Tony Torres wins Lake Tahoe Marathon |

Tony Torres wins Lake Tahoe Marathon

Jeremy Evans
Photos by Tracy Peterson / Tahoe Daily Tribune / Men's Marathon winner Tony Torres crosses the finish line at Pope Beach in South Lake Tahoe on Saturday.

Tony Torres had 6,223 reasons why he didn’t win the Lake Tahoe Marathon last year – one for each foot that America’s largest Alpine lake sits above sea level.

“That was my first experience up here and the altitude got to me,” said Torres, who entered last year’s race after winning the San Francisco Marathon. “The elevation was a big deal. This year, I had a lot more experience at altitude.”

A Southern California resident, Torres ran between 100-150 miles each week in Big Bear, situated about 6,000 feet above Los Angeles. The Tahoe-specific training paid dividends on Saturday, when he won the 2006 Lake Tahoe Marathon in 2 hours, 42 minutes, 40 seconds.

Torres, who finished second last year, completed the 26.2-mile course from Tahoe City to Pope Beach two minutes faster than South African Johan Oosthuizen (2:44.05). Oosthuizen took second despite winning the Tahoe Triple, which started on Thursday and involves running three marathons in three days.

“I tried to keep up with the guy, but I am at peace with it,” Oosthuizen said. “I’d rather stay within myself and my abilities, but the downhills really hurt me. That made a huge difference after running the previous two days. But I was focused on what I came here for.”

Oosthuizen finished the Tahoe Triple in 8:10.91, which set a new Guinness World Record for “Fastest Aggregate Time – Three Marathons in Three Days.” The previous record holder was Raymond Hubbard, who ran marathons in Belfast, Ireland, London and Boston in 8:22.31.

Oosthuizen’s quest for world supremacy suited Torres just fine. With more than a dozen family members surrounding him at the finish line, Torres admitted the two climbs along the West Shore slowed his pace considerably.

“But I feel great now,” said the 36-year-old Torres. “I was planning to break 2:40, but the last two-mile uphill really got to me. It’s a beautiful course. This is my fifth marathon and it is the hardest one.”

Lisa Butler won the elite women’s race in 3:24.58. A resident of Tulsa, Okla., Butler was running for the first time in Lake Tahoe.

“I was concerned about a lot of things, but it seemed to work out,” said the 33-year-old Butler, a high school math teacher who arrived in South Shore at midnight on Thursday. “I have asthma, so the altitude does affect me a little bit here. I used my inhaler a couple of times, but it wasn’t that big of a deal. I was actually hoping to do 3:15.”

Butler, who is also hoping to qualify for the Olympic trails in the women’s marathon, will run the Chicago Marathon on Oct. 22, then the Tulsa Marathon in November. She qualified for the Ironman World Championships last year in Hawaii.

Not bad for someone who ran their first marathon in 1998 and recorded a time of more than 4 hours.

“I am trying to do one marathon a month over the next few months,” Butler said. “This was one of my training runs for my ultimate goals, and I think am going to get there.”

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