U.S. Team Selection Opportunities at the Lake Sonoma 50 Mile

TLDR: What to remember in threes.

  • Team U.S.A
  • Red. White. Blue
  • How To Qualify
  • Top three M/W
  • Lake Sonoma 50
  • 4.8.2023
  • Dreams Come True!

Lake Sonoma 50 Mile start. Photo: Let’s Wander Photography.

Now in its sixteenth year, the Lake Sonoma 50 Mile, which will be held in the rolling hills surrounding Northern California wine country on April 8, 2023, will serve as a selection race for the US Teams competing at the World Mountain & Trail Running Championships in Austria this coming June. The top three men and top three women from the 50 mile race will earn automatic spots to compete in the 80-kilometer Long Trail race at the World Championships.

Adam Peterman, winner of the 2022 World Championship Long Trail race, will have an automatic spot on the team, while the rest of the spots will be decided based on resume submissions. If you are an elite athlete who wants to compete in long distance trail racing on the world stage (and your name is not Adam Peterman), then the Lake Sonoma 50 is your best chance to make dreams come true. Learn more about how to qualify for the US Mountain and Trail Running Teams.

Why Lake Sonoma 50?

The Lake Sonoma 50 Mile race has established itself as a household name in trail running circles. Race founders John Medinger and Lisa Henson have attracted many of the best up-and-coming ultrarunners to their event over the years, giving these athletes the opportunity to face great competition and make names for themselves in the sport. The race has been tackled by many of ultrarunning’s greatest athletes including Anna Mae Flynn, Addie Bracy, Magdalena Boulet, Zach Miller, Rob Krar, Sage Canaday and of course the two course record holders: Stephanie Howe (2015) and Jim Walmsley (2018). The top three runners in any given year at this event would make great additions to Team USA. Now, for the first time they will be given the chance.

Race director Gina Lucrezi. Photo: Let’s Wander Photography.

The course is a single-track trail roller coaster with unrelenting climbs and descents. Although there are no “monster hills,” the course does feature 10,500 feet of total elevation gain. The race is held near sea level, making it accessible for both altitude and non-altitude adjusted athletes alike. The shorter, punchy hills also mimic many of the courses at World Championships trail events, which is one reason it will be good preparation for athletes who make the team for Austria. The Lake Sonoma course has been slightly altered from years prior to replace a 2.5 mile road section with two miles of trail and only half a mile of road, making the course 98.4% trail. Overall, the Lake Sonoma 50 Mile course is approachable for first timers on the course, but it will still provide challenges to the most experienced runners. Make sure to do your hill repeats for this race!

Gina Lucrezi, who took over as race director for the event in 2022 (and who also founded Trail Sisters, an organization dedicated to getting more women on trails), shares her thoughts on the process of the Lake Sonoma 50 Mile becoming a selection race, “When approached by the USATF Mountain Ultra Trail executive committee, it was a no-brainer for me as race director. To be affiliated and help foster the opportunity for athletes to have their big dreams come true is so special. More folks in the competitive realm will be vying for the top spots than ever before. I appreciate the opportunity from USATF MUT and I’m hopeful we do a great job and they consider us for the following year. We already had intentions to up our game this year, and now being chosen as a selection race we are taking that responsibility to the next level.”

Gold medal winning U.S. women’s team. Photo: Hunter Imagery.

Lucrezi also feels a personal connection to provide opportunities for athletes to run on Team USA because she was a member of the gold medal winning US team at the 2012 World Long Distance Mountain Running Championships. Lucrezi shares what that experience meant to her and what it’s like to empower others with this same opportunity, “My competitive running years (in high school, college and professional) were great parts of my life but perspectives and desires change. Now, being on the flip side, offering opportunities for others to experience competitive racing on the world stage for Team USA is amazing. I want everyone to have one of their greatest race experiences and it feels to me like this whole circle has come around. I remember doing selection races, and being an athlete excited for the opportunity. It gives a special feel to the event and now I have the opportunity to provide that for others on their journey to represent Team USA.”

Even with the increased focus on the elite athletes this year, Lucrezi also aims to improve the overall race experience for all racers from the back to the front of the pack. She shares her commitment to building a festive race atmosphere and community, “The biggest thing about this race is the community. We have always had support from the local running community that has helped build this race since its inception. It has always been known as a competitive event, and we will most certainly continue this focus, but also bring a renewed focus on creating a race that is welcoming and accessible for others. We want an experience that is great for any community member from racers to spectators and we will focus on building a bigger festival and community feel throughout the entire weekend. We hope to expand on camaraderie in the sport and for people to learn from and meet one another and to show there’s all different types of people who run. We want to foster an experience for people to come together in the outdoors.”

Kaci Lickteig at the 2016 Lake Sonoma 50 Mile. Photo: Richard Bolt.

$9000 in Prize Money!

The race will also award prize money to the top five men and women:

  • 1st: $2,000
  • 2nd: $1,000
  • 3rd: $750
  • 4th: $500
  • 5th: $250

In an effort to promote clean sport, the Lake Sonoma 50 Mile race may also be administering USADA (United States Anti-Doping Agency) compliant anti-doping tests in accordance with the USADA Protocol for Olympic and Paralympic Movement Testing. Learn more about drug testing in mountain, ultra trail running in my clean sport article series.

Photo: Richard Bolt.

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