Her first time running the race, Garneau ran steady from the start. A fan of downhill, she took the first climb in stride and knew after the first grueling snow-covered uphill, she could focus on the rest of the race, confident that she could keep her place. At mile 10, Garneau hurt her left Achilles tendon and ran out the next few miles on the tip toes of her foot.
“It was four years in the making getting to Western States,” Garneau said. “The buckle was most important to me – getting that silver belt buckle. I didn’t let myself know I had it [the first place finish] until I stepped in to the stadium.”
Garneau crossed the finish line at 12:01 AM to a full crowd of cheering and support from her team and crew members. Close friends since running the Brazil Jungle Marathon together in 2009, Kimball and Garneau were ready to tackle the 100.2 mile course in the Sierras, with Kimball giving Garneau tips and encouragement. This is Kimball’s fifth time running Western States and her fifth top-five finish.
“Nikki had more confidence in me than I did,” Garneau said. “She told me that if ‘she didn’t win, than I needed to win.’ She was amazing to me.”
The course started at 6,200 feet in Squaw Valley, California, leading runners up a climb of 2,550 vertical feet in the first 4.5 miles to Emigrant Pass at 8,750 feet. The majority of the trail passes through remote and rugged territory, accessible only to horses, hikers and helicopters. Following the original trails used by the miners of the 1850s, the course travels west, climbing another 15,540 feet and descending 22,970 feet to end in Auburn, California, at 100.2 miles. The heat reached above 90 degrees, with intermittent winds of up to 9 mph.
“100 miles is brutal,” said Garneau. “If you really want it you have to go for it. It’s not without sacrifice, but anything is possible.”
Garneau and Kimball will be competing in the Canadian Death Race July 30. Garneau will also be running the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc on August 27. Kimball is slated to run the Transrockies Run on August 22, and the Bear 100 on September 24.
In addition to The North Face global endurance events such as The North Face Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc and Ultra Maratón de Los Andes, several members of The North Face Endurance Team will be running in The North Face Endurance Challenge in Madison, Wisconsin, Atlanta, Georgia, and San Francisco, California. For more information about The North Face global endurance events check out www.thenorthface.com/
The North Face, a division of VF Outdoor, Inc., was founded in 1968. Headquartered in San Leandro, California, the company offers the most technically advanced products in the market to accomplished climbers, mountaineers, snowsport athletes, endurance athletes, and explorers. The company's products are sold in specialty mountaineering, backpacking, running, and snowsport retailers, premium-sporting goods retailers and major outdoor specialty retail chains.