Rick and I had talked about doing this race for several years. I had been tempted to try it ever since I first brought my first Astro 30 class to June Lake back in 1990 and seen the pre-reg (at that time, in Mammoth Lakes). This year we made the commitment- this was to be our year.

Ferrell was feeling pretty good - good enough to do the very hilly Firecracker 10K just 3 days before the race. He felt good! I did a 12 mile hilly trail run a week before the race, and a 60 mile hilly training ride the Tuesday before. Perhaps a bit overdoing it? I was feeling not quite as great - my left illiotibial band was acting up. But I thought I could get in a good swim, a good bike, and then hoped I'd just survive the run. The literature said the run was very tough and advised taking it easy on the swim and bike in order to be prepared. Top racers we talked to at check-in told us the same thing - go easy on swim and bike. Save yourself!

Taco Bell in Oakdale - an essential step in Friday's Plan!

Onward, through Yosemite and Tioga Pass

We arrived at June Lake just after 3pm. The transition area's on the south shore, where the white tents are.

Beautiful day on June Lake - At the registration table, we meet up with Sloth and his wife Mia


After getting installed at the Boulder Lodge in the town of June Lake, we headed down to the ski lodge, where for one night, they fired up the chair lifts and had the triathletes enjoy the spectacular view and a delicious dinner of salmon, prime rib, and other goodies.

Course map for the Olympic race. And description

Rick and I ride the chair lift to the upper ski lodge

That's June Lake behind Gull Lake.

The run course, from the chairlift. Starts on the beach, runs up a steep trail to North Rd, over a couple of hills towards Gull Lake, then up a dirt road, to a steep trail on up to the ridge, then left towards another ridge, then down to an alpine lake in back of the first obvious ridge, then steeply down switchbacks to the bottom of North Rd, and then back up and along North Rd to that steep trail down June Lake.

From the ski lodge overlooking the June Lake Loop

Dinner was delicious, and all-you-can-eat. Quite nice. We had a spectacular overlook of the June Lake Loop and most of the race course. Rick and I shared a table with a family from San Diego - Dave and Nick were doing their first triathlon. Both were good runners, but not good swimmers, and Ferrell and I shared what we could about strategies and planning for their race.

Back at Boulder Lodge; the ritual of prepping the bike and tri-gear bag. It's a tradition


Meanwhile, Ferrell flips through the channels searching for the Tour de France stage 6. Watching the spectacular crashes on TV was perhaps not the best mental prep for pondering the long fast downhill that was the first half of our own 40k bike leg.

Ferrell brought the black foam roller to work on his calves.

I brought the hard roller and worked on my left hip, psoas, and illiotibial band. Painful, but really helps me feel great the next day.

Next morning, we're up at 5:30am as Mr. Coffee gurgles us out of a good sleep. Rick's sore metatarsal gets a coldpack treatment

Tour de France live, and yet another big crash takes out another 13 riders. OK, enough! Time to mount our bikes and do the 3 miles to the start.

The start, finish, and transition were all at the south shore beach, near Oh Ridge Campground. That's Ferrell just ahead, on the left.


Rick forgot his tri suit -Doh! But had packed a pair of cycling shorts, and the race shirt (by Patagonia), was a good choice.


I worried about cold water, after my visit to the June Lake loop 2 weeks earlier for a photo workshop, when it was pretty cold all day. But today was perfect! Lake temperature felt like about 64F - perfect for my sleeveless wetsuit.

Time for me to put the camera down. This is a shot from a previous year.

Official race photographer shots: Rick on the swim.

Me, a few seconds later

Great background! Me approaching Grant Lake turnaround

Ferrell on the bike

Rick has a very strong run, leaving competitors gasping in his wake.

My run - a classic survival story, which included tripping over a rock and squishing my Hammer Gel all over the ground (but saving my precious palm in the process!)

Rick at the finish

Back to my own photos - An attempt at an action shot near Silver Lake

A grab shot out of the Bento bagg'd pocket camera - turn around point on Grant Lake

I start my run

2nd aid station, on North Rd


The course degenerates into a steep billy goat trail up and up.

The trail leveled out for the next couple of miles. That tiny orange spot is Dave from San Diego, near the ridge high point.

After going by a lake on the far side of that ridge, going down through a forest, and then a steep rocky trail, we emerged onto this dirt road, more switchbacks, and one final turn...

...back to the pavement and more water! Temps in the ~mid to high 80's by race end.

Then back to the steep trail leading down to the lake, and the final turn here...

Team Awesome

Runners turned first-time triathletes from San Diego - Dave and Nick did very well.

Great post-race feed - I had 5 chicken thighs, lots of basil/pasta, etc.


A thumb's up from the race director

I walk out into the lake to chill my legs, and get a shot of the festivities


My students and I swam out to this rock on both my Astro 30 field astronomy courses in the '90's. Now my memories will include starting the swim of this race bracing myself on this rock.

Rick decides to cold plunge the legs too, as the start of awards seems to take... for...ever....

Slothower - age group 1st place in the Sprint Triathlon!

Rick, congratulated on his 3rd place age group finish

I collect my bronze sculpture medallion for 3rd place

Trophies were bronze welded mini-sculptures

Party's over - time to pull the plug on this fun and head back to the motel.

Oops. Sitting on the hot pavement and my rear tire blew out. Bummer.


A BBQ dinner at the Double Eagle Resort in the evening completed the package

Rise and shine at 5:30am Sunday, we pack while keeping one eye on the TV's coverage of today's Tour de France with it's spills and thrills on the second mountain stage.

"We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time" - T.S. Eliot.

Prob'ly he didn't have the Oakdale Taco Bell in mind. But, we did.


Race Results: Nolthenius, Ferrell, Slothower . Looks like they didn't get Sloth's swim time. But first place in his age group - great work, Dave! Rick and I each took 3rd in our age groups. Congratulations, Ricks!