One of the first things Nick Bassett did after becoming the oldest person to finish the 100-mile Western States footrace? He cracked a beer.
The 73-year-old who splits his time between Cheyenne, Wyoming and Anchorage, Alaska completed the legendary ultramarathon that goes from Sqaw Valley to Auburn, California in 29 hours, 9 minutes and 42 seconds without sitting down once to rest.
“I’ve had bad days where I’ve said, ‘I gotta take 15 minutes,’ ” Bassett told Anchorage Daily News. “But I’m sorta of the belief if you’re not moving forward, you’re wasting time.”
His 2018 history-making run was his 14th time finish the Western State, but of all the races he’s entered, this one was meant to be.
“The third of December, they have the lottery drawing,” Bassett told his support crew who helped document the race on video. “There are 15,074 tickets in the barrel to draw 261 names. Mine was the first one out of the barrel.”
What did it feel like to cross the finish line, beating out Ray Piva’s 1998 Western States record when he ran it at 71 years old?
“It took my breath away. It was just awesome,” Bassett said. “I felt really out of place, there were cameras everywhere; it was nuts. It was enjoyable. Extremely special. It’s fun to be recognized. I’ve never been recognized like that.”
Bassett started running at 36 years old to drop a few pounds. He gradually built up his mileage and took on his first marathon almost a year after he caught the running bug. Today, his body is seemingly built to take on massive distances.
According to Anchorage Daily News, his doctor booted him off the treadmill at his annual physical during a stress test because it was taking too long for his heart rate to break 125 beats per minute.
“My heart rate even when I was younger didn’t get up to more than 150,” he said. “My pulse is still reasonably low.”
During Western States, Bassett used the strategy of walking up hills and running on flat or downhill portions of the trail. He was supported throughout the race by his girlfriend, a doctor and his trainer.
When asked by a race organizer if he’d give it another go next year, he said “If there’s any chance I get in next year, I’ll be in better shape.”
It’s a statement that’s hard to imagine for someone at 73, but considering it’s Nick Bassett, it’s also a statement that’s difficult to doubt.