June 26-27, 2021. Placer County, California.
The same thing happened in 2013. And 2014. And 2015, and 2016, and 2017, and (against all odds!) 2018.
In 2019, Pon finally won an entry to the 2020 Western States. Then a pandemic happened, the race was postponed for one year, and he was forced to wait even longer to participate in his dream race.
Partially for this reason, seeing Pon on the startling line early Saturday morning felt both surreal and inevitable. The opportunity to run 100 miles across the Sierra Nevada was the culmination of nearly a full decade of his preparation, patience, perseverence, and hope.
Somewhat poetically, 2021 proved to be an especially brutal year for the event, with high temperatures cracking triple digits and many seasoned performers joining the DNF list as a consequence. This didn’t stop Ashland, Oregon native Pon from defying conditions and achieving his dream of completing the historic race. His wife Angela and adoring crew escorted him the final mile to the finish line at the Placer High School track. It was a beautiful display of determination, will, and community.