The 2023 Lake Sonoma 50 Mile saw the race return to its former prominence as one of the most competitive ultramarathons in the U.S. this year. Kicking off at 6:30 a.m. local time on the shores of Lake Sonoma outside Healdsburg, California, both the women’s and men’s races saw large packs whittled down over the first 20 or so miles of the race, before an eventual leader emerged, who’d later be overtaken before the finish line. In the end, it was Drew Holmen and Erin Clark who would come out on top after tight battles through the front of both fields.
This year sees the Lake Sonoma 50 Mile run on a new course, with the biggest change being a move of the start/finish to the park’s visitor center. The current course features nearly 10,000 feet (9,915 feet/3,302 meters) of climb and an equal amount of descent over its relentlessly rolling 50.8 miles (81.8 kilometers). The previous course had a reported 10,500 feet (3,200 meters) of climb, but that’s well within the margin of error. Still, it’s best to consider this an entirely new course and only roughly compare this year’s times with those of the past.
For 2023, the Lake Sonoma 50 Mile served as a qualifier for the 2023 Trail World Championships 80-kilometer race, which will be held in June, in Austria. The men’s and women’s podium finishers earned spots on Team USA.
2023 Lake Sonoma 50 Mile Men’s Race
A group of a dozen men took out the race, all passing through the Warm Springs Creek aid station at mile 13.5 roughly together. By mile 21, passing through the Madrone aid station outbound, Morgan Elliot had roughly a minute lead with Preston Cates, Zach Perrin, Drew Holmen, Seth Ruhling, and Caleb Olson about a minute back and with Matthew Seidel, Tracen Knopp, and Richard Lockwood all within roughly another minute.
Midway though the race, Elliot continued to hold a minute lead on the field at Lone Rock, but he fell back to third with Holmen and Perrin together out in front by the return trip through Madrone at mile 30.4. Eight miles later, on the second pass through Warm Springs Creek at mile 38, Holmen had a full eight-minute lead on Olson, with Cates and Knopp running together in third, 10.5 minutes off the lead, and Lockwood holding fifth just over 15 minutes off the front.
Drew Holmen continued to build his lead on the way to winning the 2023 Lake Sonoma 50 Mile in 6:44 with Caleb Olson finishing less than 12 minutes back in second. Preston Cates pulled away from Tracen Knopp with the pair finishing third and fourth respectively. Chris Myers moved up in in the final miles to take fifth, only a few seconds behind fourth place.
2023 Lake Sonoma 50 Mile Men’s Results
- Drew Holmen – 6:44:20
- Caleb Olson – 6:55:45
- Preston Cates – 7:02:42
- Tracen Knopp – 7:05:19
- Chris Myers – 7:05:47
- Richard Lockwood – 7:06:27
- Ryan Sullivan – 7:15:46
- Matthew Seidel – 7:25:28
- Addison Smith – 7:31:46
- William Conner – 7:46:41
2023 Lake Sonoma 50 Mile Women’s Race
At mile 13, the Warm Springs Creek aid station saw the first 25 runners through being all men and, then, what must have been the remnants of the women’s pack, as the next 13 runners through were all women. Tara Fraga, Hannah Osowski, Sarah Biehl, Anne-Marie Madden, and Erin Clark were the first five in that train, but all 13 passed through within three and a half minutes. Eight miles later, outbound at the Madrone aid station, it was still 13-straight women after the first set of men. Osowski and Clark led that group with Fraga and Biehl less than a minute back and Allison Baca, Sarah Keyes, and Madden in another group less than 90 seconds off the lead.
Midway through the race, Keyes had a smallest of leads on Baca with Clark still within a minute of the front. Osowski and Fraga ran together less than two minutes off the lead. What a race!
Another four miles closer to the finish at Madrone inbound (mile 30.4), Keyes had built a 90-second lead on Baca with Clark less than two minutes off the front and both Osowski and Fraga still within five minutes of the lead. By mile 38 at Warm Springs inbound, Clark had closed the gap to Keyes with the pair now running together at the head of the women’s race, and with Baca in third still less than three minutes off the lead. Six minutes off the front, Osowski continued to run in fourth, while Lauren Puretz had passed Fraga to move into fifth by the smallest of margins.
Mile 45 saw Clark running alone in the lead nearly four minutes ahead of Keyes with Baca now barely 20 seconds out of second place. Meanwhile, Osowski was less than three minutes out of second with Fraga having repassed Puretz to hold fifth position by a mere 90 seconds.
After seven hours of tight racing, It was Erin Clark who broke the tape for the women with a five-minute victory over Allison Baca. Sarah Keyes took third less than three and a half minutes behind Baca, and Hannah Osowski took fourth, less than 10 minutes behind the winner. Tara Fraga held off Lauren Puretz to take fifth.
2023 Lake Sonoma 50 Mile Women’s Results
- Erin Clark – 7:49:27
- Allison Baca – 7:54:26
- Sarah Keyes – 7:57:50
- Hannah Osowski – 7:58:56
- Tara Fraga – 8:11:09
- Lauren Puretz – 8:12:47
- Shea Aquilano – 8:16:59
- Kristina Randrup – 8:25:32
- Anne-Marie Madden – 8:31:46
- Natalie Chirgwin – 8:32:26