Weather doesn’t slow down two-time Torres
For the first time in Lake Tahoe Marathon history, snow covered Highway 89 at the start line in Tahoe City. But it was going to take more than slick conditions to slow down Tony Torres.
Torres became the marathon’s third back-to-back winner in the event’s 12-year history on Saturday when the Southern California runner finished the 26.2-mile course from Tahoe City to Pope Beach in an unofficial time of 2 hours, 44 minutes, 55.28 seconds. Torres won last year’s race in 2:42.37.
He joins Kenyan John Weru (2003-04) and Kevin Sawchuk (1998-99) as the race’s only two-time winners.
“It was very beautiful but very cold,” said Torres, who lives in Cedar Glen and pocketed $1,000 for Saturday’s win. “The first 13 miles there was ice and snow. I didn’t do a fast time because of that. It takes a long time to warm up.”
This was Torres’ first marathon in four months because he tore his calf muscle in late April at the Big Sur Marathon south of San Francisco. His road to defend his title in Lake Tahoe not only included repairing his muscle, but also running 80-120 miles per week and training at Lake Arrowhead, which has an altitude similar to Lake Tahoe’s.
“I went to Dr. Andrea Mills and she fixed me up, so I want to thank her for that,” Torres said. “I trained very hard, and, if I have the opportunity, I would like to do this race again. I know the course. I know everything. I think I can do even better.”
Amy Jenkinson, a physician from Palo Alto, won the marathon’s elite women’s division in 3 hours, 30 minutes, 1.27 seconds. While she joked afterward that she had a pre-race dinner consisting of french fries, pizza and beer at Lake Tahoe Brewery in South Lake Tahoe, the former UC-San Diego cross country runner was a bit concerned about the snow on the course when she arrived in Tahoe City.
“I was a little worried about the snow on the ground early, and I didn’t feel warm until 10-15 miles in the race,” Jenkinson said. “I didn’t think I could win. I only run about one marathon a year and I had never done this one before.
“The altitude wasn’t as bad as I thought. Also the hills weren’t as bad as I thought around mile 16, but the hills at mile 19 killed me. I would definitely be interested in coming back next year.”
Although Jenkinson won the $500 awarded to the elite women’s winner, it was actually Rebecca Eckland of Reno who had the fastest time for a female runner. Eckland ran a 3:21 marathon but didn’t start the race with the elite females, who begin 30 minutes before everyone else.
“It was a very awkward thing to happen,” marathon director Les Wright said. “The gal who had the fastest time started with the ‘Average Janes’ and wasn’t part of the elite women’s group. Sometimes a novice runner doesn’t realize how fast she really is. But I thought it was very noble that the elite female winner thought the title should go to other gal. But our rule is the $500 goes to the elite women’s winner.”