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2019 Lake Sonoma 50 Mile Preview

The Lake Sonoma 50 Mile will once again bring together a speedy field in a spectacular northern California setting. The 2019 edition kicks off at 6:30 a.m. PDT on Saturday, April 13th. Lake Sonoma will be the penultimate chance for a couple top runners to run their way into this year’s Western States 100 via an Altra Golden Ticket entry. We’ll, of course, be sharing the action with you live on Saturday!

Thanks to Salomon for supporting our coverage of this year’s Lake Sonoma 50 Mile. You, the iRunFar reader, can join them in supporting our race coverage by becoming a monthly patron on Patreon or making a one-time donation.

2019 Lake Sonoma 50 Mile Women’s Preview

Holy Moly! The women’s field for this year’s Lake Sonoma 50 Mile is off that charts and that’s even with a number of previously entered headliners like Keely Henninger, Clare Gallagher, Amy Leedham, and Abby Levene (to name a few) now out of the race. There are so many speedy women in the race, I hardly know where to start… but start I will!

Most Likely to Win

YiOu Wang (pre-race interview) is the woman with the fastest Lake Sonoma finish to her name with a 7:14 in her 2016 win here. She returned and defended her Sonoma title in 2017. Wang was mostly absent from the domestic trail racing scene in 2018 as she traveled the world. However, she started off 2019 well with a second place at the Black Canyon 100k in February.

Back in that 2016 race, Camille Herron (pre-race interview) built a large lead before ultimately succumbing to her early pace and taking fourth. This is a trail course that should suit her well enough and given all her success the past few years, she could certainly come home with a win a Saturday. Herron had an early season win at the Tarawera 100 Mile in February.

What a season Kelly Wolf (pre-race interview) had for herself in 2018! She won both the Tarawera 100k and Lavaredo Ultra Trail while also taking third at Transvulcania. She went from and up and comer to a full-blown star. It’ll be fun to see what she can do at Lake Sonoma and over the rest of the season.

A Few More Podiums Worth of Podium Contenders

Looking back, Taylor Nowlin is the top returning woman from last year’s Sonoma when she took second in 7:44. Since then, she was second at last July’s Speedgoat 50k, ran to eighth at the FOURmidable 50k in February, and recently won the 35-mile Santa Barbara Nine Trails race late last month.

Just a minute behind Nowlin, Camelia Mayfield took third at last year’s Lake Sonoma. Mayfield followed that up with a seventh-place finish in her 100-mile debut at Western States last June and kicked off her 2019 with a fifth at the Way Too Cool 50k.

Magdalena Boulet is no stranger to podiums. If you recall, she tied Kaci Lickteig for second at Sonoma back in 2017 before taking second at Western States two months later. A year ago, she won the Marathon des Sables stage race in Morocco.

Addie Bracy jumped right into the deep end of the ultrarunning pool last year and that led to wins at the Quad Rock 50 Mile and Never Summer 100k ahead of taking second at the Leadville 100 Mile. So far this year, she’s taken fifth at the Bandera 100k and second at Way Too Cool.

Fifty miles is a great distance for Sabrina Little. In the past two years, she’s been third at both the Cayuga Trails and JFK 50 Milers in 2017, been 12th at the 50-mile-ish (85.5km) Trail Running World Championships in 2018, and won the Cayuga Trails 50 last year, as well. She has run Sonoma before, taking ninth in 2017. I could see her improving quite a bit on that result.

Despite her long ultrarunning history, I believe Aliza Lapierre will be making her Lake Sonoma debut. With a resume too long to list, I’ll highlight her win at the Georgia Death Race and eighth place at Western States last year.

It was just three years ago that Anna Mae Flynn was third at Lake Sonoma in 7:28. She saw much success in 2017, including finishing third at the Quad Rock 50 Mile and Broken Arrow Skyrace 52k winning the Speedgoat 50k, and taking second at the Pikes Peak Ascent. She had a quieter season in 2018, taking sixth at Transvulcania.

Cassie Scallon’s had some great success at Lake Sonoma, winning in 2013 and taking second in 2015. While I’ve not seen her race in a few years, she’s won numerous ultras from 50k to 50 miles on the West Coast the past few years.

Even More Ridiculously Strong Women

Anne-Marie Madden traded her usual running of the Chuckanut 50k this spring for a go at Way Tool Cool, where she finished third. Last year, she was second at Chuckanut and sixth at the Pikes Peak Marathon. Madden has seen success in more runnable 50 milers, taking fourth and sixth at the TNF Endurance Challenge 50-Mile Championships in 2014 and 2015, respectively.

Abby Mitchell didn’t have her best day in January when she took 15th at the Vibram Hong Kong 100k. On the other hand, she had a pretty great day at last year’s Lake Sonoma, where she took sixth. Just a few months earlier, she was seventh at the TNF 50 Mile Championships.

It turns out, Alissa St Laurent will be over racing 100 Miles of Istria this weekend. [Updated 4/10] I initially associate Alissa St Laurent with success at mountainous 100 milers. Why? She was fifth at Western States and second at Run Rabbit Run in 2016, as well as sixth at UTMB in 2017. That, and I’ve just not seen her numerous wins at 50k, 50 miles, and 100k.

Julia Stamps returns to Lake Sonoma, where she took fifth in 2017. The remainder of her limited ultrarunning resume includes seventh and 21st-place finishes and the TNF EC 50 Mile Championships in 2014 and 2016.

Australia’s Kellie Emmerson’s had a strong past few years. In 2017, she was fourth at the Tarawera 100k and fifth at UTMB, while in 2018 she was fourth at Madeira Island Ultra-Trail and won the Ultra-Trail Australia 100k.

By any measure, Corrine Malcolm had a great 2018. She started the season with a seventh at Way Too Cool. She then won the Canyons 100k, was ninth at Western States, and took fourth at TDS over at the UTMB races. What will 2019 hold for Corrine?

Pam Smith won’t be running this year’s Lake Sonoma 50. [Update 4/9] It’s been a few years since Pam Smith’s best performances on the trails, such as her win at Western States in 2013, fourth at Western States in 2014, and course record-setting win at the Angeles Crest 100 Mile in 2014. More recently, Smith took fifth at the 24-Hour World Championships in 2017 with 151 miles run. She has one appearance at Lake Sonoma, finishing 12th in 2015.

Lake Sonoma’s a no go for Holly Rush. [Updated 4/10] I don’t know that the U.K.’s Holly Rush has ever raced the trails over here in the US, but she will this weekend. If you don’t know her, Rush won the Ultravasan 90k in 2014, has taken seventh at Les Templiers in both 2014 and 2016, placed eighth and seventh at CCC in 2016 and 2017 respectively.

Well, they’re coming off the bottom of the list. Catrin Jones is out, too. [Updated 4/10] A few year’s back (2015 to be specific), Catrin Jones was second at the Chuckanut 50k. She’s also taken second at the Squamish 50 Mile in 2015, first at the Squamish 50k in 2018, and won the Whistler 50 Mile in a blistering 6:24 in 2015.

Other Women to Watch

  • Megan Arauzo – 1st 2019 Marin Ultra Challenge 50 Mile (course record); 1st 2018 Miwok 100k
  • Nicole Buurma – 9th 2018 Sonoma, 8th 2018 White River 50 Mile
  • Lauren Evans – 3rd 2014 American River 50 Mile; 1st 2017 Folsom Lake Trail Run 50k
  • Chelsea Factor – New to ultras in the past year, but has won Pilot Mountain to Hanging Rock 50 Mile and the 33-mile Long Play Trail Run
  • Johanna Gelfgren – 21-year-old Swede with strong trail finishes
  • Alicia Hudelson – 9th 2015 & 2016 Lake Sonoma; 8th 2017 Tarawera 100k; 5th 2016 Bandera 100k
  • Kristyn Kadala – 5th 2018 Broken Arrow Skyrace 52k; 15th 2017 TNF EC 50 Mile Championships
  • Caroline McKay – 20th 2017 UTMB; 6th 2016 Bandera 100k
  • Rebecca Murillo – 4th 2019 Nine Trails (35 mile); 4th 2017 Way Too Cool 50k
  • Kami Semick – This former runner up at Western States (2011) continues to hit the trail. She has more than half a dozen podium finishes at trail ultras over the past two years.
  • Julie Watts – 7th 2019 Black Canyon 100k; 2nd 2018 Leona Divide 50 Mile; 8th 2018 Sean O’Brien 100k
  • Kerrie Wlad – 4th 2015, 7th 2016 & 13th 2017 Lake Sonoma
  • Amber Zimmerman – 1st Silverton Ultramarathon 55k

2019 Lake Sonoma 50 Mile Men’s Preview

Once again, the men’s field at Lake Sonoma should be among the three strongest seen at an ultra in the U.S. this year, with its depth is on par with recent years. Still, before moving on it’s worth nothing that Anthony Costales, David Roche, Chris Mocko, Chris DeNucci, and Patrick Caron were previously entered, but are not racing.

Most Likely To Win

Having taken second last year, Jared Hazen (pre-race interview) is the top returnee to this year’s Lake Sonoma 50 Mile. Last year, Hazen also pulled off a second place at the Way Too Cool 50k and won the JFK 50 Mile in a blazing 5:34. He started off his 2019 season a few weeks ago taking second to Jim Walmsley at the Santa Barbara Nine Trails 35-mile race. Hazen also took third at Sonoma back in breakout 2015 season.

I’m not sure that Dakota Jones’s seventh at the Black Canyon 100k nor his ninth at the Behind the Rocks 50k so far this year are representative of his current fitness. Indeed, I doubt they are, as just last year he won the Kendall Mountain Run, La Luz Trail Run, the even-more-competitive-than-usual Pikes Peak Marathon, and the Imogene Pass Run. Looking a bit further back, he was second at Lake Sonoma in 2017 and, even further back, he won the race in 2012. Indeed, only five people have ever run faster than Dakota’s time of 6:17 from 2012.

It’s understandable if you’ve never heard of Sébastien Spehler (pre-race interview), as the Frenchman races nearly exclusively in France and rarely in the mountain events you hear the most about. That said, if Seb raced in the U.S. more often, you’d know who he is… and he’s an absolute terror on faster terrain. He’s won the Grand Trail des Templiers each of the past two years and was fourth the year before that. He was also second at the French Long-Distance Trail Championships in 2017 (38.5 miles with approx. 11,000 feet of climbing) and fourth at the same event on a different course (37 miles again with around 11,000 feet of gain). If he holds up with the travel, watch out!

Although Tom Evans (pre-race interview) started the year off with a disappointing DNF at the Vibram Hong Kong 100k in January, that shouldn’t take away from Tom’s momentum the past two years. In 2017, he showed he had plenty of speed in taking third at the Marathon des Sables before demonstrating his mountain prowess in taking fourth at the Eiger Ultra-Trail and CCC. Tom’s highlights from 2018 include placing third at the IAU Trail World Championships and winning CCC. If he’s not already, have this Brit on your radar.

After a few year’s hiatus, Max King returns to Lake Sonoma where he finished third in 2013, seventh in 2014, and ninth in 2015. I don’t see any trail results for him so far this year, but last year he won the Way Too Cool 50k in 3:18 and won the Broken Arrow Skyrace 26k. He was a more disappointing 18th at the Pikes Peak Marathon, but, then again, Lake Sonoma’s a bit closer to sea level.

More Podium Contenders

One of the most exciting spectating moments of 2018 was seeing Eric Senseman finally earn his Golden Ticket entry into Western States with his fourth-place finish at Sonoma. Among his strong finishes are a win at the 2017 JFK 50 Mile and a pair of third places at Black Canyon 100k in 2017 and 2019. Senseman was seventh at Nine Trails a few weeks ago.

Like Hazen and Senseman, another speedy runner from Flagstaff to look out for is Stephen Kersh. He’s now run a handful of 50 to 55k races with good success, including winning the Tamalpa Headlands 50k and placing second at the competitive Pass Mountain 50k last year as well as finishing third at the Moab Red Hot 55k this February. Kersh comes from a road and track background with PRs of, as best I can tell, 14:06 for 5k, 30:08 for 10k, an 1:04:36 for the half marathon. I believe this will be his 50-mile debut and it could be spectacular.

It’s a no go for Jorge Maravilla at Sonoma this year. [Updated 4/9] While we’ve not seen Jorge Maravilla racing as many trail ultras as he did just a few years back, he can still bust out a top result such as his fourth at the TNF EC 50-Mile Championships in 2016 and a tenth at CCC in 2017. Maravilla has been quite successful at Sonoma, placing sixth in 2012 and fourth in both 2013 and 2015.

I bet Drew Macomber hopes he can continue the momentum he set in moving from ninth in 2017 to fifth at last year’s Lake Sonoma. Last September, he took second at the Rock/Creek Stump Jump 50k.

I’ve not heard much of Gus Gibbs, but he’s taken third and second the past two Way Too Cool 50ks as well as placing second at last July’s White River 50 Mile.

Now 25 years old, Jeff Mogavero had his best ever ultrarunning season last year. His results include taking the win at the Marin Ultra Challenge 50k, sixth at Lake Sonoma, and third at the Broken Arrow Skyrace 52k. This year, he’s not showing any signs of slowing down, as he was third at the Way Too Cool 50k last month less than two minutes behind one Mr. Gibbs.

Yup, More Depth

Remember that time when Zach Szablewski ran out of his mind to take fourth at Lake Sonoma in 2017? I sure do! He’s had other strong runs, like tenth at the JFK 50 Mile in 2014, seventh at the Gorge Waterfall 100k in 2016, third at the White River 50 Mile in 2017… but that one time at Sonoma!

It looks like relatively new ultrarunner Bobby Peavey’s made some strong progress in the past half year, having taken fifth at the Moab Trail Marathon in November and winning the Moab Red Hot 55k in February where he outkicked Sage Canaday by a few seconds and bested Stephen Kersh, as well. Along with Kersh, he may have some of the highest upside potential in the men’s field.

Ben Koss may have Lake Sonoma better dialed in than any other race. His seventh and eighth-place finishes here in 2016 and 2018, respectively, are in line with his top performances anywhere. That’s not to say he doesn’t have other top performances. Proof, his 14th at the TNF EC 50 Mile Championships in 2015 and second at the Gorge Waterfalls 100k in 2017, when (I believe) it was an Altra Golden Ticket race.

Goodness, Ronnie Delzer sure can… and does run fast 100 milers! In 2015 he ran 14:15 at Rocky Raccoon, in 2017 he ran 13:44 at the same race, and later in 2017 he ran 13:40 at Brazos Bend. There’s a large disconnect between those results and taking 38th at the TNF 50 in 2015 or 25th at the Black Canyon 100k earlier this year. It’d be fun to see Delzer nail a shorter ultra at Sonoma.

Charlie Ware’s had an impressive stretch the past two years, during which time he’s been fourth at the 2017 Black Canyon 100k, third at the 2017 Run Rabbit Run 100 Mile, second at the 2018 Sean O’Brien 100k, and eighth at the 2018 Western States 100.

Never count Karl Meltzer out. I could see him running in 30th place at 10, 15, or even 20 miles into the race and, then, making a late go at the top ten. Meltzer ran the race in 2013, 2015, and 2016, gradually improving from 14th to 12th to eighth.

Tyler Fox looks to be on an upward trajectory, with his best results coming with the in the past two years. There’s his eighth place at the Rut 50k in 2017 followed by a 2018 that included a fourth at the Quad Rock 50 Mile, a second at the San Juan Solstice 50 Mile, a sixth at the Speedgoat 50k, and, then, a win at The Bear 100 Mile.

So far, Lake Sonoma hasn’t been Jesse Haynes’s course. He was 16th in 2014, DNFed in 2015, and was 19th in 2016, with those races falling in a stretch of four top-ten Western States finishes (and one DNF) in five years. Last year, Haynes nabbed fifth place at the Hardrock 100.

Other Men to Watch

  • Guillaume Calmettes – Shorter and faster than his wheelhouse, but a hat tip if he starts after his Barkley Fun Run finish two weeks earlier; 1st 2016 Angeles Crest 100 Mile; 2nd 2017 HURT 100 Mile [Updated 4/11]
  • Vincent Dimassa – 1st 2019 Marin Ultra Challenge 50 Mile; 6th 2018 Broken Arrow Skyrace 52km
  • Andrew Erickson – 1st 2018 Vermont 50 Mile
  • Justin Grunewald – 1st 2018 Afton Trail 50k
  • Brett Hornig – 12th 2016 Lake Sonoma; 7th 2016 Way Too Cool 50k; 3rd 2015 Chuckanut 50k
  • Kanoa King – 4th 2018 Black Canyon 100k; 6th 2018 Canyons 100k
  • Hal Koerner – 4th 2012 Lake Sonoma
  • Jordan Lafreniere – 2nd 2017 Kettle Moraine 100k
  • Thomas Morgan – 1st 2018 Yamacraw 50k (course record); 4th 2018 Mountain Lakes 100 Mile
  • Bentley Regehr – 12th 2017 Lake Sonoma
  • Ruperto Romero – 1st 2014 Angeles Crest 100 Mile; 1st 2018 Sean O’Brien 50 Mile
  • Connor Stauffer – 10th 2019 Way Too Cool 50k
  • Brian Tinder – 13th 2014 Lake Sonoma 50 Mile
  • Stephen Wassather – 1st 2016 Sean O’Brien 100k; 4th 2016 Bandera 100k; 6th 2017 Bandera 100k

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?
Categories: Races
Bryon Powell: is the Editor-in-Chief of iRunFar.com, which he founded more than 10 years ago. Having spent more than 15 years as an ultrarunner and 25 years as a trail runner, he's also written <a href="https://www.irunfar.com/rfp">Relentless Forward Progress: A Guide to Running Ultramarathons</a> and co-wrote <a href="https://www.irunfar.com/where-the-road-ends-a-guide-to-trail-running">Where the Road Ends: A Guide to Trail Running</a>. These days he calls Moab, Utah and its trails home<a href="https://plus.google.com/110912864360970371436?rel=author">.</a>

View Comments (21)

  • Need to note that Hazen dropped out of the Black Canyon 100K with stomach issues, correct?

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    • Good catch. Didn't cross my mind.

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  • Sébastien Spehler won the Lavaredo Ultra Tral in 2013.

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    • Nice!

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  • ya thats the kind of insight/inside info we r looking for here in the competition preview! makes more sense now that we know he showed up late to a start line, or if he had been telling people he was just training through his 2019 races, etc...

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  • Let's go Blewski, you got this man! Pogachas on me when you get back!

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  • Let’s go Gus!

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  • My guy Zach has been running strong out in them Issy alps. Hoping for another big day from him.

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  • Unfortunately, Holly Rush won't be able to make it per her IG and Marathon Talk pod.

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    • Dang. I hope it works out next time!

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  • What a stacked women's field!

    1) Herron
    2) Nowlin
    3) Boulet
    4) Little
    5) Wolf
    6) Wang
    7) Mayfield
    8) Bracy
    9) Flynn
    10) Malcolm

    Lots of fast names outside the top 10 too!

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  • 1. Hazen
    2. Evans
    3. Spheler

    1. Herron
    2. Wolf
    3. Mayfield

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  • I don't think I understand the logic regarding the statement about Dakota. How are last year's results more indicative of his current fitness than his recent 2019 results? I sure wish my 2018 results meant I was in good shape right now. I'd love to see him back to his 2018 form or even beat his 2012 time, but his 2019 results certainly don't indicate his fitness is there just yet. I hope you have some insider info and that he crushes it this weekend. Should be fun to watch!

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    • Well, for one, he showed up late for the start of the Behind the Rocks race. :-)

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  • Camille. Max King

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  • Alissa St Laurent is on the 100 Miles of Istria start list this weekend..?

    Thank you for all the wonderful race coverage.

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    • Well, that'd be a heck of a double! :-)

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  • 1. Wolf
    2. Wang
    3. Emmerson

    1. Hazen
    2. Jones
    3. Kersh

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  • Hey Irunfar amigos, as much as I'd love to join the LS50 fiesta, I will not be attending this year's race. And yes, I've not been competing in as many trail ultras over the last few years, but....I'm BACK, see you all on the trails soon! Un abrazo, keep doing all the incredible work, gracias!

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  • Thanks for the shout out, but I won't be running.

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    • Shucks. Hope to see you soon, Pam!

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