It’s a great day for a long relay: Local team to compete in Reno-Tahoe Odyssey
Individually, each of the 12 athletes is a proven stalwart in his or her sport of specialty ” be it ultramarathons, triathlons, trail runs, cycling, anything that involves physical endurance. Together, they make up team Squaw Valley Free Run Cutters, an assembled group with a combined competitiveness that’s off the charts.
Between Friday afternoon and whenever they cross the finish Saturday, the athletes will compete as a unit in the 178-mile Reno-Tahoe Odyssey.
The fourth annual relay race starts in Reno, then sets out on a giant loop past Stampede and Boca reservoirs, through Truckee, Tahoe City and South Lake Tahoe, down the hill to Carson City and Virginia City, and back to Reno. The run is divided into 36 legs of varying lengths and difficulty, leaving each runner with three sections to cover. Some will run through the darkness of night.
Many of the registered athletes ” there’s more than 1,000 of them making up 99 teams ” participate for fun. The Squaw Valley Free Run Cutters intend to have fun, too. But what better way for a competitor to have a good time than winning an athletic event?
“We’re going for the win, for sure,” said Chris Luberecki, a Tahoe City ultrarunner and team captain of the Squaw Valley Free Run Cutters, which will enter the open mixed division.
Luberecki, who said he’s 41, “but I run like a 30-year-old,” rounded up the 11 athletes for his team. They include Peter Fain; Paul Sweeney; Bill and Sarah Raitter; Jessica Hall; Shannon Rahlves; Sam Skrocke; Katie Goldammer; Kelly Krueger; Emma Garrard; and Todd Rose.
All live in the Truckee-Tahoe area or Reno except for Rose, who’s from San Francisco.
“Considering the guys and girls on the team, I think we’ll do pretty well,” said Rahlves, a 33-year-old triathlete from Truckee and sister of Olympic downhill skier Daron Rahlves. “We’re going to do our best and have fun with it.”
Although she’s entering with the popular just-for-fun attitude, Rahlves conceded that if a runner pulls alongside her during the race, her competitive juices will naturally flow, and her legs will kick that much harder.
“Sure,” she said, “I’m competitive by nature.”
The Squaw Valley Free Run Cutters will have to be on their game to pull off a win, as race organizers have them starting in the final wave of teams at 4 p.m. The race features a staggered start, with groups setting out every 15 to 30 minutes and the slower-seeded teams beginning around 9 a.m.
“On paper we’re one of the fastest teams,” said Sweeney, a 42-year-old ultrarunner from Truckee. “I’m not sure if we’re overrated or not, but we’ll find out. … We’re hoping to win our division.”
Fain, a 36-year-old Truckee resident who specializes in middle-distance ultraruns and marathons, said the team’s high seed stems from each individual’s personal marks in past events.
“We kind of underrated ourselves, but the race director looked at our best 10K times lumped them together to get an estimate,” he said.
Unlike others, Fain, who set a new course record in the Tahoe Rim Trail 50K last summer and has won the Silver State 50K twice, does not anticipate having fun in the race.
“I’m not looking forward to it,” he said. “It’s too short. I stopped running short-distance stuff back in college. I’m not fast anymore.”
Plus, Fain said, he bruised the balls of his feet in the Silver State 50K on May 17, and he’s still nursing the injury.
Asked why he agreed to compete in the Odyssey, Fain said, “Chris Luberecki made me.”
Though he’s apprehensive about running his three legs of the race ” on pavement, no less ” Fain wants to win as badly as anyone.
“I’m always competing when I race,” he said. “This is different because there’s so many of us, but I’ll do my best and run hard.”
Luberecki said Fain will run the second-hardest leg of the race because he’s one of the group’s “strongest guys mentally.” Luberecki will run the hardest section and Sweeney the third-hardest, while Rahlves is taking on the anchor leg.
“I think we’ll be competitive, but I have no idea how we’ll do,” Rahlves said. “I’m just going to show up and run.”