Walmsley Wins Western
The anecdotal story described below is one individual’s experience with a proprietary recipe that is not commercially available. This article is not intended to provide medical or nutrition advice. Always seek the advice of a physician or other qualified health provider before beginning any physical fitness or health and nutrition related activity.
When 28-year-old ultrarunner Jim Walmsley had a commanding lead at Mile 78 of the 2018 Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run, it wasn’t the first time. It wasn’t even the second time. The race marked the third year in a row that Walmsley looked poised to top the field at what’s known as, arguably, the most competitive 100-mile race in the world. But 2016 and 2017 didn’t end up the way Walmsley had hoped, or predicted.
“I’m pretty well-known for coming in 2016 and being pretty frank with my goals,” said Walmsley. That year, the confident runner predicted a dominant performance, a race win, and a new course record…though he had never done a 100-mile race. In the 2016 race, he was amazingly on track for all three through mile 93—just 7 miles from the finish line—when a wrong turn left him defeated. He staggered to the finish to place 20th.
Fired up for redemption, the Flagstaff, Arizona-native showed up in 2017 raring to go. But the heat, and his stomach, ended up wreaking havoc on his race. “I would go long stretches without eating and then I’d eat too much,” he said, looking back. “I think that gave my stomach a little more of a jerking reaction.” After fighting through nausea, vomiting, and overall suffering for miles, Walmsley dropped out of the 2017 race at Mile 78. Again, he had been in the lead.
Fast-forward to 2018, and a humbled—though still confident—Walmsley toed the starting line in Squaw Valley, California, staring down a 100-mile course he knew he was capable of crushing. He admitted that dropping in 2017 “took a lot of pressure off,” but that it’d “be great not to be ‘that guy.’” Still, before the race, he stated that his top goal would be to beat the course record of 14:46:44 set by Timothy Olson in 2012. “Most importantly, that’s going to give me the best chance to run a competitive race start to finish,” he said before the race, “and give me a really great chance to do the next goal, which would be to win it.”
Walmsley had every reason to think he’d succeed. He clearly had the speed, and the experience—both good and bad—on the challenging course. And, in the spring of 2018, Walmsley started working with CLIF Bar’s registered nutritionist and Craft, Quality and Innovation Product Designer to dial in a nutrition and hydration plan. The goal was to get to the bottom of the GI distress that ended his 2017 race, and dial in his fueling and hydration for a successful go in 2018.
On CLIF Bar nutritionist, Jessica Chon’s recommendation, Walmsley trained his gut leading up to race day by drinking and eating large amounts before long runs. He also began seeing success with ingesting one, 33-calorie Salted Watermelon CLIF® BLOKS™ Energy Chew roughly every 20 minutes (which have the added benefit in hot weather of two times the sodium of other flavors) while training in the hot canyons on the Western States course, which Chon said would be a helpful “steady stream of sugar” for energy.
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