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A Spartan Athlete’s Itinerary for North Lake Tahoe

It’s almost race day in Lake Tahoe for the 10,000 athletes competing in the 2017 Spartan World Championships at Squaw Valley on September 30. For those of you preparing for the most important obstacle race of the year, plan out the rest of your trip your trip to make the most of your time here.

How you spend your days both pre and post race will help you perform at your peak, recover smartly, and experience the best that North Lake Tahoe has to offer. You are after all, competing in one of the world’s most beautiful destinations.

Get the insider’s scoop with our official Spartan Athlete’s itinerary so you end your time in North Lake Tahoe feeling accomplished, rested and well-traveled (with maybe a few new scratches, bruises and souvenirs).

Photo Credit: Squaw Valley

Pre-Race Day

Whether you arrive 24-hours before your race or a full week, there are some necessary steps to acclimate, prepare and fuel up. Why not do it in style and with amazing views along the way?

Morning: Prepare

Left a piece of critical gear at home? It happens. But it doesn’t mean you have to show up to race day without it. For those who do forget something or simply feel like shopping for gear, the north shore is home to a few great outfitters:

  • Alpenglow Sports – Lake Tahoe’s oldest backcountry and running shop in Tahoe City.
  • Any Mountain – Quality gear and clothing store in Tahoe City.
  • The Village at Squaw Valley – Home to shops like Parallel Mountain Sports, Squaw Valley Outfitters, Patagonia, and The North Face.

Mid-Day: Acclimate & Train

Competing in altitude comes with its own unique difficulties, and it’s important for athletes to arrive with ample time to acclimate. Although you should already be plenty prepared for the physical demands of the race by the time you arrive, getting out to run, swim or bike will not only keep the momentum going and your muscles moving, but will also give you a chance to see the incredible outdoors of the area.

  • Trail Running – The mixed-use trail system in Burton Creek State Park is perfect for all Spartans, including amateur competitors and pro-status runners. Take advantage of free access and the perfect blend of flat/steep and fire road/technical trails. If you’re looking to track distance with an exact science, you can also mountain bike a route first then run it.*

Other trail running spots to consider include the Tahoe Rim Trail from Tahoe City and the Rubicon Trail from Emerald Bay to D.L. Bliss State Park.**

  • Mountain Biking – To get those lungs pumping quickly, get in an uphill climb on the Tahoe Flume Trail, located on the east shore. Bike rentals are conveniently available through Flume Trail Bikes at the base. If you’re on the west shore, bike the Stanford Rock Trail or Loop for one of the toughest sustained rides in the Tahoe Basin. To suffer through 20% grades and 1964’ of ascent, pick up a bike at Tahoe Adventure Company. Both rides offer epic views of the lake and surrounding mountain peaks to help ease the burning pain in your chest at the top.**

Photo Credit: Chris Bartkowski

  • Swimming – If you’re looking for something low impact, jump in the water from Sand Harbor State Park on the east shore, Commons Beach in Tahoe City and Sugar Pine State Park on the west shore. Just be sure to bring a friend in a kayak or stand up paddleboard to keep you safe, GPS the route and support you during your workout.*

For a more comprehensive list, check out the Top 7 High Altitude Training Locations in North Lake Tahoe on our blog.

* This recommendation comes from Bryan Rickards of Big Blue Adventure

** This recommendation comes from Miles Heapes of Alpenglow Sports

Evening: Fuel

Leave the pubs until after the race and opt for organic, seasonal meals that up your red blood cell production and help with altitude adjustment. Fortunately, the foodie scene in North Lake Tahoe was built with athletes in mind and is supported by the Tahoe Food Hub.

A few options that blend hearty wholesome meals and killer views include:

  • Rocker@Squaw – If sitting at the base of the starting line can help with visualization, then this is the patio for you. Get the iron and folic acid you need by adding a farm fresh egg to the summer chopped salad or the roasted ribeye.
  • Jake’s on the Lake –  If a pre-race day swim is part of your itinerary, then fuel up at the lake’s ultimate waterfront restaurant afterward. From all natural lamb chops and roasted all natural chicken, to a hearty quinoa salad, you’ll find something to eat smarter.
  • Mountain High Sandwich Co. – A must-stop for those on the east shore or Incline Village. For vegetarian/vegan athletes, the house smoked BBQ tofu and harmony wraps are a must and for carnivores, the house smoked bbq tri-tip is a fan favorite. Pro Trip: Get it to go and run down to one of the east shore beaches, like Chimney Beach for beachside dining.
  • Alpenglow Sports – Attend an informal welcome party for Spartan athletes on Thursday, September 28th. Together with Darn Tough Vermont Socks and Sierra Nevada Brewery, elite Spartan athletes Ryan Atkins, Lindsay Webster and Trail Master Steve Hammond will join for an informal happy hour and presentation on racing at altitude. Come meet and greet and learn how to excel at a Spartan event. This event is free and begins at 5pm.

Post-Race Day

Congratulations! You survived one of the toughest Spartan races in the world. So now what? Time to recover smartly, keep the blood flowing, and celebrate your success in the natural splendor of North Lake Tahoe.

Morning: Recover

Keeping the body moving the day after a grueling race is paramount to your comfort and recovery. Opt for gentle trails with a low incline, short distance swimming, and yoga.

  • Easy Running – If your legs can handle more running (you animal, you), cruise along the Truckee River Bike Path from Tahoe City to Squaw Valley and back. Or run until you find a nice swimming spot and jump in the cooling waters of this iconic river. You can also return to Burton Creek State Park or the dirt path fitness trail in Incline Village.
  • Swimming – Work out the lactic acid with a swim followed by some quality R&R time at a beach by jumping in the water at Sand Harbor State Park, Incline Beach, Commons Beach or Chamber’s Landing.
  • Yoga – A Vinyasa flow might be exactly what you need to decompress both your body and your mind. Fortunately, North Lake Tahoe is a wellness hub and your options for yoga classes taught by amazing teachers are plentiful. At Squaw Valley, attend a class at the iconic Wanderlust Yoga Studio or try Tahoe Yoga at Northstar California. If you’re staying lakeside, check out the aerial yoga and mat yoga at Tahoe Flow Arts Studio, or Mountain Lotus Yoga for some seriously detoxing hot yoga.

Photo by Paige Shaw for Wanderlust Festival

Mid-Day: Adventure & Events

Now that you’ve eased into your day and kept the cramping at bay, get that heart rate back up with some seriously fun, high-adrenaline activities.

  • Downhill Mountain Biking at Northstar California – You’ve already earned your uphills, now it’s time to experience one of the country’s best downhill bike parks at Northstar California. With trails ranging from green to double black, lift access, and a fleet of rentals from Specialized, an afternoon spent cruising downhill has never felt so good.
  • Helicopter Tour of Lake Tahoe – You’ve already scaled a mountain, so see it from above. With Pacific North Helicopters, you can get an aerial tour right from Resort at Squaw Creek.
  • North Lake Tahoe Ale Trail – Discover the perfect pairing of a hiking, biking or paddling trail with an post-adventure pint. The award-winning North Lake Tahoe Ale Trail interactive map will show you just how to conquer the outdoors and drinking scene like the champion you are.
  • Tahoe City Oktoberfest – Spartan picked a good weekend, because the annual Tahoe City Oktoberfest takes place Saturday from 12 – 6 p.m (Sunday competitors should steer clear). Featuring local craft beers from some of the region’s best microbreweries, live music and delicious food–it’s a festive fall celebration that’ll make you trade your running shorts for lederhosen.
  • 2nd Annual Craft Beer & Food Truck Festival – On Sunday, October 1, Homewood Mountain Resort brings back another year of food, fun and brews! During the event, work those tired legs on the dance floor with live entertainment from Jesse Dunn & Jenni Charles of Dead Winter Carpenters.

Evening: Celebrate

It’s the moment you’ve probably been waiting for: a celebratory drink and fun night out with friends. Go ahead, throw a couple back. You deserve it. At least you’re doing it one of the ultimate mountain towns for post-adventure pints.

  • Live Music at Crystal Bay Club – Dance the night away to a free show at the iconic Crystal Bay Club Casino in the sultry Red Room. On Saturday, Sept. 30 catch Jaw Gems, an electronic outfit from Portland, Maine.
  • Breweries + Wine Bars – No matter what kind of libation you’re in the mood for, we’ve got you covered. If you’re on the east side of the lake, you can’t miss Alibi Ale Works in Incline Village. Heading west, stop by Tahoe Mountain Brewing Co. or Uncorked in Tahoe City, West Shore Market & Deli in Homewood, or Uncorked at Squaw Valley.

Photo Credit: Ryan Salm Photography

We’re looking forward to seeing you in North Lake Tahoe soon! If you enjoyed this article, share with your Spartan friends and start planning your adventures today.

Banner Image: Squaw Valley for Spartan Race

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