As usual, we’ll be updating this article with additional results as well as links to race-related articles, photo galleries, and race reports. Check back.
Thank you so much to Nathan for their generous support of our coverage of this year’s Lake Sonoma 50 Mile.
Thanks also to Julbo for making our coverage of Lake Sonoma possible.
2016 Lake Sonoma Men’s Race
There’s a certain set of people in the trail-ultrarunning scene who call races like this one ‘track meets.’ Long races, sure, but ones where leg speed becomes one of the major deciding factors as to who is going to win a race because of runnable terrain. It’s true that, each year, the Lake Sonoma men’s race may, indeed, come resemble a track meet a little bit more. That said, given the inherent leg speed of a half dozen dudes on the start line, this year’s men’s race went out certifiably chill.
Mario Mendoza cruised the 2.4 miles of hilly roads that start Lake Sonoma off ahead of the main men’s pack, but he was sucked back into the group after they hit singletrack. At the mile 11.6 Warm Springs Creek crossing, it was Jim Walmsley (post-race interview) who had broken off the front of the group by a half minute and taken a lead he’d never relinquish. Even so, his pace was minutes more tempered this year than in 2015 when he crossed this creek on his way to fifth place. In what felt like a strange turn of events for Lake Sonoma–a race where a new course record has been set in the men’s race every single year of its existence–Jim and the rest of the boys ran a pace that seemed, ahem… slow?
Yeah, but slow it wasn’t. The better descriptor is perhaps ‘controlled.’ The miles clicked on, and Jim increased his lead over the group: 30 seconds at mile 11.6, two minutes at mile 16.9, five minutes at mile 25.2, and on up to 17-some-odd minutes at the finish where he set a new course record by about 8.5 minutes. Running in a category of his own this weekend, Jim is proving himself a force to be contended with right now. For those keeping track, Jim already had a Golden Ticket from winning January’s Bandera 100k, so his ticket rolls down the men’s podium.
And then there was some guy chasing the lead, Tim Freriks (post-race interview). Who’s he? A standout high school and collegiate track and cross-country runner and a friend of Jim’s who decided to give ultrarunning a go. It was hard not to be intrigued by story of a guy running boldy in what I was sure was his first ultra. And, it’s hard not to be intrigued by the fact that he ran 50 miles just fine–in fact, better than fine–took second, and earned a Western States 100 Golden Ticket. Together Tim and eventual fourth-place finisher Dylan Bowman ran for some miles, coming through miles 16.9 and 19.5 pretty close together before Tim broke away from Dylan around the halfway point and maintained his second position all the way back around the lake. As to whether or not Tim will take that Golden Ticket? As of this publishing, he’s not yet decided.
I think Mario Mendoza (post-race interview) is a guy who could kick the pants off a course like Lake Sonoma, if he can get all the variables to line up right on race day. In this year’s edition, Mario ran the early miles of the race along with the main men’s lead pack before assuming around fourth to fifth position for a good chunk of the race. At mile 38, for example, Mario was in fourth and a full three minutes off of third. However, by mile 45.5, Mario had passed Dylan and put a minute on him, moving himself into third place. As we learned post-race, that pair’s battle wasn’t over there, though. Dylan would surge and pass Mario once in the final miles before Mario kicked, passed Dylan back, and nabbed the last podium spot and the second Golden Ticket. Do we know if Mario will race Western States? I don’t think he’s an official yes yet, but he sounded eager about it on the finish line.
Dylan ultimately captured fourth position, Dan Metzger fifth, Matt Flaherty sixth, and Ben Koss seventh. Karl Meltzer finished eight place, which was his third Lake Sonoma finish and his fastest by four-odd minutes. Jeremy Wolf continues to string together strong finishes with his ninth place, and Zach Bitter rounded out the top 10.
Similar to The North Face Endurance Challenge 50-Mile Championships last December, we didn’t see much carnage in the men’s race. Most of the dudes who were in or very near the top 10 at 20 miles in were the same guys in or near the top 10 at the finish. I can’t help but wonder if we’re starting to see a new trend in trail ultrarunning? Also, I can’t help but note Walmsley’s pacing strategy–slower than record pace early, hover at record pace midway, and close a bunch faster–in contrast to the Zach Miller pacing strategy–all out all the way. Pairing these two fellas’ and their approaches in a single race would make for some entertaining running right about now.
2016 Lake Sonoma Men’s Results
- Jim Walmsley (Drymax) — 6:00:52 (post-race interview)
- Tim Freriks — 6:17:58 (post-race interview)
- Mario Mendoza (Nike) — 6:30:44 (post-race interview)
- Dylan Bowman (The North Face) — 6:31:00 (pre-race interview)
- Dan Metzger (Inside Trail Racing) — 6:37:23 (pre-race interview)
- Matt Flaherty (Salomon) — 6:53:34
- Ben Koss — 7:01:14
- Karl Meltzer (Hoke One One) — 7:02:49
- Jeremy Wolf (Hoka One One) — 7:05:55
- Zach Bitter (Altra) — 7:09:08 (pre-race interview)
2016 Lake Sonoma Women’s Race
For all the energy conversation present in the early men’s race, there was none of that at the very front of the women’s race. Camille Herron, a road runner who converted a year ago to road ultrarunning with great success, made her trail-ultra debut here at Sonoma. She went out hard, real hard. In fact, she was not far back from the lead men at mile 2.4 and still less than a half-dozen minutes behind at mile 11.6. No other woman bit on chasing Camille, however, and the rest of the women’s lead pack bunched up mostly together and worked the south side of Lake Sonoma in the early miles. Camille’s pace was ultimately unsustainable, however. After building up a lead on the other women through about mile 20, she gave that time back in the next 10 miles, lost the lead, kept going, and ultimately finished fourth looking real rough before beer and a seat at the finish line quickly revived her.
YiOu Wang (post-race interview), a NorCal standout runner in shorter-distance trail racing, served as Camille’s closest chaser, but not aggressively so. At mile 11.6, for example, she was some six minutes behind Camille and running basically at course-record pace, but she was already emerging from the rest of the top women as the gal to beat as she was 1.5 minutes up on everyone else. While YiOu never built a huge lead on the passel of fast ladies behind her, she stayed steady and a couple minutes ahead of them all the way. Between miles 25 and 30, she assumed the lead position, held it through the finish, and came over the line beaming with joy. I suspect this victory is only beginning a long string of success for YiOu. YiOu was offered a Western States Golden Ticket with her win, and she said she’d think about it for a little while.
Kaci Lickteig (post-race interview) ran a smart and spirited race from start to finish, and you’d never guess that she’d only had five weeks of training following a winter bout with injury ahead of this race. Early, she ran among the main pack of women who would stay closely bunched for most of the race’s first half before stringing out into podium position. When we saw her on a hill at mile 30, she was almost skipping up the darn thing and only five minutes off leader YiOu. Fans watching couldn’t help but wonder if she’d come out this race the victor. We’d see her two more times before the finish, at miles 38 and 45.5, and she was almost identically attitude-ed. Between miles 30 and 38, she assumed second position, but she never dug into the three- to four-minute lead YiOu had on her. She crossed the finish looking absolutely elated with second place. Kaci’s already got entrance to Western States via her second place there in 2015, so her Golden Ticket rolls down.
Anna Mae Flynn (post-race interview) was this weekend’s surprise fast female finisher, in her first 50 miler and on flatter terrain than she’d previously raced in her less-than-a-year career in trail ultrarunning. For the race’s first half, Anna Mae sat right there among the main group of top women, which ran together for some miles before very gradually spreading out a little, in fifth position each time we saw her until mile 30, where she’d moved up to fourth. She would hold fourth until the race’s final mile, when on the rocky uphill to the finish she came upon a suffering Camille. Anna Mae passed, ran home to the final podium spot, and earned a Western States Golden Ticket. She, too, is still undecided as of this publishing whether she would take it, but she was leaning toward accepting.
Camille finished in fourth, Emily Peterson fifth, Julia Stamps-Mallon sixth, Kerrie Wlad seventh, Christina Clark eighth, Alicia Hudelson ninth, and Jennifer Pfeifer 10th.
2016 Lake Sonoma Women’s Results
- YiOu Wang (Bay Birds Racing) — 7:14:55 (post-race interview)
- Kaci Lickteig (Nike) — 7:22:13 (post-race interview)
- Anna Mae Flynn (Salomon) — 7:28:22 (post-race interview)
- Camille Herron (Nathan, Marathon Guide) — 7:30:09 (pre-race interview)
- Emily Peterson (Bay Birds Racing) — 7:41:59
- Julia Stamps-Mallon (Nathan) — 8:05:33
- Kerrie Wlad — 8:25:46
- Christina Clark — 8:26:05
- Alicia Hudelson — 8:37:34
- Jennifer Pfeifer — 8:43:50
Our Lake Sonoma coverage was brought to you by a team of volunteers including Mauri Pagliacci, Jon Murchison, Sandra Campos, and Julia Millon. Thank you so much!