‘Everybody who comes here puts something on the line’: Hundreds turn out for 38th annual Donner Lake Triathlon
Donner Lake Triathlon Half Ironman
1) Nathan Greig 4:54:35
2) Danny Dvinov 5:07:27
3) Dominic Pollizzi 5:23:05
1) Danielle Wildenmann 5:48:40
2) Dottie Wilmeth 6:39:41
3) Olga Aronov 6:58:12
Donner Lake’s West End Beach was packed with hundreds of athletes and spectators this past weekend for one of the area’s longest running competitions.
The 38th annual Donner Lake Triathlon, hosted by Big Blue Adventure, featured several different events and distances held in and around the lake, highlighted by Sunday’s Olympic and half ironman triathlons.
Danielle Widenmann, 37, of Vacaville, outpaced the field of eight women in the 70.3-mile half ironman triathlon during a warm day at Donner, winning the event for the third straight year, and a fifth time overall.
“For me, I just wanted to support the event,” said Widenmann on competing. “This year was all about supporting such a great event, and being out here. You can’t ask for a better place to have an event.”
Widenmann recently came off a second-place finish in the women’s division of the Boston 2 Big Sur Challenge — a combination of times from the Boston Marathon and Big Sur International Marathon. The two events were held 13 days apart.
At Donner Lake, Widenmann was the second woman out of the water following the 1.2-mile swim. She went on the eighth fastest time on the 56-mile bike course, which took athletes to the top of Donner Pass and along Old Highway 40, past Sugar Bowl and Interstate 80 before returning to Donner Lake.
“I didn’t have the bike training this year that I needed,” she said. “I did Boston to Big Sur in April, took May off, so I didn’t start riding my bike until June. I felt it on the bike.”
Widenmann concluded her day with the fifth fastest time in the 13.36-mile run, which took athletes on a two-lap course around Donner Lake, to claim the women’s title with an overall time of 5 hours, 48 minutes, 40 seconds.
“This is the slowest I’ve ever done it,” said Widenmann. “Mostly it’s a lack of training, but also the heat on the run was killing me. It was warm, I definitely felt the heat on the run.”
Dottie Wilmeth, 55, of Indio, was second, finishing with a time of 6:39:41, followed by Olga Aronov, 41, of San Francisco, with a time of 6:58:12.
On the men’s side, Nathan Greig, 31, of Belmont, captured first place by a wide margin, finishing more than 12 minutes ahead of second place with a time of 4:54:35.
“Everybody who comes here puts something on the line,” said Greig on the event. “Everybody’s got those butterflies in the beginning, whether it’s a mass swim start or climbing a thousand feet up Donner Pass. Everybody’s out here pushing it, there’s nothing special about me.”
Greig was the third athlete out of the water, before posting the day’s fastest time on the bike. He capped off the day with the fastest time on the course around Donner.
“The swim could not be more perfect,” said Greig. “The bike, the roads were a little rough, but everybody’s got to deal with that.”
Danny Dvinov, 36, of Oakland, was second, finishing with a time of 5:07:27. Dominic Pollizzi, 18, of Rocklin, was third place with a time of 5:23:05. Casey Schwenk, 27, of Truckee, was the top local, finishing in ninth place with a time of 6:21:02.
Sunday’s event also featured the shorter Olympic triathlon. Alex Hanson, 30, of Livermore, dominated the 1,500-meter swim and 40-kilometer bike ride, posting the fastest time in each discipline en route to defeating more than 220 other athletes to take first place at this year’s Donner Lake Olympic Triathlon. Hanson finished the race with a time of 2:17:34.
Longtime Donner Lake Triathlon participant, Scott Young, 53, of Reno, finished in second place with a time of 2:24:16. Young, who is the head coach of the University of Nevada, Reno Triathlon Club, is a nine-time champion at Donner Lake, and estimated he’s competed in the event more than 20 times. Young was also a runner-up in last year’s race.
“I first did this race in 1989,” said Young. “I keep coming back because it’s so beautiful and nice.”
Mitchell Sweetman, 26, of Scotts Valley, posted the day’s fastest time in the 6.5-mile run on the way to a third-place finish. Sweetman finished the triathlon with a time of 2:23:17, edging Truckee’s Donatas Ereminas, 37, by two seconds. Ereminas won last year’s race and was victorious at the XTERRA Tahoe City off-road triathlon earlier in the month.
On the women’s side, Kelly O’Mara, 34, of San Francisco, captured first place with a time of 2:39:22.
Truckee’s Raeleigh Harris, 48, was second, finishing in 2:45:47. Leila Sermek, 44, of Cool, California, finished the course with a time of 2:46:11 for third place.
Big Blue Adventure will next host the fourth annual Truckee Half Marathon on Sunday, Aug. 4.
For full results or to register for Big Blue Adventure’s events, visit BigBlueAdventure.com.
Justin Scacco is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.