Back in the day before online sign-up and everyone and his dog clambering to run 100-milers, organizers of the Western States Endurance Run had a very fair and reasonable procedure for allowing the unluckiest members of the ultrarunning community to run their event.
“Two-time losers” (i.e., runners who qualify and apply for two consecutive years and are not chosen via the Lottery in either of those years) who qualify and apply for the third consecutive year will be automatically selected, PROVIDED they did not participate in the Run in either of those two years via a non-lottery selection
Tim Wiens is one of the unlucky ones. As cliché as it is to say, if Tim didn’t have bad luck, he’d have no luck at all. That is true of Tim and ultras generally, but is especially so when it comes to Tim and the Western States lottery.
Tim lost his first lottery in 2006 for the 2007 running of the race. He wasn’t too concerned because, as he said at the time, he didn’t feel quite ready for a hundred-miler then and was thinking long-term. He just had no idea at the time how long that term would be.
Tim lost the lottery again the next year for 2008 which would have automatically put him on the starting line in 2009, except that wildfires in northern California led to the cancellation of the 2008 race. Race organizers granted automatic entry into the 2009 event to everyone who was on the final 2008 starting list and held a small lottery for everyone else to fill the remaining spots. Tim lost that too.
With the increasing popularity of the event — there were 1350 names in the 2008 lottery — organizers chose to phase out the Two Time Loser, but out of fairness, held one last lottery for all remaining TTLs to be split between the 2010 and 2011 races. Tim lost that lottery too and has finally been granted automatic entry into the 2011 Western States Endurance Run.
Western States has been a goal of Tim’s since I first met him so my fingers are now crossed that we’ll get Tim to the starting in June in one piece!