Meissner bids for first marathon title |

Meissner bids for first marathon title

Tahoe Daily Tribune fileSean Meissner of Sisters, Ore., has won five Lake Tahoe Marathon Week titles, including four triple marathon wins.

Forgive Sean Meissner for downsizing this week. If any long-distance runner deserves a lighter workload during the Lake Tahoe Marathon Week, it is Meissner.

After all, Meissner is the king of the lake-variety triple marathon, a four-time winner (2001-’04) of an event that requires participants to run a 26.2-mile race on three consecutive days. A quick glance at a triple marathon finisher’s feet indicates the hardship that class of runner endures.

Meissner has shown his versatility before. The Sisters, Ore., runner claimed the 72-mile ultra title in 2006.

But he’s never attempted the marquee event of the week – the marathon. Not because he’s been disinterested in the “short” distance.

“I’ve wanted to run the regular one-day marathon here for a long time, since even before the first triple in 2001,” Meissner said. “It’s never quite fit in my plans, and especially the last eight years since I’ve been focusing more on ultras. But this year I decided I wanted to give the single marathon a try, really go for it, try to run a fast time, and hopefully win.”

Winning ultra races has made Meissner one of the most recognizable participants. But will Sunday’s 14th Lake Tahoe Marathon be too short for Meissner?

Race director Les Wright doesn’t think so. He established Meissner the prerace favorite weeks ago when it was learned that three-time champion Tony Torres would be unable to defend his title.

“It would definitely be very cool to win a third event here at Tahoe,” Meissner said. “I’m sure there are at least a couple guys in the field, who neither Les nor I know about, that will have something to say about that, though.”

Favorite or not, Meissner intends to attack the marathon since it’s a shorter event than he’s accustomed to.

“I plan to run aggressively and really try to exploit my strengths at the proper time on the course,” he said.

Few marathoners know the course a well as Meissner does.

“I think course knowledge is pretty big, and I definitely consider myself to be very knowledgeable about this course,” Meissner said. “I know exactly where the grinder ups are, where the cruiser flats are, where the quad-crunching downs are.

“Of course, my first year here in 2001, I didn’t know much about it and won the triple. So sometimes ignorance is bliss.”

Even though Meissner is anxiously awaiting race day on Sunday, he will stay busy in the days leading up to the marathon. He spoke at the Tahoe triple dinner on Thursday night and planned to root on triple marathon participants Friday and Saturday. Before retiring for the evening Saturday, he plans to watch the start of the ultra race and friend Thomas Reiss, the 2005 triple marathon champion.

Runners can still enter Sunday’s marathon, relay, half marathon, 10K and 5K races at the fitness expo that runs from 9 am. to 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Horizon Casino Resort.

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