Tahoe Mountain Milers’ Kokanee, Kirkwood Trail Runs offer challenging courses, benefit local community | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Tahoe Mountain Milers’ Kokanee, Kirkwood Trail Runs offer challenging courses, benefit local community

Anthony Gentile | agentile@tahoedailytribune.com
Jimmy Watson runs high above Lake Tahoe during the Kokanee Trail Runs Half Marathon on Oct. 2.
Courtesy Scott Rokis / Scott Rokis Photography |

Tahoe Mountain Milers running club hosted a pair of fall events on the South Shore during September and October — and each benefited the local community. The Kokanee and Kirkwood trail runs offered challenging courses at a variety of distances, and supported area organizations in the process.


Long a favorite among the running community in the Lake Tahoe Basin, the Kokanee Trail Runs were held Oct. 2 at Fallen Leaf Lake. The Tahoe Mountain Milers event benefitted Tahoe Heritage Foundation, a nonprofit that supports environmental education programs from the U.S. Forest Service.

“We had great growth in the number of people that ran this year and expect that we will continue to grow,” race organizer Ken Kasterko said.

The Kokanee Trail Runs featured a Half Marathon and Tadpole Trot along with 5k and 10k races on the shore of Fallen Leaf Lake. For the second year, the event partnered with the Tahoe Flume Trail Fall Classic Half Marathon on the North Shore held a day earlier — 17 runners completed both races to run the “marathon in a weekend.”

Weather on race day featured high winds and low temperatures, but cold conditions did nothing to dampen the spirits of the runners. The recently redesigned half-marathon course incorporated Tahoe Mountain and is described as a “gem” by organizers.

The half-marathon field nearly doubled in size from the previous year, and featured two-time defending champion Dusty Lachapelle of South Lake Tahoe. This time around, Lachapelle finished second — behind his brother.

Branden Fletcher of South Lake Tahoe won the half-marathon, finishing in 1 hour, 38 minutes, 35 seconds. Lachapelle took second with a time of 1:43:04, and the top female finisher was Tahoe Mountain Milers’ Caroline Barichievich of South Lake Tahoe in 1:48:18.

The Tadpole Trot was the first race to finish, featuring kids between the ages of 2 and 8 running a half-mile as fast as they could. Patrick Waters finished as the overall winner with a time of 4:24, while Ava Bradford was the top girls’ finisher in 4:37.

The 5k and 10k races again offered stunning views of the Sierra, with the longer course rerouted a few days before the race at the request of the Forest Service. The new 10k course was uphill for the first three miles before cruising to the finish.

Riley Hacker of Tahoma won the 5k overall title by running a 22:27 while Sara Valdez was the women’s champion in 26:08. In the 10k race, Natalie Craven of South Lake Tahoe was the best finisher with a time of 40:23 — Truckee’s Jan Holan was the top male in the race after running a 43:34.

Volunteers from Silver State Striders and Tahoe Mountain Milers represented their groups at the Kokanee Trail Runs. They marked the course, worked the registration table, and helped with both aid stations and on-course direction.


A month earlier, runners took over Kirkwood Mountain Resort for Tahoe Mountain Milers’ annual Kirkwood Trail Runs event. Proceeds from the event held Sept. 3 went toward Kirkwood Volunteer Fire Department.

“It is a pleasure to be involved with one of the oldest trail run events in the Sierra and I am honored to be part of what this great event stands for,” Kasterko said.

The event featured 5k and 10k races, with the shorter distance added last year. The 5k featured a new, more challenging course for 2016 that included portions of the arduous 10k course that goes into Kirkwood’s Chair 2/Corral area.

Tahoe Mountain Milers shares race director responsibilities with Rick Ansel from Kirkwood Volunteer Fire Department. The group had volunteers at the event along with Silver State Striders and Rite of Passage.

In the 5k, Evan Vagelos of Stanford, California, finished as the overall winner with a time of 25:38, 10 seconds ahead of Brian Hopp, from Placerville, California. On the women’s side, top finisher Julie Wissink turned in a time of 28:37 while Nicole Alberti Sooudi was three seconds behind.

The 10k was won by Matt Church of Reno, Nevada, with a time of 53:46. The top female at the longer distance was Anna Schroder of Saratoga, California, in 58:20.

For more information on Tahoe Mountain Milers, visit http://www.tahoemtnmilers.org.

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