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June 28, 2019
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: the modern-day sport of trail ultramarathoning began 45 years ago when a man showed up to a 100-mile horse race — without a horse.
An ultramarathon is defined as anything longer than 26.2 miles. And it’s true — tens of thousands of people every year run 50, 100 and even 1,000 miles over rough terrain because of that man and his nonexistent horse.
But the story of ultramarathoning actually begins with another man — named Wendell Robie — and another horse.
The Western States 100
"Wendell's a little guy," says Gordon Ainsleigh, who most people call Gordy. "He's strong, he's wiry and he wears cowboy boots. Well, he doesn't anymore. He died in ’84."
Gordy was a friend of Wendell’s back in the day.
In 1954, Wendell was camping with the Sacramento Horsemen’s Association at Robinson Flat, 30 miles west of Lake Tahoe. Gordy recalls sitting around the campfire on the last night of the trip...
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