2015 Lake Sonoma 50 Mile Women’s Preview

A preview of the women’s field at the 2015 Lake Sonoma 50 Mile.

By on April 6, 2015 | Comments

Lake Sonoma 50 MileFor the past few years, the Lake Sonoma 50 Mile has been the most competitive 50 miler in the US through the first 11 months of the year. The same will likely be said for this year’s race thanks to the stacked fields RD Tropical John (Medinger) has brought together to throw down on the unrelenting hills above California’s (damn good) wine country.

Today, we start with the women’s field. Notably, three of last year’s top five women–Emily Harrison, Jodee Adams-Moore, and Angela Shartel–won’t be racing this year. Don’t worry, there’s plenty of talent to make up for their absences.

Julbo LogoAs you’d expect, we’ll be providing pre- and post-race interviews as well as live coverage on race day. Stay tuned. Special thanks to Julbo for making our coverage of the race possible!

For more on the race, check out our full men’s preview. Follow our live coverage of Lake Sonoma on Saturday.

Running for the Win

Stephanie Howe - 2014 TNF 50

Stephanie Howe

With Emily Harrison not returning, Stephanie Howe’s (pre-race interview) got to be the favorite this year. Last year, she took second to Harrison and finished only 7 minutes back in 7:33. Even in the favorable conditions, that’s an impressive 14 minutes under the previous course record. From Sonoma, Stephanie went on to win Western States in her 100-mile debut and take third at the TNF EC 50 Mile Championships in December. This year, she’s tuned up with a second-place finish to Megan Roche at the Way Too Cool 50k last month.

Kaci Lickteig was third at Sonoma last year, just four minutes behind Howe. Later last year, Lickteig was sixth at Western States, but later won the Javelina Jundred in a smoking fast 15:40. She’s just getting her year started at Sonoma.

Prior to last year’s burner of a race, Cassie Scallon (pre-race interview) held the women’s course record in 7:47. She’s blazed numerous other 50-mile races, as well. She’s also oft battled injury, but is rolling again this spring. She was third at the Chuckanut 50k last month in 4:29, 16 minutes back of winner Magdalena Boulet.

Running for the Podium

Pam Smith - 2013 Western States 100

Pam Smith

I’ll take a guess and say that Pam Smith is using Lake Sonoma as a stepping stone on her path back to Western States. With that and her past history in mind, I’d also guess that she’s currently fit and willing to race all out to see where that fitness puts her. Around the same date in previous years, she won the American River 50 Mile before winning Western States in 2013 and the Mad City 100k before taking fourth at Western States last year.

Rory Bosio’s been quiet since winning the Lavaredo Ultra Trail and Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc last summer. When she last raced Lake Sonoma in 2013, she was fourth in 8:08. April 7 Update: RD John Medinger reports that Rory Bosio won’t be racing Sonoma this year.


It looks as though Sarah Bard might be undefeated in ultras. Her wins include a solid 6:37 in winning the JFK 50 last November and a 3:23 in taking the USATF Road 50k National Championship at Caumsett in March. If she can handle the hills, she’s a contender for the win.

Ashley Erba

Ashley Erba

At only 19, Ashley Erba doesn’t have a whole lot of ultra experience. In fact, she’s only run two three. She’s won all three. She kicked things off with a 4:21 to win the UROC 50k last September and then ran the third fastest time in race history to win the Red Hot Moab 55k in February. Her 4:29 there was only 5 minutes slower than Emily Harrison’s course record. She also won last year’s Glacial Trail 50k over in a women’s course record 3:52. [Thanks, Scotty K!] Oh yeah, she was the high school 5k champ in 2012, running 16:18. One more thing, her mom’s been running ultras for at least half a decade, so Ashley’s presumably been around the ultra side of running for a while, too.

Yiou Wang is one of the Marin gang. She’s had great success running on the roads and is now taking that trails at ultramarathon distances. She won the Skyline 50k in 3:53 last August and just took third at Way Too Cool in 3:51. If I recall correctly, she started, but did not finish The North Face Endurance Challenge 50 Mile Championships last December.

Lindsay Tollefson ran a 2:41 marathon December 2013 before trying out the ultra thing. She’s only run ultra I know about, taking sixth at Way Too Cool in 4:07.

Other Top Women

  • Meghan Arbogast — 5th at Sonoma in 2013 in 8:15. Recently, 6th at Sean O’Brien 100k.
  • Jenn Benna — Someone tell me that Jenn’s not racing Sonoma after winning American River in 7:23 this past weekend. Anyone?
  • Denise Bourassa — 9th at Sonoma in 2013 in 8:52. Finished Grand Slam of Ultrarunning in 2014.
  • Jenny Capel — 12th at Sonoma ’14, an hour and a half off the lead.  Won San Diego 100 last year.
  • Katie Desplinter — 4th at Black Canyon 100k ’14.
  • Tera Dube — 9th at Sonoma ’14, 70 minutes off the lead.
  • Lydia Gaylord — 11th at Sonoma ’14.
  • Keely Henninger — 22 year old who was second at Tussey Mountainback 50 in 2013 and third at the JFK 50 last year in 7:14.
  • Keira Henninger — Won Angeles Crest 100 in 2012.
  • Emily Kalenius — Winning Pacific Northwest 50ks left and right. First 50 mile?
  • Sally McRae — 6th at Lake Sonoma in 2014, 54 minutes behind the winner. I’d call her the top seed in this list. April 7 Update: Sally McRae reports that she’ll attend, but won’t be racing Lake Sonoma this year after racing in Italy recently.
  • Luanne Park — 7th at Sonoma ’13 in 8:39.
  • Jennifer Pfeifer — 7th at Sonoma ’14, an hour off the lead.
  • Kerrie Wlad — 9th at TNF EC 50 Mile – San Fran in 2011, the only ultra finish for this triathlete.

Call for Comments

  • Ok, so who’s going to win Lake Sonoma this year?
  • With Howe, Smith, Lickteig, Bourassa, Arbogast, and McRae already in Western States, who’s going to get those Montrail Ultra Cup spots?
  • Who might surprise us out there this weekend?
  • Know of anyone we’ve listed who won’t be racing?
Bryon Powell

Bryon Powell is the Founding Editor of iRunFar. He’s been writing about trail running, ultrarunning, and running gear for more than 15 years. Aside from iRunFar, he’s authored the books Relentless Forward Progress: A Guide to Running Ultramarathons and Where the Road Ends: A Guide to Trail Running, been a contributing editor at Trail Runner magazine, written for publications including Outside, Sierra, and Running Times, and coached ultrarunners of all abilities. Based in Silverton, Colorado, Bryon is an avid trail runner and ultrarunner who competes in events from the Hardrock 100 Mile just out his front door to races long and short around the world, that is, when he’s not fly fishing or tending to his garden.