Western States 2012 will be remembered as the year of records broken, on both timing clocks and thermometers.
Cold temperatures at the 39th Western States 100 made for a day of record-breaking times, with six runners finishing under 16 hours for the first time.
Fans gathered at the Placer High School finish line Saturday night were shocked when Timothy Olson, 28, of Ashland, Ore., ran the first sub 15-hour 100.2-mile trek from Squaw Valley to Auburn, breaking Geoff Roes' 2010 mark by more than 20 minutes. Olson clocked in at 14 hours, 46 minutes, 44 seconds.
Olson regained the lead after the 70.7-mile Peachstone check-in to defeat Ryan Sandes, 30, who rounded the final 300 meters waving his native South African flag.
After producing the film "Unbreakable: The Western States 100" in 2011, a documentary centered on the top four male finishers, film crews returned to focus on the female runners. With top women shattering two of the oldest records, 2012 proved a great year for a film.
The heartiest cheers came when defending champion Ellie Greenwood, 33, of Banff, Alberta, crossed the finish line in 16:47:19 to break Ann Trason's 18-year-old course record by nearly 50 minutes. Greenwood placed 14th overall.
Unlike 2011 when Greenwood overtook Kami Semick, who had been delayed in the final miles of the race by a mother bear Greenwood maintained a convincing lead from the halfway point to win by more than an hour.
Second-place Rory Bosio, 27, of Soda Springs also broke a Trason record with an 18:08:06 finish that set a new low for the women's 18-29 age group.
Dave Mackey, 42, of Novato, who finished fourth overall, broke Tsuyoshi Kaburaki's 2011 record for the 40-49 age group with a 15:53:36.
"This year's 10th-place finisher would have won 32 of the previous 38 races," announcer and Western States board of directors trustee John Medinger said.
Medinger attributed the quick times to reportedly the coolest Western States on record. Rather than temperatures around the century mark, runners encountered early rain and hail, with highs of just above 40 for the first 40 miles.
Throughout the night, spectators watched for the light of runners' headlamps to enter the far corner of the track and continued cheering for the final runners through late-morning Sunday.
For the second year in a row, and only the second time in the history of the race, more than 80 percent of the runners finished the endurance run by the 11 a.m. cutoff.