Siblings race for a cause at XTERRA Lake Tahoe off-road triathlon | SierraSun.com

Siblings race for a cause at XTERRA Lake Tahoe off-road triathlon

Michael Alarcon and Elena Alarcon pose after competing in the XTERRA Lake Tahoe Sprint Triathlon on Saturday, Aug. 19. The siblings raised over $3,700 for the race to go toward a college scholarship in memory of their late sister, Christina Alarcon.

A pair of athletes at last weekend's XTERRA Lake Tahoe off-road triathlon entered this year's race in search of something more than just medals, ribbons or personal bests.

For the past decade Michael Alarcon, of Denver, Colo., and his sister Elena Alarcon, of Santa Rosa, Calif., have been racing in events across the nation in order to raise funds for a college scholarship foundation at Denver's Regis University in memory of their late sister Christina Alarcon.

"She passed away 11 years ago from a rare bacterial infection — she was the youngest of five kids," Michael Alarcon said. "As a way to honor her memory and carry the legacy, we started a scholarship foundation at the university she was going to. After she passed at (the age of) 24, people were like, 'What can we do? We don't want to spend a ton of money on flowers, so let's just donate to a fund.' And a couple of years ago it became a full endowment scholarship. We just continue to race in events around the country to raise money."

The scholarship goes toward a student who began college, but took time off before reenrolling — a route Alarcon said his sister had taken before her unexpected passing in 2006.

"It's for the Continuing Education Program, which are college students that go back after a period of time of being away from school," Alarcon said. "That's what my sister was. She didn't know what she wanted to do after school, and it took a couple of years. There's not a lot of donors and scholarships designated for the those people."

The siblings have raised funds for the scholarship by competing in triathlons across the country and abroad, with Elena traveling as far as Nice, France, to compete in an Ironman triathlon.

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"It's something we've been doing for 10 years now," Alarcon said. "It's been a lot of triathlons, a lot of training, a lot of dedication. But it's very fun and rewarding, and we get to keep my sister's memory alive. Someone who dies at 24 years old, that's far too young — so life is short. What we're able to do is turn something negative into something."

On Saturday, Aug. 19, Michael and Elena Alarcon met in Lake Tahoe, in order to raise funds by competing in the XTERRA triathlon sprint distance, where they have managed to raise $3,750 as of Tuesday, Aug. 22.

The siblings' campaign for the Lake Tahoe XTERRA is still open for donations at give.regis.edu/campaign/tri-for-tine-lake-tahoe-xterra-triathlon/c140788.