Legendary Run has locals dreaming of new track
In 1968, South Lake Tahoe was the pulse of the United States track and field community. The U.S. Olympic Trials were held at Echo Summit, a high-altitude venue that prepared one of our nation’s best teams ever for the 7,000-foot altitude of Mexico City, the host city for the Summer Olympics that year.
The track used by the athletes was donated to the city and relocated to South Tahoe Middle School. Once the surface for a U.S. team that won 12 gold medals and set six world records, 36 years later the track is hazardous and was ruled unsuitable for high school meets by the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association.
Cracks, holes and slippery footing are some of the problems for the track, which has seen its color fade from brick red to a light pink in the last three decades. But a group of locals headed by STMS physical education teacher and athletic director Karin Holmes is close to changing all that.
With fundraising efforts like the Legendary Run scheduled for Sunday, Holmes believes the community could have a brand new track surface by the summer of 2008.
“We’re getting close to having enough for the track,” said Holmes, who mentioned the group also wants a new athletic complex at the school. “We’d like to get the track in there, then see what we can do after that for everything else. We have to go in phases because there’s not just a million dollars lying around.”
Holmes estimates the cost to replace the track at $500,000. Coupled with grants totaling close to $200,000 from entities such as Nike and El Dorado County, she expects her personal fundraising efforts to generate more than $50,000.
Sunday’s Legendary Run is one of the group’s biggest fundraisers.
As of Tuesday, there were 35 runners registered for the event, which includes 10K and 5K runs for participants and costs $35 to register. Holmes is hoping for a turnout of more than 100 runners, which could happen since many people register on race day.
The course starts at Lake Tahoe Community College and ends at the middle school track. Once there, runners will have to use their imagination as to what the complex might look like in two years.
If Holmes’ efforts secure enough money for the new track, construction could start next summer, with the facility ready for use the following summer. The long-term plan, though, is for a totally revamped athletic complex that would include a new multi-purpose athletic field, lighting, bleachers and landscaping.
Total cost, including the new track, is estimated at about $1.8 million. However, those connected with the project feel the investment would pay dividends for the community.
“It was an outstanding facility at one time, but it’s been let go for a long time,” said local architect and STMS assistant track coach Brett Long, who has sketched an initial conceptual rendering for the complex. “It’s not anybody’s fault, but it just needs to be replaced. The community needs something like this.”
Sunday’s race could go a long toward reaching that goal. Runners are coming from as far away as Atlanta and, in addition to the helping fund a new track, participants will also receive a T-shirt, goodie bag and entry into a post-race raffle.
“It’s really complex with the school district and the city kind of haggling right now,” Holmes said. “But the important thing is everybody wants to get it done. Everyone thinks it’s a priority.”
What: Fundraiser run (10K and 5K)
When: Sunday, 9 a.m.
Where: Lake Tahoe Community College
Note: Race-day registration starts at 8 a.m.