Donner Lake triathletes feel relief at end
Some had more pep in their step than others, breezing through the finish as if impervious to fatigue. Others weaved across the line stabilized only by wobbly legs, exhausted after miles of all-out exertion.
Regardless of their physical state, there was one constant among the triathletes who completed Sunday’s 26th annual Donner Lake Triathlon: They all radiated a glowing sense of accomplishment.
It was written all over their faces. And deservedly so.
“[The triathlon] was awesome,” Truckee’s Spencer Wood, 18, said with exuberance in the finish tent, sweat dripping from his brow.
Wood, a 2007 Truckee High graduate and competitive Nordic skier, had just completed the Olympic-distance international triathlon for the first time. Last year he competed in the shorter sprint event.
Posting a quality finish in two hours, 33 minutes and 10 seconds, Wood explained how he struggled with the opening 0.9-mile swim leg, which caused dizziness as he climbed out of the water at West End Beach and made the transition to the bike leg.
“The last half of the race I did most of my passing because I almost died in the swim,” he said. The bike portion of the race ” a 24.8-mile round trip up Old Highway 40 and back ” was a different story, as Wood was in his element on familiar training ground.
“Coming down Donner Summit I never fell below 40 (mph),” he said. “It was a little dangerous, but whatever.”
Another sweat-soaked triathlete, Mike Ingardia, 37, was all smiles as he basked in his accomplishment under the shade of the tent. There, once catching his breath after the 6.5-mile run, the Sunnyvale resident joked with other triathletes about the relief he felt being done, telling of how the chilly water always seems to clamp down on his lungs despite efforts to pace himself during the swim.
“Every year in the middle of [the swim] I wonder, ‘Why am I doing this?'” Ingardia said, going on to clarify that the Donner Lake Triathlon remains his favorite race after seven successful finishes.
“It’s just a really well put-on race,” he said.
Morgan Kriz of Tahoe City, who completed the sprint in 1:05:43 in what was her first ever attempt at a triathlon, was another athlete visibly relieved to have finished.
“It’s great,” she said when asked her opinion about the triathlon. “It’s kind of inspiring to work up to the event.”
Part of Kriz’s satisfaction stemmed from the fact that she placed ahead of her father Jack, who made the trip from San Diego to compete with his daughter. “Mainly it was to beat my dad,” she said of her goal entering the race.
Once on the sprint course ” which includes a quarter-mile swim, a six-mile bike ride up Old Highway 40 and a two-mile run ” Kriz said her competitiveness took over.
“To be honest, I wasn’t going to push so hard, but then when you get out there you realize it’s a competition,” she said.
Even 17-year-old Barrett Welch of Reno perked up when all said and done, but not before losing his breakfast on the grass immediately after crossing the finish line.
“This was my first one,” he said of the triathlon. “It was way fun. That’s the funnest bike ride I’ve ever done.”
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