Giving it the Tahoe Tri… |

Giving it the Tahoe Tri…

Colin FisherBikers begin the climb up Old Highway 40 at this year's Donner Lake International Triathlon.

For 22 years, The Donner Lake International Triathlon has drawn athletes from all over Calif., the United States and all over the world. The event has grown so popular in fact, that this year, the 23rd Donner Lake International Triathlon had to switch to a two-day format to accommodate the number of athletes interested in participating.

“It’s great, and it gets better every year,” said Greg Christman of Truckee.

The triathlon is like a doubled edged sword for these competitors. Either they are out there for fun, or they are out there for competition. But the reality of the situation is, sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference between the two.

“Once you get competitive, fun is out the window,” said Truckee resident Richard Silver.

There are people who still enter these events purely for the fun of it; but they are few and far between. Everyone seems to be out there to either compete with themselves, or with a rivalry in their age group.

But whatever the case, the athletes still seem to have a great time. During the competition, pain sits upon their faces like a mask; but as they cross the finish line, joy is the only thing one can see in their eyes.

Beyond the competitive side lies the camaraderie of the sport. “It’s a community, everyone is always cheering each other on,” Christman said.

On Saturday, 313 athletes came out to compete in the sprint course triathlon. The event consisted of a 1/4-mile swim, a six-mile bike and 2 mile run.

The Tahoe locals were out in full force and made sure their presence was known.

In the men’s 35-39 age group, Peter Darvas of Incline Village placed third in his division and seventh overall. Dan Ingalls from Truckee placed second in the men’s 40-44 age group. Truckee resident Ken Panziera took second in the men’s 50-54 age group.

Jack Bettencourt of Olympic Valley was the only man to enter the 70-99 age group. Bettencourt’s time was fast enough to edge out competitors less than half his age.

In the 19 and under age group, Anna Sargent

Truckee women dominated the women’s 20-24 age group. Megan Harter took first, Kristin Lewis placed second, Sandy Thiel came in third, and Jill Gibbons rounded out fourth. All four ladies hail from the Truckee area.

Shannon Rahlves of Incline Village won the women’s 25-29 age group, and took first place in the overall women’s standings. Rahlves finished fourth in the overall event standings. In the same age group, Sonia Forgues of Truckee placed ninth.

Placing second in the women’s 30-34 age group was Kellee Reynolds of Tahoe City.

Another Incline Village resident, Jillaine Geddes, won the women’s 35-39 age group. In the women’s 40-44 age group, Nancie Schoener of Truckee placed fourth. Betsy Lieginer of Tahoe City took second place in the women’s 45-49 age group.

On Sunday, over 1,000 athletes gathered at the West End of Donner Lake to compete in the International Triathlon.

For this event, competitors start out with a 1.5-km swim in Donner Lake, a 40-km bike ride over the Donner Summit, and a 10-km run around Donner Lake.

In the relay event, one athlete swims, one bikes and one runs. The Truckee team of Eric Seelenfreund, Dan Kates and Brad Chisolm of Tahoe Donner took second place.

The event could almost be described the strategy of a triathlon as a chess match. One does not want to tire themselves out completely trying to keep up in the water. But if swimming were their strong suit, then they would put more energy into it hoping to get themselves out in front of the pack.

“Experience make a huge difference in these events,” Christman said. Experience helps athletes with their decisions and judgement calls. Christman also pointed out experience helps quite a bit in the transition from swimming to biking, and biking to running. “I’ve lost races in the transition stage before,” Christman said.

Of the 1,000 competitors, 633 finished. Again, the presence of the local population was widely known.

The competitors take off from the shores, into Donner Lake in five-second waves. “You take off with your age group, but once you get out there your competing against the whole field,” said Zach Beekler of Truckee.

In the men’s 25-29 age group, Truckee local Greg Christman captured took seventh place. Juan Carlos Franco, who moved to Truckee three years ago from Columbia, finished 16th in the same age group in his first ever triathlon. Franco’s family came from Indiana, El Salvador and Costa Rico to visit and watch him compete.

Franco says he is using triathlons to set goals and find out what level he can reach. “I’m working on personal training and nutrition so I can start a business when I go back to South America. The United States is the best place to learn about these things. There are so many sports people who set goals here in Tahoe. Training for these events is like studying for me,” Franco said. In the winter Franco takes classes in starting small businesses, nutrition and English at Sierra College.

Adventure racer Ross McMahan of Incline Village placed fourth in the 30-34 age group. Truckee resident Zach Beekler captured fourth place in the 40-44 age group. Jeff Schloss, another Truckee local, won third place in the 45-49 age group.

From Tahoe City, Richard Silver won second place in the 55-59 age group. In the same age group, Jim Meskimen of Truckee came in fourth place.

Jack Wilson, of Truckee, was the only person to enter the men’s 65-69 age group. Wilson again proved age is not a factor as he finished with a time faster than many in younger age groups.

As if the triathlon isn’t difficult enough, there is a separate division for athletes riding mountain bikes instead of road bikes in the competition.

In the women’s 20-29 age group, Tahoe City resident Laura Stout won first place. Truckee local Kathy Fallon took third place in the same age group.

Liberty Shimon, of Truckee, came in second place in the 30-39 year old age group.

For the men’s division, Truckee local Matthew Heslin won the 20-29 age group. In the 30-39 age group, Dave Noble of Incline village won second and Truckee resident Kelly Moretti took ninth.

For the 40-49 age group, Roger Pynappel of Tuckee captured first place.

For Dave Noble, the Donner Lake Triathlon was a last minute thought. Noble had been preparing for an adventure race scheduled for next weekend, but it was rescheduled. An old college buddy, Doug Rosenberg and his wife were up visiting Noble from the Bay Area. The Rosenbergs were in town for the triathlon, and when they learned the adventure race was canceled, they tried to get Noble to tag along.

“They told me if I beat them, they would pay for my entrance fee,” Noble said. The only difference was Noble was riding a mountain bike, while his friends both raced road bikes. Noble finished seven minutes behind Doug Rosenberg.

“The great thing about the this event, is that it’s so grass-roots,” said announcer Whit Raymond. Raymond has been a triathlon announcer for 11 years, and a competitor of the sport for 18 years. “It’s such a laid back event. It’s a lot of fun; competitive, very competitive, but laid back and fun. People always mark this one down on their calendar because it’s so beautiful and challenging.”

Congratulations to all of the athletes from the Tahoe region. For more information check out the

Support Local Journalism


Support Local Journalism

Readers around Lake Tahoe, Truckee, and beyond make the Sierra Sun's work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.

Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User


See more