Former Breck ultra-runner, Sabrina Stanley, at Vertical Runner for Western States talk July 5 |

Former Breck ultra-runner, Sabrina Stanley, at Vertical Runner for Western States talk July 5

Why? Because she just took 3rd place at classic 100-miler in the Sierra Nevadas this past June

Sabrina Stanley pushes up a snowy slope early in the Western States Endurance Run in California in June 2017. She drifted outside the top 10 through the meat of the race, but hit the gas late and ran to a third-place finish. The 27-year-old gives a talk in Breckenridge on July 5 about the race.
Paul Nelson / Special to the Daily

Maybe in another part of the country, Sabrina Stanley would have suggested she showcase the best happy hour locations, or what bar and grill in town serves up the best hamburgers.

She’s an ultra-runner living in Colorado, however, so when she realized she’d be living in the same town as a racer she admired, temporarily transplanted Steamboat Springs runner Avery Collins, she reached out.

“I messaged him and said, ‘Hey! I can show you all my trails,” Stanley said. “I’d never met someone who trail ran the way I did. I was really excited.”

Stanley was living in Breckenridge at the time, and Collins was moving in for a six-month stint helping open a branch of Steamboat Springs’ Twisted Trail Running Company.

For Stanley, it was an opportunity.

She’d been eager to dive into longer running races but was unsure how best to build up for 100 miles. In Collins, an accomplished ultra-marathon trail runner in his own right, she found an eager runner who’d already answered many of the questions she had. She found an eventual boyfriend and a regular training partner, and they pushed each other. She set out to qualify for one of ultra running’s biggest events, the Western States Endurance Run, and helped inspire Collins to do the same, each earning their spot thanks to a “golden ticket” top-two finish in a qualifying race.

Does Stanley’s name sound familiar? It should: she ran to a “surprise fourth” at the Leadville Trail 100 in 2016

A little more than a year after they met, now living in and training out of Steamboat, Stanley deployed that determination she came with, added a bit of knowledge Collins supplied and threw it together for a huge performance in one of ultra-marathon trail running’s biggest events.

She ran to third place last weekend in Western States, the granddaddy of trail ultra-marathons that stretches 100 miles across California’s Sierra Nevada mountains.

She still can’t quite believe it.

“It hasn’t hit me,” she said Friday. “I don’t know if it ever will. I remember idolizing girls who took seventh place or 10th place in previous Western States. I can’t even wrap my mind around me being third place.”

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