D’Onofrio-Wood repeats at 2nd Tahoe Marathon | SierraSun.com

D’Onofrio-Wood repeats at 2nd Tahoe Marathon

It was a day of firsts and seconds, measured in hours and minutes.

Travis Grappo of Las Vegas won for the first time ever, while Kathy D’Onofrio-Wood of Truckee defended the women’s title, as nearly 1,200 runners competed in the second annual Lake Tahoe Marathon Sunday.

Grappo, who bested the 26.1-mile course record by nearly 26 minutes with a time of 2 hours, 43 minutes and 43 seconds, said he felt great on the first sunny day in Lake Tahoe in nearly a week.

“I’ve had some pretty tough marathons in my day and have definitely hit the wall before,” said Grappo, 26, who has run in Boston and an Olympic qualifier. “I really played it safe and slowed down for the water stops. To come here and win, it’s awesome.”

Temperatures at the start were in the low 20s, hitting the 40s to 50s at the finish. Grappo said during the first 11 miles of the course, a relatively rolling run, he conserved his energy for the hilly second half, where he attacked the uphills and used the downhills to his advantage.

“The were some really tough, steep hills. At about 10 kilometers I looked at the leader and thought we were running too hard at that point so I let him go and he kept coming back to me. (From there) I just had a good rhythm and felt comfortable on the hills. That’s what did it for me. And, it was perfect conditions,” he said.

D’Onofrio-Wood, known more as an ultrarunner, hadn’t planned on running this year. But a phone call from race director Les Wright convinced her to compete. A member of the Silver State Striders, D’Onofrio-Wood finished in 3 hours, 15 minutes, 10 seconds – a course record – and well ahead of her 3:36.52 mark last year.

“There was a lady in front of me who was looking good and pulled away from everybody. I was hoping she was in the relay because she was a very strong looking runner. She was, so I just did my own thing,” said D’Onofrio-Wood, who may run in the New York City Marathon in three weeks. “About halfway through, there was another woman behind me who was really working hard. But she was just doing a workout and training (for New York), so I had in my head that I wanted to keep ahead of her, so that’s what I did. I feel really good, I’m really happy.”

More firsts came in the half marathon, where Kiei Tran picked up his first-ever road race win. The San Francisco resident finished in 1:19.49, a course record.

“I’m training for the California International Marathon in Sacramento, so I just used this race as a gauge for that,” Tran said. “I had no idea how tough this course was going to be, but I’ve always done pretty well in altitude. I basically took the first hill, didn’t let my heart rate get too high, and really worked the downhills. Miles 10 and 11 really hurt, I had to dig down deep. But I kept telling myself I’m in position to win, I’ve got to stay focused. Overall, I’m very happy.”

On the women’s side, Katie Gengler, a Whittell High teacher and cross- country coach, topped the women’s half marathon field by nearly four minutes, finishing fifth overall with a personal-best time of 1:23:15, also a course record.

“It was a good PR since the last race I ran was flat. I liked this course because I like hills. Once I get a lead, I’m in a good mood knowing there’s nobody right on my back,” she said. “I knew the other women were pretty far behind. I always say it doesn’t matter, but I guess I really like to win.”

Wright said he was thrilled by the participation and results.

“Everyone was very excited and enthusiastic. People just raved about the course,” he said. “We were overwhelmed with the entries and people in racing circles said they think we can double our numbers next year.

“We couldn’t have done it without all of the great volunteers. It was a year’s worth of work well done. I’m very pleased.”

Other Lake Tahoe Marathon highlights: Joe Fairwell of Carson City won the men’s 5K in 18:37 … Sandy Sydner of Truckee repeated as the women’s 5K winner, a course-best of 19:47 … Tim Hull of Reno took the men’s 10K in a record 36:07 … Stateline’s Milka Jepchirchir was the women’s 10K winner with a record time of 36:17 … Cal Campbell was the lone handcrank chair participant, finishing the 26.1 miles in 2:34.31 … Patrick Campbell was the only wheelchair runner, finishing the marathon in 3:54.16 … Gunbarrel Optometry of Boulder, Colo., won the men’s marathon relay in 3:01.29 … Team Goddesses of Reno took the women’s relay in a course record of 3:45.08.

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