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Triathletes splash into Donner

Jason Kelley/Sierra SunSprint Triathlon racers bob in the water at West End Beach before the start of the 25th annual Donner Lake Triathlon on Sunday.
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There was no shortage of triathletes or their supporters when the 25th annual Donner Lake Triathlon went down at West End Beach on Sunday.

With race organizers abandoning the two-day format previously used to split up the newer Sprint Triathlon and the traditional International Triathlon, the races shared the warm morning.

The sprinters went first, hitting the water for a 1/4-mile swim at 7 a.m. before beginning a 6-mile, round-trip bike ride up Old highway 40. After a rewarding 1,000-foot decent from Donner Summit, the racers slowed to a near halt, tapped a foot to the road in the designated area, and hurried onto the final leg of the race: a 2-mile run along the south side of Donner Lake and back to the finish area at West End Beach.



Michael Smith, 42, of Santa Barbara, dashed across the line first in 38 minutes and 40 seconds. While racers’ start times are staggered, and thus the first person to finish may be bested by an athlete who started at a later time, Smith’s performance was unlikely to be beaten. And it wasn’t.

“It’s a good, fun hometown race,” said Smith, adding that he has competed in the triathlon almost every year since its inception, usually in the International Triathlon. “It’s still a great local mountain crowd, which is great. They’ve kept it grassroots.”



Andrew Burnett, 37, of Sparks had the next fastest time at 44:18. Burnett was trailed closely by Tahoe City’s Tim High, 36, (44:32) and Matt Evans, 29, of Incline Village (44:56).

Spencer Wood, a 17-year-old Nordic skier from Truckee High, won his age group and placed eighth overall in the Sprint in 47:50.

“The race kicked ass,” Wood said in what was his first crack at the triathlon. “It was a lot of fun.”

Wood said the bike portion of the race was his favorite leg, as he reached speeds of 42 to 43 mph on the way down. While placing highly in the sprint race, Wood said he didn’t get in over his head by entering the longer International Triathlon.

“It’s intense. I don’t think I could do the International,” he said.

On the women’s side, 34-year-old Incline Village resident Sarah McMahan crossed the line first in 50:33 ” not bad for someone who gave birth to twins just 31?2 months ago.

“This was my goal for getting back in shape after the babies,” McMahan said.

By the time all the racers were in, however, McMahan had been bumped to third place, as Kara Barclay, 39 of Penryn, took first in 43:18, and Janice Fliegler, 34, of Carson City, second in 49:16.

Starting their 0.9-mile swim at 7:30 a.m., the International triathletes faced a 24.8-mile, round-trip bike ride up and back on Old 40 before running 61?2 miles around Donner Lake.

Eight-time International Triathlon winner Scott Young, 40, of Reno, appeared at the finish area first in 2 hours, 10 minutes and 23 seconds. Less than a minute later, however, Young was congratulating the next man across the line ” Steve Sexton, a 24-year-old triathlete from Davis who posted a time of 2:06:04 to win the 2006 International Triathlon.

“I hoped to win it. That was my only goal,” Sexton said. “I knew it would be tough with Scott (Young) and Matt Lieto.”

Sexton was right about the competition from both Young and Matt Lieto, a 29-year-old triathlete from Bend, Ore., who finished a second in 2:06:59.

Evan Rudd, a 21-year-old Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo student from El Dorado Hills, wasn’t far behind, as he placed second in his age group in 2:15:01.

“It was great; I had a great race,” Rudd said. “I’ve been coming to this race since I was a baby …

“It’s the most beautiful race in the country, and it’s also one of the most challenging. I love doing it every year. It’s one of my favorite races.”

With last year’s Sprint Triathlon winner and fifth-place finisher in the International Shannon Rahlves, of Truckee, not in this year’s race, it was 37-year-old Reno resident Kristi Arthur who took first-place honors in a time of 2 hours, 26 minutes and 22 seconds. Next was Reno’s Elizabeth Lyles, 28, in 2:27:05.

Two other Reno women followed with third- and fourth-place finishes respectively. Lynice Anderson, 38, finished in 2:29:22, and Amber Monforte, 28, finished in 2:31:13.

“It was tough,” Arthur said of the International Triathlon. “I just tried to go as hard as I could the whole time.”

Lyles said while parts of the race were difficult, she had a great time competing.

“It was really good,” she said. “The swim was tough because the sun was coming over the buoys. But it’s one of the most beautiful courses out of all the triathlons I’ve been in …

“The atmosphere of this race is incredible.”

For further results from the 2006 Donner Lake Triathlon, go to http://www.changeofpace.com.


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