As the calendar turns from March to April, trail runners from around the world turn their attention toward an iconic event just north of the California Bay Area. The grueling Lake Sonoma 50 throws more than 10,000 feet of elevation gain - and an equal amount in descent - at the field over a mostly single-track 50-mile course. Known for a fun apres scene, as well as a qualifier for the Western States 100, the LS 50 is a suffer fest that is as technical as it is sneaky for sucking the life out of overly ambitious fast starters. We sat down with Salomon ambassadors Guillaume Calmettes, Max King, Aliza Lapierre, and Cassie Scallon over lunch to talk about what draws them to this unique event, what keeps them up at night as they train, and what's this legendary party all about?
WHY LAKE SONOMA?
Cassie Scallon: It's a big party. There's dinner the night before, and it's always good to catch up with everyone there. Magnums of wine, and then there's the after party.
Guillaume Calmettes: I heard April was an awesome time to run around the lake. I have a big race just before, so I'm not going to compete but I have the intention of just enjoying the run. No pressure whatsoever, which is really cool. It's an iconic race.
Max King: It's got an apres ski kind of vibe to it.
Esther Kendall: And ice cream sundae bars.
WHAT ARE YOU TRAINING IN?
Aliza Lapierre: Conditions look like they could be muddy, so I've been training in the Speedcross 5. I want something that sheds the mud but gives me good traction.
Max: The course isn't too rocky, never been muddy when I run. And it's pretty dry, so I could almost consider a road shoe, some sort of hard-ground shoe.
Cassie: For hydration, I might wear a belt this year. In the past I've just done a handheld.
WHAT'S YOUR RACE PLAN?
Cassie: Everyone talks about it being a smooth, non-technical course, but it's the bloodiest I've ever been during a race.
Max: Just managing things early. Everyone thinks of it going so fast, so they just blow it out at the start.
Aliza: I like to start conservative and then move my way up through the field. Suffering for me starts around Mile 35.
Max: Yeah, for me it's about the last third of the race.
Guillaume: This will be my first 50-mile race, usually I'm longer. This will be a fast race for me, suffering will start early. I'm excited for it.
WHAT MAKES YOU NERVOUS?
Aliza: I often fear the unknown, and I've never done Lake Sonoma. I only know what I see in the media, which is a fun atmosphere but also a fast, competitive race. Interested to see where I stack up.
Max: I've done it three times now and never nailed it.
WHAT ARE YOUR RACE GOALS?
Aliza: I want to see where I am at this point in the year. Can't wait to test myself mentally and physically.
Max: I'm going for Top 2, but I have no idea what's going to happen. That's what everyone knows you're there for, getting that Western States ticket.
Thanks to our Salomon ambassadors for sharing their time and thoughts with us, and good luck to everyone running this year's Lake Sonoma 50 on April 13.