This weekend, Ironman returns to California with the inaugural Ironman Lake Tahoe. California has plenty of great triathlon events, including Ironman 70.3 Oceanside and Vineman and Alcatraz, and Wildflower, both of which are two of the sport’s marquis events. It even has the Ironman-distance Full Vineman. However, there has been no Ironman distance Ironman in California since Oceanside went down to the half distance over ten years ago.
Gloria and I are volunteering for this race, bodymarking in the morning and handing out finisher medals in the afternoon. However, many of our friends and competing, including friends and teammates from Wattie Ink. and the Chico Triathlon Club. They have prepared and trained for this race for months. We are excited to see them and excited to see them race and finish. For some, this is their first Ironman, but for every one of them it will be an amazing experience. For family, friends, and other spectators at the finish line it will be no less amazing. Triathlon is a great sport, but there are few events like an Ironman. Crossing the finish line is a culmination of not just the race itself, which is long and grueling, but also of the countless hours of training, the months-long focus on proper diet, lifestyle, and nutrition, and all of the other challenges along the way, whether they involved work, life, family, or health.
If you have the opportunity, go to Squaw Valley on Sunday for the finish. The energy at the finish, even as the last athletes cross the finish line moments before the midnight cutoff, will amaze and inspire you. Some of these last athletes are the most amazing, as some may of willed their way through bike crashes, mechanical problems, or other incidents, while others made it to the finish line with one leg or no legs. Although many top pros are currently focused on preparing for the Ironman World Championship next month in Kona, Hawaii, a strong and competitive professional race is expected, with the men’s race featuring Joe Gambles, Maik Twelsiek, and Chris McDonald women’s race featuring Angela Naeth, Catriona Morrison, Kate Bevilaqua, and Jessica Jacobs.
If all goes well on race day, Sunday could mark the start for a new era in endurance sports in Northern California, taking its place with the California International Marathon, Western States 100, and other endurance events. Ironman New York was announced with high hopes, but logistics and other challenges made staging the race for an appropriate registration cost (i.e. less than $1300) infeasible. Lake Tahoe however, has no such challenges. Given that the event is expected to bring $5 to $10 million into the local economy, hopefully others will be inspired, take notice, and make California home to another Ironman.