Kaci Lickteig

Kaci Lickteig competes in the Western States 100. The Omaha woman placed 12th in the 100-mile race.

Kaci Lickteig couldn’t believe it when she crossed the finish line at the Western States 100.

The Omaha woman had run 100 miles in less than 21 hours. That fact was even more impressive given that six months earlier, she could barely run a mile.

“It all came together,” Lickteig, 30, said. “I was so grateful to be there. It was an awesome experience.”

Lickteig, who is considered one of the best ultrarunners in the world, placed 12th out of the female competitors and 42nd overall.

The race started Saturday morning in Squaw Valley, California. Runners crossed the finish line in Auburn, California.

The remote and rugged route follows a 100-mile segment of the Western States Trail, which stretches in full from Salt Lake City to Sacramento, California.

This was Lickteig’s fifth appearance at the trail race. In 2016, she won the race in less than 18 hours, and UltraRunning Magazine named her top female ultrarunner of the year.

Because of a pelvic fracture this October, Lickteig wasn’t sure she’d be able to compete until a few months before race day.

Due to her injury, she couldn’t bear weight for a month and wasn’t able to run until February. Even then, running was limited to an anti-gravity treadmill.

The thought of missing Western States made Lickteig cry.

“I can’t imagine myself not being there,” she said. “This race means so much to me. If there was only one race in the world I could run, it would be this one.”

During the race, Lickteig battled some pain in her right hip and a fear of mountain lions. But she pushed through to cross the finish line 20 hours, 48 minutes and 56 seconds after starting.

Lickteig said she went into this year’s race with a better attitude than last year, which she called “the toughest race” she’s ever had.

“Not one time during this race did I ever want to give up. It didn’t cross my mind once,” she said. “I got my groove back.”

Lickteig is taking the week off from running. This fall, she’ll again compete in the UTMB, a 105-mile mountain race in France.

And she plans to be back at Western States at least five more times. With 10 finishes, she’ll land a belt buckle for running 1,000 miles.

“I’ve got five more years of this,” Lickteig said.

Kelsey covers health and fitness for The World-Herald. Follow her on Twitter @kels2. Phone: 402-444-3100.

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