XTERRA Tahoe City: Damian Gonzalez, Emma Garrard take overall wins

Sylas Wright
Sierra Sun
Mike Thompson/Sierra SunSwimmers hit the chilly water of Lake Tahoe during the start of the XTERRA Tahoe City off Commons Beach on Saturday. To view a photo gallery from the event, go to

TAHOE CITY and#8212; Damian Gonzalez dashed across the Commons Beach finish line with a look of pain and achievement.

The 32-year-old Stockton athlete had met his goal, winning the third annual XTERRA Tahoe City triathlon Saturday morning with a time of 2 hours, 42 minutes, 42 seconds and#8212; 9 seconds in front of second place.

As the pain faded from Gonzalez’s expression, he sought out the man he could not shake from his heels.

and#8220;What’s your name?and#8221; he asked the runner-up, 20-year-old Julian Langer, whom he then congratulated on a first-name basis for chasing him to the finish.

After paying respect to his game opponent, Gonzalez turned to face the media.

and#8220;I feel a little worked,and#8221; he said between laboring breaths, going on to explain how he passed Langer on the run after the two battled neck-and-neck during the bike leg.

and#8220;Julian was in sight the whole time, so he’s probably regretting letting me go. But he pushed hard the whole way. I wouldn’t be feeling this worked if it wasn’t for him.and#8221;

As short-course participants trickled in, John Donovan of San Mateo crossed the finish in third place overall (2:45:36), while Eric Ronning of Incline Village finished fourth with a time of 2:50:35.

and#8220;I’m exhausted,and#8221; Ronning said after pacing the finish area to catch his breath, having just completed the 1,200-meter swim, 22-mile bike and 6-mile run that encompass the full-course triathlon. and#8220;I worked really hard, especially on the run.and#8221;

Richard Blanco of Redwood City, Ronning’s and#8220;nemesisand#8221; in his 40-45 age group, finished fifth in 2:50:44, and defending champ Ross McMahan of Incline Village placed sixth posting a time of 2:53:37.

On the women’s side, XTERRA pro Emma Garrard of Truckee won her third straight XTERRA Tahoe City and took 10th place overall with a time of 2:58:25.

Garrard, 28, was followed by Julie Young of Auburn (3:12:44) and Lisa Heisinger of Mill Valley (3:20:12), while Sarah McMahan of Incline Village came in fifth with a time of 3:26:20.

Dustin Sweet took the win in the short-course triathlon and#8212; a 600-meter swim, 13-mile bike and 3-mile run and#8212; with a time of 1:53:07, and was followed by Steve Pearl (1:53:17) and Kevin Joell (2:03:46).

and#8220;I feel good,and#8221; said Pearl after the race, and#8220;but I don’t want to do it again, that’s for sure.and#8221;

Incline Village triathlete Dorea Shoemaker was the first woman to finish the short-course triathlon, posting a time of 2:12:22 after signing up just two days prior to the race, she said.

and#8220;It was great. I just did it at my own pace,and#8221; said Shoemaker, a first-time participant in the XTERRA Tahoe City. and#8220;I loved it.and#8221;

Sabine Dukes (2:16) was the second short-course woman and Destiny Ortiz (2:17:32) third.

Ortiz, who traveled from Salt Lake City to compete, told dramatic tales of foundering in the cold water during the opening swim leg. She said she was rescued and#8220;like four timesand#8221; from the water, despite her top-three finish.

and#8220;I almost died,and#8221; said Ortiz, 35. and#8220;I think I got motion sickness, because I felt really dizzy. And (the water) was really cold. I wasn’t prepared for that.and#8221;

Ortiz was one of 47 athletes to finish the short-course race, while 142 athletes finished the full-course, according to the results. It was the best participation in the three-year history of the event, said Race Director Todd Jackson.

To view a photo gallery from the event, go to

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