Thursday, June 29, 2006

Heat and Controversy at the 2006 Western States

For those who haven't heard, the 2006 Western States first place finisher Brian Morrison was disqualified after being assisted to the finish line by his pacers (who included Scott Jurek, ironically). Apparently the Seattle, WA-based Morrison collapsed a few times in the final 300 meters, and was helped up by his two pacers, Scott Jurek and Jason Davis, as well as a few other well-wishers. He was unconscious shortly after finishing while being examined by Dr. Bob Lind.

(Brian Morrison collapsing at the finish, later to be disqualified; photo courtesy of Kurt Bertilson)

The rules of Western States clearly state that a runner cannot receive aid during a run from pacers (except at aid stations) and must complete the race under their own power. Shortly after the final finish, Morrison was disqualified, and Graham Cooper (who finished just a few minutes behind) was declared the winner. For those who were there, apparently "it was clear he would not have finished under his own power" so perhaps it's not that controversial. The Sacramento Bee did a great job of covering the story here (and the Duluth Tribune has it here). Man, that's gotta be a tough break for a guy who was clearly having a great race most of the day.

Kudos to all of you who finished States this year - only 211 of the 399 racers managed to do so, thanks to the wicked heat that peaked at 101 degrees, tough new canyon trails, and plenty of water run-off soaking the trails. This was the toughest finish rate since 1995, and allowed only 54 runners to receive the silver belt buckle for a sub-24 hour finish. If you finished at all, YOU'RE A ROCK STAR!!!

(Graham Cooper (with kids), unknowingly winning the 2006 Western States 100; photo courtesy of Kurt Bertilson)

Graham Cooper and Eric Skaden have been kicking ass all year, so I'm pleased they finished 1-2. Nikki Kimball and Bev Abbs conquered the heat as well and put on a great race. Tim Tweitmeyer managed to run under 24 hours for the 25th time. You guys are true champions!

- SD


  1. Wow! I didn't realize his pacers helped him out. Regardless, I have the upmost respect for anyone wanting to take on the Western States challenge.

    Thanks for the sharing.

  2. I'm with you - anyone able to finish States (particularly in these conditions) is a winner in my book.

    Be sure to click through on the Duluth story to read more. There are some quotes from Scott Jurek and Graham Cooper in there that really capture the feeling well. It sounds like Brian just ran his heart out and came up just a few yards short. Jurek has tons of experience - I'm sure he wouldn't have helped unless it was clear he needed it.

    An epic performance from Brian, nonetheless. I hope he's recovering well.


  3. wow, i was sporatically checked out the times at over the weekend and i noticed that brian morrison's name was taken off the 'unofficial finisher list' and appeared on the dropped list. but i didnt understand why or heard any stories about the race....

    but it's still an amazing feat to complete 100 miles (forget the .2 miles).... and if he can be at the top with the heat and wet trails, he can try again next year. he's still a young pup ;) and now he knows what he's going to face


  4. Great recap! I was following it on also and could just tell from the times that heat was really hurting the runners. Still, awesome job to anyone that tackles events like this.

  5. Graham Cooper deserves a spot with the elites. But I suspect this is only the beginning of what we'll see from Brian Morrison.

    Thanks for covering, Scott.

  6. What I don't get is why Brian's pacers didn't just wait another 10-15 minutes to see if he collected himself. He had the time to spare. In fact, if he would be happy with second place he could have sat there for about an hour.

    I don't know, Scott. It sounds to be like somebody goofed. One thing for sure - we'll be talking about this one for years to come.



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