In a surprise decision, the Board of Trustees for the Western States Endurance Run announced this morning that, beginning with the 2010 race, race officials would levy a one-year penalty against any runner failing to finish the race. This new “DNF clause” was apparently passed as a result of months of debate on the Board. The WSER Board, in their quest to make their event the premier ultramarathon in the world, is making a bold statement to runners that if they toe the line in Squaw they are expected to arrive, intact, in Auburn.
The new rule, presented by the Board in an email, states that “any registered runner who starts the event and fails to finish will be ineligible to register for future WSER’s for one year following the DNF”. Citing increased pressure from the national and international running community the board went on to say that “While we realize this may come as a shock to many, from our perspective, the finishing rate for our event is, in many ways, as important as the number of sub-24 hour finishers. By levying a one-year penalty for DNF’s we believe we will create more seriousness and focus around our event and hopefully weed out the ‘tire kickers.’”
Several long time Western States finishers from both the front and back of the pack applauded the Board’s decision and claimed this as a “truly triumphant moment for the race and the sport.” In addition, these loyal runners were quick to point out that “this new rule should finally, once and for all, serve notice that our event is the best in the world.”
Craig Thornley, six-time finisher, two-time M10'er, and long-time WS blogger was quoted as saying, "From my point of view, this rule is too little too late. But, perhaps, in the long run, it will pave the way to the Haggin Cup and that, I believe, is very good for the sport."
Finally, in the context of this decision, the Board resolved to change the race tagline from “The Oldest and Best” to “Finish What You Start.”