It was a glorious day for racing at the eighth annual Lake Sonoma 50 Mile. It was cool all morning with light clouds moderating the sun. At worst, it got warm at midday, but conditions remained fast with dry, but not dusty trails, too. How fast? Well, for the eighth-straight year, but the women and men’s course records went down, this time to Stephanie Howe (pre-race and post-race interviews) and Alex Varner (pre-race and post-race interviews). Read on to find out how the the men’s and women’s races played out.
In addition, you can find our full play-by-play of the race as well as a collection of our pre-race interviews and previews on our Lake Sonoma 50 live coverage page.
As usual, we’ll be updating this article with additional results as well as links to Lake Sonoma 50-related articles, photo galleries, and race reports.
Thanks again to Julbo for making our coverage of this year’s Lake Sonoma possible.
Lake Sonoma 50 Mile Men’s Race
Jim Walmsley took the race out with a vengeance, opening up an early lead on the entire field. For the first 20 miles, Alex Varner, Ryan Bak (post-race interview), and Mike Aish grouped up and ran together between 30 and 90 seconds behind Walmsley, gaining on the climbs and falling back on the descents. By halfway, Bak led his crew of three past Walmsley.
Rob Krar (pre-race interview), Jared Hazen (post-race interview), and Seth Swanson had been rolling together for the first 20+ miles, as well, no more than 90 seconds behind Varner-Bak-Overdrive. Well, Rob saw some fireroads he liked shortly before the turn around and broke apart his little group. Walmsley’d put his parachute out, so Krar shot up in the ranks to fourth at mile 30… but not a comfortable looking fourth. He trailed Varner by nearly 5.5 minutes at that point, while Varner had a minute on Bak and two on Aish. Meanwhile, Jorge Maravilla had moved himself up from ninth at mile 20 to fifth at mile 30 alongside the 19-year-old Hazen. Seth Swanson sat in seventh, about where he’d been all day, except he, too, had passed Walmsley.
As the boys raced back around the lake, Varner continued building a lead with Bak following along in second. At the same time, the wheels fell off for Aish and Krar. Some would pass them as the two walked, while others did after the pair dropped at mile 38. That moved most of the competitive crew up some spaces. Now in third, Hazen kept pushing, as he was on the podium and, more important for him, in a Montrail Ultra Cup golden ticket spot for Western States entry. Varner, Bak, and Hazen would continue on to finish 1-2-3, with Varner breaking Zach Miller’s course record of 6:11:10 set last year.
Jorge Maraville couldn’t stick on Hazen’s bumper past mile 33 after the pair spent some time battling, but he finished in fourth in a time time a few minutes faster than last year’s race. Jim Walmsley went big early and it didn’t work out for a podium spot; however, he greatly impressed by regrouping after mile 30 and holding his position. Seth Swanson couldn’t match the speed of the guys up front, but ran a steady race to finish more or less in the place he held all day, minus the two drops in front of him.
Tim Tollefson bounced around between eighth and tenth through the race and he held on to that position, when accounting for Aish and Krar. On the other hand, Mike Wardian seemed far out of the hunt early and was no better than 15th at mile 20, 17 minutes off the lead. He was, however, basing his race off heart rate and cruised up the field as the race progressed. Max King (pre-race interview)… well, he did say before the race that he had tired legs from the LA Marathon. It turned into a long training run for him early. He was already lackadaisical in walking across the stream crossing at mile 12. Kudos to Gary Gellin for going out hard and holding on to break seven hours after being just over the mark the past two years. That 6:59-and-change was good enough to give him tenth.
Lake Sonoma 50 Mile Men’s Results
- Alex Varner (Nike) — 6:09:39 (pre-race and post-race interviews)
- Ryan Bak (Nike) — 6:23:25 (post-race interview)
- Jared Hazen (Team Colorado) — 6:31:54 (post-race interview)
- Jorge Maravilla (Hoka One One) — 6:36:45
- Jim Walmsley — 6:41:54
- Seth Swanson (The North Face) — 6:46:01
- Tim Tollefson (Nike) — 6:47:15
- Michael Wardian (Hoka One One) — 6:56:48
- Max King (Salomon) — 6:58:54 (pre-race interview)
- Gary Gellin (Inov-8) —
7:00:03(just kidding, Gary) 6:59:28
Lake Sonoma 50 Mile Women’s Race
On the women’s side, it was Stephanie Howe’s day. The previous two years, she’d finished third and second at Lake Sonoma and she was bound and determined to win this year. She was joined early in the race by YiOu Wang and Kerrie Wlad with Sarah Bard in hot pursuit. By mile 20, Sarah had fallen nine minutes off the lead into sixth with YiOu and Kerrie 20 and 60 seconds back, respectively. 2013 champ Cassie Scallon (pre-race and post-race interviews) was 90 seconds back at 12 miles and 4 minutes back at mile 20. Behind her, there was a gap back to the rest of the field. At mile 12, Ashley Erba (post-race interview), Keely Henninger, Kaci Lickteig, Lindsay Tollefson, and Pam Smith came through in sixth through tenth, all between six and seven minutes off the lead.
By the time the ladies were back Liberty Glen–mile 30, Stephanie had built an eight minute lead on Cassie who now ran in second. Kerrie Wlad was just a bit behind Cassie in third. Neither woman looking nearly as comfortable as Steph, who’s smiled and laughed as she ran past on a descent uphill. Ashley was in fourth not far back, with YiOu close behind. There was now an even bigger gap back to Lindsay, Sarah (who’d quickly fallen back to seventh), and another gap back to Kaci, Meghan Arbogast, and Denise Bourassa.
While Stephanie kept driving home for the course record and Cassie ran strong toward a second-place finish, carnage descended on the women’s race. YiOu badly sprained a previously surgically-repaired ankle and dropped. Sarah Bard tired to the point of wanting a boat ride out of the mile 45 aid station before continuing on to the finish. Keely Henninger fell and dislocated her shoulder. Even three of the top ten women were plenty bloody after the race with another having run head-first into a tree.
Ashley survived the mayhem to take third in her first 50-mile race. At 19 years old, she will decline the Western States spot. However, word is that fourth-place woman Kerrie was eager to take that ticket. (Stephanie Howe is already in States.) Kaci Lickteig might never have seemed on today, but she moved up from eighth at mile 30 to fifth at the finish. Lindsay finished sixth in her first 50 miler while Meghan took seventh in what was not her first 50 miler. Both Meghan and eighth-place woman Denise Bourassa ran patient, conservative races that paid off in the end. Alicia Hudelson and Lydia Blandy definitely weren’t in the top ten the first half of the race, but they made ninth and tenth by the finish. Lydia had finished eleventh at Sonoma last year.
Lake Sonoma 50 Mile Women’s Results
- Stephanie Howe (The North Face) — 7:08:23 (pre-race and post-race interviews)
- Cassie Scallon (Salomon) — 7:22:09 (pre-race and post-race interviews)
- Ashley Erba (Simple Hydration) — 7:36:24 (post-race interview)
- Kerrie Wlad — 7:56:34
- Kaci Lickteig (Nike) — 8:04:14
- Lindsay Tollefson (Nike) — 8:06:55
- Meghan Arbogast (Altra) — 8:09:26
- Denise Bourassa (Patagonia) — 8:24:10
- Alicia Hudelson (Blue Ridge Outdoors) — 8:29:00
- Lydia Blandy (Bay Birds Racing) — 8:34:56
Lake Sonoma Fun Fast Facts
- The women and men have both set course records each of the race’s eight runnings. That’s 16 course records out of 16 possible records. RD Tropical John denies making the course easier every year suggesting, instead, that the competition keeps getting better.
- Both third-place finishers–Ashley Erba and Jared Hazen–are 19 years old.
Lake Sonoma 50 Mile Articles, Race Reports, and More
Articles and Photo Galleries
- iRunFar’s Myke Hermsmeyer Photo Gallery
- iRunFar’s Photo Gallery
- Competitive Road Racers Tackle Lake Sonoma – Press Democrat
- Competitor’s Photo Gallery – Derrick Lytle
- Drymax’s Photos from the Warm Springs Crossing and Mile 25
- Drymax’s Full SmugMug Gallary
- Billy Yang’s Video Clip