By Sarah Lavender Smith April 15, 2013 TWEET COMMENTS 3

Showdown in Cali - Page 2

“I did the math in my head and knew if I finished strong I’d probably be able to get it by a couple of minutes—but you never know what’s going to happen; you can cramp up or twist your ankle on a rock, and I didn’t know how much climbing was left out there, either. The last four miles I really had to put my head down and increase my effort.”

Runner-up Clayton finished about 11 minutes later, in 6:26:24, after leapfrogging with King.  Like Canaday, he’s a relative newcomer to the sport, with Lake Sonoma 50 being only his third 50-miler; he won and set a course record at his debut ultra last September, the Run Rabbit Run 50 Miler.

“I passed [King] for the first time and got a little ahead of him from miles 20 to 25, then he passed me back and put a two-minute gap on me, and then I passed him at mile 42 or so,” Clayton said afterwards. “We each had our own little blowups. I was a little dehydrated, and Max has been really busy, having a lot of racing and a lot on his plate. I think he was a little fatigued.” (King won and significantly lowered the course record at the Way Too Cool 50K in early March, and placed 2nd in the Chuckanut 50K one week later.)

King finished third in 6:33:57, followed by
 Jorge Maravilla, 35, of Vallejo, California, in 6:39:05; and Dave Mackey, 43, of Boulder, Colorado, in 6:40:46. (Full results here.)

Women’s winner Scallon, who finished 23rd overall, savored a hard-fought victory after experiencing “total exhaustion and cramps; my stomach was too full and wasn’t digesting,” she said after the finish.

“I went out too fast; I ran the first 20 miles like it was going to be the only 20 miles, just hoping for a miracle day, and that didn’t happen,” Scallon explained. “I bonked pretty hard, and [Vaught] passed me sometime in the early 30s and stayed ahead of me for about 10 miles. I wasn’t expecting to catch her at all—I was expecting to be passed by about 50 other people—and all of a sudden I went around a corner and saw her across the way, which gave me a some energy.”

Cassie Scallon floats one of Lake Sonoma's numerous creek crossings. Photo by Noé Castañón

Vaught, 38, of Boise, Idaho, ran about 10 minutes slower than her record-setting time last year, finishing in 8:02:39.  “It was a rough day,” she said afterward. “I was hanging on for second, that was my goal once Cassie passed me. … I’ve never had leg cramps, but I did today.”

Not far back, Amy Sproston, 39, of Portland, Oregon, and Rory Bosio, 28, of Soda Springs, California, challenged each other for third place. Sproston said afterward that she passed Bosio around mile 38 or 39. “It’s a tough course, with relentless hills … but I was moving pretty well the last 20 miles or so,” Sproston said at the finish.

Completing the women’s top five were Bosio, in 8:08:37, and Meghan Arbogast, 51, of Corvallis, Oregon, in 8:15:58.

An exceptionally scenic as well as rugged race, the Lake Sonoma 50 takes place in the wine country about an hour and a half north of San Francisco.

The out-and-back course climbs a total of about 10,500 feet and follows mostly singletrack along the southern arm of the lake, until a couple of major hills in the middle miles, which are on fire roads.

Runners cross six creeks each way, guaranteeing wet feet. A forest of oak, bay and madrone shades the trail, and bunches of blooming lupine and wild irises mix purple into the green hillsides.

“The creeks are amazing, and the vistas are beautiful,” said Clayton. “There’s no flat—it’s all up and down, up and down. It’s a great course.”

Medinger, the publisher of UltraRunning magazine, began the race in his hometown in 2008 and limits the field to about 300. It’s now so popular that the spots filled within about eight hours after online registration opened in December.  Of the 311 starters this year, 266 finished.

“The number of hot shots makes it pretty intense,” Medinger said before the event, “but I try to keep the mood light.” To that end, he asks runners to follow just three rules: Be nice, don’t litter and have fun.

Sarah Lavender Smith of Piedmont, California, frequently contributes to Trail Runner and blogs about trail running and travel at TheRunnersTrip.com. She ran and finished Saturday’s Lake Sonoma 50 in 9:36:52.


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