Man wheels to 10K finish |

Man wheels to 10K finish

Sarah Gonser

There are no guardrails along Inspiration Point on Emerald Bay Road and that made Marco Antonio Rodriguez just a little nervous.

But a couple hours later, after catching his breath, he smiled broadly and settled into the feeling of a job well done. He had just completed a 10-kilometer race around Emerald Bay, down to Pope Beach and across the finish line.

Rodriguez, 30, is from Guatemala and flew to Tahoe especially for Sunday’s Lake Tahoe Marathon. He has participated in the Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco marathons over the past five years. But Rodriguez does not race like most people. He can not walk.

“He was in a car accident 15 years ago and has been in a wheelchair ever since,” his brother Otto Rodriguez translates.

Otto lives in the Bay Area. He ran the 10K marathon and served as his brother’s interpreter. He said Rodriguez ran into serious trouble on the final stretch.

“When he got to Pope Beach, he signaled to the race organizers that he didn’t know which way to go. The ladies just raised their hands and shook their heads.”

So Rodriguez headed down U.S. Highway 50, speeding along for almost 15 minutes before it became clear that he was on the wrong track. He doubled back and lost almost 30 minutes on his race time.

“They should have put up signs. He just didn’t know, there was no way to tell,” Otto said.

Rodriguez was fully sponsored by United Airlines of Guatemala. He raced with a $3,000 titanium bike-like contraption without handlebars, weighing only nine pounds.

The detour did not seem to detract from Rodriguez’ enjoyment of Lake Tahoe and the marathon itself.

“He said it was great and he will be back next year. Then he will know which way to go,” Otto said.

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