Over the next three days, I’ll be doing the Tahoe Triple. That’s three marathons on three consecutive days. Each race goes around a different part of Lake Tahoe. Lake Tahoe is an alpine lake nestled between the Sierra Nevada Mountains, at an elevation of 6225 feet. The shortest road loop around the lake is 72 miles. Over the course of three days, I’ll run all the way around the lake (with about six miles of overlap).
With the increasing popularity of marathons and the explosive growth of clubs like Marathon Maniacs and the 50 States Marathon Club, there’s also been an increasing demand for opportunities to run marathons on three or more consecutive days. Now there are numerous multi-day series. As far as I know, the Tahoe Triple was the original multi-day series.
The cornerstone of the weekend is the Lake Tahoe Marathon. This race started in 1996. By itself, it was one of the best destination marathons in the country. Later, race director Les Wright had the idea of adding smaller no-frills marathons on the days preceding the Lake Tahoe Marathon. These races were later named the Emerald Bay and Cal-Neva Marathons.
It didn’t stop there. Over the years, more and more events were added to Lake Tahoe Marathon Week. Now there are biking events, swimming events, ultramarathons, kayaking, SUP, and probable a few more events I haven’t heard of.
I’ve done the Tahoe Triple twice before. I have a love/hate relationship with these races. I love the challenge, I love the scenery, and I love being able to do three races in one trip. I hate the way these races beat up my legs, and I hate that I’ve never been able to run them fast. My course PRs for the three races are 3:56, 4:25 and 4:13.
The challenge isn’t just running marathons on three consecutive days. Individually, these races are tough. The lowest elevation is 6200 feet, and each race has long tiring climbs and quad-busting descents. It doesn’t help that I had hamstring issues the first two times I did the triple.
The closest major airport is in Reno, NV. I flew to Reno yesterday and spent the night in Carson City, since lodging there is less expensive than the Lake Tahoe area. For the next four nights, I’ll be staying in at the Lake Tahoe Resort Hotel in South Lake Tahoe, which is the host hotel for the races.
I drove to South Lake Tahoe this morning, giving me time to do a scenic drive around the lake. I drove to Emerald Bay first, since that’s where the first race starts. From there, I drove counter-clockwise around the lake. The scenic overlooks are all the side of the highway facing the lake, so it would have been easier to drive clockwise. I wanted to drive in the same direction I’ll be running. That way, I could preview each marathon course at the same time I was doing a scenic drive. I’ve done these races before, but I wanted to remind myself where the hills are (and how big they are!)
The views I got while driving are views I’ll also get while running, but I was able to get extra views like these by taking the overlooks.
My scenic drive took half the morning and part of the afternoon. I finally arrived at Lake Tahoe Resort Hotel around 2:00. After checking in, I went grocery shopping so I would have food for breakfasts and post-race snacks. The hotel was a free breakfast buffet, but I’m going to miss it for the next three days, because I have to leave early to get to the start of each race.
For people doing the triple, packet pickup is later this afternoon, followed by a pre-race dinner. Over the next three days, I’ll have a busy schedule, but I’m hoping I can find time each day to post a race report. Wish me luck. I’ve never done well in these races, but I’m going to keep trying until I get it right.