Running along history's trail

By: Jim Linsdau, Sports Editor
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Three local men, all in their 40s, have been picked to take their place among nearly 400 runners who will compete in this summer’s Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run. Lincoln’s Tony Overbay, Jeffery Johnston and Michael Fink have earned an honor few in the world ever will.

I spent quite a bit of time in Foresthill (an official aid station for the event) and know the Endurance Run is huge – not in size – but in prestige.

The event begins in Squaw Valley near Tahoe and ends at LaFebvre/Dragila Stadium in Auburn. Most of the runners are selected by lottery and are challenged to complete the 100 miles in 30 hours or less; 24 hours or less is the ideal.

The Western States Trail is a historic route once used by local Indian tribes and mountain men to carry their wares through the Sierra Nevada. There are times the run’s foundation has to change the route when snow prevents passage. But the snow is often welcome when the daytime temperatures exceed 100 degrees as they have in past runs.

The late Wendell T. Robie of Auburn established the One Day 100 Mile Horse Ride (Tevis Cup) in 1955 when he and some friends rode their mounts over the trail in one day. In 1974, Gordy Ainsleigh of Auburn accompanied the riders, only he was on foot. His effort helped established the 100-mile run.

This will be the 40th running of the event. Some past runs had to be canceled because of forest fires but otherwise it takes place every year. This year, runners will come from faraway places ranging from Australia to Zimbabwe – and also as nearby as a small town in California called Lincoln.