Sexton, Rahlves repeat Donner Lake Triathlon titles
TRUCKEE – After cycling 24 miles up Old Highway 40 and back, a leader in the international field zipped past a group of spectators set up on one of the final downhill curves. Seconds later, another one tore around the corner. Then another.
Finally came three-time defending champ Steven Sexton, calm and collected as he coasted around the same curve without urgency. He still had the 6.5-mile run around Donner Lake, which for the Olympic hopeful left plenty of ground to reel in his opponents.
“Last year my handlebars broke coming down (Old 40), so I kind of still had nightmares about the hill and just took it slow. A couple guys blew by me on the downhill, but I figured I could make up time on the run,” Sexton said.
Sexton, made up the time and then some, as the 28-year-old Davis resident ran past his competition en route to winning his fourth straight Donner Lake Triathlon on Sunday with a time of 2 hours, 10 minutes, 6 seconds.
“I wasn’t going for necessarily a best time on the course,” said Sexton, who holds the course record of 2:06:04, set in 2006. “I just wanted to feel comfortable and go for the four-peat.”
Michael Ingardia finished runner-up in 2:19:51, while Thomas Taylor took third in 2:20:01. Scott Young (2:21:47) and Eliot Drake (2:22:22), both of Reno, rounded out the top five, while Matt Gelso of Truckee finished sixth in 2:24:32.
As he always does at the end of the Donner Lake Triathlon, Gelso, 22, peeled off his shoes and jumped into the Summit Creek inlet for an instant cool-off.
“That’s the only way to do it,” Gelso said as he tried to shake the water from his ear.
Another Truckee local had the same idea, as defending women’s champion Shannon Rahlves raced through the finish chute in first place before leaping into the water. Rahlves, the sister of retired Olympic ski racer Daron Rahlves, captured the win while placing 12th overall with a time of 2:27:42. And she almost didn’t even sign up.
“I registered late. I wasn’t feeling so hot,” said Rahlves, 35, explaining that she had too much cake at her niece’s birthday the day before. “I made the decision at 6 a.m.”
Amy Bottenberg finished second among women and 21st overall in 2:32:55, and Kara LaPoint finished third in 2:45:33. Hilary Allen and Ashley Wood finished fourth and fifth, respectively, in the women’s field.
A total of 346 people are listed as finishing the international triathlon, which consists of a 0.9-mile swim, a 24.8-mile bike up Old Highway 40 toward Kingvale and back, and a 6.5-mile run around Donner Lake.
Michael Smith, 50, of Santa Barbara defended his title in the sprint distance, finishing first with a time of 40 minutes, 45 seconds. Daniel Weintraub placed second in 43:50, and Kenny Calder was third in 44:32.
Janice Brod, 40, won the women’s sprint race with a time of 50:02. She was followed by 16-year-old Cassidy Cichowicz of South Lake Tahoe, who finished 12th overall in 52:50, and 17-year-old Annika Deurlington of Truckee, who finished 17th overall in 54:09.
The sprint course measures out to a quarter-mile swim, a 6-mile bike ride up Old Highway 40 and back, and a 2-mile run.
A total of 268 people are listed as finishing the sprint triathlon, including nearly a dozen from the Truckee-based Chasing Shadows youth triathlon club, such as Deurlington. Luke Rodarte, 12, led the Chasing Shadows contingent, as he finished ninth overall with a time of 51:50.
“I’m pretty tired,” said Rodarte, a soon-to-be seventh-grader at Forest Charter School. “It was my first triathlon, so I’m just getting used to them.”
Fellow Chasing Shadows teammate Erika Klenk, 15, said she felt great after finishing 10th among women and 35th overall in 57:05.
“I felt so awesome. I’m not a big runner, but the run was actually my favorite part because I had energy,” Klenk said. “I sprinted in to the finish, so that felt really good.”
Kyle Jorgensen, 17, was the only member of Chasing Shadows to take on the international distance, which he completed in 2:50:33 for a 64th-place finish.
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