32nd Donner Lake Triathlon in the books
As throngs of triathletes anxiously awaited their starting waves in the 32nd annual Donner Lake Triathlon on Sunday, Truckee’s Kara LaPoint wore a look that meant business.
LaPoint, 27, captured the women’s victory in the International Triathlon — also called the Olympic Triathlon — while finishing 20th overall with an unofficial time of 2:35:37 (official times have yet to be released).
“It was awesome. It went by fast,” LaPoint said of her fourth-ever Donner Lake Triathlon. “It was a super nice day out. In past years I’ve been super hot on the run, but I was good today. They had good aid stations and I was able to pour water on myself and stay cool.”
The overall winner, meanwhile, was fast to the finish line and even faster to exit the finish corral after claiming first place by nearly 10 minutes. Alistair Eeckman, a slender 19-year-old from Berkeley, posted a winning time of 2:12:03 before promptly disappearing from the festive finish area.
Frank Karbe, 45, of Mill Valley finished runner-up in 2:21:54, and Sam Gaeta, 22, of Reno was third in 2:22:30.
Many of the typical top contenders did not compete in the International, in part because of the introduction of a half Ironman Triathlon the same morning.
The Half Triathlon, as the race was called, measured exactly half the distance of an Ironman Triathlon. It included a 1.2-mile swim in Donner Lake, a 56-mile bike ride up Old Highway 40 and back, and a roughly 13-mile, two-lap run around the lake — as opposed to the International Triathlon’s 0.9-mile swim, 24.8-mile bike and 6.5-mile run.
“I think all the fast guys did the longer one. Not quite as many people passed me as usual,” said Peter Hanson, 48, of Incline Village, who finished 16th overall in the International with a time of 2:34:20 — compared to his 28th-place finish a year ago in a nearly identical time, 2:34:57.
Truckee’s Shannon Rahlves, who owns a women’s record four titles and was second last year, did not compete. Defending women’s champ Elizabeth Lyles of Reno and five-time past champ Steven Sexton of Davis also did not race.
Following LaPoint, 19-year-old Laura Haley of Reno finished second among women and 21st overall in 2:35:58. Susannah Breen, 32, of Pleasant Hill was the third woman finisher (28th overall) in 2:40:43, and Natalie Craven, 29, of South Lake Tahoe was fourth (40th overall) in 2:47:29.
Truckee’s Donatas Ereminas, 31, recorded a 10th-place finish overall in 2:30:48, Lee Collins of South Lake Tahoe was 25th in 2:39:25 and Eric Brown of Truckee was 26th in 2:40:12.
“I always want to do better,” said Ereminas, who was 21st last year in his first Donner Lake Triathlon, when he finished five seconds slower than Sunday, in 2:30:53. “I’m a bad swimmer, but I do my best.”
Peter Carroll, a 16-year-old Nordic skier from the Sugar Bowl Academy, added some flare to the finish chute when he sprinted through the line sporting a Mohawk and waving a South Korean flag. In his first-ever International Triathlon, he placed 38th overall out of 253 finishers, posting a time of 2:46:30.
“It was really good,” Carroll said of his race. “My swim was not so hot, but once I got onto my bike I got my pace.When I got to the run my legs were a little wobbly, but I was still able to make up four minutes along the south shore.”
Among other Tahoe-area finishers, Neil Powell of South Lake Tahoe was 45th in 2:51:06 and Joe Fillman of Truckee was 48th in 2:51:36, followed by Annica Bryan (3:00:30), Ed Ashen (3:01:16), Kyle Railton (3:03:13), Jim Kaplan (3:03:27), Greg Flanders (3:05:53) and Elyah Gordon (3:07:47), among others.
BAY AREA ATHLETES WIN INAUGURAL HALF TRIATHLON
Ritch Viola, 41, of Tiburon and Danielle Widenmann, 31, of Vacaville earned bragging rights as the first-ever winners of the Half Triathlon.
Viola crossed the finish line in 4:39:05. Rasmus Porsgaard, 35, of San Francisco was runner-up in 4:43:56. Jonathan Shoop, a 2004 Incline High grad, rounded out the top three in 4:51:00, and Chris Cloyd, 28, of Truckee was eighth in 4:56:41.
Widenmann finished 31st overall while outdistancing the women’s field in a time of 5:35:10. Galyn Burke, 30, of San Francisco placed second among women and 34th overall in 5:40:31, and Jessica Dahlberg, 34, of Arroyo Grande was third (37th overall) in 5:42:46.
“It went epic,” Race Director Todd Jackson said of the Half Triathlon, which he created as a tuneup for the inaugural Ironman Tahoe event this September. “People loved it. We got a lot of great comments about it. Everyone thought it was a great race and a tough venue.”
Among the Truckee- and Tahoe-area racers, Truckee’s Dan Foehner finished 12th overall out of 208 finishers, posting a time of 5:06:21, Bruce Aldrich of Truckee placed 15th in 5:09:45, Jason Collin of South Lake Tahoe was 21st in 5:23:12, and Mimi Winsberg of Truckee was fifth among women and 42nd overall in 5:46:22.
Truckee’s Dustin Hawes (5:56:06), David Schroeder (5:57:51), Jay Lambiotte (5:57:54), Jakob Foley (6:05:53), Jason Hale (6:14:55), and Jeff Brown (6:37:39), as well as Olympic Valley’s Michael Chador (6:36:25) also competed, along with locals Kevin Mitchell (6:43:39), Jim Meskimen (6:44:48), Brenda Beckencourt (6:49:22), Gary Saunders (6:53:56), Thomas Koundakjian (7:06:40) and Wendy Kronkhyte (7:33:48).
NIVINSKI SPRINTS TO VICTORY
Not surprisingly, on Saturday, 49-year-old Michael Smith made the annual trip from his Santa Barbara home to win his 10th consecutive Donner Lake Sprint Triathlon, this time in 39:08. Jake Gibbs, 16, of Sebastopol finished second in 41:10, and Daniel Gonzalez, 20, of Davis was third in 42:34.
Danielle Nivinski, a 17-year-old Nordic skier from the Sugar Bowl Academy, defended her sprint title from last year while finishing 10th overall in 46:19 — nine seconds faster than her time from a year ago.
Sarah Dolley, 15, of El Dorado Hills was the second woman and 15th overall in 47:28, and Alexandra Yakovleva, 30, of Palo Alto was the third woman and 18th overall in 48:19.
A total of 201 athletes finished the sprint, which included a quarter-mile swim, a 6-mile bike ride up Old 40 and a 2-mile run. Among the large field were several young members of the Wild Cherries Triathlon Team.
Truckee’s Zachary Williams, 14, finished 12th overall in 46:39, Ryan Solberg finished 19th in 48:34, Peter Grassi was 23rd in 48:47, Dawson Smith was 26th in 49:59 and Dushn Evan was 27th in 50:07. They were followed by Tahoe-area locals Ian Smith (50:54), Jud Gutheil (51:32), Christopher Miller (51:35), Ali Warren (52:19), Tyler Ferrera (53:50), Jenah Dawson (55:13), Courtney Hollway Keim (56:25), Haydn Halvorsen (56:33), Neva West (57:11), Eleanore Hamilton (57:30) and Karen Bailey (58:48), among others.
A Donner Lake Kids Triathlon was included in the racing festivities Saturday, with varying distances for age group divisions from 6 and under to 13-15.
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Team Palisades Tahoe skier Travis Ganong had a career day on Friday, competing on the iconic Birds of Prey course in Beaver Creek, Colorado.