Ponderosa Ridge Run offers view, challenge | SierraSun.com

Ponderosa Ridge Run offers view, challenge

You can call it highly challenging, if not downright grueling, but there’s no doubt the Ponderosa Ridge Run on the mountain tops from Spooner Summit to Kingsbury is certainly scenic.

And when you consider the 32nd running of the event went into the books on Saturday, it also qualifies as the granddaddy of Lake Tahoe’s trail running races.

South Shore runner Robin Desota defended his title by running the 9.5-mile course in a time of 1 hour, 28 minutes and 22 seconds ” some two minutes faster than his winning time of a year ago. Just like last year, he was chased to the finish line by Doug Smith, who finished second in 1:31:01, and Craig Denney, who was third in 1:34:36.

Tiffany Good of South Lake Tahoe was the first woman and sixth overall finisher with a time of 1:46:35. Two other South Shore women, Darlene Ford and Jackie Taylor, broke into the top 10 overall as they tied for ninth in 2:03:58.

The race attracted a field of 18 runners, the largest turnout since 1991. The first Ponderosa Ridge Run was held in 1975.

Anyone who goes the distance on this course ” whether running or simply hiking ” has achieved something special.

Consider that the fire access road starts at Spooner Summit (7,300 feet) and climbs nearly 2,000 feet in the first 41/2 miles to its summit near Genoa Peak. No easy chore, to be certain, but the view makes it worthwhile.

And even though the race started at 10 a.m., the picture-perfect day provided mild temperatures Saturday morning.

During the last uphill stretch near the top, you look out over the Carson Valley to the east. Then, within the next quarter-mile, you reach the summit and, if not gasping for air at an altitude just shy of 9,000 feet, find yourself gazing over Lake Tahoe.

Interestingly enough, there was water running water running across the trail in a few spots near the top, but no snow despite the heavy winter.

A word of warning for anyone who has never run this course: Don’t be deceived by the downhill stretch at the top. For one, there is a series of rolling hills in the final three miles that has taken a toll on many unsuspecting runners over the years. Second, it is never a good idea to fall into oxygen debt at high altitude.

It’s not an elaborate event. It doesn’t draw large turnouts, nor are there any awards or T-shirts. All participants do receive a “Survivor” ribbon when they cross the finish on Andria Drive ” and the satisfaction of meeting a good challenge in the granddaddy of Tahoe’s trail races.

Looking ahead on the running calendar, the Reno-Tahoe Odyssey 178-mile relay race will be held Friday and Saturday. The race starts in Reno along the Truckee River, extends to Lake Tahoe, back to the high desert and finishes in Reno. Go online to http://www.renotahoeodyssey.com for more information. The Tahoe Rim Trail 50K/50-Mile/100-Mile Endurance Run will be held on July 15 at Spooner Lake. Go online to http://www.tahoemountainmilers.org for more information. … The 26th Squaw Valley Run will be held on Aug. 9. This is a 3.6-mile uphill trail climb from Squaw Valley’s base Village to High Camp at an altitude of 8,200 feet. The event benefits Tahoe Forest Hospital. Call 823-7282 for information.

Contact Dave Price at dprice@sierrasun.com.

Overall (9.5 miles): 1, Robin Desota 1:28:22; 2, Doug Smith 1:31:01; 3, Craig Denney 1:34:36; 4, Keith Norberg 1:43:48; 5, Andrew Margano 1:44:26; 6, Tiffany Good 1:46:35; 7, Larry Barbella 1:52:46; 8, Dave Price 1:55:52; 9, Darlene Ford 2:03:58; 10, Jackie Taylor 2:03:58; 11, Gary Dobrenz 2:23:57; 12, Ted Smith 2:26:42; 13, Frank Perry 2:31:48; 14, Victor Vallejo 2:34:20; 15, Ron Nageotte 2:35:23; 16, Milt Douglaff 2:41:40; 17, Lisa Girouard 2:41:44; 18, Carol Nageotte 2:56:17.

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