On September 27, 28, and 29, 2013, my running partner Andrea and I ran the Tahoe Trifecta, part of the 18th annual Tahoe Marathon Weekend. Here is a quick blow by blow of the races we participated in, and extra info on the events:
SUMMARY OF EVENTS
The Lake Tahoe Marathon Week is an annual South Lake Tahoe celebration of all things marathon. This includes over 30 different races that athletes can mix and match. For example, I had dinner at the Thursday night pasta feed with two other athletes who participated in the following events: Jennifer form Chicago ran one marathon Friday, one marathon Saturday, and three marathons Sunday. This combination of events is dubbed the "Lake Tahoe Super Triple - 26.2 M + 26.2 M + 72.2 M". Her last route circled the entire lake. Her running partner Janet participated in an Ironman, where she swam 2.5 on Friday (in the freezing cold lake), cycled 72.2 miles on Saturday, and ran 26.2 on Sunday. My partner and I participated in what is called the "Tahoe Trifecta", in which you run 13.1 M + 13.1 M + 13.1. My brother Carl did a cycle event, 72.2 cycle ride around the lake. There are many other events, such as stand up paddleboard (SUP), a 5K fun run, and then non-race events, such as pasta feeds, lectures, a gear expo, and plenty of chances to make friends.
This was my second time at this marathon, and I will definitely be back next year. I think next year I will up my miles by another 13.1, and attempt 13.1 M + 13.1 M + 26.2. Eventually (unless my age and bad reconstructed hip says otherwise) I will eventually go for the "Tahoe Triple", which is three marathons in three days (26.2 M + 26.2 M + 26.2 M).
As stated above, the Trifecta is three half marathons in three days. Friday the race route begins at Inspiration Point, on the west, California side of the lake, and heads south into South Lake Tahoe, and ends at the beach near Stateline (the Nevada/ California borders, near the casinos). This half is primarily downhill. The first part is on the lake and is gorgeous. The second part is in South Lake Tahoe and is urban, cars, traffic etc... It is also starts at 7:00 am, so at the start of the race the temperature was 30 degrees Fahrenheit, -1C. This was my least favorite of the three races. But it was my best time at 2:30:00.
The second race begins at Spooner Lake, NV, and heads north on Nevada highway 28, ending at Incline Village. This half is more scenic, and all but the last three miles of the lake has panoramic views of Lake Tahoe. Again, this weekend the weather began at -1c, and only warmed up to 12c.
The third and final race was my favorite. The last race begins on the west side of the lake on highway 89 near Rubicon Bay, and heads south, ending at Pope Beach. This run can only be described as EPIC. This race has the best scenery, including Emerald Bay, as shown int he above photograph. In addition, the route has the most elevation gain/loss, which makes it more fun on the runner, and better on the body. Around mile three there is a hill that ends at 6800 feet. What goes up, must run down, giving the runner a roller coaster run. My favorite! (Since I am running Big Sur marathon next year, I am loving the hills. Good for the quads!)
AWARDS AND SWAG
The Lake Tahoe Marathon week is run by one guy, Les Wright, and his crew of volunteers. It is a very "mom and pop" event, even though it is so big in scope. This is not one of those "Rock and Roll", "Disney" etc... events. With all the gossip in the racing community about the for-profit race director companies, it is refreshing to run a race that is still about community building and sports, instead of about making a ton of money and gouging the runners with high entry fees.
Les personally e-mails all the runners every week before the event, answering questions. His heart is in promoting running and the Tahoe community. He also gives all the runners cool free swag. The free swag I collected included a racing singlet (so you can wear it all 3 days and not destroy your shirt with pins), a long sleeve tech shirt, designed by a local Tahoe water color artist, a sports duffel bag (they only gave those out to the runners doing difficult multi-day events), 4 medals (representing the three races and a big one commemorating the fact you did a trifecta or a triple), a free past feed the Thursday before the race, and free hot dogs and $1 beers at the finish line.
The downside to a small operation is that it can be a bit disorganized. His website is a bit cluttered and low tech, making it hard to navigate (too much information, and lots of TL;DR due to the clutter on the pages). The Expo itself is a small affair, not very many vendors. But most of us runners are sick of vendor expos anyway. The basics are covered, so if you forgot your compression socks, there is a vendor there that has you covered. The volunteers can be a bit confused - they have over 30 events, so the volunteers may or may not know about your event. But they are happy to hunt down Les, and he will gladly straighten out the issue. He loves what he does and that makes up for any chaos.
Both last year and this year I met runners from around the world and many USA states. I met folds form England, Germany, Japan and Brazil. I also met runners from CA, NV, TX, MA, MI, OH, FLA, IL, MN, and I am sure there were folks from many other places. What I do find odd is that I met people from all over the country, but hardly met anybody from the Bay Area (San Francisco/Oakland). You would think that tons of bay Area runners would flock to this event, since it is so close to the Bay Area, and is not too corporate, and has EPIC scenery. But, no, I did not meet hardly anyone who drove three hours to this amazing weekend of running. Bizarre.
Both last year and this year, we rented a whole house for cheaper than staying at one of the hotels. This way we got to eat our own home cooked food, drink beers, watch cable TV, and just kick back. Since this is a ski destination, there are hundreds of empty house and condo rentals and off season prices. Why stay and a hotel when you can have a whole house! This year we found a 3 bedroom on airbnb.com that was 20 minutes from the Expo and race headquarters. And since we drove up, transportation was not an issue. The casinos have tons of free parking.
The great thing about running three half marathons back to back to back is that the lactic acid gets released ASAP. I woke up Monday after the races and felt great. No stiffness, no pain, pretty loose. However.... I did loose my toenail. The toenail was already black before the race, due to trailrunning all summer. But three days of road running just popped the thing off. Tomorrow I plan on going to the nail salon and getting a gel placed over the nail bed. I know it sounds weird, but it works great. First, it makes your foot look better, and second, the gel fake nails act very well as a real nail does and protects the nail bed from trauma. (my salon will do it for free, since they know me well.)
I love the Lake Tahoe Marathon. I will be back next year, and will do it all again, if not adding some more miles!!!