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Triathlon attracts 1,500 athletes

Erich Sommer

Of the nearly 1,500 athletes that participated in the 21st Annual Donner Lake Multi-Event Challenge, it’s likely that nobody enjoyed the spectacular scenery more than Tahoe City’s Scott Young.

Young, who didn’t have many people in front of him to block his view, once again won the international triathlon.

He finished the .9-mile swim, 24.6-mile bike and 6.2-mile run in a mere 2:09:07.

Young beat second place finisher Darrin Rohr of Marin County by a full two minutes.

Timothy Fleming, from San Carlos, Calif. took third.

Truckee’s Tim Sheeper took fourth.

In the female division, Linda Gallo came in first with a time of 2:30:13.

Jackie O’Conner and Lynice Anderson rounded out the top three.

Race officials also included a separate division for those on mountain bikes.

Karen Simontacchi, of Tahoe City, registered the best time of all on a mountain bike, coming in at 2:51.

Steve Berninger of San Francisco led the men’s mountain bike field at 2:56.

The event also included a sprint distance triathlon consisting of a 440-yard swim, a six-mile bike leg and a two-mile run.

Michelle Deasy of San Francisco (44:44), Susan Cox and Reno’s Nichole Truax captured all the spots on the podium for the women, while the men’s filed was led by Scott Miller and Nathaniel Hammond. Mike Jacob of Truckee took third.

Even though it was a sprint distance event, Miller still managed a remarkable time of 39:20.

Both triathlons started and finished at the west end of Donner Lake. The event started at 7:30 a.m. when nearly 400 people in the sprint triathlon plunged into the still chilly water just off West End beach.

Staggered starts were used, with the eight age groups starting at intervals minutes apart.

The international triathlon started shortly after the sprint swimmers were all in the water.

But while the event uses scenic Donner Lake as its centerpiece, it’s the grueling bike climb up Old Highway 40 that makes the event and breaks many of the participants.

Once out of the water and on their bikes, racers are immediately faced with a three-mile climb and 1,000- foot elevation gain up to Donner Summit.

Sprint participants turn around at Rainbow Bridge, when those in the international continue on past Donner Ski Ranch, through Soda Springs and all the way down to the Rainbow Lodge. At the lodge, participants turn around and a faced with a five plus mile climb back up to Soda Springs.

Once the descent down Old Highway 40 is complete, sprint racers finish with a quick jaunt along South Shore Drive, while those in the International lap the lake.

Last Sunday’s events also included a 10K run and 2x5K relay.

Over 250 people participated, and Robby McClendon, 22, of Truckee won the race with a time of 35:29 at a 5:42 pace. Tahoe City’s Tav Streit took second at 37:18.

Erin Noonan (44:41), 27, and Stephanie Atwood (56:10), 51, both of Truckee, took 22nd and 128th respectively, but first in their age groups.


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