Donner Party Mountain Runners | Iron men, women show fortitude in face of adversity |

Donner Party Mountain Runners | Iron men, women show fortitude in face of adversity

Donner Party Mountain Runners
Trail Transmissions

It’s a shame that Ironman Lake Tahoe was cancelled this past Sunday — no one would argue that. It’s a shame that all of the athletes were robbed of the opportunity to test themselves, and it’s a shame so many months of training were all for naught.

That being said, I couldn’t help but be impressed by the athletes on Sunday. Endurance sport is defined, in this writer’s opinion, by the overcoming — of terrain, of situations, of self. Every athlete I spoke with on Sunday overcame the less-than-ideal reality that presented itself in their own way, and that is worthy of commendation.

Sure, there were some (warranted) initial reactions of outrage and disbelief, but I think that everyone involved with any shred of objectivity realized that the decision that was made was the only decision that could have been made. After those initial reactions subsided, however, the character of the athletes really began to show.

I watched hundreds of athletes tackle the swim course with no concern for awards, split times or accolades. The opportunity to measure themselves was enough. I saw hundreds of athletes biking from Kings Beach to Squaw (with all of their gear in bags and backpacks slung over their shoulders), racing for the right to claim “first to transition 2!” I saw a number of athletes running the course in its entirety — challenging themselves to compete their pledge against all odds.

That was probably not the best decision, given the smoke, but that’s not what I want to focus on here. Perseverance is the essence of overcoming, and the definition of steadfastness and strength of will.

The athletes on Sunday proved more to me, and I hope to themselves, with their actions after the decision to cancel the race was made than they ever could have on the competition course.

The attitudes that shaped their actions after the cancellation are the same attitudes that got them all to the start line in the best shape of their lives, and are the same attitudes that will serve them in their future pursuits in triathlon and in life.

In the face of Sunday’s adversity, the character of the athletes forged more than any finishing times could have. I applaud Sunday’s competitors — true men and women of iron. 

— Author Chris Cloyd writes on behalf of the Donner Party Mountain Runners, a local 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to informing and inspiring mountain runners in the Truckee-Tahoe area. More information can be found on their site,