The women’s field at Lake Sonoma 50 Mile is full of top talent. There will be women whose names you know well, others coming back from injury, and at least one relative newcomer to our sport. As with the men’s field, the women’s field is proving to be dynamic even before the race begins on Saturday. For instance, while writing this article, I learned that Stephanie Howe, last year’s third place finisher dropped due to a minor injury, while I’m hearing rumors of additional withdrawals and even a possible addition. However, even with some last minute changes, the lineup for this year’s race will be excellent.
[Editor’s Note: We published a 2013 Lake Sonoma Men’s Preview yesterday and will be covering the race live on Saturday.]
Longtime stalwart of short- and middle-distance ultramarathons, as well as last year’s Lake Sonoma champion, Joelle Vaught will return to defend her title (post-race interview). Since finishing 13th at last December’s The North Face Endurance Challenge, Vaught has only run two small 50ks. However, she also ran one of those races, the Hagg Lake 50k, nine minutes faster than she did in February 2012, which is surely a good sign for her fitness. One of last year’s wildcards, triathlete Tyler Stewart has only run one ultramarathon since her second-place finish at last year’s Lake Sonoma (post-race interview with Stephanie Howe), 20th woman at Western States. That once again leaves last year’s runner-up as a wildcard at Sonoma. As mentioned in the intro, Stephanie Howe, last year’s third place woman who’s run even stronger since then with second at The North Face Endurance Challenge in December and course record at the Gorge Waterfalls 50k two weeks ago, is out with an injury.
Denise Bourassa followed up her fourth at last year’s Lake Sonoma with a strong season. However, she’ll have to bounce back from her ninth place finish at Chuckanut last month to have a shot at getting back in the top five this year. Rory Bosio took fifth last year and looks ready to crack the top five again this year after taking second at Way Too Cool in early March with a time slightly faster than her 2012 time there. Jennifer Pfeifer, last year’s sixth place finisher at Sonoma, is the final returnee from last year’s top ten. Pfeifer finished one place and six minutes behind Bosio at Way Too Cool last month.
Like Hal Koerner on the men’s side, Devon Yanko set the women’s course in 2010 before last year’s killer field and good conditions put six runners under the record. Yanko is in fine form at the moment, have run second at Chuckanut, won the Oakland Marathon in 2:47, and run a 58:40 10 miler (as a workout) in the past five weeks.
Amy Sproston won the IAU 100k World Championships last April (post-race interview) before taking eighth at both Western States and TNF UTMB last summer. Since then, she’s largely been off the radar with negligible training (for her) through the autumn and early winter. She did win an uncompetitive (on the women’s side) Ray Miller 50 Mile in February before logging her biggest ever training month in March.
Tina Lewis had a great 2012 with wins at Miwok and Leadville to go along with top ten finishes at Western States and The North Face championships. Recently, she took seventh at Chuckanut.
Meghan Arbogast started off slow in 2013 with a seventh place at the Bandera 100k; however, since then she took second at the Ray Miller 50k and won Way Too Cool ahead of Bosio and Pfeifer, so her speed is there.
This year, Cassie Scallon and Anita Ortiz are looking to bounce back from injuries. Scallon’s off to a good start with a second at the competitive Moab Red Hot in February and fourth at Chuckanut last month. It’s less clear how Ortiz’s return as going, as she’s not run an ultra since gutting her way through Western States in 2011. If she’s on her way back to her nearly unbeatable form of 2008 through early 2011 she’ll be in the top five. That’s a big if.
Top-notch mountain runner Megan Kimmel adds some excitement to the race despite having never finished an ultra. She was running well in her first ultra attempt, last December’s TNF race, holding in the back half of the top ten before calf issues and then hypothermia forced her from the race in the very late miles. (Kimmel is out with a calf strain.)
Prudence L’heureux has run some great races in the past, including wins at the Miwok 100k and Angeles Crest 100. However, she’s not run a highly competitive ultra (and only two total) since taking second at the White River 50 in 2009, so it’s hard to predict how she’ll do.
Jill Perry has an even more accomplished resume than L’heureux, but hasn’t raced (as far as we know) since a trio of 50 and 100 mile wins in the fall of 2011.
- Mary Churchill
- Megan Laib
- Bree Lambert
- Luanne Park
Call for Comments
- How do you think the top three will play out in the women’s race at Lake Sonoma?
- There are bunch of women who are coming back from injury or are otherwise returning from an absence from competitive racing. I’m sure all the readers would love updates on the likes of Ortiz, L’heureux, Perry, Stewart, and others!
- Anyone on our list who you know isn’t running? Anyone we overlooked?
- Know of anyone looking to race her way into Western States with a Montrail Ultra Cup spot?