47th Ponderosa Ridge Run returns to Lake Tahoe in July

Staff Report
Erick Studenicka and Scott Robertson at the finish line of the 43rd annual Ponderosa Ridge Run. (Provided)

STATELINE, Nev. — One of Lake Tahoe’s oldest endurance races, the 47th annual Ponderosa Ridge Run from Spooner Summit to Kingsbury, returns on Saturday, July 3.

Runners are challenged by a 9.5-mile course from the Spooner Summit Maintenance Station on U.S. Highway 50 starting at 10 a.m. The course is a hilly, mostly unpaved fire road and gains nearly 2,000 feet over the first 4.5 miles. No aid stations are available along the course.

Some elite athletes have turned out along the way, including the first Ridge Run winner in 1975 Chuck LaBenz, who four years earlier had been ranked No. 5 among America’s milers. Another national level runner, Rick Gentry, set the course record of 1 hour, 1 minute and 23 seconds in 1986. Carla Pittelkow, a former All-American at the University of Utah, set the women’s overall record of 1:15.39 in 1982. The masters (40-and-over) record of 1:12:21 was set in 1987 by Terry Tubb, a former USC middle distance runner.

Matthew Gordon, a recent Galena High School graduate who plans to run at Chico State, won the race in 2020 with a junior division record time of 1:13:53.

Ridge Run founder and organizer Austin Angell regards the event as more of a “fun get-together” for local runners.

“It is interesting as to how many really good runners have made the 9.5 look easy and then how many locals just enjoy the run together,” Angell said.

What remains unchanged since 1975, participants are asked for a $2 donation and receive a green “survivor” ribbon and a beverage at the finish. No pre-registration is taken.

One other feature is the official race log – “The Book” – that chronicles each year of the race.

“That book lists every single finisher and time for each year,” Angell said. “I do not know of any other event that does that and is available at the finish for all to see.”

Call Angell at 530-541-5224 for more information.

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