Marathon is more than just a race |

Marathon is more than just a race

Steve Yingling

Race director Les Wright should consider renaming the Lake Tahoe Marathon.

After all, the Oct. 9 event is far from being just a marathon.

As in past years, Wright has implemented several new ideas in 2004 to drive up interest and participation. His latest creations – an orienteering event and a three-day triathlon – should enhance chances of drawing participants into town for an entire week instead of a day or two.

“It’s amazing how much time he’s put into it. He’s always trying to find new ways to improve it,” said STHS cross country coach Dominique Westlake, who served as a volunteer in the past. “He’s not happy with things being average and he wants things to be as best as they can.”

Triathletes will now have the option of racing their bikes 72 or 35 miles on Oct. 8. They can also choose between a 1-mile swim or 9-mile kayak race and a marathon, half marathon or 10K.

“You see these all over, but they are all in one day. This is a completely unique triathlon,” Wright said.

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Interest in the 72-mile bike race, which will start and end at Zephyr Cove Lodge, has triggered a cash purse. First place will earn $300, second $150 and third $100.

Adding the 35-mile bike race to other events that rely on roads winding around Lake Tahoe doesn’t present a logistical burden, Wright said.

“That’s one of the reasons it’s in October … there’s not that much traffic around the lake,” Wright said. “It’s the slow season in Lake Tahoe and it’s cheaper for visitors and great for our local businesses.”

City and county law enforcement as well as the Nevada Highway Patrol have helped escort competitors through the congested and stop light-ridden parts of town. Wright also hires several motorcycle partrolmen to work the Spooner Summit area.

The orienteering event will start marathon week on Oct. 6 and allow participants to interact with the beauty surrounding Lake Tahoe. There are divisions for individuals and teams.

Competitors use compasses, topographical maps and global positioning systems to navigate their way through a mysterious 8- to 12-mile course.

Wright is hoping locals will embrace this new event.

“We need the locals to take advantage of this event and we need their support to get this rolling,” said Wright, who is augmenting his Lake Tahoe races by creating a half marathon in Maui, Hawaii, on Jan. 16.

To register for any of these events or the marathon, half marathon, 10K, 5K or Tahoe Triple ultra run, log on to