Runner: Alan R
Race Date: 09/13/2019
Location: Around Lake Tahoe, California
Results: 90th place out of 240
3 Bests – What aspects of the race did you like the most?
The ability to learn – about myself, about how gear and strategies can be tested and changed on the fly, and the unpredictability of the Sierra Nevada mountains. And the people. I swear – every single person we came in contact with over those 4 days was kind, generous and real; the people were all awesome.
Not so much – Aspects of the race that didn’t do it for you
One aid station in particular that doesn’t get what runners need to eat on multi-day events; I don’t think they run. The rest of the race is pure beauty.
Weird factor – What’s the weirdest thing about this race?
This would apply to any multi-day event: the ability of the human body to adapt and repair itself over time while in nearly continuous motion. By day 3, our legs were less sore and by the final hours on the monstrous final 3,000 foot climb my legs were not only unfatigued, but the climb was effortless, as if it were any small hill. Last year our bodies dealt with shoulder pain from packs and poles in the same way – by day two we felt much better.
Highlights of your race – What did you do well and enjoy about your race in particular?
My wife and I vowed to learn to work on our own feet this year and avoid the sometimes lengthy wait for medical attention when hot spots start. This was the first time in any race 100 or longer where my feet were almost fine at the finish and I did not tear them open in one way or another – brilliant! Proper training to run with pack and poles (using a 10 lb weight vest) eliminated any soreness regardless of how much gear and food I carried. Also, redundancy: our backup and our backup to our backup lithium ion reserve batteries failed in the cold temps, and because we carried 3rd reserve lead-acid back up batteries for our headlamps we were not trapped in the freezing high country waiting for another runner when everything else failed, which could have been very dangerous on night four. Awesome!
Lessons for others – Share your pro-tips on the race to help the next runner
See some of my comments above, but also carry more food or pack more food in your drop bags than you think you’ll need. It was only one aid station that appeared to lack choices for a tender stomach, but it prompted us to take every food item we packed to get us through the following 18 mile section – couldn’t have made it without our fave calories!
Lessons you learned that will help you next time around
My experience with feet; avoiding all caffeine for the first 24 hours to get more out of caffeine later in the race, as well as allow a better possibility of sleep, if for only 30 minutes, the first night – AND to avoid that raw mouth and tongue from caffeine and gels; that you are always capable of more than you expect – especially when hypothermic and chased by rain and snow! Eat enough! It sounds silly, but the body will give you a million reasons to not eat, and all that will do is slow you down.
Most important course specific knowledge to know about the race
Snow in mid-September happens semi-regularly in Tahoe and you should expect it – RD Candice made a declaration after this year’s race that past suggested winter gear will be mandatory going forward. Also dust – the dust is insane and will be a factor. Train the terrain! If not in Tahoe, then high country SOMEWHERE, because although you won’t be above 9000 feet consistently, almost all effort will be at or above 6200 feet.
Aesthetics – Is it a pretty course?
My wife pointed this out to me: the East side of the lake, comprised of the Tahoe Rim Trail is some of the most beautiful, soft and satisfying singletrack anywhere, especially the area of Snow Valley Peak, my favorite. The entire course is either in forest or with views.
Difficulty – Is it a tough course?
So, last year the course was run clockwise, which left you a section called the Rubicon for last: an OHV area where you tackle 4 wheel drive tracks of boulders and dust and avoid crazy vehicles – which makes for a pretty exciting experience. My wife said that going through there in the dark was some of the hardest terrain she has every tackled. But this year we ran counter clockwise, and the Rubicon was up front, which fatigued us more in the first 100k, but the last 50k was absolutely exhausting from rain and snow and cold and a ridiculous 3,000 foot final climb. My point here is that the entire course can be extremely difficult, and should not be taken for granted. This year there were 240 starters and 149 runners finished, so a roughly 60% finish rate.
Organized and well run – Did it feel like a well-oiled machine or were they flying by the seat of their pants?
Candice does a great job managing this and Bigfoot 200, and MOAB 240 – she is probably one of the better RDs I have run under. Some aid stations never let you lift a finger, others require you to focus, but they all pretty much have what you need. The trails are extremely well marked, and except for uptight, wealthy home owners in Incline Village that tend to remove course ribbons along an easy section of road, you will appreciate the arrows and ribbons. This year part of the course was also run by 100k-ers, which made things funny and interesting. And the pre-race stuff and the finish line are perfect – no complaints!
Competition – Is there a strong field?
Crazy, strong and amazing endurance athletes, with Courtney Dauwalter dueling with a crazy fast runner for first place last year, and this year Taylor Spike boldly predicted a sub 50 hour finish, which is record territory. Yes, really competitive, but also a race run by everyday people who are simply trained up and looking for adventure.
Logistics – Does it require a special handshake, registration a year in advance, hotels all booked? Give us the low down on the nuts and bolts of making the race happen.
The race sells out now, so jump on it if you want it. It is expensive to feed us hungry runners and pull all of the permits, so be prepared. But it is an experience worth every effort and every dollar. We found a hotel in Tahoe City, 9 miles away, 5 weeks before the race, but book ahead anyway!
Aid Stations – Standard fare or anything special to know about the aid stations in terms of what’s available or when?
Not enough chicken noodle soup up front, but they served us a huge variety of choices. We did not go hungry!
Weather and typical race conditions
As previously stated, it can snow in September, and you should be prepared – Iron Man Lake Tahoe had similar snow conditions in 2013, Last year the weather was perfect. This year the temps really plummeted. You never know.
Gear – Did you need anything special or is there anything you’d recommend for the next guy?
Water proof shell and gloves – I wouldn’t go back without ‘em. I may not need them next time but….
Spectators – Is this a friendly course for your friends?
Lots of chances for spectators with a race that tracks the circumference of the Tahoe basin.
How’s the Swag?
We have gotten new drop bags the last two years, and the shirt this year is awesome, also, a reusable race cup with the T200 logo and a nice mug. Last year there was a sticker and another item, but permitting costs jumped this year. I have no complaints!
The Overall Score – How many stars do you give this race and do you recommend that others run it?
So this is a special experience. My wife and I run this as therapy of sorts, for incredibly deep and real and raw quality time. If you’re up for a race of this distance, Tahoe 200 can be anything you want it to be – all out race adventure, gear and theory proving grounds, sight-seeing tour of Lake Tahoe, second honeymoon. I give it 5 stars for the adventure. If we didn’t work the aid station at Sierra at Tahoe this next year, we would run it in 2020 😄