Bertolina finishes epic run, bike and swim around Lake Tahoe | SierraSun.com
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Bertolina finishes epic run, bike and swim around Lake Tahoe

Laney Griffo
Special to the Sierra Sun

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE — A few minutes before midnight on Wednesday, Sept. 23, Andi Bertolina finished her 14-day swim, bike and run around Lake Tahoe.

There was literal blood, sweat and tears and it took Bertolina about 24 hours before she said she felt human again.

Her swim was scheduled to be done over 12 days, and she said in general it went really well.

However, the smoke put a little damper on the swim, although Bertolina said in the water, it didn’t affect her too badly. There was also a day that was so windy and rainy that she wasn’t able to swim, but she made up those miles on the rest of her days, keeping her on schedule.

The hardest part, though, was the repetitiveness of swimming for five to six hours for 11 days.

On the last day, Bertolina’s dad surprised her by having South Lake Tahoe Fire and Rescue on Marine 1 escort her to the beach.

“When I first saw the fire boat, I thought we were getting in trouble,” Bertolina said. “They cheered me on for the last mile so I tried to swim a little faster and look a little better. It’s nice to have support but it puts a lot of pressure on you.”

Each night, Bertolina went to her home in Stateline and slept in her own bed which she said was a lifesaver. Ski Run Boat Company gave her a boat to use for free during the swim so each morning she was able to get in the boat and easily get back to where she’d left off on the day before.

After the swim, came the bike. The bike was the part of the journey she was least worried about. Bertolina and a friend had a casual day riding around the lake. It took them five hours.

Then the run, the part she was most worried about.

“I started good but around mile 30, I started getting tired,” Bertolina said. From mile 30 to around 50, she had three different friends pace her which she said helped her get through the hardest parts.

Once her pacers left her and she was alone again, she said it got tough.

Then around mile 55 she felt a blister on her foot pop so she stopped to dress the wound.

“When I took my shoes off, I saw three of the worst blisters I’d ever had and I had a little bit of a breakdown,” Bertolina said. “I had 17 miles left and I knew I was going to finish even if i walked the whole way but I also knew it was going to be painful.”

From there, one of her friends volunteered to pace her again, forcing her to run again and keep her going.

She power-walked the last 3 miles.

“I was so tired and it was dark,” Bertolina said. “All I wanted to do was sit down.”

It wasn’t until several hours after she had finished, when she had showered and eaten, sitting on the couch with her friends and family that she realized what she had just accomplished.

“Now that it’s over, I’m glad I did it,” Bertolina said. “To know I’m capable of doing something like that is pretty insane.”

Bertolina said she has no desire to do anything that extreme again or at least anytime soon.

Laney Griffo is a Staff Writer with the Tahoe Daily Tribune, a sister publication to the Sierra Sun. She can be reached at lgriffo@tahoedailytribune.com.


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