Desota defends his ridge run title |

Desota defends his ridge run title

Dave Price

You can call it highly challenging, if not downright grueling, but there’s no doubt the Ponderosa Ridge Run on the mountain tops from Spooner Summit to Kingsbury is certainly scenic.

And when you consider the 32nd running of the event went into the books on Saturday, it also qualifies as the granddaddy of Lake Tahoe’s trail running races.

Robin Desota defended his title by running the 9.5-mile course in a time of 1 hour, 28 minutes and 22 seconds – some two minutes faster than his winning time of a year ago. Just like last year, he was chased to the finish line by Doug Smith, who finished second in 1:31:01, and Craig Denney, who was third in 1:34:36.

Tiffany Good of South Lake Tahoe was the first woman and sixth overall finisher with a time of 1:46:35. Two other South Shore women broke into the top 10, Darlene Ford and Jackie Taylor, who tied for ninth-place in 2:03:58.

The race attracted a field of 18 runners, the largest turnout since 1991. The first Ponderosa Ridge Run was held in 1975.

Never mind that there were no serious challengers to the course record of 1:01:23 in 1986 by Rick Gentry, an elite runner who competed nationally. Anyone who goes the distance on this course – whether running or simply hiking – has achieved something special.

Consider that the fire access road starts at Spooner Summit (7,300 feet) and climbs nearly 2,000 feet in the first 41Ú2 miles to its summit near Genoa Peak. No easy chore, to be certain, but the view makes it worthwhile.

And even though the race started at 10 a.m., the picture-perfect day provided mild temperatures Saturday morning. During the last uphill stretch near the top, you look out over the Carson Valley to the east. Then, within the next quarter-mile, you reach the summit and, if not gasping for air at an altitude just shy of 9,000 feet, find yourself gazing over Lake Tahoe.

Interestingly enough, there was water running across the trail in a few spots near the top, but no snow despite the wet winter.

A word of warning for anyone who has never run this course: Don’t be deceived by the downhill stretch at the top. For one, there is a series of rolling hills in the final three miles that has taken a toll on many unsuspecting runners over the years. Second, it is never a good idea to fall into oxygen debt at high altitude.

It’s not an elaborate event. It doesn’t draw large turnouts, nor are there any awards or T-shirts. All participants do receive a “Survivor” ribbon when they cross the finish on Andria Drive – and the satisfaction of meeting a good challenge in the granddaddy of Tahoe’s trail races.

2006 Results

Overall (9.5 miles): 1, Robin Desota 1:28:22; 2, Doug Smith 1:31:01; 3, Craig Denney 1:34:36; 4, Keith Norberg 1:43:48; 5, Andrew Margano 1:44:26; 6, Tiffany Good 1:46:35; 7, Larry Barbella 1:52:46; 8, Dave Price 1:55:52; 9, Darlene Ford 2:03:58; 10, Jackie Taylor 2:03:58; 11, Gary Dobrenz 2:23:57; 12, Ted Smith 2:26:42; 13, Frank Perry 2:31:48; 14, Victor Vallejo 2:34:20; 15, Ron Nageotte 2:35:23; 16, Milt Douglaff 2:41:40; 17, Lisa Girouard 2:41:44; 18, Carol Nageotte 2:56:17.

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