This weekend is the ninth running of the Lake Sonoma 50 Mile run northwest of Healdsburg, California. The relentlessly rolling and runnable course with over 10,000 feet of climbing will once again feature a very strong men’s field.
Unless I’m mistaken, the men’s course record has been lowered in each and every running of the race. If that’s to happen again this year, someone will have to dip under the 6:00:52 Jim Walmsley ran last year.
As you’d expect, we’ll be providing live coverage throughout the race, which starts at 6:30 a.m. PDT on Saturday, April 15th. We’ll also provide plenty of pre- and post-race video interviews. Be sure to read our women’s preview, as well.
Many thanks to Nathan for their generous support of our coverage of this year’s Lake Sonoma 50 Mile.
The Front of the Field
Sage Canaday (pre-race interview) is one of two recent Lake Sonoma men’s winners running this year’s race, as he bested the field in a time of 6:14 in 2013. He returned a year later to run two minutes faster, but finished third behind Zach Miller and Rob Krar. Back in December, Sage took seventh at The North Face Endurance Challenge 50 Mile Championships, a race he won in 2014. He’s started his 2017 season with a pair of third-place finishes at the Vibram Hong Kong 100k and the Chuckanut 50k.
It’s hard to believe that Dakota Jones is only 26 (oh, to be 26!), as he’s now seemingly been around for quite awhile. It’s now been five years since he won Lake Sonoma in 2012 in 6:17. Dakota’s battled some injuries of late, but he’s still got what it takes. In barely two months last summer, he won the Broken Arrow Skyrace, Kendall Mountain Run, and Squamish 50 Mile. Dakota jumped into and won the Behind the Rocks 30k a few weeks back.
I got to witness an ascendant Ryan Bak take second at Lake Sonoma and third at the The North Face EC 50 Mile Championships in 2015, but haven’t seen him race since. That said, Ryan’s thrown down some great results in the past year and change. To start, he won the Chuckanut 50k in March 2016 before winning the Flagline 50k last September after two prior seconds and a third at the race. He started this season off by placing fourth at Way Too Cool in 3:23.
Chris Mocko’s (pre-race interview) friends describe him in three words: Tall. Loud. Goofy. That’d work, but they forgot fast and driven. In February, Mocko left his job at Square to devote his full attention to ultrarunning, charting a path that he acknowledges could lead to burnout as likely as to great success. In just over the past month, he’s raced the Way Too Cool 50k (2nd), Marin Ultra Challenge 50 Mile (1st), Behind the Rocks 50 Mile (1st), and Woodside Crossover 35k (got lost, final placing unknown). He’s trained through those efforts and intends to put more focus on this weekend’s race. In case you missed him last year, Mocko jumped head first into ultrarunning, taking third at the Black Canyon 100k, second at the Gorge Waterfalls 100k, and seventh at the Western States 100.
Patrick Smyth (pre-race interview) has the ability to put up smoking-fast results in ultras. He set the course record at the Way Too Cool 50k in 3:04 in 2015 and took second at the Tamalpa Headlands 50k later that year. He’s also dropped out of Speedgoat in 2014 and went out hard before fading to eighth at this year’s Way Too Cool in almost half an hour slower time than he ran two years ago, so he’s a bit hit or miss. He’s obviously fast as heck, having won the US Mountain Running Championships in 2015. I believe this will be his first go at a race of longer than 50k.
Jared Hazen crushed the first half of 2015, taking third at the Bandera 100k, third at the Lake Sonoma 50 Mile, and third at the Western States 100 during that stretch. Soon after, he disappeared from US ultra results. Last October, Jared did run to second-place at the always Les Templiers race in Millau, France. This February, Jared reappeared on the US trail map, edging out Galen Burrell at the Red Hot Moab 33k. With any luck, he’ll be coming to Sonoma with a bit of extra freshness and some fire in his belly. [Les Templiers ’16 added thanks to astute readers!]
One of the more intriguing men in the race is 25-year-old Joe McConaughy. Back in the summer of 2014, Joe set the supported FKT for the Pacific Crest Trail in 53 days and change (Karel Sabe has since gone 52 days on a fire-altered route.) Aside from going really long, he’s shown he’s got plenty of speed as only one person has run faster during the 16 runnings of the Stone Cat 50 Mile in Massachusetts, where he ran 6:12 last autumn. Just this weekend, Joe came in fifth at the Gorge Waterfalls 100k and his plan before the race was to give it a go at both events.
Still only 34, Chikara Omine has been running ultras since the last millennium. The faster the course, the better he is. He’s won plenty of races in northern California through the years, including the American River 50 Mile, Quicksilver 100k, and Jed Smith 50k. He might be best known for representing the U.S. at the IAU 100k World Championships on the roads a couple of times.
With second-place finishes at the past two Cayuga Trails 50 Miles, Jared Burdick has shown he can run well for 50 miles on the trails. Last year, he also won the Caumsett 50k on the roads in a speedy 2:57.
Other Men to Know
- Martin Hernandez — 2:21 marathoner and former NAIA Cross Country national champ making his ultra debut.
- Drew Macomber — 25-year-old with numerous of podium finishes at Norcal 50ks the past two years. He’s logged at least one 50 miler (2nd Burning River 2016).
- Chris Mulverhill — Former U of Oregon cross-country runner and steepler. 8th at Lake Padden Half Marathon last October, 1st at Lord Hill 50k in February. He’s got wheels, but little ultra experience.
- Zachary Szablewski — 10th JFK 50 Mile 2014; 7th Gorge Waterfalls 100k 2016; 20th Chuckanut 50k 2017
- Paul Terranova — He has a DNF, 19th, and 14th at the past three Sonomas. 17th at Western States 2016.
- Joe Uhan — 4th Bandera 100k 2015; 9th Sean O’Brien 100k 2017. He finished 5th, 7th, and 14th at Lake Sonoma between 2012 and 2014.
- Stephen Wassather — 6th Bandera 100k 2017; 1st Sean O’Brien 100k 2016; 22nd Western States 100 2016
- Scott Wolfe — A welcome-back race for Wolfe after multi-year break from racing. 12th Western States 2013; 13th Lake Sonoma 2012.
Call for Comments
- Who do you think will win this weekend?
- Is there anyone who you think will be a big surprise out there? Anyone else who should be on our radar?
- Have I listed anyone who you know won’t be racing?