48th annual Ponderosa Ridge Run set for July 2

Dave Price / submitted

STATELINE, Nev. — One of Lake Tahoe’s endurance running traditions – and one of its oldest races – will return on Saturday, July 2, when the 48th annual Ponderosa Ridge Run is held across the mountain tops from Spooner Summit toward Kingsbury.

In this 2016 file photo, Austin Angell, race director of the Ponderosa Ridge Run, is decked out in Fourth of July colors as he prepares to send off a field of 29 runners from Spooner Summit.
Anthony Davis / Special to The Record Courier |

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 toward the finish line on North Benjamin Drive.

Ridge Run founder and organizer Austin Angell describes the event as more of a “fun get-together” for local runners and hikers. Some have participated for years, even decades.

“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.

Angell emphasized the need for runners and walkers to carry their own fluids and provisions, since no aid stations are available along the course. The race has been held under a variety of weather and course conditions, including snow banks at upper elevations after a heavy winter, he added.

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.”

Some elite athletes have turned out along the way, including the first Ridge Run winner in 1975 Chuck LaBenz, an Olympic hopeful who lived on the South Shore at that time and four years earlier had been among America’s top-five 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. Call Angell at 530-541-5224 for more information.

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