Barney Jones completes Lake Tahoe Half Marathon at age 86; South Shore runner results |

Barney Jones completes Lake Tahoe Half Marathon at age 86; South Shore runner results

Barney Jones, an 86-year-old former Truckee resident, was in good spirits after completing the Lake Tahoe Half Marathon on Sunday.
Courtesy photo |

Barney Jones’ 86-year-old joints have their good days and bad. On Sunday, Oct. 11, they rose to the occasion for one of his most cherished events.

Jones, a former longtime Truckee resident, raced to a 465th-place finish in a field of 500 in the Lake Tahoe Half Marathon. He breezed across the finish in 3 hours, 29 minutes, spry as could be for a man who has undergone back and quadruple heart bypass surgeries.

“I was a little bit worried about my joints, especially my back and hips,” said Jones, who has completed the annual half marathon on Tahoe’s West Shore seven or eight times — including shortly after major back surgery in 2009.

“The closer the event got the more I did training walks, and the less problems I had. The day of the event my joints didn’t bother me at all. I have arthritis, and they say one of the things that’s best for arthritis is exercise and movement. I’m a believer in that now.”

Jones refuses to let his aging body shelve his athletic endeavors. In addition to various back, hip and knee ailments, which turned him from a runner to a speed walker in his 50s, he suffers from a chronic heart condition called atrial fibrillation that has plagued him for years. He was forced to move from his beloved Truckee home to Folsom in 2010 due to his medical issues.

His health hasn’t prevented him from maintaining his active lifestyle, however. No longer able to drive, he swapped out his bike for a three-wheeled recumbent trike that he rides around Folsom, which allows him to frequent a gym multiple times a week. “I was afraid I’d crash and wreck myself on my bicycle. But the trike is very stable and very comfortable,” he said.

This past August Jones was the oldest finisher in the 35th annual Squaw Mountain Run — a 3.6-mile race that climbs 2,000 vertical feet to High Camp, at 8,200 feet. It’s one of his favorite events along with the Lake Tahoe Half Marathon. Jones said aside from the athletic challenge and mountain scenery, he enjoys the camaraderie and friendly nature of the races.

“Just being by Lake Tahoe is wonderful. And everybody is jolly and friendly and enjoying it. When you’re waiting at the starting line for the gun to go off, people you’ve never met in your life just start talking to you — these young kids in their 20s and 30s who are just friendly as heck, taking pictures with you and everything. It’s just a nice, festive atmosphere.”

Jones said he may opt out of next year’s half marathon, but he hopes to walk the Squaw Mountain Run again.

“I don’t know, I’m a little hesitant to push it any farther, especially regarding my heart,” he said. “So I’m rather doubtful about doing it again.”

North and south Shore runners represent

The 20th annual Lake Tahoe Marathon included more than a dozen events over multiple days, including three full-distance and three half-distance marathons, a 72-mile ultra, a 10K, and more. The traditional, staple marathon took place Sunday.

While 26-year-old Ryan Neely of Walnut Creek claimed the overall win in a field of 185 finishers, posting a time of 2:45:21, Kristen Walstad, 42, of Truckee was the top woman and fourth overall in 3:10:05. Walstad won several races in the Tahoe area this past summer, including the Squaw Mountain Run and Northstar Mountain Run.

Chris Anthony, 43, was the top South Lake Tahoe finisher, completing the course 28th overall in 4:02:07. He finished 5th overall in his age group (40-44). Anthony was closely followed by Brian Hunt, 34, also from the South Shore. Hunt finished 32nd overall in 4:03:45. He was also 5th in his age group(30-34).

Luis Quijas, 36, was the top South Lake Tahoe finisher in the Emerald Bay Half Marathon. He finished seventh in 1:33:00 and was the top finisher in his age group (35-39).

Lubor Ptacek,48, rounded out the top 10. The South Shore resident ran the course in 1:37:12 to claim 10th overall. He was also first in his age group (45-49).

Juliana Mathias,32, of Zephyr Cove, Nevada, finished 11th among women in 1:50:45 — third in her age group. Kelly Harper,35, of South Lake Tahoe finished shortly after in 12th in 1:54:03 — second in her age group.

Find complete results from all the events at

Sebastian Foltz of the Tahoe Daily Tribune contributed to this story.

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