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They say the Western States 100 is to ultra marathons what The Boston Marathon is to road marathons, in the US anyway. There’s history. There’s prestige. And it’s a hard race to get into!

Boston Marathon Finisher medal along with a Western States Belt Buckle

Earning A “GOLDEN TICKET”

Elite ultra runners at the top end of the sport can race their way into an automatic, coveted entry into Western States by placing in the top 2 of a “Golden Ticket Race.” It’s considered the “hard way in,” and it keeps the field at Western States ultra-competitive. 

Well, it just so happens that The HOKA ONE ONE Canyons 100km is the very last Golden Ticket race of 2021 before the “Big Dance” in June… and two women’s as well as two men’s tickets are up for grabs! 

Won’t get you into Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory…but will get you into Western States!

Our race preview features some of the top runners we think will be racing hard for one of these last remaining, precious tickets. For many, this is a lifelong goal…a bucket list race… and dreams are on the line! 


The HOKA ONE ONE Canyons 100km Men’s Elite Field Preview

[Disclaimer: All opinions are our own. We try to thoroughly research previous race results, personal bests, and provide our readers with an accurate analysis with the best stats/information about each runner profiled – however, we realize at times we could make some mistakes and typos so please forgive us! This is not meant to be all-inclusive necessarily and we realize some runners may deserve to be on this list that we overlooked!  If you have any corrections, updated insider info, and/or concerns please comment on our MessageBoard under this thread and/or reach out to our contact form. Thanks for your support!]

In our minds, the men’s field has a little bit of everything from experience, leg speed, and mountain runners. Expect excitement and carnage!

Top Contenders:

When you think about experience in trail running, the first name that comes to mind is Max King (Salomon). This won’t be Max’s first rodeo at a Golden Ticket event. He is the former American Record holder at the 100k distance and has proven to outperform his competition on these trails (4th at Western States 100 2017, and 2nd at Pioneer Spirit 50 2020). Max grew up spending summers training on these very trails and that gives him an advantage. His fitness seems to be really good considering he just won the Horsebutte 10 miler (in jean cutoffs) over an impressive field. It will be exciting to see if that fitness translates to 100k.

Photo: @maxkingor

David Laney (Craft) also comes to mind when the word “experience” is thrown around. David has been relatively quiet as of recent. His last result showing up on UltraSignup is from the Pine to Palm 100 back in October 2020, where he placed 4th overall. The word on the street is that David is healthy and fit. Our guess is that, with a Golden Ticket on the line, David will be in the mix to have another shot at the big dance on the last weekend of June, where he has placed as good as 8th back in 2015. This course seems to favor f those who know how to be patient and handle climbs well. David has proven, with his amazing finishes at UTMB, that he is fully capable of exercising that patience and pacing strategy.

Paddy O’Leary (The Northface) is no stranger to the Canyons 100k. He won this event back in 2016, running a top 3 fastest time on the course. With course changes this year, it will be interesting to see how his 9:35 from 2016 will stack up this year in the ranks. Paddy does not have many 100k+ races under his belt, but has had a lot of success in those that he has run. This race suits Paddy’s running style well. We could see a real battle upfront in the latter stages of this race. If there is carnage, expect Paddy to be there cleaning it up.

Photo: Paddy O’Leary (@poleary87) by Dylan Ladds & Ryan Scura (@doosterfilm)

Don’t sleep on Avery Collins. Avery knows what it takes to win a Golden Ticket race. He placed 1st at the Georgia Death Race in 2017, earning a Golden Ticket to Western States, where he went on to place 6th that year. Over the last few years, it seems Avery’s focus has been on the mountains and racking up vertical. We think that his climbing and descending abilities are some of the best in the field. If he can show us a glimpse of his 2017/2018 form, we think he is a guy to watch out for when this race heats up.

Wild Card Picks:

If there was ever a guy to watch out for,it is Cole Watson (HOKA ONE ONE). We believe that he is the class of the field. Cole has proven he can run with anyone in the world over many disciplines. He hosts a marathon PR of 2:18 and ran an incredible 8:18 at the Bandera 100k in 2019, taking 3rd in a stacked field. His last race was the HOKA ONE ONE 100k world record attempt where he called it early due to calf cramping. The question is: has he recovered from this set-back and will he be able to rebound well from it? We think the motivation from being one spot out from a Golden Ticket in 2019 is enough for a solid performance for Cole here at the Canyons.

Noah Brautigam (Salomon) is on fire! Out of all our top contenders, he has posted some of the better recent results (we know racing has been limited due to the pandemic). Noah has yet to fully prove himself over the 100k distance, but he has shown that his mountain legs and speed are both very present right now.  He’s had wins at the Speedgoat 50k last summer and, most recently, a win at the Antelope Island Buffalo Run 50k. On a course like Canyons, where a combo of speed and mountain legs are needed, we imagine he will have a good day.

Anthony Costales (Salomon) has proven over the last few years that he is a force to be reckoned with. Anthony has leg speed like no other in the field. He has run a 2:13 marathon and has also proven to be great in the mountains after taking 3rd at the Speedgoat 50k in 2020, losing only to Noah Brautigam and Hayden Hawks. Anthony has recently become a father, which means he has a lot more to run for than a Golden Ticket. He recently put up a solid 50-mile result in Moab by winning the Behind the Rocks 50 in prep for this race.

Other Top Runners: 

Scott Trimmer:
Scott placed Top 10 at Canyons 100k in 2019.

Drew Macomber:
Drew has proven to post real solid results at 100k+ distances.

Eli White:
Eli placed first at Georgia Death Race 2020.

Robert Ressi-Moyer:
Robert has placed top 10 at Canyons 100k in 2019 and most recently won Mt Shasta 50.

Gus Gibs:
Gus has rocked these California trails in races over and over again.

Patrick Rabuzyi:
Patrick won Black Canyons 60k in 2020.


Who did we leave out? Any other favorites or inside information that you have? Let us know!

You can comment and join in on this discussion on our MessageBoard thread about this preview:

Canyons 100km Top Predictions: Who will earn the last few Golden Tickets?!

Follow along our race day coverage updates at @MutRunning (Twitter), but also stay tuned on this site for exclusive media from MUT Running showcasing this event the weekend of April 24th, 2021!