Rather than bore you with my Tahoe marathon experience, I thought I would take up this space to try and talk you into doing this race next year. Why do it? Well, it is an interesting race with the most beautiful course I have seen in a road marathon. The course is point to point, from Tahoe City to South Lake Tahoe right along - as you might guess - Lake Tahoe. This is gorgeous territory, so arrive a few days early to look around. I stayed in a nice 2-story cabin right off the lake, just across the street from the starting line. With a leisurely start time of 9am for women and 9:30am for men, you don’t have to be up at the crack of dawn. If you prefer the half marathon, it starts halfway up the course at about 11:10am, and you can catch shuttles from either the start or finish line. The weather for my race was perfect, in the 40’s for the start and 60’s for the finish which is typical weather for early fall.
The first 15 miles of the course is rolling hills, but nothing too tough. I was breathing a little bit faster than usual, which I attributed to the altitude of 6,500 ft, but that also was no big deal. At mile 15.5, as the half marathoners join you started up the Hill from Hell and that is pretty brutal. It is a 500 ft climb continuing to mile 18. Then there is a drop and another hill with the final peak of 7,000 ft at mile 20 (where a 10 K race starts). After that there is a nice 2 mile downhill to keep you going. Actually it is steep enough to keep you from slowing down.
It is in the hills that the course is the most beautiful. The first part of the race is right along the lake, which is nice enough. But here you are high above the lake with mountains and forest all around. You can see out over Emerald Bay with its incredibly blue water. In the middle of the bay is an island with what looks like a castle. It is pretty to the point of distraction. I would estimate this race was at least twice if not three times as pretty than any Swiss marathon.
The finish line is lakeside in South Tahoe City. There is a prize for the first person to cross the finish line (which is often won by a woman because of their early start). In place of a T shirt they give out windshirts with the first finisher’s shirts clearly marked with ‘Top 25’ on them. There is a great picnic afterwards and a wonderful icy cold freezingly painfully cold lake to wade into.
The people who worked the course were wonderful. The people in the town were all friendly. In fact the owner of my cabin not only did not charge me although I checked out late (did I mention the free beer at the picnic?), but allowed me to stay an extra hour to shower. There are shuttles from the finish line to the half and full marathon starting line. There are also spectator buses that follow the race and stop at strategic locations.
This year the race was on Sunday but next year it is on Saturday Oct 11th, so if you are Todd Byers, you can run Lake Tahoe as well as the Long Beach marathon the next day.