4th annual Rock Tahoe Half Marathon set for Saturday on Lake Tahoe East Shore | TahoeDailyTribune.com

4th annual Rock Tahoe Half Marathon set for Saturday on Lake Tahoe East Shore

Bill Rozak | brozak@tahoedailytribune.com

Ute Luyties enjoys running the Rock Tahoe Half Marathon.

The 78-year old has participated in all three previous races and will again be on the starting line at 7 a.m. Saturday, June 16, when the fourth annual race begins atop Spooner Summit.

"I love it. It's nice and close to home," said the 17-year Stateline, Nevada resident who runs about three times per week and also loves to hike in the summer and ski in the winter. "I also do the other run in October (Lake Tahoe Marathon). I love the half marathon."

Luyties, who started running at age 40 and works three to four days a week at the Tahoe Beach and Ski Club, will be the oldest competitor in the race, presented by Epic Tahoe Adventures. The youngest is an 11-year old from Antelope, California near Sacramento.

Luyties will be one of about 1,700 runners who will take off from the summit and finish 13.1 miles later at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. The runners will pass through Glenbrook, Logan Shoals, Cave Rock, Round Hill Pines, Nevada Beach, and Rabe Meadow as they descend over 1,000 feet to the finish line.

The race weekend will kickoff this year for the first time with a "Rock the Plaza" packet pick-up and pre-race expo from 2 to 8 p.m. Friday, June 15, on the Guitar Plaza in front of Alpine Union at Hard Rock.

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The event is open to the public and will feature booths from both local and national sponsors, including samples from Lake Tahoe AleWorX, Rocket Vodka, Nuun, Honey Stinger, plus many more vendors and music from the RunMC.

Racers can pick up their race packets, snap photos in the digital photo booth and shop all official Rock Tahoe Half Marathon merchandise.

Race day begins bright and early the next day with competitors being shuttled to Spooner Summit. As of Monday afternoon, there were only 10 spots left for people to register. The field is capped at 1,700 due to shuttle capacity.

There will be seven aid stations on course, all hosted by local organizations that receive donations for their efforts from Epic Tahoe Adventures. Each aid stations should be entertaining with each organization dressing up and competing for a bonus donation, which will be judged by the competitors. ETA teams with non-profit Athletes United, who organizes the volunteer effort.

"The volunteers at the aid stations do so much more than hand out water and food," said Jason Collin, ETA's chief officer, in a press release. "They create the vibe and keep the energy high out on the course. We couldn't put on a race like this without the amazing support of our volunteers."

The finish line is also the beginning of the Rock Tahoe Recovery Zone & Post-Race Pool Party.

Runners will receive a can of Cali Common from Lake Tahoe AleWorX, chocolate milk from TruMoo, samples from Rocket Vodka, a complimentary massage from Bodhi Tree Massage School and guided stretching from Lake Tahoe Yoga.

The finish line festival features several other vendors plus the return of food trucks, including local favorites The Oven, Pretty Odd Wieners, Tacos Por Favor and Jamba Juice.

The festivities at the Rock Tahoe Post-Race Pool Party with a live performance from Los Angeles-based Soulcirque, an interactive DJ band that blends live drums, saxophone, guitar, keys and visuals into sets.

The Rock Tahoe Recovery Zone is open to the public as well as participants and is a great place to celebrate with runners at the finish line. The event kicks off at 8 a.m. with the race winner expected to finish around 9:15 a.m.

Last year Jason Gortari won the event in 1 hour, 25 minutes and 58 seconds. The fastest female was Holly O'Brien (1:36.36). Both are returning to defend their titles.

Awards are given to the top three men and women, along with the first-third spots in each age/gender group.

This year's field features runners from 30 states and six countries with 80 percent of the participants traveling more than 30 miles to participate, with an average distance of over 150 miles. Sixty percent of participants are between the ages of 30-49 years old and 71 percent are women.

The marathon, in partnership with Tahoe South, will bring back the popular Pic2Go photography package, which is free for runners and allows them to have their on-course and finish line photos automatically uploaded to Facebook. In the past three years using Pic2Go, Rock Tahoe race photos have generated almost two million impressions, according to the press release.

ETA donates thousands of dollars to local volunteering groups including, Lake Tahoe Community College soccer, Pop Warner cheer, SOS, Whittell High School National Honor Society, South Tahoe Key Club, Leadership Lake Tahoe, South Tahoe girls' basketball, Boys and Girls Club of Lake Tahoe, Lake Tahoe Humane Society, Douglas County Search and Rescue, Lake Tahoe Epic Curlers and for profit Kaia Fit

For more information, visit epictahoe.com or call ETA at 775-749-8447.

"We couldn't be happier with the response we've continued to have to this event." said Jessica Schnoll of ETA. "We are proud to be able to offer a world class event in Tahoe each year that continues to grow and get better and better each year. We are so grateful to all the racers, the volunteers, and the community for the support and making Rock Tahoe such a success."

ROAD CLOSURES

The lakeside lane of U.S. 50 from 6 to 11 a.m. will be closed at Spooner Summit to the bike trail at Round Hill Pines. Vehicle traffic at Logan Creek will be intermittently stopped, allowing one-way traffic through the slide area which will cause significant delays from 7:30 to 9 a.m. Kingsbury Grade is recommended as the preferred route for traffic between Carson City and South Lake Tahoe during those hours.

Access into or out of the peripheral streets and driveways may be prolonged at times. Residents and visitors are asked to be cautious when crossing closed lanes or to enter/exit the highway. For more information, visit epictahoe.com.Runners read to