The 53rd edition of the Lake Tahoe Relay is full of old tradition and new surprises. The relay will still wrap around one of the most majestic mountain lakes in the world, but for this year, we have a few exciting changes we know you’ll enjoy.
New Start/Finish Line
For those that have raced before, the course used to start/finish near the “Y” in South Lake Tahoe. That location served us well for many years, but we felt the DeCelle Memorial deserved something that allowed everyone to embrace Lake Tahoe to its fullest. What better way to do this than to get right on the water! We’ve moved the start/finish next to the Tahoe Beach Retreat, allowing us to open and conclude the race only steps away from Lake Tahoe. This means the festivities, lodging and the finale can be right on the beach. Talk about inspirational!
Launching on the beach also means the course has shifted the start by 3.5 miles from its previous track. This translates to all new leg stations!
Leg 1: Tahoe Beach Retreat to Cave Rock - 8.6 miles
The first segment starts out mainly flat, flying through South Lake Tahoe and Stateline. It is speckled with rolling hills to keep it interesting and finishes at Cave Rock. From there, the transition to your next team mate will be at the Cave Rock Boat Launch. All cars following the race will temporarily park at the boat launch, giving every team a chance to switch runners easily.
Leg 2: Cave Rock to Sand Harbor - 13.1 miles
As the next runner takes off from the boat launch, you’ll be greeted to 4 miles of rolling hills. Arriving at the bottom of Spooner Summit, the runner ascends 3 miles at an average grade of 3%. Just shy of Spooner Summit, you’ll make a left towards Incline Village, descending 6 miles along the beautiful East Shore. This might be the longest segment of the race, but you’re also blessed with some of the most stunning views of Lake Tahoe. Capping off the leg, you hand off to the next runner at the north end of Sand Harbor by the boat ramp.
Leg 3: Sand Harbor to Kings Beach - 9.5 miles
Zooming out of Sand Harbor, the first 3 miles are level which are graced by more fantastic views. You’ll turn left onto Lake Shore Drive, running through the beautiful community of Incline Village. Making another left back onto the highway, the course transitions to more rolling hills, making a final descent into Kings Beach. The hand-off will be right across the street from the Safeway store. You’ll need to park your car in the Safeway parking lot to swap runners.
Leg 4: Kings Beach to Tahoe City - 9.6 miles
Running through Kings Beach along the North Shore, you’ll encounter mostly flat terrain until you reach Dollar Hill. Don’t worry! It’s only about a 1/2 mile in length and once summited, the course will follow a long descent just outside of Tahoe City. Running through town, you’ll get the opportunity to go cross the Fanny Bridge, ending up at the Transit Center where your next team mate will be watitng.
Leg 5: Tahoe City to Meeks Bay - 10.7 miles
Heading south on Highway 89, the race continues along the West Shore of the lake. Mostly flat, this section is fast with fantastic views of the East Shore. Near the end, there are a few more small undulating hills around Sugar Pine Point, where you’ll hand off to the next runner at Meeks Bay.
Leg 6: Meeks Bay to Emerald Bay - 8.5 miles
This is the shortest leg but it also has the biggest climb at over 1200'. The true ‘mountain enthusiast’ on the team will get the opportunity to climb DL Bliss Hill, clocking just under 3 miles with an average grade of 4.5%. Once over the top of DL Bliss, you’re treated to a few small descents and ascents before the final breathtaking descent into Emerald Bay. This segment might have the most pain but you’ll be given bragging rights that you ran Emerald Bay. How many people get to say that?!?
Leg 7: Emerald Bay to Tahoe Beach Retreat - 11 miles
Beginning from Emerald Bay, you and your entire team will feel like you’re on top of the world! On the left is the bay and on the right is Cascade Lake as the course continues its descent onto one of the most famous roads around Lake Tahoe. Once past the views, you’ll have pure downhill running, filled with a few switchbacks and emerging onto a very flat section. Next, you’ll get to the “Y” intersection of Highway 50 and 89 where you’ll make a left onto Highway 50. In the final stretch, be aware that there will be traffic and you’ll be running against it. You must pay attention to all traffic lights and stop signs. The merging traffic onto Highway 50 from a cross street will not expect runners, so it's your responsibility to stop. In the last 1.5 miles, there is a bike trail that parallels the highway that your more than welcome to run on instead of the road.
Finishing where you started
Exhausted but feeling accomplished, you’ll arrive at the Tahoe Beach Retreat and cross the finish line! Enjoy a cold brew and talk to other runners about their journey around the lake. As the old adage goes, “It’s not the destination but the journey that matters.” Congratulations will be in order at this point for everyone!