Jim Walmsley was raised in Phoenix and ran cross country and track in the U.S. Air Force Academy. He was once in charge of manning intercontinental ballistic missiles. The job brought him to Great Falls, MT where he first bought a tent and sleeping bag. Jim would hike to new and hard to get to sites and eventually realized it was faster to run.
Jim now lives and trains in Flagstaff, Arizona. He debuted onto the ultra scene by winning the prestigious JFK 50 miler in 2014. Since that day, he has won the event in an unprecedented 3 times in a row and this past year smashed Max King’s old course record in the process. A record some speculate will stand for a very long time.
Jim has quickly become one of the most watched ultrarunners on the scene. His epic Western States 92 mile run really solidified his place on the “ultra watch list”. Running at blistering course record pace, the lanky runner, went off course taking an infamous wrong turn. He was far ahead of the 14:46 course record set by Timmy Olson in 2012. Despite this set back and fighting debilitating leg cramps, Jim decided to walk it in for a finish in 19th place just under 19 hours. Its Jim’s only “non-first-place finish.”
In October of 2016, Jim smashed Rob Krar’s FKT (Fastest Known Time) for the Grand Canyon Rim to Rim to Rim running the legendary route in 5:55.
The question has to be asked, “Is there any record this guy isn’t capable of breaking?”
When I’m not training or competing, I love to: Rock climb and mountain bike. I’m not particularly good at either but it’s just another way to go hang with friends outside.
Something that very few people know about me is: I have a fraternal twin brother that outweighs me by 80 pounds, can grow a beard, has chest hair, and plays competitive men’s rugby.
A good title for my autobiography would be: N/A I have too much on my plate I’d still love to do before an autobiography could ever be written about me. Maybe some day.
My favorite moment or achievement to date is: Graduating from the United States Air Force Academy in 2012, walking across the stage with so many of my best friends through one of the most rewarding journeys of my life, shaking President Obama’s hand, and throwing my hat up in the air as the Thunderbirds flew low, in formations above us. Just amazing.
The toughest moment I’ve ever experienced in a race is: Western States 2016, missing a turn at mile 92 of a race I was leading by an hour, ahead of course record with 8 miles to go, and poured everything I had into the entire day. I’ve never fought so hard, for so long, all to slip away so quickly. It was devastating. All the same, I was still able to pull away so many positives from that day and walk away with my first ever silver belt buckle for finishing a 100 mile race under 24 hours.
One thing I hope to achieve over the next year is: I would like to start competing internationally more often. At the same time, it’s been my goal to help out more and more at the community running level in Flagstaff and Arizona.
I live in Flagstaff because: Flagstaff is my sanctuary now, which provides amazing trails, great mountains, flat recovery runs, the best training partners, perfect elevation, and the closest I’ve lived to home in the last 8 years.
The events on my bucket list are: UTMB, Hardrock, Comrades
My pre-race ritual is: My one ritual is not to have any rituals. I try to stay near an accessible bathroom and that’s about all that’s consistent. I think developing routines sets you up to get flustered about things that don’t matter when the gun goes off at the beginning of a race.