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September 16, 2013
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Local triathletes talk Ironman Lake Tahoe

There’s no way Tahoe-area triathletes were going to miss competing in California’s first full-distance Ironman race since 2001 — Ironman Lake Tahoe.

Some two dozen local athletes, perhaps more, are signed on to tackle the famously difficult event on Tahoe’s North Shore this Sunday. They’ll have their work cut out for them. 

The race consists of a daunting 2.4-mile swim off the shore of Kings Beach and a 112-mile bike ride that circles twice through Tahoe City and Truckee and back over Brockway Summit. It finishes with a marathon-distance run that starts and ends at Squaw Valley and follows the Truckee River bike path.

The Sierra Sun caught up with just a few of these brave participants who call Tahoe and Truckee home for a quick Q-and-A before the big day. Check out what they had to say:

Name: Valli Murnane

Age: 41

Hometown: Tahoe City (native of Melbourne, Australia)

Years racing triathlons: 5

Q: Have you ever completed an Ironman Triathlon before? If so, how many, and where?

A: No. I have never competed in an Ironman Triathlon. I have done a 1/2 distance Ironman before in Sonoma County, about two years ago. I have done several smaller distance events such as the Olympic distance and Sprint distance over the years.

Q: What motivates you to compete in such a challenging event?

A: Challenging myself to see what I am capable of, even if certain things don’t come naturally, and also being a good role model for my two children.

Q: What is your favorite leg of a triathlon, and why?

A: The bike. I am a better biker than runner or swimmer. In my opinion it’s the most enjoyable discipline to have to train for. I get to meet other riders and chit-chat while training. Seems to be easier to track my improvement on the bike versus the swim and run.

Q: What are your biggest concerns entering the Ironman Lake Tahoe race?

A: Injury: You put so much time and effort into training and it can take one injury to put a big hiccup in your training plan. I just recently made a poor training judgement and injured my foot. All you can do is stay positive and train the best you can despite the ailment to make sure you are ready for the big day.

Time: It takes a huge time commitment to train for this length of race. Juggling kids, work and training has been quite the challenge to say the least. Luckily, I have an incredibly supportive husband who has done everything from replenishing my water bottles at some place on my training bike route to paddleboarding next to me so I don’t get hit by a boat.

Can I finish? I would place myself as an intermediate triathlete and early on in my training, there was that little voice that doubted I could pull this off. Staying positive and focusing more on the journey rather than the end result has been very helpful. 

Q: How do you plan to celebrate your finish?

A: Hugging my biggest supporters, my family. I hope to be coming over the finish at around the 16-hour time line. That’s around midnight. I will have been going since 7 a.m. that morning.

I’m sure I will be ready for chips and salsa and maybe a margarita.

•••

Name: Dawn Gaffney

Age: 42

Hometown: Tahoe City

Years racing triathlons: I did my first triathlon in 1987 (when I was 13), but I didn’t do another one until 2001, on my 30th birthday.  

Q: Have you ever completed an Ironman Triathlon before? If so, how many, and where?

A: I haven’t done an Ironman triathlon, but I did the Vineman (Iron distance) two years ago for my 40th birthday.

Q: What motivates you to compete in such a challenging event?

A: It’s a great sense of accomplishment. Signing up for any event is great motivation to get your butt out the door.

Q: What is your favorite leg of a triathlon, and why?

A: The run .... the last 10 feet of it! Honestly, I don’t really have a favorite. They all have goods and bads for me. The swim is what I’m best at, but the start is kind of scary. The bike is probably the easiest, but on this course it’s going to be really challenging. And the run is just plain painful, but it’s the last leg and that’s a good thing.

Q: What are your biggest concerns entering the Ironman Lake Tahoe race?

A: The weather … one of the biggest things that we have no control over. I’m fully aware that it could be sunny, 70 degrees and calm, or it could be dumping snow, super windy and I could be competing with my husband for surfable waves.

Q: How do you plan to celebrate your finish?

A: With a big greasy burger and a very large beer! And then we’re off to Hawaii where I plan to spend some serious quality time with all three of my boys. I haven’t been around much with all the training and they’ve all been so understanding ... I can’t wait to make it up to them!

•••

Name: Jim Meskimen

Age: 70

Hometown: Truckee

Years racing triathlons: 40-plus (competed in the inaugural World’s Toughest Triathlon in 1983)

Q: Have you ever completed an Ironman Triathlon before? If so, how many, and where?

A: Yes. I competed in Hawaii in 1984, Canada in 1990, and New Zealand in 1994. 

Q: What motivates you to compete in such a challenging event?

A: The desire to push myself to my limits. I’m driven to test my will, determination, and physical capabilities.

Q: What is your favorite leg of a triathlon, and why?

A: I don’t really have a favorite leg, but if I had to choose it would be the run.

Q: What are your biggest concerns entering the Ironman Lake Tahoe race?

A: The weather!

Q: How do you plan to celebrate your finish?

A: With my wife and friends and catching a good night of sleep.

•••

Name: Rob Kronkhyte

Age: 57

Hometown: Tahoe City

Years racing triathlons: 27

Q: Have you ever completed an Ironman Triathlon before? If so, how many, and where?

A: Yes, Ironman Canada, one time, and Penticton, British Columbia, Canada.

Q: What motivates you to compete in such a challenging event?

A: I have always loved endurance events. I have completed and finished the Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run five times and the Wasatch Front 100 Mile Endurance Run six times. (The Wasatch Front 100 is a 29- to 32-hour event.)

Q: What is your favorite leg of a triathlon, and why?

A: I love all the sports of the event. My favorite is probably the run.  That is what I spend the most time doing and enjoying.  I do not run on the pavement. I do all my running on trails.  The ironman run is on the pavement.  I spend a lot of time running in our local wilderness areas.

Q: What are your biggest concerns entering the Ironman Lake Tahoe race?

A: Finding a balance of time to train while balancing work and family. I am also concerned about the weather on race day, which may very interesting.

Q: How do you plan to celebrate your finish?

A: I plan on waiting for my lovely wife to finish and then we will have a nice dinner and have a good night of sleep. The Ironman will not be my last competition of the season. I will compete in the XTERRA World Championships, which is offroad triathlon, at the end of October.

•••

Name: Jami Min

Age: 44

Hometown: Truckee

Years racing triathlons: 20

Q: Have you ever completed an Ironman Triathlon before? If so,how many,and where?

A: Yes. Fifteen so far: IM Hawaii 2000, 2001 and 2011; IM Canada 2002 and 2005; IM New Zealand 2001 and 2006; IM Lake Placid 2000, 2001 and 2002; IM Coeur d’Alene 2006 and 2008; and IM Austria 2009, 2010 and 2011.

Q: What motivates you to compete in such a challenging event?

A: Achieving a PR (personal record) in my hometown race.

Q: What is your favorite leg of a triathlon,and why?

A: The run, because that’s when the “real” race begins!

Q: What are your biggest concerns entering the Ironman Lake Tahoe race? 

A: Managing my hydration perfectly to avoid heat exhaustion.

Q: How do you plan to celebrate your finish?

A: Enjoying a pint of Guinness at the (Auld) Dubliner in Squaw with my husband!

•••

Name: Sherwick Min

Age: 47

Hometown: Truckee

Years racing triathlons: 20

Q: Have you ever completed an Ironman Triathlon before? If so, how many,and where?
A: Yes. Seventeen so far: IM Hawaii 1998, 1999 and 2000; IM Canada 1998, 1999, 2003 and 2005; IM New Zealand 2000, 2001 and 2006; IM Lake Placid 2001 and 2002; IM Coeur d’Alene 2006 and 2008; and IM Austria 2009, 2010 and 2011.

Q: What motivates you to compete in such a challenging event?

A: Finding that “perfect” race.

Q: What is your favorite leg of a triathlon, and why?

A: All of them, but the most enjoyable is the marathon because it’s the toughest and last.

Q: What are your biggest concerns entering the Ironman Lake Tahoe race?

A: Just the cold air before and after the swim.

Q: How do you plan to celebrate your finish?

A: With a pint of Guinness at the (Auld) Dubliner in Squaw!

•••

Name: Jason Collin     

Age: 40

Hometown: South Lake Tahoe

Years racing triathlons: 17

Q: Have you ever completed an Ironman Triathlon before? If so, how many, and where?

A: Yes, Ironman Hawaii, 2000.

Q: What motivates you to compete in such a challenging event?

A: I love challenging myself and a race of this magnitude really pushes you physically and mentally. Being a role model for my 10-year-old twin boys is a driving force. For them to see the effort that goes into something like this while maintaining work-family-training-life balance is really important to me. Having my family and friends support me and participate alongside in some of my training is also really helpful.

Q: What is your favorite leg of a triathlon, and why?

A: The bike. I love to ride and there are two great stretches on this course that we get to do twice — Tahoe City to Truckee — slightly downhill and fast — hero time trialing, and the decent down Brockway — 50 mph in the aerobars is a great adrenaline rush!

Q: What are your biggest concerns entering the Ironman Lake Tahoe race?

A: Waves on race day. I swam at Nevada Beach the other day in 3- to 4-foot waves and got seasick!

Q: How do you plan to celebrate your finish?

A: My wife won’t be happy if I tell you that!

•••

Name: Annica Bryan

Age: 43

Hometown: Tahoe City

How many years racing triathlons: First year

Q: Have you ever completed an Ironman Triathlon before? If so, how many, and where?

A: No. when I signed up for the IM I had never done a triathlon, didn’t own a road bike and had never swam for exercise. We kind of had the attitude of, “How hard can it be?” Well, we learned pretty quick — “Really hard!”

Q: What motivates you to compete in such a challenging event?

A: The fact that it is here in our community, and I signed up with a friend. We went through this journey together.

Q: What is your favorite leg of a triathlon, and why?

A: I thought it would be running, but the biking is becoming my favorite part now. Swimming is definitely my least favorite.

Q: What are your biggest concerns entering the Ironman Lake Tahoe race?

A: Swimming. Have you seen those pictures from other Ironman swim starts? Crazy.

Q: How do you plan to celebrate your finish?

A: With family and friends. I have family coming all the way from Sweden to cheer me on!!


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Tahoe Daily Tribune Updated Sep 17, 2013 12:06PM Published Sep 16, 2013 12:00PM Copyright 2013 Tahoe Daily Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.