By Jeremy Evans Tribune staff writer South Shore’s Barela one of four athletes to run in every Tahoe Triple
For Bud Barela to run is no big surprise. After all, Barela, Conrad Daniel, Bob Keeffe and Dan Marinsik are the only four athletes to have participated in each Tahoe Triple since the event’s inception in 2001.
However, there will be one caveat when they tie their sneakers on Thursday morning for what will be their seventh attempt at three marathons in three days. Barela is coming off hip replacement surgery, the first major injury suffered by a member of the foursome.
“I’ll never be as fast as I once was,” said Barela, who had his new hip inserted on Oct. 10 – 11 days after the 2006 race. “If I want to keep running, which I do, I have to be careful because of all the pounding.”
Barela, 61, finished in last place last year – the first time that’s ever happened – in a time of 26 hours, 54 minutes. In 2004, he finished in 15:30, which placed him in the middle of the pack.
That’s the type of performance he has come to expect after similar results the first few years. Barela’s hip replacement, though, made him realize what is most important about the Tahoe Triple.
The other three have a similar mindset when it comes to this grueling test of physical ability – three 26.2-mile races in three days at an elevation of over 6,000 feet above sea level.
“I am getting up there in age … I am fading to the back of the pack,” said the 48-year-old Marinsik, the youngest of the group and a Bay Area resident who is a finisher of numerous marathons and ultramarathons, including the 135-mile Badwater Ultramarathon. “When I first did the Tahoe Triple, I kind of approached it as a one-time thing. Since it was Lake Tahoe, I thought I would give it a try.”
The Tahoe Triple had 28 participants in its first year (2001), attracted an event-record 101 racers in 2004 and saw just 57 competitors last year. But through the peaks and valleys, there has always been Barela, Marinsik, Keeffe and Daniel.
When Marinsik and his wife visit, they stay with Barela and his wife, Kathy, at their home off Tahoe Keys Boulevard. The four athletes also meet for meals during marathon week around Lake Tahoe.
While this race started out with 57 strangers on a September day six years ago, it’s brought together four athletes from different parts of the country. And when they finish their third marathon in three days on Saturday at Pope Beach – in conjunction with the 12th annual Lake Tahoe Marathon – the foursome will be pleased to see familiar faces at the finish line.
“It’s become a little fraternity of such and it is one of two races that is a must for me,” said Marinsik, who trains by running an average of 35 miles per week. “We have become pretty good friends over the years. We have grown quite close almost by accident because we’re the only ones still doing it.”