With his modest attitude and typical South African resilience, Ryan Sandes proved once again he is a champion by winning the Western States 100 miler in California, USA on Sunday in very tough conditions in a time of 16 hrs 19 min 38 sec (16:19.38) to become only the second international winner of the race.
If you followed the hype of the Western States 100 before the race you would have probably noticed interviews done by the iRunFar crew with Jim Walmsley. “The longer people try to go with me, they’re gonna get dropped at some point”, I heard these words and thought to myself, jeez this guy is really, really confident. Well Jim went out all guns blazing but ultimately the wheels came off with his chase of the record set by Timothy Olsen in 2012 of 14:46:44.
Enduring the tough conditions, Ryan was sitting patiently throughout the race and 53 minutes behind Walmsley at the 100 kilometer mark. “I realised with Jim going out so hard it was either going to be something really magical or he was gonna go up in flames”. As Walmsley’s race ended at the notoriously hot Cal Street section, Ryan took the lead but had to push himself to stay ahead of a chasing Alex Nichols and Mark Hammond.
Ultimately with his experience, resilience and the help of his pacer and good friend Ryno Griesel, Ryan digged deep to pull through the finishing stretch of the WS100 claiming his win and making us South Africans proud.
“For me, Western States is my dream race to win,” said Sandes after the finish. “It couldn’t be better. I’m here with my wife, my baby, my mom and some good friends. It’s certainly one of the greatest days in my life.”
2017 Western States Results
1 Ryan Sandes (RSA) 16:19:37
2 Alex Nichols (USA) 16:48:23
3 Mark Hammond (USA) 16:52:57
1 Cat Bradley (USA) 19:31:30
2 Magdalena Boulet (France) 19:49:15
3 Sabrina Stanley (USA) 20:11:44