I Won The Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run 14 Times
This runner won Western States 14 times—and now runs the race to give back to others.
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The Runner: Ann Trason
San Francisco, CA
As a child, I had a ton of energy that my parents didn’t know what to do with. So it’s no surprise that when my father saw an ad in the newspaper for a track club, he signed me up, hoping that running would burn off my extra steam. He had no idea that one decision would change the course of my life forever.
When I first began running, I loved the social aspect of being on a team. Running was the time I could be with my girlfriends, have fun and push myself. I felt alive when I was running, always looking for the next challenge.
At the age of 24, after finishing a half-Ironman triathlon, I was reading Competitor magazine and saw an ad for the American River 50-Miler. I signed up and showed up on race day to see a professional triathlete I’d admired lining up next to me. She took one look at me, sneered and said, “You look like a rabbit.” I was stunned. Reeling from hurt feelings, I told myself, “You’re either going to die on this trail or you’re going to beat her.” Though sweltering temps made for tough conditions, I went on to not only outrun her but the entire field—and I set a course record in the process.
I continued ultra racing after that day and eventually found my way to the famous Western States 100 race. My first two attempts, I had to drop out. I made every mistake possible and ran into joint issues and dehydration. But the third time was the charm. I finally finished and won the race.
I returned to Western States 100, winning it 14 times while holding a course record of 17:37:51 for 18 years (until 2012 when Ellie Greenwood broke my record). Though my days of competitively racing the event might be gone, the course holds a magical place in my heart. It’s for that reason that I return each year, but now I run to give back to other runners. Whether I’m pacing a friend or showing up on race day to help pace runners I don’t yet know, it’s the camaraderie that I felt as a young girl, and still feel, that keeps me craving more.
How do you wrap your head around a 100-mile race? Trason explains, “When I’m running a race, I play a lot of games in my mind. I like to think of the miles as ages. When I’m running a 100-miler, I know that if I take good care of myself at the 50-mile point, or middle-age in my game, I’ll get to enjoy a good retirement, after mile 62, and have a good run until the end.”
Running has taught me that only I can determine my success. I don’t let others define my achievements, rather I run to be a better me. I’m fortunate that I discovered my passion, went for it and found myself along the way.
Read About More Inspirational Runners:
I Lost 80 Pounds…And Ran My First Marathon
She Won A National Title Less Than A Year After Giving Birth
One Runner Returned To The Start Line After Beating Death