Two fleet runners face off at Tahoe |

Two fleet runners face off at Tahoe

David Bunker and Jeremy Evans
Sierra Sun and Sun News Service
Dan Thrift / Tahoe Daily Tribune

Last year Lynyrd Skynrod ran around Lake Tahoe so fast his toenails fell out.

This year, armed with his traditional handlebar mustache, muttonchops and unique form of braggadocio, Skynrod hopes to capture the title at the Lake Tahoe Marathon Sunday and add it to his crown as last year’s Tahoe Triple champion.

He’ll have to fend off competition from two-time winner Tony Torres over the 26.2 miles between Tahoe City and South Tahoe. But Skynrod, who ran the first marathon of last year’s triple faster than the entire field in the Lake Tahoe Marathon, is feeling good about his chances.

“I could really use the money,” said Skynrod.

And after enduring the brutal 78.6-mile triple marathon last year, Skynrod knows how to push through pain.

The answer to any soreness after turning in a blistering 8-hour-and-33-minute time for the three marathons last year: A cigarette and a couple Miller Genuine Drafts.

This year, “Lynyrd might end up drinking whatever’s free,” at the race finish, said Skynrod. But don’t rule out a tall King Cobra, which was the post-race beverage of choice last week when he tore up Reno’s Journal Jog course on a 5:15-minute-per-mile pace.

As for the handlebar mustache, Skynrod said the wind resistance from his furry facial hair does not worry him.

“The handlebar, it might [slow me down], but it’s worth it for the intimidation,” said Skynrod.

Meanwhile, Torres said he enjoys the idea of having someone challenge him this year.

“Right now, I am feeling very good,” said Torres, a Southern Californian who’s coming off a first-place finish at the Big Bear Marathon earlier this month, when he completed the race in 2:41. “If there is a little competition, it helps me to motivate myself to go faster. Plus, it’s better for the marathon and the race director when there is good competition.”

Torres also has an opportunity to become the marathon’s first three-peat winner since its inception in 1996.

“Oh man, I want to do it. I want to win it three times,” Torres said. “But you never know with high-elevation courses.”

There are never any easy races at that altitude, but I am motivated to come in and three-peat.”

While Torres and Skynrod are expected to challenge for the men’s title, Chuck Engle is hoping to do what Skynrod wasn’t able to do last year, which is break South African Johan Oosthuizen’s world-record time for three marathons in three days. Two years ago, Oosthuizen finished the Tahoe Triple in 8:11.08 to enter the record books.

Engle has won five marathons in 2008 and is coming off a seventh-place finish at the U.S. Air Force Marathon on Sept. 20, when he ran a 2:39.57. A three-time All-American runner in college, he ran 29 marathons in 2003 ” just to see if he could.

“Our Tahoe Triple is becoming a popular venue to try and break that record,” said Lake Tahoe Marathon Race Director Les Wright. “There’s not many places where you can run three marathons in three days without traveling long distances in between races.”

Highway 89 (Emerald Bay Road) will be closed north of Camp Richardson near Spring Creek Road northbound from 7 a.m. until approximately 1:30 p.m. From the South Shore traffic is open between the city limits and Spring Creek Road, which includes Camp Richardson, Fallen Leaf Lake Road and Baldwin Beach. Local residents may get to Cascade, Rubicon and Meeks Bay by showing their address or letter from employers up until 8:30 a.m.

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