2016 Lake Sonoma 50 Mile Women’s Preview

Lake Sonoma 50 Mile runThe Lake Sonoma 50 Mile in the Sonoma region of California takes place this Saturday, April 9th. Courtesy of a challenging and pretty course as well as the hospitality of RD Tropical John (Medinger) and his band of merry helpers, Lake Sonoma consistently draws together steep, early season, North-American-based competition to duke it out on the hills above the race’s namesake lake.

Nathan ExoShotLake Sonoma 50 Mile is the last race in the Western States 100 Golden Ticket race series, where the top-two women and men earn entry into Western States.

Though seemingly not quite as competitive as 2015, it’s still a great group of gals who will gather to race hard together and then enjoy the region’s wine offerings afterward. Yep, Lake Sonoma has a wine-tasting after party.

As you’d expect, we’ll be providing pre- and post-race interviews as well as live coverage on race day.

Many thanks to Nathan for their generous support of our coverage of this year’s Lake Sonoma 50 Mile.

Julbo LogoThanks also to Julbo for making our coverage of Lake Sonoma possible.

We’ve now published our in-depth men’s preview, as well!

Podium Potential

Camille Herron - 2015 IAU 50k World Champion sq

Camille Herron

Prolific road marathoner Camille Herron’s (pre-race interview) foray into ultrarunning has been relatively short but quite sweet. She became the IAU 100k World Champion last September (interview), and she also ran her brains out at the USATF 50-Mile Road National Championships in October. She has almost exclusively flat-ground road running and racing experience, though she’s been testing herself out with a few long trail runs here and there, including in California, so the 10 grand of elevation gain (and loss) at Lake Sonoma should come as a shock to her system. With her incredible aerobic engine and if Camille can keep herself structurally together over Sonoma’s relentless uphills and downhills, she should contend for the win.

I don’t know about you, but Caitlin Smith (pre-race interview) is one of the funnest female enigmas in our sport to follow. She’s been doing this trail and ultrarunning thing successfully for quite some time now, she has a range of distances at which she races well, she crosses over to road running and back well, and she has periods of time where she kind of disappears from the sport but then comes back in full force. The 50-mile distance is at the high end of her range as I think she’s only raced this far a couple times, including a win at the 2009 edition and a fourth place in 2012 at The North Face Endurance Challenge 50-Mile Championships. Among her 2015 trail racing, she won the USATF 50k Trail National Championships and took ninth at the USATF Trail Half Marathon National Championships.

Emily Harrison - 2014 IAU 100k World Championships

Emily Harrison

Emily Harrison (pre-race interview) was the 2014 Lake Sonoma winner, where she ran 7:26 and change (interview). The 2015 edition of the race brought Emily’s then course record down to 7:08 courtesy of winner Stephanie Howe, and I’m guessing it’s going to take something in that range for the win this year, too. In 2015, Emily took second at the USATF 50k Road National Championships. She then went on to take second behind Caitlin Smith at the USATF 50k Trail National Championships, finishing about five minutes back. Strava seems to indicate that Emily’s had a solid block of training, so I’m looking forward to seeing her run around the lake and back this weekend.

Kerrie Wlad should run well this weekend, real well. We watched her surprise fans of the sport and us with a super-solid fourth place here among last year’s competitive field. After that, she went on to take 18th at Western States, win the TransRockies solo event, and take fourth at the UROC 100k. My guess is this woman would sure like another go at Western States.

Kaci Lickteig - 2014 Lake Sonoma 50 Mile

Kaci Lickteig

I believe Kaci Lickteig must be here for the competition and some spring training in Cali, as she already has entrance into Western States via her second place there last year (interview). Kaci also has two previous Lake Sonoma finishes, a third in 2015 and a fifth here last year. I’m also guessing that Kaci has her eye on the Western States prize–there’s a certain thing I’m guessing you must really want if you finish second there–and may be approaching this race in that context. That said, Strava seems to indicate she might be doing a legit two-week Sonoma taper, so watch out.

We were told by Bay Area locals to keep our eyes on up-and-comer Emily Peterson at the TNF EC 50-Mile Champs this past December, and it sure was fun to watch someone who hadn’t faced that level of competition in trail running before steadily race to fifth place, looking super chill as she did so. As I understand it, she’s fairly new to running, having only taken up the sport a few years ago. She continues to dominate the Bay Area trail scene, and according to the rumor mill (hah!), her training has been on par.

Top-10 Contenders

YiOu Wang has been trying for a while now to get to the finish of a 50 miler, but her voyage to this distance has been foiled each time. Last December, her third shot at the distance, she was fit and ready to roll at the TNF EC 50-Mile Champs, but a fall the weekend before opened a huge gash on her leg that needed recovery. Can someone wrap her in bubble wrap until Saturday, please? :) Last fall, YiOu was fourth at the USATF Trail Half Marathon National Champs ahead of Caitlin Smith, and earlier this year she finished second in a fast time at the Way Too Cool 50k. Strava stalking, er, observing indicates she’s been rolling with solid training since her leg recovered in December. I said it when I wrote the TNF preview last December, this woman is going to put it all together and run a 50 miler real well someday soon. Might it be this Saturday?

Anita Ortiz - pre-2015 Western States 100 sq

Anita Ortiz

Can we all just say that we want to be Anita Ortiz when we grow up? I have to think that Anita is racing this weekend for one specific reason: to gain entrance into Western States. The 2009 States champion gained entry last year via the Sean O’Brien 100k, which was then part of the Montrail Ultra Cup. Then she got injured. Though she turned up at States wanting to race, she was unable to do so. After having watched Anita over the years, she’s an all-in kinda’ woman. Her ambition and drive will no doubt impact this weekend’s race.

High-school track star turned successful road runner Julia Stamps-Mallon is running Lake Sonoma. She jumped onto our trail radar when she ran to seventh place at the 2014 TNF EC 50-Mile Champs, but I don’t think trail and ultrarunning has seen much of her since. Can anyone fill us in on what she’s been up to in the last year and a quarter? And how she has prepared ahead of this weekend’s race?

Kami Semick 2014 TNF EC 50 Mile sq

Kami Semick

Kami Semick was one of the long-term dominating forces on the speedy American ultrarunning landscape. Several years back, however, she moved to Hong Kong for a couple years and left behind a huge hole in our racing scene. While living in Hong Kong, of course she figured out how to dominate racing there. She also developed some physical issues from which she’s been trying to recover for quite a while. Last December, after her move back to the U.S., we saw her race to 17th place at the TNF EC 50-Mile Champs, as she was working through those issues. She’s going to kick ass when she’s back in form again. [Update April 5, 11:00 a.m. U.S. Mountain Time: Kami Semick isn’t racing.]

Alicia Hudelson has quietly gone about performing well in regional-level races throughout the U.S. over the last half decade or so. She caught our attention here last year when she finished ninth among the competitive women’s field. After that she also finished sixth at the 2015 White River 50 Mile and fifth at the 2016 Bandera 100k, among her other races.

Catrin Jones will visit us from Canada for the weekend. Catrin consistently puts up strong performances in the Pacific Northwest, including second at the the Squamish 50 Mile last August and sixth at the Chuckanut 50k just a couple weekends ago.

Social media indicates that Anna Mae Flynn put down a heckuva training run on the Lake Sonoma course in her training build for this. As far as I know, she hasn’t raced longer than 50k. I *think* she was signed up for the TNF EC 50-Mile Champs last December but didn’t start–correct me if I’m wrong, world. She seems to have focused on U.S. Skyrunning races last summer, and we saw her take third at the USATF Trail Marathon National Championships last fall. Earlier this year, she was third but distant time-wise to second place YiOu Wang at the Way Too Cool 50k.

More Women to Watch

  • Gretchen Brugman — 17th here last year
  • Christina Clark — 10th 2016 Way Too Cool 50k
  • Callie Cooper — 7th 2015 Way Took Cool 50k
  • Tracy Hoeg — winner last weekend’s American River 25 Mile, is she racing again this weekend?
  • Erika Lindland — 16th here last year, 9th 2015 Western States 100 (interview)
  • Luanne Park — 20th here last year, 3rd at both 2015 Quad Dipsea and Waldo 100k
  • Jennifer Pfeifer — Has three Lake Sonoma finishes in the range of 8:30, in 2011, 2014, and 2015. Last year earned her 11th place.
  • Amy Phillips — 2nd 2015 American River 50 Mile, winner 2015 Flagline 50k [Update April 7, 7:00 p.m. U.S. Mountain Time: Amy Phillips isn’t racing in order to focus on training.]
  • Annie Rutledge — 22nd here last year, winner 2015 Tahoe Rim Trail 100 Mile

On the Entrants List but Not Racing

  • Amanda Basham — I can’t say for certain she isn’t racing, but she just took second at the Gorge Waterfalls 100k last weekend and earned her Golden Ticket there.
  • Amelia Boone — Rumor is she’s not racing to focus on Western States training after earning her Golden Ticket at the Sean O’Brien 100k recently.

Call for Comments

  • Who’s going to win Lake Sonoma this year?
  • And who is going to grab the Golden Ticket entries into Western States?
  • Who might surprise us out there this weekend?
  • Know of anyone we’ve listed who won’t be racing?
Meghan Hicks

is iRunFar.com's Senior Editor, the author of 'Where the Road Ends: A Guide to Trail Running,' and a Contributing Editor at Trail Runner magazine. The converted road runner finished her first ultramarathon in 2006 and loves using running to visit the world's wildest places. For more information on Meghan and her adventures, please visit her personal website.

There are 8 comments

      1. Camille

        Thanks for the excellent pre-race report Meghan! I’ve been a trail fan for several yrs now, so this will be so much fun to finally participate and feel the magic with some legends, new faces, and my marathoning crossover friends!

        By the way, we have a solid Nathan Sports team with me, Emily, and Kaci. I’m not sure what other teams are participating. Thanks to Nathan for supporting the race coverage as well! :) Camille

        1. Anna Mae Flynn

          Salomon: Anita Ortiz, Caitlin Smith and myself
          Nike:
          Altra:
          NorthFace:

          Not sure on who their teammates are exactly, but it will be a good time!

          Cheers

  1. David Roche

    Great article!! Emily Peterson is the toughest, humblest person ever, love the section on her.

    I think YiOu should be the overall favorite. Her speed and strength on tough trails are almost unmatched. She ran basically course record time at WTC50k on a muddy day the men were 15 minutes slower, and her training has been rocking and rolling since (based on Strava). Also, her time was 3 min faster than Steph last year at WTC before she set the LS50 course record. I am putting all of my imaginary money on YiOu!

  2. Will G.

    I’ll admit I’m very biased, but I pick Caitlin Smith for the win. Ideal course/terrain for her, she’ll find her rhythm. If she doesn’t stop to paint a picture or two along the way, she’s got this!

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