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Lake Sonoma 50: The unicorn chase

Canadian Anne-Marie Madden talks about her top 10 finish at 2019 Lake Sonoma 50-miler

Lake Sonoma 50-miler near Healdsburg, California on April 13 had one of the most stacked fields toeing the line. Being the only 50-mile race in the Golden Ticket series for Western States 100, the event historically attracts competitive and professional ultrarunners. It is also ITRA certified, providing UTMB points for all finishers. With 3,200 metres of elevation gain, buff smooth single-track, and twelve creek crossings, the race is a celebration of the trail community. The stacked list of starters included Canadian legend Anne-Marie Madden, supported by a unicorn galloping around the forest.

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Photo: Max Romey

Madden chose to run Lake Sonoma as part of her “year of America.” The Canadian is in the middle of her Cardiothoracic Anesthesiology Fellowship at Stanford Hospital. Although going for a Golden Ticket was not part of her race plan, the athlete decided if she did place first or second, she would likely accept the opportunity. Placing eighth was a major accomplishment in the stacked field. “I think it’s for the best that I don’t try and fit in 100 mile training right now. I think it would be too much.”

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Anna Mae Flynn and YiOu Wang finished first and second, only 18 seconds apart. Addie Bracy was just two minutes behind for third female. Flynn and Bracy were awarded Golden Tickets, as Wang accepted hers at Black Canyon 100K. In the men’s race, Jared Hazen raced to first and Sébastien Spehler to second, both receiving Golden Tickets. Madden felt excited about how competitive the race was, considering it “a wonderful opportunity to meet lots of great women. It also makes for an entertaining run as you pass people and people pass you.”
Photo: Max Romey

The women’s race was close. The top ten females, including Madden were less than an hour apart. Another highlight for Madden was Max King prancing along the course cheering in Amy Leedham’s unicorn suit. Madden is recovering this week, and has yet to plan her next race. She hopes to return to Squamish 50 when she is back on home trails in August. “If anyone has any suggestions, send them my way!”

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