First of 5 Tahoe Ironmans provides economic benefit, highlights region
OLYMPIC VALLEY, CALIF — It appeared to be a perfect match, the Ironman racing series and Lake Tahoe. In fact, many were surprised the pairing hadn’t occurred already.
But the first Ironman Lake Tahoe and its roughly 2,700 competitors finished Sunday afternoon under sunny skies at Squaw Valley.
The race navigated through and around Lake Tahoe, taking competitors on a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and 26.2-mile run — for a total of 140.6 miles.
“This is definitely one of the best Ironman locations,” said Asa Lundtrom of Sweden, who finished first among all women competing in the event in just under 10 hours. Reno’s Liz Lyles was fourth in the women’s race with a time of 10 hours, 8 minutes and 41 seconds.
Chris McDonald, an Australian who now lives in Boulder, Colo., finished first among the men at 8:55:14, four weeks after winning Ironman Louisville and his sixth overall.
“(Tahoe and the Ironman event) really is a perfect match,” North Lake Tahoe Resort Association CEO Sandy Evans said.
Earlier this year, the region signed a five-year contract with Ironman, a 35-year-old race that first started in Hawaii and includes about 15 locations around North America.
Evans said the first Ironman Lake Tahoe didn’t come without snags. Local businesses worried about some of the road closures and their employees’ commute to work, with portions of highways 89 and 267 and 28 (by Kings Beach) closed for the race.
But the community as a whole will trade traffic for the benefits, Evans said.
The economic impact to the area is estimated from $10 to $12 million during race week, according to the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association. The organization bases its estimate on the number of participants. Each athlete brings about three to six people with him or her, organizers say.
The race also boosts the region’s reputation for outdoor sports, which is important, Evans said.
“It’s a wonderful event, and this area did a great job,” said Linda Brewer, of South Lake Tahoe, who watched her husband, Gary, compete in his fifth Ironman on Sunday. “The traffic held us up a little bit, but this event was better than most I’ve been to. Lake Placid was horrible. I can say I wish we had last week’s or next week’s weather. But what do you expect? It’s Tahoe.” ...