TRUCKEE — By the time JP Donovan coasted down Old Highway 40 on his bike — with not a single competitor in sight — he had all but secured the Donner Lake Triathlon Olympic title.
All that remained was the run, his strongest discipline of the three.
The 27-year-old trail-running specialist from Incline Village padded his lead on the 6.5-mile run en route to winning the 33rd annual Donner Lake Triathlon on Sunday, posting a time of 2:11:01.
Upon reaching the finish line at West End Beach, Donovan pumped his fist in victory, then promptly dunked his sweaty body into the cool water of Donner Lake.
Truckee’s Chris Cloyd, 29, finished second in 2:19:45, and Jason Watson, 35, of Chico crossed the line third in 2:19:56.
“He’s pretty fast,” Cloyd said of Donovan, who also won the June Lake Triathlon ahead of second-place Cloyd earlier this month. “I knew he was racing today, and I knew he’d be tough.”
After exiting the water with the fourth-fastest swimming time among the 281 athletes in the Olympic Triathlon, Donovan recorded the fastest times in both the biking and running legs of the race.
The swim measures 0.9 miles, while the bike sends competitors on a 24.8-mile ride up Old 40 to Kingvale and back. The run laps the lake.
“I definitely like the uphill portions of the bike. I like digging in and going after it,” Donovan said, adding that he also embraced the only significant hill on the run. “I’m used to running straight up hills, so I ate that hill up.”
As he tried to swim a straight line at the start of the race, Donovan said he was well aware that Cloyd and fellow Incline Village athlete Rob Laurie were chasing him.
“I was thinking the names Chris Cloyd and Rob Laurie the whole time. They are monsters out there,” he said.
Laurie, 48, was the third local finisher and ninth overall, posting a time of 2:32:04.
Anna Mae Flynn, 27, of Tahoma claimed a convincing win among the women’s field and was 24th overall with a time of 2:40:42. She was followed by Joanne Gilchrist, 44, of Chico, who crossed the line in 2:48:45, and Sara Enders, 30, of Chico, who was third in 2:50:10. Truckee’s Samantha Shields, 43, placed fourth among women in 2:54:33.
Markham Gross of Incline finished 17th overall (2:38:45), Jay Lennon of Truckee placed 25th (2:41:33), Dan Haas of Homewood was 42nd (2:52:07), and Peter Hanson of Incline was 45th (2:54:35).
While the historic Olympic distance remains the staple of the Donner Lake Triathlon, the event features four races in total, including a Sprint and Kids triathlon on Saturday and a Half Triathlon on Sunday.
The Half Triathlon is the same distance as an Ironman 70.3, or half of an Ironman. Now in its second year as part of the Donner Lake Triathlon, the Half is made up of a 1.2-mile swim, a 56-mile bike and a 13-plus-mile run (twice around Donner Lake).
Julian Sunn, 29, of Santa Cruz raced to victory in the Half Triathlon, covering the demanding course in a time of 4:36:52. Andres Rosales, 37, of Larkspur was second in 4:52:34, and Justin Smith of Ione was third in 4:54:08. A total of 111 people reached the finish line.
In the women’s field, Danielle Widenmann, 32, of Vacaville was the top finisher and 13th overall with a time of 5:23:13. Rachel Main, 38, of Oakland was second in 5:23:41, and Susannah Breen, 33, of Pleasant Hill was third in 5:25:12.
Truckee’s Donatas Ereminas, 32, was the top local, finishing fifth with a time of 4:59:12. Dustin Hawes, 37, of Truckee placed 12th in 5:22:22, and former Major League Baseball player Eric Byrnes, 38, who claims Truckee as his hometown, was 18th in 5:30:12. Truckee’s Jeff Schloss, 56, a Nordic coach at the Sugar Bowl Academy, was 23rd in 5:40:45.
Other top local finishers included Judy Anderson of Carnelian Bay, who was sixth among women and 36th overall in 5:52:41, Joshua Wheeler of Truckee (40th, 6:01:21), Marc Rancourt of Incline (45th, 6:04:50), David Schroeder of Truckee (55th, 6:10:56), and Adrian Tieslau of Tahoe Vista (59th, 6:12:06).
Like he does every year, 50-year-old Michael Smith of Santa Barbara outdistanced the field to win his 11th consecutive Donner Lake Sprint Triathlon. He covered the course — a quarter-mile swim, 6-mile bike and 2-mile run — in a time of 42:01.
Spencer Smith, 18, of Santa Barbara was second in 44:11, and Jake Gibbs, 17, of Sebastopol rounded out the top three in 44:34.
Janice Broad, 44, of Carson City was the top female racer and 16th overall, recording a time of 50:19. She was trailed by Leslie Tomaich, 43, of Roseville, who finished in 52:27, while Shauna Althof, 36, of Truckee was the third woman and 23rd overall in 54:03.
A large contingent of young racers from the Truckee/Tahoe area — many of them from the Wild Cherries Triathlon Team — fared well in the Sprint. They were led by 15-year-old Zachary Williams of Truckee, who placed seventh overall with a time of 46:00.
Other locals included Truckee’s Haydn Halvorsen, 13, who finished ninth in 48:19, Ian Smith, 15, who was 10th in 48:30, Dawson Smith, 15, who was 12th in 50:16, Cooper Anderson, 13, of Carnelian Bay (14th, 50:43), Tyler Ferrera, 14, of Truckee (15th, 50:47), and Christopher Miller, 15, of Truckee (18th, 50:57).
The Kids Triathlon was designed to be short and fun and featured nine categories based on age and gender.
The youngest age group was 1-6 and the oldest 13-15. The race was well attended, with 197 youth athletes in total.
Division winners included Zoe Jackson, 6, of Kings Beach (female 1-6 age group), Zachary Otoupal, 6, of Draper, Utah (male 1-6), Taylor Rolefson, 8, of Oakland (female 7-8), Oscar Costamagna, 7, of Truckee (male 7-8), Aleksen Thayer, 9, of Truckee (female 9-10), Wyatt Hamilton, 10, of Auburn (male 9-10), Blake Brennan, 11, of Corvallis, Ore. (female 11-12), Everett Grass, 11, of Tahoe City (male 11-12), Kaitlyn Burnham, 14, of Tahoe City (female 13-15), and Sean Dunkelman, 14, of Gardnerville (male 13-15).
Among all four races, 776 athletes reached the finish line at the 2014 Donner Lake Triathlon.
View a photo gallery from the event at www.lefrakphotography.com.