Truckee native Kara LaPoint claims title at 35th Donner Lake Triathlon | SierraSun.com

Truckee native Kara LaPoint claims title at 35th Donner Lake Triathlon

The sprint division of the Donner Lake Triathlon kicks off Saturday in Donner Lake.
Courtesy Harry Lefrak / Lefrak Photography |

2016 Donner Lake Triathlon (Olympic Division Results)

1. Brandon Nied (Reno), 2:11.37

2. Justin Rossi (Reno), 2:12.56

3. Jonah Belk (Soda Springs), 2:20.22

4. Kara LaPoint (Truckee), 2:35.30

5. Jessica Koltz (Truckee), 2:39.04

6. Anna Belk (Berkeley), 2:40.31

7. Artem Gassan (Belmont), 3:28.13

8. Elena Warburton (Belmont), 4:13.31

More online: Visit donnerlaketri.com/results to view complete Donner Lake Triathlon results. To view race photos, visit lefrakphotography.com.

TRUCKEE, Calif. — As a professional triathlete, Kara LaPoint frequently covers a lot of ground — in more ways than one.

The Truckee native not only competes in triathlons like clockwork, she zigzags the globe — from Costa Rica to France — all summer to swim, bike and run the races.

So when LaPoint got a chance to compete in her backyard at the Donner Lake Triathlon this past weekend for the first time in two years, she couldn’t pass it up.

And LaPoint felt right at home.

Clocking in a time of 2 hours, 35 minutes, 30 seconds, LaPoint was the first female to cross the finish line — and fourth overall — in the Olympic Division at the 35th annual Donner Lake Triathlon on Sunday.

“For me, this was an exciting win,” LaPoint said in a phone interview Tuesday. “It’s a hometown race so I was shooting to win, but you never know. It was really exciting to cross the finish line first and know I had earned the win, because it wasn’t easy.”

In fact, LaPoint sat in third following the opening 0.9-mile swim in Donner Lake before pulling out in front during the 24.8-mile bike ride, gritting up and zipping down Old Highway 40 in a time of 1:19.00.

“I was actually psyched to get on Old 40 and charge up — it’s a fun feeling for me and I felt really good,” she said. “I was able to make up quite a bit of time going up there.”

Shedding her bike with the field in her rear-view, LaPoint settled into her running stride and cruised the 6.67-mile course around Donner Lake to first place.

“I just kept trying to charge as hard as a I could,” said LaPoint, securing her second Donner Lake Triathlon title in four appearances. “It was a rewarding feeling and exciting to have friends and family out there to share it with.

“It was really an honor to be able to race at home,” she continued. “I’ve been kind of racing all over the world right now and haven’t been home much. And I haven’t had the opportunity to race here in a while due to other race schedule conflicts, so I was really excited to do this race; it’s one of my favorites, you can’t beat the beauty of this course.”

Not far behind LaPoint was another Truckee triathlete, Jessica Koltz, who finished as the female runner-up in 2:39.04.

Koltz, who led after the swim with a time of 22:48 before LaPoint passed her by, edged out third-place finisher Anna Belk of Berkeley by a shade over a second.

“It was fun,” said Koltz, who finished third a year ago. “I kept my run pretty solid and steady the whole way around (the lake). So I was happy to have it play out like that and get second.”

Meanwhile on the men’s side in the Olympic Division, Jonah Belk of Soda Springs took third place with a time of 2:20.22.

Belk, competing in his first Donner Lake Triathlon, said the scenic views were the highlight for him.

“It’s a beautiful course,” he said. “Coming down Donner Pass (on the bike) is definitely one of the more unique races I’ve been in; the fact that you’re able to look out and see for 30-plus miles.”

Half Ironman

The Donner Lake Triathlon’s Half Ironman competition — a 70.3-mile course — also saw locals push to the front of the pack.

On the women’s side, Truckee resident Raeleigh Harris claimed first place, and fifth overall, in 5:20.19.

“I’ve actually never led a race from start to finish and that’s what happened on Sunday,” said Harris, 45, adding she’s been competing in triathlon events for more than 20 years. “It was a little surreal, the whole experience. I couldn’t be happier with the result.”

For the men’s half ironman, Truckee’s Donatas Ereminas was the top finisher, completing the grueling course in 4:48.43.

This year’s Donner Lake Triathlon also marked the sixth annual Donner Lake Kids Triathlon and fourth annual Donner Lake Half Triathlon. Visit donnerlaketri.com to learn more about the event.