Ultra-distance triathlon takes off in Tahoe’s waters | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Ultra-distance triathlon takes off in Tahoe’s waters

Jen Schmidt / Tribune news service file Athletes dive into Lake Tahoe at the start of a past XTERRA triathlon held in Incline Village in 2010. Expedition Man athletes will begin their triathlon at Zephyr Cove Resort Saturday at 6 a.m.

They call it the iron man distance for a reason.

It begins with a 2.4-mile swim, followed by a 112-mile bike, a 26.2-mile run and ends with bragging rights for life. Athletes battle heat, dehydration and, did we mention, no breaks. Dedication is not only a requirement, it’s an understatement.

The grueling ultra-distance race is coming to town Saturday. Nearly 300 athletes from around the world are streaming into Tahoe for the inaugural Expedition Man Endurance Festival and Ultra-Distance Triathlon.

The triathlon begins with a swim at Zephyr Cove Resort, continues onto a bike ride through the streets of Carson City and ends at Sparks Marina with a run along the Truckee River. Participants will either compete in an iron man distance, half iron man distance, or an aqua-bike. There is also a relay option of two- or three-person teams, which could compete in either distance.

One of the relay competitors who elected to cover the full iron distance is a teen with cerebral palsy named Dayton Hayward. Hayward can’t talk, but managed to communicate with his mom through blinking that he wanted to race.

Hayward’s mom and family friend round out the relay team. The two women will take turns pulling Hayward behind them in a raft and specially designed portable seat as they cover the 140-mile distance.

The Haywards came to race director Ryan Kolodge after being turned down when trying to register for a triathlon in St. George, Utah.

“If people would have turned me down I wouldn’t be where I am today,” Kolodge said. “People at least need to be given a chance, an opportunity. Why deny this kid?”

The event marks the first iron man distance triathlon to hit Northern Nevada. Kolodge was not only the biggest driving force behind the event; he was pretty much the only driving force for quite some time. The 31-year-old race director said he completely devoted the past year of his life to finding sponsors, getting permits, setting a course, promoting the race and checking off every other detail that could possibly be mentioned.

“So many people have potential and they just don’t tap into that,” Kolodge said. “Sometimes people are just lazy.”

Kolodge formed the idea for the Northern Nevada race about a year ago, right after he completed his first iron distance in 2011. Kolodge ran the race almost on a whim. He had competed in triathlons for five years, but never attempted to touch the ultra distance.

Once he made up his mind, Kolodge trained off and on for six months and, when the actual race day rolled around, he competed in a pair of cotton iron man underwear, admittedly not his best life decision. Despite it all, Kolodge finished in 12 hours, 38 minutes and crossed off a major item on his bucket list.

“It was the unobtainable distance. I did triathlons for five years and I always wanted to do an iron-man distance,” Kolodge said. “It took me five years, but I did it.”

Once the race was over, Kolodge couldn’t get the idea of bringing a similar event to Northern Nevada out of his mind and it appears he has once again accomplished what he set out to do.

“You give me a to-do list of 20 things to do and I just get it done,” Kolodge said. “Well this event was pages and pages on the to-do list, but I just kept checking them off.”

Kolodge plans on adding sprint and Olympic distance triathlons to the event next year. He also plans on duplicating the race in several California locations.

Sounds like the to-do list just got a little bit longer.

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