California Classic Partners with NNormal at Lake Sonoma – A Late-Season Western States Qualifier

September 12, 2023

A Late-Season Western States Qualifier

/ENDURANCE SPORTSWIRE/ – Healdsburg Running Company and NNormal are partnering on October 21, 2023 to bring the vineyards and trails alive this fall with the third annual California Classic race series at Lake Sonoma. The race includes a 100K (a rare late-season Western States qualifier) and a 55K with a redesigned new loop for 2023 – geared to be your first Ultra.

“NNormal is honored to join the Lake Sonoma family and to share the iconic trails with so many runners. The Sonoma region has a rich history in the sport of trail running, and the Lake Sonoma series continues to do good in the community while inspiring all runners of every level. We admire the push towards environmental stewardship at trail running events, and the race’s vision for inclusivity in trail running.” – Michael Ambrose, Country Manager NNormal

The 55K is the perfect opportunity for first-time and veteran ultra runners to experience the iconic Lake Sonoma course which has beckoned top athletes from around the world since 2008. This is a great opportunity for normal people to become ultra runners.

Both races feature miles upon miles of sweet, single-track trails around beautiful Lake Sonoma in its cooler fall season. Proceeds from both events benefit the Sonoma Farm Bureau, which helps support college scholarships for vineyard workers’ kids. The Lake Sonoma 22 year old race series and Wilson Winery has raised more than $500,000 to date.

NNormal may be new to Lake Sonoma but its roots run deep from Norway to Mallorca and now to Sonoma County. Kilian Jornet, Dakota Jones and other trail running legends got their start right here on California trails.

Sam Karthan, recently from the mountains of Utah is the new co-director. At the age of 25 he is here to encourage young runners like himself to join the ultra-community. The California Classic at Lake Sonoma supports this goal with a festival like atmosphere of free car camping and all-inclusive benefits. Sam brings his environmental science background to the event, ensuring that we leave no trace and achieve excellent environmental stewardship. He looks to foster a new generation of ultra-runners and empower our volunteers and athletes to build sustainable partnerships by minimizing our footprint and impact.

Race Series Director Skip Brand replaced himself a couple of years ago with the incredible Gina Lucrezi, who established Lake Sonoma 50 in April as a Trail Sisters race that now attracts two women for every man at this iconic race. Skip brought on Sam as Co-Director since he is in with the twenties and all ultra races need to be recruiting young runners who are fast, but just have not ran a big longer race. Look for Sam to add features, policies and schwag that appeals to future runners.

“Skip had to fire himself to get more women racing Lake Sonoma, for the California Classic he is doing something similar by granting me this opportunity to co-race direct alongside him. Ultra-running has changed my life in so many positive ways, I want others in their 20s to experience it too,” said Sam.

It is Sam and Skip’s mission to ensure that young runners make it here. As Skip puts it, “The more diverse the runners are by race, age, sex, geography, the higher the quality of the race.” The Race Series has a history of finding young people and discovering new young talent as demonstrated by the winners at Western States & UTMB.

Co-race director Skip Brand is looking forward to welcoming runners to this California Classic with a wine country harvest setting. Sonoma County is known as an endurance capital thanks to elite cyclist, huge triathlons and the former home of UltraRunning Magazine. A trip to Sonoma allows athletes to enjoy all of the perks of the region – our local food, wine, beer and, best of all, hospitality. As a “community-first” event, the California Classic creates a more engaging and personable feel on race day for all those involved thanks to the 200+ local volunteers.

The California Classic 100K at Lake Sonoma is a new late-season Western States qualifier, filling the gap left by the long standing North Face 50 in Marin. Sponsors include NNormal, RNNR, Scratch and other partners who are looking to revitalize the old-school ultra community and present an alternative to big, corporate races.