Minnesota’s Ultrarunning Elites

New story from the Star Tribune:

In January, a pack of seven women led a race called the Bandera, a 62-mile run through the hills of southern Texas. Bandera is one of the most competitive ultramarathons in the country, because the first two finishers get entries (coveted “golden tickets”) to the prestigious Western States Endurance Run on June 29-30 in northern California.

Future 2014 and 2018 Western States 100 Champions, Stephanie Howe Violett and Courtney Dauwalter

Around mile 25, two runners broke away: Ladia Albertson-Junkans, who grew up in Stillwater, and Brittany Peterson, from Carlton, Minn.

The Minnesotans ran together for the rest of the 30-mile loop, talking about the last race they both ran (which Albertson-Junkans won) and discovering mutual friends they had back home. They stayed together for most of the second loop as well, until some time after mile 50 when Peterson pulled ahead for the victory. Albertson-Junkans finished second. Both got their golden tickets to Western States, a 100-mile ultramarathon stacked with the best runners in the sport.

The Bandera results were not unusual, as more runners reared in Minnesota (and a few from Wisconsin) are dominating the ultra scene.

“Over the last couple years,” 2014 Western States champion Stephanie Howe Violett said, “I’ve started to see people I raced against in high school in the ultra scene. So it’s definitely a thing.”

Read the rest here.