Family affair in Tahoe Marathon

When most families talk about quality time, they might refer to a picnic or a nice, leisurely bike ride.

For the Garzapenas of Gardnerville, it's participating in ironman triathlons. Tony Garzapena and his wife, Jacki, will begin their training for the California Ironman Relay to be held in the spring in Folsom, Calif., at this week's Lake Tahoe Marathon and Triathlon.

Tony will begin competition today in the first part of the Lake Tahoe Triathlon, a one-mile swim. He will then compete in the 72-mile bike ride around Lake Tahoe on Friday and will finish the triathlon on Saturday when he's joined by his wife in the 13.1-mile half marathon.

The Garzapenas will be joined by their daughter, Kristen, a 20-year-old junior at the University of Nevada, in the California Ironman. Kristen will swim the 2.4 miles, Tony will do the 112-mile bike ride and Jackie will run the 26.2-mile marathon.

Tony, 51, has competed in more than 40 triathlons and is accustomed to doing an ironman all in one day. So it figures that the triathlon spread over three days would be somewhat less challenging.

But Garzapena said it actually may be more difficult to recharge himself each day during the Tahoe event.

"It's going to be different," he said. "You don't have the whole adrenaline, the whole flow going. I think it's going to be harder than if it was just one day to do all three distances."

Garzapena also isn't looking forward to the bike ride, which will begin at 7:15 a.m. Friday when the temperature is expected to be below 40 degrees. "The temperatures are probably going to be the toughest part," he said.

He also said while he just hopes to complete the bike ride in five hours, there will be riders in the event who could complete the course in less than four hours.

"I'm looking at it as three days of hard training," Garzapena said. "There's some awesome, awesome riders out there."

Tony said he didn't expect to do an ironman on his own in 2004, but would like to do one in 2005. Tony also said he would like to see an ironman held at Tahoe.

"I think it would be great," he said. "I think it would be amazing. Everything is there. It would be one of the toughest ones out there."

Tony and Jacki have completed the California International Marathon, the Isuzu Ironman Triathlon and the Wild Flower Triathlon. Jackie plans to compete in the Honolulu Marathon in December.

That wasn't always the case for Jacki, who at one time was content with sitting on the couch smoking cigarettes.

"I remember taking pictures of my husband and daughter after a race all smiles, their arms around each other and it hit me that my family was passing me by," she said. "I wanted to be in the picture not taking it."


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