it all and the popularity of the race isn’t just because it was the first 100 – it really is a well executed, fun race.

Two examples that show how the race really is entrenched in the community – I was at Devil’s Thumb aid being nursed back to health by a lady named Kat and she asked “what time do you think you’ll finish?” And I told her about 26 hours. She said “I’m going to be there at the finish for you – you can do this!” She was there at the finish. I talked to another lady at training camp over Memorial Day – we ran through Volcano Canyon together and she said ,”I’m going to track you doing the race and I’m going to be there at the finish!” Sure enough at No Hands Bridge about mile 96 at 6:00am there she was. “I tracked you all day yesterday and told you I’d be here to see you finish!” She was also at the track as I entered. Two complete strangers – but at the same time not strangers because we share trailrunning as our common bond. My pacer who is also from Auburn had the same selfless spirit.

These are the kind of people that define Western States – and trail running in general – that make our sport so great and made Western States so memorable for me.

Paul Terranova of Texas


Finish line (Credit: Justin Wendling)

My strongest memory of the day was having the courage early on to stick to my game plan of exercising restraint and bring myself to Foresthill at mile 62 in REALLY good shape to start running with my friend and first pacer Lee McKinley of Granite Bay, California. In fact, when I got to Michigan Bluff at mile 56 I told Meredith to “tell Lee he better be ready to RUN!” Lee’s a 4-time Western States finisher and also a Kona and Boston Marathon finisher, so he and his award shadow-box are partially responsible for inspiring and luring me into 100-milers.

Much like we did in training camp, Lee and I methodically tackled the Cal Street loop in 2:33, a full 12 minutes faster than last year, and picked up five spots in the process moving from 22 to 17th place. We were rewarded with a baptismal fording across the River at mile 78, the last two years I’ve crossed in boats, amen to that!!

Lee nailed it today, and delivered me to my friend and second pacer, Bryan Morton, in AMAZING shape, as we proceeded to lay down a 2:25 split from Green Gate at mile 80 to Hwy 49 at mile 94 (without headlamps this year), 10 minutes faster than last year and picked up another four spots into 13th.

Wife, Meredith, brought me home strong and trusted crew member and friend Justin Wendling was spot-on all day including some invaluable assistance and advice from 2000-mile buckle winner Jim Scott and his wife Mary Jo!

My Rogue Running coach Steve Sisson (out in California for the USA Track & Field Champs) met us at Robie Point mile 99 for the celebratory run to the track, what a bonus gift to top off an incredible day!!

Donald Zoch of Texas


The aid stations and the volunteers were outstanding. I felt so well taken care of. I wasn’t doing a good job with my hydration and had some issues from mile 20-30. I was stumbling a little bit, my vision was getting blurry and I had a lot of negative feelings and didn’t think I was going to make it much further. They showed genuine concern and got me back on the right track. I worked hard to drink more and I was like a new runner when I got to the downhill section after Robinson Flat.

I remember how tired I was after climbing up Devil’s Thumb. The popsicle I had at the aid station at the top was magical and rejuvenating.

I remember the Rucky Chucky river crossing and how cold and refreshing the water was.

I accepted an offer of a pacer at Foresthill. The guy that paced me (Brian Robinson) was awesome. He was so encouraging and kept me on track with eating and drinking . He is a very accomplished ultra runner himself including being one of the only Barkley Marathons finishers and it was fun to hear the stories about that.

At Brown’s Bar, mile 90-ish, Hal Koerner was volunteering and got me a cup of coffee. I thought that was really awesome.

Getting off the trail onto the streets of Auburn with a mile left , I gave it all that I had left. I don’t think I’ve felt such emotion and intensity in a race ever before . This was what I had been working so hard for all year.

Getting on that track , seeing the finish line and hearing Tropical John announce my arrival, I felt like I could burst into tears at any moment but somehow I held it back. Seeing my wife at the finish line kind of got me choked up also.

It physically hurt worse than than the other hundred milers that I’ve done. The downhill running beat me up and the pacer pushed me to give it everything I had. The pain goes away but those wonderful feelings and memories will last forever.

Daniel Murphy of Texas


Probably my strongest memory from the run is the feeling of being up in the high country past Emigrant Pass headed into the Granite Chief Wilderness in the cold, dry, thin air with this incredible smell of sage filling my nose. It was still early in the race, so everything felt great, the pre-race nerves were gone, and I was just starting to come to the realization that I was actually running Western States! It was one of the best feelings ever and sadly did not last long once we started into the canyons and heat started building. But, the race was still just as incredible of an experience as everyone says. Humbling and Awesome!

Western States, a race that maintains its Heart amongst the Hype. Not an easy task, but always worth it.

Special thanks to Brian, Paul, Donald, and Daniel for sharing some Western States memories with us.

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.

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