Lake Tahoe will soon be seeing circles |

Lake Tahoe will soon be seeing circles

Runners from all over the Lake Tahoe Basin and even the Western United States are busy lacing up their running shoes and heading to the Sierra.

The reason: America’s Most Beautiful Relay & Ultra Run on Saturday.

The fourth-year race has always drawn the best and brightest racers from around the West Coast, and this year doesn’t look to be any different.

“The beauty of the lake will bring outsiders here,” Kiwanis member and race promoter Berry Francis said. “In the past, we’ve had about 20 to 25 teams, but it looks like we’ll have as many as 35-40 this year.”

Started four years ago as a race put on by and benefiting local charities and businesses, America’s Most Beautiful Relay got it’s inspiration from the De Celle Memorial Relay, which was operated by out-of-towners. Rexanne Ring-Harris and Dave Cotter of the Tahoe Mountain Milers came together and worked on the idea of a local race put on by local people. The result of their hard work is now beginning to grow and attract more and more participants.

“This year will probably be about 30 percent larger than last year,” Cotter said.

With its growing popularity, the run has become a qualifying race for the biggest and most popular ultra run in the Western U.S., the Western States 100.

Runners have to qualify for the Western States by either finishing a 50K race within a certain time or run three in one year. Either way, America’s Most Beautiful Relay is a perfect way for ultra runners can qualify.

“There are not a lot of 50 milers that are on pavement,” Cotter said. “It’s also a great opportunity for someone outside the area to get to see the whole lake in one day.”

Both Cotter and Francis made the point that racers don’t have to be experienced racers, all they have to be is in shape. In fact, many runners use the relay as a warm-up for the Oct. 8 Lake Tahoe Marathon.

“For folks training for marathons who haven’t been in a race before, they can use this race to cut down on the nervousness associated with races,” Cotter said.

Among the groups who are currently training for the Lake Tahoe Marathon and will use the relay as a warmup are Lake Tahoe Fit and the Leukemia Society Team in Training out of Sacramento. The Leukemia team leader is also a world-class ultra runner and Cotter said that his team will be one of the faster teams entered.

The 72-mile course will circle the entire lake and begin and end in South Lake Tahoe. There are four divisions: open and masters men, open and masters women, open and master mixed and 911 responders. The winning team from each division will receive gift certificates from local restaurants.

The newest of the four divisions is the 911 responders. Each team must be made up from employees of the fire department, law enforcement, or other emergency services that answer the 911 call. Each member of the team must be from the same town, city, division, or response area.

The idea was brought to Cotter’s attention about two years ago when a member of the Stanislaus Sheriff’s Department entered. This race is a perfect size for departments who can’t gather enough competitors for the 11 needed to compete in the Los Angeles Police Department competition.

“It’s a lot easier for some of these departments to get just eight together,” Cotter said. “The other events require the teams to have 11 runners and it’s pretty much impossible for them all to get the days off at the same time.”

There are still numerous spots open for runners to sign up and join a team. In fact, Cotter has a list of people willing to run, but are without a team, or teams that need a few extra members. If anyone is interested in joining a team or are looking for additional members, or want to participate, please contact: 530-542-3424,, or

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