Local Rahlves wins both Donner Triathlon events
July 19, 2004
Shannon Rahlves wasn’t going to settle for first in Saturday’s Sprint Triathlon at Donner Lake; it was simply a tune-up for her first-place finish in the more grueling International Triathlon held the next day.
“Last year, I did the sprint because I was injured,” said the 29-year-old Truckee resident. “This year my goal was to win both of them. I was lucky to win both.”
Rahlves just missed the International course record ” 2:24.51, set by Holly Nybo in 2000 ” finishing first among women and 18th overall with a time of 2:25.34. A day before, in the shorter Sprint competition, Rahlves was a contender to win the entire race, placing fourth overall with a time of 41:32, three minutes and 39 seconds behind winner Michael R. Smith, 40, from Santa Barbara (37:53).
“I’d like to get top-3 overall in the sprint,” said Rahlves, who said she competes in 10 to 12 triathlons a year. “It’d be nice to break the (course) record, for sure.”
Rahlves outdistanced the nearest female (Amanda Lynnes, Incline Village, 32, 48:47) by seven minutes and 15 seconds on Saturday, then turned around and beat the second-place female (Elizabeth Lyles, Reno, 26, 2:29.15) by three minutes and 41 seconds in the International.
A professional skier and sister of world famous skier and Truckee resident Daron Rahlves, winning seems to run in the family. Shannon was not necessarily focused on impressing her hometown crowd, but it always helps to have a few cheering sections.
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“I would like to do as best as I can in my home, (but) it wasn’t a motivating factor,” she said. “You know what really helps is when your friends and family support you. At Donner, the crowd was awesome. That really, really helps everybody. We were lucky.”
The top Truckee finisher on the men’s side was Zack Beekler, 41, who was 17th overall, 23 seconds ahead of Rahlves. Beekler uses the Donner Triathlon as a training ground for the Nissan XTERRA off-road triathlon series, in which he said he finished second in 2003.
Beekler said the swim event distance was a bit longer than in year’s past, so that added about two to three minutes to everyone’s times. He also said poor visibility caused by the bright early morning sun (racers started the swimming leg as early as 7:30 a.m.) forced some swimmers to stop in the water in order to locate which buoy to advance to.
“There was a little mental confusion,” Beekler said.
Beekler was second in the 40-44 Men’s Division behind Mike Scarborough of Reno, who finished one minute and 41 seconds ahead of Beekler. Beekler lost his mid-race advantage over Scarborough during the run.
“I came into the (bike to run) transition ahead of him, but I was slower getting my running shoes on,” Beekler said. “I looked up, and he had 100 yards on me . . . on the run, it’s how fast can you go without killing yourself?”
No one could kill themselves enough on Sunday to dethrone the king of the Donner Lake International, Reno’s Scott Young.
Young, 37, took his seventh consecutive Donner Lake International championship with a time of 2:12.57. Young set the course record in 2002 and has won the event from 1997-2000 and 2002-04. He missed the 2001 event because he was out-of-town.
“Once you get a streak going, you’d like to extend it as long as you can,” said the professional Triathlon competitor after he had learned he was a seven-time champion. “The more you win, the more pressure you’re under to extend the streak; even if I didn’t win, I’d still enjoy the race.”
Young has competed in triathlons for 17 years and estimates that he’s done the Donner Triathlon 13 times. In those first couple years, it wasn’t about crossing the finish line first.
“There’s been times when I finished 200th here when I first started,” he said. “That’s why I enjoy the race so much. I’ve been able to come up from way back in the pack to finishing on top, so it gives me a greater appreciation for the race.”
Young teaches a triathlon class at University of Nevada, Reno and said many of his students competed in the Donner events.
“One of our summer classes is to gear up for this one,” he said.
Young started in the 7:35 a.m. wave, but one runner in the 7:30 a.m. wave surprised the field in his inaugural Donner Triathlon.
In his first ever Donner Triathlon, 31-year-old Chris Georgeules finished second overall (2:14.07) and threatened Young’s impressive streak. The former Boston resident moved to Menlo Park, Calif., over a year ago. For Georgeules, first in the 30-34 Men’s Division, the above 6,000-foot altitude of Donner Lake may have prevented him from upending Young.
“The first three miles of the bike race really takes it out of you for the rest of the day,” said Georgeules as he tried to catch his breath after the race. “It’s uphill for an honest three miles, and you really feel the altitude toward the end. I’m still gasping for air.”
Jumping in the water at 7:30 a.m. can be a rude awakening, too.
“It’s a lot of madness,” Georgeules said. “Guys swim over me, I swim over guys. Somebody kicked me; there’s a lot of kicking each other trying to get to that buoy. It’s not malicious or anything, just a lot of people in a small area.”
For Georgeules, relatively new to California, entering the Donner event was about the competition and the aesthetics.
“This is probably the most beautiful race I’ve done,” he said.
Since the Donner Lake Triathlon does not offer a purse to the winners, the appreciation of the location plays a major part in registering for the race.
Other local notables in the International include Richard Clark, 66, and Jack Wilson, 67, both Truckee residents who finished in just over three hours. Richard Silver of Tahoe City was second in the Men’s 55-59 Division, and Sarah Calver, 31, of Incline Village was first in the 30-34 Women’s Division.
[For complete lists of award winners, division winners, leg winners and relay winners in the 23rd Annual Donner Lake Triathlon, visit http://www.changeofpace.com. Tripp Mickle, Tahoe World sports editor, contributed to this article.]
[For complete list of Sprint competitors visit: http://www.changeofpace.com/race_times/2004/DLST/overall.txt.%5D
For complete list of International competitors visit:
“It’s the most beautiful race. You can’t really beat the scenery here. You can go to Sacramento or the Bay Area and ” those are competitive races ” but you’re racing in a duck pond in the middle of San Jose. Here you have one of the most beautiful lakes in the country.”
” Scott Young, 7-time Donner Triathlon winner
“It’s a lot of madness. Guys swim over me, I swim over guys. Somebody kicked me; there’s a lot of kicking each other trying to get to that buoy. It’s not malicious or anything, just a lot of people in a small area.”
” Chris Georgeules, on swimming in Donner Lake just before 8 a.m.
“It helps because I live here. When I got on the bike, no one passed me. a lot of people blow up on the swim; they hyperventilate. Then riding up the hill, they don’t quite understand it’s better to be in an easy spinning gear. I put it on a special gear, an easy gear, and just ride.”
” Zack Beekler, on advantage of training in high altitude
“It’s kind of hard on the run not knowing. If they start all the prospective people together, you have a better idea of where you are. It’s stressful the whole way, not knowing.”
” Scott Young, on starting in different waves