Hard as Iron: IRONMAN Takes on Tahoe Sunday

| September 20, 2013 | 0 Comments

Martis Camp resident and former Oakland A’s outfielder Eric Byrnes to compete

Written by Laney Olson

IRONMAN Tahoe athletes, from left to right, Catriona Morrison, Dede Griesbauer, Angela Naeth, Jessica Jacobs, former Oakland A’s outfielder Eric Byrnes, Joe Gambles, Chris McDonald, Paul Ambrose, Maik Twelsiek

Thousands of athletes from around the world will push their bodies to the limit this Sunday with the Inaugural IRONMAN Lake Tahoe. Nearly 2,700 racers will face the rough waters of Tahoe with a 2.4 mile swim in Kings Beach. They will then hop on their bikes to make two loops around Truckee via highways 89 and 267—a  112 mile ride finishing in Squaw Valley. Finally, racers will run 26.2 miles along the Truckee River bike path before ending up in Squaw.

IRONMAN athletes have traveled great distances to compete. While 97 percent of athletes are from United States, 30 nations will be represented, including Germany, Australia and England. Within the U.S., 48 states are sending athletes, 63 are  Californians.

Professional athletes will compete for a $75,000 prize, while age group competitors are vying for 50 qualifying spots for the 2014 IRONMAN World Championship in Kailua Kona, Hawaii.

More than 3,000 volunteers will support the athletes along the way. An estimated 10,000 friends and family are expected to cheer on the athletes.

Keats McGonigal, operation manager for the World Triathlon Corporation estimates $15 million in revenue will come into the area because of this event. This estimation accounts for athletes, volunteers, spectators, and IRONMAN staff spending money on hotels, restaurants, tour/recreation and other local businesses.

Additionally, the IRONMAN Foundation is donating $50,000 for the local community which will benefit North Lake Tahoe Fire Department, Squaw Valley Fire Department, KidZone Museum, Tahoe Cross Country Ski Education Association, Awaken INC and Tahoe Nordic Search and Rescue.

The IRONMAN Foundation also started the Newton Running Triathlon Team this year, which will have 12 members competing on Sunday. The team is supporting Keep Tahoe Blue and spent time cleaning the Lake shore this morning. The team s expected to raise an estimated $16,000 to help protect, restore and advocate for the health of the  Lake Tahoe Basin.

Lake Tahoe will benefit more than just financially from IRONMAN.

“Communities that embrace IRONMAN receive inspirational stories and motivation to pursue their own goals in life. IRONMAN shows people that dreams can come true if you put the time and dedication into your passions,” says McGonigal.

IRONMAN signed a five-year contract with Tahoe.


Athlete Highlight

IRONMAN hosted a panel of eight professional triathletes along with former Major League Baseball player Eric Byrnes, giving us a chance to get inside the heads of the athletes.


Catriona Morrison

Morrison is a 35-year-old triathlete from Scotland. She is recovering from Achilles tendon surgery she had last year. This year, Morrison won first in BH Zarautz Triathlon, first in the St. Croix 70.3 and second in the 70.3 Norway. She also took gold in the Texas IRONMAN in 2011.

Morrison says her favorite race moment was in the BH Zarautz when during the bike, her chain broke. She sat on the side of the course for 45 minutes before her chain was fixed. Both her coach and her husband said was too far behind and should give up. However, Morrison did not know how far behind she was and continued racing. She won the race.



Dede Griesbauer

Griesbauer was born in New Jersey, and swam for Stanford University. She went on to work on Wall Street for eight years. In 2005, she quit her job as vice president at MFS Investment Management to pursue racing. Since becoming a professional athlete she has won the IRONMAN UK and IRONMAN Brazil. In 2011, she crashed in Ironman Germany, leaving her with a broken elbow, two broken ribs, a broken pelvis and hip. Despite being told she would never walk again, Griesbauer placed 2nd in a 70.3 the next year.


Griesbauer remembers training at the Air Force Academy where she saw the saying, “the air is rare” along the wall. “So every time you breathe you see that dang thing on the side of the wall. And it’s true, you will feel it… Practice what it is going to make your lungs feel like. As Jessica said, once you go anaerobic, it’s hard to get that settled feeling back. So, like any Ironman you need to pace yourself and stay within yourself.”



Angela Naeth

Naeth grew up in Northern British Columbia and raced her first triathlon in 2007. In 2008  she turned pro. In 2013, she’s placed first in three 70.3’s. This will be Naeth’s first full IRONMAN.


Naeth talks about what her morning routine will look like on Sunday. “I’ll have a lot of butterflies, that’s for sure. Typically, you should wake up three hours before the race. Right away just get some food in me, I’ll still to some fluid food. Get that in me right away, I just need to digest that quickly. I definitely have coffee, I like my morning coffee so that’s not going away anytime soon. Then get done to race start, just get everything ready. I’ll probably have my wetsuit on already because I want to stay as warm as possible… Just kind of take slow and relaxed, obviously I’ll be nervous but it will be a good nervous.”



Jessica Jacobs

A Wisconsin native Jacobs, got hooked on triathlons in 2003 while serving in U.S. Army. Since her first Ironman, she has accomplished a lot in the sport. She finished the World Championship Ironman in 11:51 in 2005, ten weeks after she gave birth to her daughter. She has won the IRONMAN Florida in 2010 and 2011, and taken gold in IRONMAN Wisconsin in 2011.


When asked how she is training differently to account for altitude, Jacobs says, “I didn’t do anything differently but with coming here, you just definitely go into certain sections of the race a little more tentative with some of the climbing. Once you pop, once you go into anaerobic it is much more difficult to come back from it and put together a great bike and a killer run. You have to respect nature a lot more here.”


Eric Byrnes

Byrnes is a former MLB outfielder who has played for the Oakland A’s, the Colorado Rockies, Baltimore Orioles, Arizona Diamondbacks and Seattle Mariners. He now lives in Martis Camp. Byrnes did his first triathlon in 2010 and has finished three Ironman’s since then.


Byrnes told us the story of his first triathlon. “I showed up with my surfing wetsuit, did not know how to swim freestyle, literally almost drowned in the water and thought I was going to die. I ended up getting on my bike which was a beach cruiser. I wasn’t bringing the beach cruiser to be cool, it was my only bike.”


Joe Gambles

Gambles is an Australian native who has been racing since he was 16. He has won multiple Ironman 70.3 and the Ironman Wisconsin in 2010. Gambles competed in Las Vegas just two weeks ago.


Gambles talks about how Las Vegas helped prepare him for Sunday. “I feel ready but Ironman; its a different beast. I feel like I’ve gotten close to my potential at 70.3 distance but Ironman is a whole different ball game.”


Chris McDonald

Another Aussie native, McDonald has been racing professionally since 2004. He did his first Ironman in 2002.


McDonald talks about racing in cold weather on Sunday, “I was actually saying to someone the other day, I normally wish I was one of these 150 pounds guys but thankfully on Sunday I think it is pretty good I’m not 150 pounds.


Paul Ambrose

Ambrose is also an Australian native who has been racing triathlons since 2000. He has placed first in the IRONMAN Australia and Ironman Louisville.


For Ambrose, the Ironman Australia was his most memorable race. “That race meant a lot to my hometown. It was one of the first races I got introduced to… I got to have a lot of my close friends and family come up and watch me.”


Maik Twelsiek

Twelsiek is a triathlete from Germany. He has won multiple IRONMAN titles including winning Wisconsin twice. His wife, Hillary Biscay, is also a triathlete.


He raced two weeks before in Wisconsin and has spent the last two weeks recovering rather than training. “(I was asking Hillary) which race I should do, Wisconsin or Tahoe and she was like, ‘yeah both.’”

Traffic Information

Highway 28 Eastbound and Westbound will be closed from 6:30 a.m. until 9:30 a.m.


Highway 89 North from Tahoe City to Squaw Valley will be closed from 7 a.m. until 5:30 a.m.


Highway 267 Southbound from Northstar to Commonwealth Drive will be closed from 7:30 a.m. until 4:00 p.m.


All closed roads will be open by no later than 5:30 p.m.


More traffic information can be found here.



Category: Outdoors, Summer

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