The sixth annual Lake Sonoma 50 Mile, which takes place this Saturday outside of Healdsburg, California around Lake Sonoma, has turned into an April competition blowout thanks to the wrangling of race director John Medinger. The course is a rough out-and-back with a couple of diversions that constantly rolls to a total of 10,500 feet of climb and that has three pretty gnarly climbs and respective descents almost exactly mid-race. The women’s competition is looking solid with some returnees from last year’s top 10 and some new-to-Lake-Sonoma talent that will be fun to watch.
We’re covering the Lake Sonoma 50 Mile live on Saturday. Tune in!
If you’re interested in the men’s race, check out our men’s preview.
Top Talent Returning from 2013
Three ladies from last year’s top 10 are back for more. They will surely put up a fight.
Cassie Scallon is the returning champion. Last year, she suffered hard in the middle of the race but rallied and closed for the win (post-race interview). She won February’s 2014 Sean O’Brien 50 Mile (post-race interview), and she’s fresh off a week of running some serious vertical in Italy at Salomon’s Advanced Week, where sponsored athletes and gear designers test and talk gear. No question, Cassie’s a 50-mile beast and one of the best the U.S. has, an example being her 6:24 win at the 2013 Tussey mOUnTaiNBACK 50 Mile last fall. I can only imagine how she’d destroy this course and this competition if she’s at her best. [Update 4/9: Cassie Scallon, last year’s winner, is out of the race with a sprained ankle.] Rory Bosio was fourth last year, 20 minutes behind Cassie Scallon. We can’t forget her win and course record at last summer’s Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc (post-race interview). Since then, things have been pretty chill for her racing-wise. She started The North Face Endurance Challenge 50-Mile Championships last December, but stopped because she was sick. She’ll probably come prancing out to the start line with a giant smile and proceed to kick most ladies’ butts with puffy-paint hearts dabbed on her shirt… or something along those lines. [Update 4/12: Rory Bosio did not start the race.]
Last year, Sally McRae was sixth at Sonoma. She’s been training hungrily lately, since her second place at the Sean O’Brien 50 Mile in February. She’ll be either ready to rip one or flat from all that training. She told us that she’s got her eye on her real prize, doing well at Western States this summer thanks to the Montrail Ultra Cup entry she earned at Sean O’Brien.
Notable Top 10 Finishers from Last Year Who Are Not Running
Joelle Vaught, who finished second last year (post-race interview) and who won in 2012 (post-race interview), was planning to run and was on the entrants list until a couple days ago. She’s pulled the plug due to low-back issues, however.
Additional Podium Contenders
Stephanie Howe (pre-race interview) previously ran 8:11 on this course in 2013 to take third place. That would have put her fifth in last year’s field. Last year, she was the winner of the Speedgoat 50k (post-race interview) and second at the UROC 100k (post-race interview). She was supposed to run Chuckanut 50k a month back but got sick and couldn’t, so she rushed to Arizona the next weekend to run and win the Mesquite Canyon 50k. After that she jetted off for vaca in Hawaii. So long as she’s happy, not stressing too much about her in-progress dissertation, and recovered from her desert tune-up, she’ll be in the podium hunt.
Jodee Adams-Moore (pre-race interview) had a rough go of things at the Chuckanut 50k last month. She ran at course-record pace or perhaps just a bit under it for at least half the race, slowed some, and then had a physical meltdown of sorts in the final couple miles, being passed by eventual winner Ellie Greenwood. Her second place was still strong, but clearly not what she was looking for with her early pacing. Last summer, she finished second at the 2013 Speedgoat 50k, just a minute behind winner Stephanie Howe. She won the 2014 Moab Red Hot 55k. I think this is her 50-mile debut.
Emily Harrison has run three 50 milers so far in her 18-month ultra career, most recently a 6:35 win at the 2013 JFK 50 Mile last fall. She recently ran a 3:15:01 at the 2014 Caumsett 50k (post-race interview), which worked out to be the second-fastest time ever by a North American woman for 50k. A couple weekends back she won the XTERRA Black Canyon Trail Half Marathon in Arizona, likely a tune-up for Sonoma. I consider her dangerous as all get-out at the 50-mile distance and on rolling terrain like this race’s. I expect her to be in it to win it.
While she’s been impressing the Midwest with her speed for a while, Kaci Lickteig (pre-race interview) impressed the nation with her 15:45
win second place at the 2014 Rock Raccoon 100 back in January (post-race interview), one of the fastest 100-mile trail times ever on U.S. soil. Since then, she hired Jason Koop, coach to the ultrarunning stars, and she says he’s raised her level of training. She went 6:54 for a win at the 2013 Bear Chase 50 Miler in the, ahem, overall race. Yep, she beat the boys, too. I don’t know much about her racing style, so I look forward to seeing how this machine operates. From super successful collegiate running (think a two time NCAA Division I 10k Champion), to road running (think a win at the 2007 USATF 20k National Championships), to a short but successful trail-racing career, Alicia Shay brings outstanding talent to Sonoma. She’s run and won the 2012 TransRockies RUN3, won the 2013 Moab Red Hot 33k, and took third at the 2013 Chuckanut 50k 23 minutes behind winner Jodee Adams-Moore. I think this will be Alicia Shay’s first go at the 50-mile distance, but I suspect that watching her apply her talent to 50 miles among this field of women should make for a great show. [Update 4/7: Alicia Shay has withdrawn from the race due to a stress reaction in her tibia.]
Other Women to Watch
- Cheryl Beatty – Winner of the 2013 Lavaredo Ultra Trail in Italy, third at the 2013 Pocatello 50 Mile
- Jenny Capel — She just ran 4:24 for sixth place at the 2014 Way Too Cool 50k behind third place Jennifer Pfeifer. Last year, she set the supported FKT for the Tahoe Rim Trail. Second at the 2013 Leona Divide 50 Mile and winner of the 2013 San Diego 100.
- Tera Dube — Fourth at 2014 Sean O’Brien 50 Mile behind Cassie Scallon and Sally McRae, she earned a Western States entry there. She appears to be competing in the Montrail Ultra Cup. She finished in 7:11 for second place at the 2013 American River 50 Mile, well ahead of Danielle Windenmann.
Tina Lewis — She had a challenging 2013 for the most part due to injury. She won the 2013 The North Face 100k China last May, then came home and badly injured her foot. She started and dropped from the Leadville 100 last August, then broke things down to the basics of getting healthy. She’s podium material when healthy.[Update 4/7: Tina Lewis isn’t racing because she’s been traveling a lot and she’s slowly returning to running after her foot injuries.] Sandi Nypaver — She had a rough go of things at the Tarawera Ultramarathon being sick and then being disqualified after missing a section of the course. She turned things around with a win the next weekend at the Northburn 50k, also in New Zealand.[Update 4/9: Sandi Nypaver won’t be racing because of low iron levels. Thanks to reader Flandria for the update.]
- Jennifer Pfeifer — Third at the 2014 Way Tool Cool in a cool 4:14, third also in 4:14 last year at Way Too Cool, and sixth in 8:25 at the 2012 Lake Sonoma, which would have put her sixth in last year’s crowd, too. She kicks the heiney of most races in northern Cali.
- Angela Shartel — Winner of the 2013 Angeles Crest 100. In 2012, she was fourth and fifth, respectively, at the Ray Miller and Leona Divide 50 milers.
Danielle Windenmann — Fourth at the 2013 Way Too Cool 50k and three minutes back of Jennifer Pfeifer, fifth at the 2013 American River 50 Mile and 31 minutes behind second place Tera Dube. She ran a couple 50ks in 2009, then a couple 50ks and a 50 miler in 2013. Is she on an upward trajectory?[Update 4/7: Danielle Windenmann is not running due to injury.]
Notable Women to Watch Who Are Not Running
Kristina Folcik’s name is still on the entrants list but she is not running due to health issues. Similarly, Gina Lucrezi is sidelined with an injury.
Call for Comments
- Will Cassie Scallon defend her title or will we have a new women’s champion?
- Who might surprise us with a breakout performance?
- Anyone else deserve a mention among these elite ladies?
- Know of anyone we’ve talked about who won’t be racing on Saturday?